Let’s “Flag” the Real Issue


I’m from the south. To be precise, the southeast—I was raised, for a few years, in South Carolina, and then mainly in Tennessee. So I’ve seen a thousand confederate flags, whether in the back widow of a truck or on a pole flying in someone’s front yard. In fact, the Confederama is in my hometown of Chattanooga, as well as a number of historical monuments remembering the Civil War. Point? While I’m no expert in blue-gray/north-south issues of the past, the relics of those days are not strange to me.

Consequently, as I watched the debate over the confederate flag come to a boiling point in our country last summer, I was more amazed at the process used by many to come to a decision than I was at the actual decision itself.

Personally, I think the “rebel” flag belongs in a museum. Like it or not, it’s part of our history as a nation, and thus it seems appropriate remembering it that way—historically. But to fly it or wave it today is unnecessary, not because it is offensive to some, but because it is out-of-date for all.

Therein lies my issue with the process—our government seems to arrive at too many decisions by way of the squeaky wheel philosophy. In other words, it seems if someone is offended and screams loud enough, officials jump. And it’s a reaction disconnected from any sort of cognitive thinking or reasoning. Instead, it appears to be flowing from the emotion of fear. (Exactly what drives this fear is a guess for me, but I suspect three drivers could be the fear of not being liked, not getting votes, or getting sued. I’d tag all of those as “fear-of-man” issues.)

To say it another way, the general message from the confederate flag decision-making process seemed to be that because it had negative associations for some (i.e., slavery, racism), the government wanted to eliminate its use by all. Here again—it appeared that since something was offensive to a particular group, then all other groups should be “forced” to respond in like manner, even possibly using the law to ensure compliance.

Assuming I’m correct in my estimation and summation of the general progression and tenor of the argument, I’m curious if we can also…

  • end pornography nationwide both in print and online? Undoubtedly porn and its associations offend me deeply. Furthermore, they rightly disturb many with whom I relate and connect. Add to this the proven fact that porn results in women and children being especially abused and hurt, marriages being ripped apart, and homes being thrown into cycles of pain and  anguish, one should be able to see that nothing good comes from pornography. Whenever I see certain aspects of our culture throw out the porn lure to reel in men (and others) towards destruction and devastation, I’m reminded of all the people and places where so much of that has already occurred. Can we not hear the cries from those of previous generations screaming to us, “Stop!” In light of how widely and deeply porn offends me and many others like me, can we outlaw it so I’m not reminded and offended over and over?
  • stop the killing of unborn babies? Legalized abortion has left us with decades of murdered-in-the-womb infants. What has been going on in our nation in regards to this wicked practice is horrific and tragic, and millions of citizens just like me find it deplorable. How much must we protest and raise our voices before an elected leader with some sense of decency and courage finally calls it what it is—wrong! With every Planned Parenthood video that surfaces we are reminded again and again of the millions of babies who have never seen the light of day. Can we not simply mandate that abortion cease so we’re not reminded and offended over and over?
  • stand up against Islamic and Hindu practices that degrade women and fly in the face of basic human rights? Functionally, Muslim and Hindu cultures insist on practices that perpetuate the false notion that women aren’t equal to men; they’re considered “less.” And in India, the caste system, though formally “dead” for over six decades, is still quite prevalent and powerful, though not officially embraced or publicized. This is offensive and disturbing to me as an American. Our Constitution clearly disagrees with this practice, and it’s not what we believe as citizens. We have stood against slavery and discrimination generation after generation; why shouldn’t we continue to do so in regards to these systems of belief? After all, in many ways that’s precisely the functional result for many women in their ranks: slavery. In light of the deep offense these two religions bring to so many, especially in regards to their treatment of women, can we not make this aspect of their religion illegal so we’re not reminded and offended over and over?

By now many of you are probably already saying to yourself something like this, “You can’t take away someone’s right of expression just because you disagree with it.” Or, “You can’t shut down a free-enterprise industry just because you think it’s morally wrong.” Or, “You can’t ask a religious group to adjust their beliefs just because it doesn’t fit into your views of right and wrong.” Really? We shouldn’t or we can’t? Haven’t we already done this in other arenas?

Frankly, it seems that’s exactly what has been done to those who produce and sell the confederate flag. Or believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Or hold that someone can refuse to participate in a specific situation and still not discriminate against a specific person. In all of these examples people have been told to adjust to those who were offended. Why? Squeaky wheels and valueless leaders.

images-2My point? Trust me, it’s not to protect the confederate flag. Instead, it’s to push us—urge us—to pursue consistency.

You see, this is the deep-down, fundamental problem with liberalism and it’s illogical twin relativism—inconsistency. In fact, the most inconsistent people in the world are those who insist on the illogical consistency that there is no consistent (or absolute) truth. When one, at all cost, insist there is no absolute truth, he or she denies the very thing they’re trying to uphold. Consequently, they’re inconsistent from the starting blocks.

That type of thinking leads to living and leading in light of the fear of man, the type of leading which looks like the current climate in Washington. Sadly, in our nation’s capital too many leaders make decisions based on volume and visibility instead of values. Where there are no timeless principles or universal truths (i.e., rule of law), all are at the whim of the loudest voices and squeakiest wheels. So leaders end up trying to please people rather than govern them. That’s a sad state of affairs for sure!

So pick your issue—the flag, marriage, pornography, human rights—Governing or leading by popular opinion, public sentiment, or donated dollars is to ride on the wind of an ever-changing guide. That’s an impossible ride to navigate! No wonder the current US trajectory is one spiraling towards destruction—we keep trying to adjust truth to what’s trendy. If we keep taking aim at a destination where everything goes, we’ll end up with a society where everybody is offended and nobody wins.

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