Too many times there’s confusion about why we can empathize and have compassion for one yet deny the other. We all, North and South, reject flying the Nazi flag, yet entire segments of our population fly the Confederate flag with knowing unconcern. As dichotomies go, this is one that’s in your face and relevant to our current crises situation. And it’s absolutely maddening.
I get it, though.
It’s hard to stare at our shameful past behavior. It’s far easier to peer at another’s shameful behavior with neutrality and a lack of emotional baggage. Impartiality is attainable when you are passing judgment on another. It’s just that simple. We don’t like confronting out history of slavery, much like a child doesn’t like to admit they’re wrong when caught by parents. I don’t want to excuse our social gaffes on the fact that as a country and a people we are fairly young, but in instances like this, that youthfulness is glaring. Because other countries can and do confront past bad acts head on with adult-like responsibility. We just don’t seem to be able.
There is just no other explanation for why we can feel so deeply for the Jewish people and yet behave so scornfully toward black people in America today. And yes I said black people. Call me old school because that’s just how I grew up AND it’s not offensive. Or call me new school because I believe we are all Americans first now and other heritage second. So saying American of African descent or American of Asian descent or American of Hispanic descent or American of the First People, etc., is just too damn long for me. My designation are for brevity. That is all.
As a people, we recoil from the notion of prominently displaying our love for the Nazis of yore. And yes, I realize there is a segment of asshats who go around revering those tenets. In every batch, a few are rotten. But I digress. For far too long, we as a people looked on while really averting our eyes from the evidence of our own sordid past. As if seeing the signs of racism was to somehow acknowledge more than it’s mere historic presence. We can dialogue about our way past, but fuck you if you bring up how it affects our current daily lives. But even as I make that statement, American AP History is currently undergoing a traditional white-wash. And it’s a shame.
We can’t fix something if we don’t acknowledge that a problem exists. And that’s the most frustrating part. Trying to get around misplaced guilt and shame over past behavior is stupid. But to allow that ludicrous behavior to impact how we deal with the dregs of racism is offensive and serves to merely perpetuate our mistakes. We just don’t seem to be able to stop repeating our mistakes of the past. And it’s because we can’t face that past. We can’t look at it head on.
Look, if you think the Civil War didn’t have slavery as a central issue, you are white-washing history. End of. I don’t even want to talk further about it. But this inability to acknowledge what is going on today because it reminds one of that shameful past is criminal. We’re walking around hamstrung as a society. We can’t have a legitimate talk about the situation and possible fixes UNTIL AND UNLESS we say, “hey, institutional racism exists.”
And we were raging racists in our past. And the Civil War was about slavery. And flying the Confederate Flag is the same as flying the Nazi flag. What is hurtful to one group of people is hurtful to the other group of people for many of the same or similar reasons. And it’s that simple. Stop flying the flag that elevates slavery in America’s past as something to continued to be endured by Americans of African descent into today when we would never fly a flag that extolls the virtues of gassing European Jews. It’s a parallel.
If you really look at the heart of the matter, with your eyes and hearts open, you can see that parallel, too.