Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Hegelian Didactic of the Confederate Battle Flag

"This is, of course, what’s known as the Hegelian Dialectic. A manufactured problem elicits a manufactured solution that leaves everyone satisfied and allows the originating issue to simply fall from the spotlight, wholly unresolved. In this example, the red herring of the Confederate flag was the opportunists’ bait to ensnare the country in a brilliant diversion from the underlying—and inherently more critical—issue of institutionalized racism."
--Claire Bernish in "How the Entire Country Bought the Govenrment's Confederate Flag Ploy", an op ed appearing in Anti Media (see link below)

I don't agree with much of what the author says here. Its accusation seems out of touch with the reconciling intentions of our community in Charleston, and our local and state government. But it is a good piece off of which to bounce our local perception. The Hegelian Didactic has naturally occurred (not so much intentionally and with slick purpose) but as our community's, as well as our government's, loving response to a communal horror. Groping for SOMETHING....ANYTHING to do in response to the Mother Emanuel murders, most of us realized, having been jarred into a moment of clarity, that this now powerfully-negative symbol (the Confederate Battle Flag) must go from the State House grounds. As a first step (taking it off our government face), it is a good step. If it were our only step, how great then would our shame and error be. 

Think of it as a cancer-marker in a diagnostic study. A cancer marker is typically radioactive, and also gloms onto cancer cells, lighting them up like Christmas tree lights under radiography. Like that marker, the flag points to a cancer. The cancer of racism has glommed onto the flag. The marker is not the cancer--the flag is not racism--but it points to it, and now that we see it more clearly, we can do some hard work (surgery) and keep at it (chemo) until it is eradicated. During the surgery, the marker itself comes out along with the cancer that is stuck to it. It is no longer needed. Should we try to eradicate this marker/flag from history or from our minds? That would be impossible. Hopefully we learn from history, not seek to revise it, unless its reportage has proven to be in error. It should always be remembered as a sign that we once thought it was okay (black and white slave owners included) to own other human beings. And further, as our racism mutated and went underground and became more viral, stubborn and destructive (Jim Crow), the flag became a valuable marker that all was still not well with us. It is valuable, but no longer worthy of display as a descriptor of what we now believe more rightly as a more enlightened people with a more enlightened government. At this point the flag we should wish  to display on our government's face is Liberty for All....all races, all genders, all people. Now the hard work can begin afresh to live into that better and healthier reality.


I recommend, for another perspective on this whole matter, the article named here. How the Entire Country Bought the Government's Confederate Flag Ploy.

1 comment:

  1. The great shame of it all is that it took the murder of nine people to focus the minds of those elected to lead to actually see that flag as a symbol of racism and to understand that it should not be sanctioned by the government. It was about time these elected officials start listening to all of their constituents.

    Shame is the overwhelming emotion I've been feeling in the wake of last week's event.

    There is a more nuanced discussion of the flag as symbol of racism vs institutional racism here:

    I'll be thinking of Charleston today.