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Hey.

I have some stunning information for you.

Please pay attention. It’s important.

Here it is…are you ready?

The fact that you don’t want someone to be offended by something you do or say does not negate the fact that you have said or done something offensive.

In the same respect, if you don’t believe something is offensive to a person or a group of persons, your belief of that does not negate the offensiveness of that something to those someone(s).

I’m not sure why this is difficult to understand. Many of the people I have directly spoken to that have become hostile or ultra-defensive over their offensive behavior aren’t, to my knowledge, sociopaths and/or mentally handicapped.

But the reaction is one of smug ignorance. And an inability…no, a refusal to see what the offense is.

I will give you a timely example.

The confederate flag.

People love to become hostile and argue why it’s not offensive and why you have no right to be offended. One of their favorite things to do is find a black person who says, “I am not offended by this symbol” and say, ‘YOU SEE?’ Your argument is invalid!’ and strut off like a rooster.

I know it was a long time ago, but let me refresh your memory:

We are talking about the a flag that was used to represent the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. In case you’ve forgotten or do not know your American history, perhaps you sniffed a lot of glue in class, or you just hate books. But this was time when the South was vehemently fighting to keep slavery around as a means of economic prosperity for white plantation owners.

“But you clearly do not know what you’re talking about! The confederate flag was not a symbol of the slave trade or any of that business. The flag is about southern pride, a celebration of heritage…and that’s all.”

Let me try to simplify this for you some more.

You cannot divorce the flag from the principle (the right to own your fellow human beings) that its followers fought and died for.

Your ‘old glory’ is not a whole lot different from the swastika. The act of displaying it is a clear statement in support of the confederacy and what it stood for. Unlike, let’s say, the cross of St. George (national symbol of England, not to be confused with the Union Jack) the confederate flag was not ‘taken’ and twisted by nasty people (in the St. George cross case, Neo-Nazis), it always has stood for the confederacy.  And nothing else.

“YOU should respect the fact that I’m celebrating my heritage.”

While that’s a great argument, and good for you, Skeeter…but I am going to call bullshit.

The heritage you are celebrating with this flag is hate. Not only is “Southern pride” rooted in highly terrifically problematic histories, but it’s also reflective of modern-day racism and injustices.

It’s in the connotation.

Here’s an example, and I will try to keep this simple for you:

I’m (at least partially) German.

I’m going to show up to a rally at the White House and wave my flag with a big ol’ swastika on it. In my incredulous reaction to your indignation, I state, “It’s not a racist symbol, it’s the symbol of a political force seeking to restore Germany to a state of dignity or prosperity. It’s not my fault you see it as the symbol of hatred.”

And, for funsies, let’s just say the president – whose house you’re waving it in front of – is Jewish.

Do you grasp what I’m getting at?

In and of itself, this flag is not racist, just as in and of itself, a swastika is not the definition of oppression. People make symbols what they are by the connotations which they attach to them. The problem here for you, the one who is arguing for your or someone else’s offensive action, is that the confederate flag is more strongly connected with being a slavery apologist than with any real heritage.

You are most likely the same species of what-the-fuck that defends the use of the N word. “Why can’t I say it? It’s just a word. A word is only powerful if you give it power. You are ridiculous for being offended by my smug white face uttering the word.”

As I just heard someone say yesterday, “Oh, you can use the word. You just need to be prepared for the consequences.”

Also, and this is a real question…why do you NEED to say it so bad?  There are so many other words…you must know at least a few of them, yes?

In the same way as the swastika, the Confederate flag is simply not a symbol anyone should use…without being prepared for the reaction it receives.

Gonna break it down one more time:

The fact that you don’t want someone to be offended by something you do or say does not negate the fact that you have said or done something offensive.

EDIT:  I really like the way another blogger summed it up…

“If a patriot can stand in front of the White House brandishing the Confederate flag, then the word “patriot” has no meaning. The Nazi flag is offensive because it is a marker of centuries of bigotry elevated to industrialized murder.

But the Confederate flag does not merely carry the stain of slavery, of “useful killing,” but the stain of attempting to end the Union itself. You cannot possibly wave that flag and honestly claim any sincere understanding of your country. It is not possible.”

 

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