Jewish World Review Feb. 19, 2002/ 7 Adar, 5762
NAACP: If the flag keeps on flying, blacks keep on driving
LET me tread lightly but unequivocally here: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has lost its mind. If organizations can suffer the same pathologies as people, I'd say some hormone treatment and a nice little anti-depressant might be in order.
This hot flash just in: The NAACP, undistracted by such serious African-American problems as, for example, a 70 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate, is still obsessing about the Confederate flag in South Carolina. As a resident of the state the past 14 years, as well as a lifelong visitor, I feel justified in remarking on the latest turn in this endless, increasingly comical debate.
After years of demanding that the flag be removed from the statehouse dome (it's down); and now weeks of bickering over whether the flag should be of cotton or nylon (the latter being lighter and therefore more likely to unfurl), and apparently finding nothing better to do, the NAACP is promising to use border patrols (no joke) to discourage visitors from coming to S.C.
Quick pause for personal disclosure statement: The progeny both of Union and Confederate veterans, I wrote years ago that the flag should come down from the dome, above which it had drooped undramatically for 40 years without my ever noticing it. My position was and is that the flag is too divisive to sit atop the state's Big House in Columbia.
I also noted that the flag, for all its symbolic importance to the hell-no-I-ain't-fergettin crowd, was nevertheless a scary symbol to all blacks and most women, who tend to floor the gas pedal when they spot Confederate-flag draperies on a trailer along a lonely stretch of road. The trailer could belong to an Ashley Wilkes Confederate son just putting the final flourishes on his Civil War trilogy. Or not.
I suggested that the flag might better be displayed as part of a historic monument somewhere else and, fast forward, now it is -- smack dab in front of the statehouse at the city's busiest intersection. Now it dangles hangdog from a pole like some blue-highway varmint's flea-bitten tail, neither proud nor resplendent, just there.
Although the flag's removal from the dome was a compromise following the NAACP's 2000 tourism boycott -- amid the sort of debate that removes any mystery about the state's historically low SAT scores -- the NAACP wasn't satisfied. I don't blame it. As I said, nobody with a day job ever noticed the flag until it came down; now it's in everybody's face.
So the NAACP is ratcheting up the pressure with border patrols. There's no word yet on how it'll pull this off. Can we look forward to cavalries of Malcolm X clones? Or will the NAACP strategically install some of those immense human walls who accompany hip-hop singers (and Jesse Jackson) as bodyguards. A few of those respiring obstructions at the visitors' center and I'd be thinking, "Dang, I love Virginia beaches."
Comical, yes, but funny? Not really. Terrorism never is, and that's what this is -- terrorism without the explosives. Talk about the problems of "driving while black." If you're driving while black toward South Carolina, you'd better have a plan to drive straight through to Georgia.
Where slavery failed in preventing blacks from becoming thinking, free agents, the NAACP threatens to win. In its world of groupthink, there's no room or tolerance for individuals who deviate from the message. To think independently, to dare to entertain a non-group thought, is tantamount to disrespecting Martin Luther King.
You want to play golf at Myrtle Beach? Then you must be a racist if you're white, an Uncle Tom if you're black. Visiting one of the state's beaches isn't a vacation; it's a political statement that identifies you as a turncoat. Can anybody say, "totalitarian"?
The Confederate flag, once a symbol of Southern courage, has devolved through the decades into a symbol of racist hate for many. We all know it. And while the NAACP's leaders may be justified in wishing the flag away, they're as loony as the bigots they despise if they believe physical intimidation will win them any sympathizers.
Somebody needs to cry "uncle" and let everybody get back to work. Or to the beach, if that's their
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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