I’ve had the good fortune to be born a white male in the United States of America.
So it’s pretty easy for me to hold fond feelings for this great country that has blessed me with so much opportunity. I love America. I believe this is the best place in the world to live.
Sadly, not everyone living here has shared in my positive experiences.
I’ve never been belittled by racist taunts. My parents were never denied employment or housing for being white. My grandparents were never afraid to vote.
None of my great-grandparents were ever lynched. None of my great-great-grandparents endured the living hell of slavery.
But when many black Americans look at their family’s history, they do see some of those ugly things.
It should be easy to understand why a black American, whose family’s history is so much more painful than mine, might have some issues of resentment to work through.
Of course, none of that pain excuses rioting or attacks on police. Violence is never the answer. Two wrongs never make a right.
Many Americans are disturbed by the recent racial protests, the rioting, and the attacks on law enforcement. These are legitimate concerns. There is no excuse for rioting. It is vile and cowardly to attack police officers who are doing their duty.
And don’t even get me started on the Black Lives Matter movement, which is nothing but a Marxist ploy agitating our current racial tensions to further a Leftist political agenda.
BUT . . .
When you look beneath the smoke and chaos, the genuine peaceful protesters do have some legitimate grievances.
And the most legitimate of all those legitimate complaints is, “Why are we still glorifying the Confederacy in 2020?”
People can argue all they want about peripheral issues that led to the Civil War, but it was ultimately a fight over slavery. When Lincoln was elected President, the southern states freaked out. They feared he would end their slave-based economic system.
When the confederate states seceded from the Union, we fought the bloodiest war in our nation’s history. And in case you missed the end of the movie, the North won.
So why are some people still flying the confederate flag? Why do we still maintain memorial statues to confederate generals?
Some people argue that these symbols are historical reminders of the past. They think that removing these symbols amounts to “trying to re-write history.”
Memorials to the Confederacy began cropping up decades after the Civil War, when white southerners (mostly Democrats, it should be noted) were pining for the “good old days.”
The “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy was romanticized in southern literature and glorified by these memorial statues.
Southerners of the time erected statues of confederate generals to honor them for their contributions to the Confederacy, which basically means their efforts to maintain the ungodly enslavement of other human beings.
Imagine you are a black American walking by a statue memorializing someone who fought to keep your great-great-grandparents in chains. How would you feel?
Of course angry rioters should not be allowed to tear down monuments. No mob has the right to destroy any public property.
But shouldn’t we, as a society, have the common decency to voluntarily remove these offensive symbols from our public spaces?
Those monuments should go to museums where they can be viewed in historical context with lessons about the Civil War. We need to study history. We need to know what happened and why.
But nothing about the slave-holding South should be romanticized, especially the flag that symbolized the tyranny of one race over another.
There have been encouraging developments recently.
Mississippi, the last state to display the “Stars & Bars” on its state flag, retired that flag in June. Mississippi residents will select a new state flag later this year.
Also in June, NASCAR banned the confederate flag from its racing events, and released a statement that said in part: “the presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
Folks are finally getting the message: The confederate flag needs to go. It symbolizes a culture that fought to keep people in chains.
Sir Winston Churchill once famously remarked that Americans always do the right thing eventually, after they have tried everything else first.
I hope and pray that we keep moving forward, that we eventually get it right once we have tried everything else.
We all learned this passage from the Declaration of Independence when we were schoolchildren:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If you don’t believe those words, if you do not affirm that sentiment, then you do not truly grasp the spirit of America.
Slavery was a sin and an abomination. And though slavery was abolished, the bitterness that smolders in human hearts has been harder to extinguish. We have made great progress, but we still have a way to go.
Nothing short of a national revival, another Great Awakening, a turning back to the God who created us all, can bring lasting peace to our streets.
The cure for our national disease lies in each individual’s heart. We will never truly heal this country until racists repent and grudge-holders forgive. And that is impossible without the grace of God.
But getting rid of symbols that glorify our old sins is a good place to start.