“You seem nervous. Why are you nervous?”
“I’m nervous because you separated me from my family. I’m nervous because your partner is hovering over them. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there have been a lot of high profile incidents of police killing black people in the last few months. And you partner has his hand resting on his belt, near his pistol. So yes, I’m nervous.”
That’s what I thought. That’s what I wanted to say. But the angels of discretion (or perhaps those of cowardice) kept me quiet.
“No, I’m not nervous.”
“I have thought of Senator Pinckney’s words since the terrorist attack on Emmanuel AME Church, but instead of the account of Thomas in the Gospel of John, who came to believe after seeing what his sisters and brothers were telling him, I have thought about a different post-resurrection account in the Gospel of Mark: “Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14). I feel sad because it feels as if many are seeing and hearing the testimony of their sisters and brothers of color, but yet they refuse to believe. The hardest part for me when it comes to racism in America is this: My sisters and brothers won’t believe me when I tell them my own experience of racism in this country. They refuse to believe my brown, black, and Native American brothers and sisters, too. There is a dogged refusal in many parts of our country and in our church in this nation to listen and believe the testimony of our sisters and brothers when it comes to the reality of their lives, especially when it relates to the pain and effects of racism.”
“The Confederacy’s rejection of the Stars and Bars as its national flag and embrace of the battle flag as the central emblem of its “confirmed independence” continues to have great significance today. With the adoption of the “Stainless Banner” in 1863, the battle flag became more than a soldier’s flag; it became a political flag, associated with the Confederate government, nation and cause.
Echoes and ironies abound. Consider the modern history of the Georgia state flag. In 2004, after decades of debate, Georgians ratified a new state flag that was clearly modeled after the Confederate Stars and Bars. The most vocal protest came (and still comes) from Confederate heritage activists, who steadfastly hold on to the 1956 state flag, which bears the Southern Cross battle flag. African-American leaders, though fully aware that the new state flag is based on the first Confederate national flag, said they did not find it troubling; the real Stars and Bars does not carry the baggage that the battle flag (the one the headline writers so often mistakenly dub the “Stars and Bars”) did, and does.
In other words, the real Stars and Bars, the original Confederate flag, is acceptable to them for the same reason that it was not acceptable to Confederates in 1863, and to Confederate heritage activists today: it’s not Confederate enough.”
“The Real Reason Nothing Is Going to Work
The fundamental problem underlying nearly every facet of U.S. policy toward Iraq is that “success,” as defined in Washington, requires all the players to act against their own wills, motivations, and goals in order to achieve U.S. aims. The Sunnis need a protector as they struggle for a political place, if not basic survival, in some new type of Iraq. The Shiite government in Baghdad seeks to conquer and control the Sunni regions. Iran wants to secure Iraq as a client state and use it for easier access to Syria. The Kurds want an independent homeland.
When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter remarked, “What apparently happened [in Ramadi] was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” what he really meant was that the many flavors of forces in Iraq showed no will to fight for America’s goals. In the Washington mind-set, Iraq is charged with ultimate responsibility for resolving problems that were either created by or exacerbated by the U.S. in the first place, even as America once again assumes an ever-greater role in that country’s increasingly grim fate.”
“We are declaring without ambiguity that one side does not get to quiet the other.
If you love guns, you alone don’t get to decide that they aren’t part of the problem of violence.
If you are white, you don’t get to determine whether or not people of color aren’t still victimized by institutional racism.
If you fly a Confederate flag, you don’t solely get to decide whether it connotes history or hatred beyond your front yard.
If you patronize partisan media, you don’t get the final word about whether or not it is nurturing hateful hearts.
We all decide that together.”
“Why the Confederate flag stays up
The fact that the flag continues to fly, even after nine people were apparently murdered in the name of white supremacy, isn’t just the result of an ironclad compromise that makes it all but impossible to take down. It’s a symbol of how successfully the Civil War has been misremembered so that “heritage” and “hate” could be disentangled from each other.
The Confederate flag was adopted to represent a short-lived rebellion to extend and protect white supremacy and black slavery. For 75 years, it was used as a reminder of the nobility of that cause. Then it became a symbol of resistance to black civil rights leaders and to the federal government that was finally trying to enforce the law of the land.
Somehow, to its defenders, the flag is untainted by any of this. And that narrative has won. In a 2013 poll, 61 percent of South Carolinians — and 73 percent of white South Carolinians — said the flag should stay where it is.
When the Pew Research Center last asked, in 2011, only 30 percent of Americans had a negative reaction to the Confederate flag; 58 percent had no reaction at all. Among white Southerners, 22 percent said they had a positive reaction to the flag.
And when Pew asked the same group what caused the Civil War, 48 percent said it was “mainly about state’s rights” — 10 percentage points more than said it was about slavery.”
“Crystal Feimster, the Yale historian and author of Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching, explained it this way by phone: ‘There’s a long narrative in which white men who feel threatened by black men, in terms of economic power, political power, or even feeling that they might be physically assaulted—whether that feeling is real or imagined—link that black male power to sexuality, because black men have always been demonized as sexually bestialized figures.’”
“I thought about a church gathered for prayer and Bible study last night, and how they had opened their circle to let a stranger join them. And I thought about a mosque in Arizona, and how the faithful walked past angry, mocking crowds with guns in order to worship. And I thought about the temple in Maryland, and the anti-Semitic graffiti they found one morning this spring.
There’s a reason the hateful choose houses of worship. It’s because that’s where so many of us put our hope. You can commit a hateful act anywhere, but if you really want to hurt a community, you choose the place they worship. You bomb the synagogue. You shoot up the church. You point your gun and shout at small children trying to get into the mosque. That’s how you cut the faithful so deeply that their hearts never stop bleeding.
But the ones who choose to do evil in the gathering places of the faithful forget one thing: These are not mere buildings. They are the symbols of communities, built often in resistance to hate. They are the places first built by new immigrants, or freed slaves, or spiritual refugees, or genocide survivors. They have known pain before. And they know how to survive it, and transform it. They know how to thrive in the face of the worst that the small-minded and hateful can do. And they know how to live with a faith that those who take up violence will never understand.”
The irony of it all.
“’California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom’” Barbre said. ‘It’s slowly becoming the land of one group telling everybody else how they think everybody should live their lives.’”
“It did occur to me when the dust began to slowly settle in the first decade of the 21st century that the main provocateurs of deconstruction and post-structuralism were from countries eager to bury their own pasts, whether as the perpetrators of the Holocaust or abettors and colluders in it. Why Americans would be so eager to embrace these nihilists is a question – but I think it has to do with our own uncomfortable relation with a long racist past and the genocide committed against indigenous people. This was classic post-Holocaust thinking, a desire to escape from the tyranny of the written record.”