Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain
— Friedrich Schiller, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans) (1801), Act III, sc. vi
I have tried to defend the virtues of the South against those who attack from without, and those who seek to defile it from within — bigots, generally speaking. I’ve defended the rebel flag, affirming that it is an unofficial symbol of the South, and not a symbol of oppression or slavery, nor a celebration of the worst of our history. Like the American flag, the rebel flag has been associated with terrible injustice in the past, but that is not what it means.
That has been my position.
I am surrendering that battle. Not because of people who still blame people in 2017 for atrocities committed 150 years ago, but because of the people who seem intent on living up to the very worst stereotypes laid at the feet of the South. People who revel in ignorance, bigotry, and malice, all while waving the goddamned rebel flag.
Once upon a time, the swastika was considered a sacred and auspicious symbol. The Nazis, and the horrible people who continue to admire them, have ruined that, at least insofar as Western civilization is concerned. If the stigma currently associated with the swastika is ever washed away, it will be be many generations from now. Lifetimes.
Against my best efforts, I have come to the conclusion that the rebel flag has become so tainted that it will not be redeemable in my lifetime. Not tainted by tragic events 150 years ago, but tainted by people here and now who wave it proudly while proclaiming themselves to be scum of the absolute worst sort.
Was I wrong all along? Foolish? Maybe so. Maybe so.