As you get older, and there’s less on your plate every day, you have more time to think. And when you have a whole life to think back on, who knows what will come to you unbidden? And so it was that, recently, while thinking of the incredible events surrounding the national change of mood regarding confederate monuments, and the confederate flag, and believe it or not, I found striking similarities to another massive social and political shift that occurred during my life. It will take a bit to get there, but believe me, it all comes together in the end.
My heart soared when I saw and heard that the state of Mississippi had finally lifted itself out of the muck and became the last state to remove the confederate flag as a component of it’s state flag. This is s work in progress, but it is progress. Following the Mother Emmanuel massacre, South Carolina lowered the confederate flag for the last time from the state capitol. Confederate monuments and statues are coming down all over the country, and even NASCAR, the granddaddy of southern sports, has barred confederate flags from their events and properties. But there is an underlying social movement involved in this that I don’t think people really realize right now, and it has to do with the psychology of racism, or any other socially questionable behavior. Let me explain.
I was a long time smoker, I started smoking when I was 16, and didn’t stop until I was 58, when I switched to vaping. And I was a serious smoker, committed to my right to poison my lungs. But being an avowed smoker during that time frame, I had front row seats to the social upheaval that finally turned the tide of the acceptability of smoking.
When I started smoking, it was socially acceptable, it was done everywhere. But somewhere along the line, people who didn’t smoke got tired of having their clothes smell like an ashtray, and getting diseases common to smokers, even though they didn’t smoke. And then they got some solid scientific evidence on their sides, and it was off to the races.
It started slowly, but once it got rolling, it was unstoppable. In rapid succession, smokers could no longer smoke in restaurants, in bars, on airplanes or theaters, at indoor sporting events, and finally, even at outdoor sporting events. And the ultimate psychological effect was that it tended to isolate smokers from each other, and to minimize the places where fellow huffers could congregate and feel comfortable among other true believers. Every time you lit up a Marlboro, you felt less and less like The Outlaw Waylon Jennings, and more and more like The Outlaw Josie Wales.
Are you seeing the connection? It’s easy for a good ole boy to take great pride in grabbing his confederate flag on a short pole, jamming that pole into a holder on the back of his redneck Cadillac, and zooming off to a NASCAR event, there the same flag flies from a pole, there is confederate paraphernalia on sale at the race, and some of the cars in the race have the confederate flag decals on their cars.
It’s much easier for a racist to feel self confident in his beliefs, and to say to his son, You see that statue? That’s what a real patriot looks like! He fought for our way of life. And you know how that’s true? Because the state put up a statue to honor him, and his cause.
Every time a confederate flag comes down, or a confederate traitor monument comes down, it minimizes the warped ideology that those symbols stood for. And more importantly, it minimizes the feelings of the remaining true believers, and most important of all, it isolates them. After all, how do you validate your opinions when you have no governmental or socially sanctioned symbols to point to to buttress your arguments? Even to your children, who are hearing a different story in school?
The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once said that while the moral arc bends slowly, it bends in the direction of justice. And every time that a confederate flag or monument comes down, it isolates and invalidates the racists just a little bit more, and it boxes them in just a bit further. It will take time, but we are finally winning. Take it from a former smoker. Just like poor old Joe Camel, it just isn’t cool to be a racist anymore.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen
Follow me on Twitter at @RealMurfster35S