Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy Belated Flag Day

We've witnessed some remarkable social progress over the past two weeks. And while my opinion on these issues matters little, I've given myself a forum, so I'm going to take the opportunity to weigh in.

In years past, I would have written a letter to the Editor at the Los Angeles Times, but no one reads the newspaper anymore so why bother.

Of course no one reads this blog either, so it's a bit of a wash.

I've heard and seen many of the arguments pro and con on social media regarding the verdicts of the courts, state and Supreme. I will not delve into the logistics or the makings of those decisions as I have the constitutional awareness of an 11th grader.

However, it should be noted that having seen some of those viral man-on-the-street videos of people who couldn't identify the Vice President, or which country we declared our independence from or who fought the Civil War, my high school level acumen, by comparison, makes me a veritable PhD.

"I'll take Three Branches of Government for $1000, Alex."

On Gay Marriage. 

The opponents of equality often quote the Bible, the Old Testament, my people's book, as a reason why the state should not sanction gay marriage.

Of course, Leviticus also forbids the mixing of cloths and the eating of shellfish. I'm willing to bet that somewhere in their closet (appropriately) those opponents have some cheap blended suits from Joseph A Banks. And indeed may be enjoying the Jalapeno Shrimp Poppers and Alaskan King Crab Legs at Red Lobster as we speak.

More importantly, Americans are not governed by scriptural laws penned more than 2000 years ago by ignorant goat herders and brickmakers who, while having an unusual recollection of who begat who, knew NOTHING about science, mathematics and the fundamentals of baseball.

You show me a guy who doesn't know the hit-and-run strategy with a runner in scoring position and I'll show you a Grade A Idiot.

Opponents of gay marriage will often say it is not what our forefathers had in mind. Sure, they intended citizens to have the right to own military grade automatic machine guns but didn't intend for us to live under the credo that "all men are created equal"?

I may be failing the teachings of Mr. Kolakowski -- my 11th grade History Instructor -- but it seems to me our forefathers came to this country to build a society where state and church were separate.

In other words, the bible is not the law of the land. Nor is the Koran. Or the Torah. We should all be thankful for that, particularly if you've ever tried to strap on tefillin.

Look, if you want to worship a god who's less concerned about famine, poverty and disease and more concerned about who's touching whose genitals, that's your prerogative. But keep it out of our schools and our governance and don't expect the rest of us to abide by your irrational fairy tales.

I, for one, have tasted thick, center-cut applewood bacon and there's no going back.

On the Confederate Flag.

This one is a no brainer.

And frankly I'm shocked that is has taken this long for the country to do the right thing. Again, I'm somewhat familiar with the birth of this symbol and how it originated as a battle flag for North Virginians. And I've heard all the hoo-haa about the Civil War being about state's rights and the intrusion of the big Federal Government. And how this is all about Heritage Not Hate.

To which I can only reply: Bullshit.

State's rights? Funny, not according to Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, who in his landmark 1861 Cornerstone Speech stated in the very first paragraph that the slavery was the immediate cause for secession.

And one paragraph later:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition.

Now with regards to heritage, what exactly is it that you Southerners seem to be so proud of? The wealth, the infrastructure, the entire society of the South was built on the backs of enslaved, tortured and murdered African Americans….oh, I'm sorry Negroes.

Following World War II, the German citizenry took immediate responsibility for the genocide they inflicted on the world. They banned Nazi insignia, made reparations and did everything they could to restore their image and distance themselves from the shameful acts of their fathers and mothers.

What they didn't do was slap swastikas on belt buckles, bikinis and beer cozies and revel in the heritage of hate.

Like I said I'm no expert on legislature.
My knowledge of history is sketchy at best.
But it seems to me those are fuzzy rationalizations in a discussion that is truly black and white.

The reason the Confederate flag should come down from all government buildings boils down to one concern: It's the decent thing to do.

Remember decency?


Cecil B. DeMille said...

Just an aside, but the Nazi vs Confederacy analogy has a hole in it. The Nazis killed, well, pretty much anybody who got in their way and Hoovered up the tribe wherever they went, committing genocide. It was Germany as a country's responsibility.

The Civil War was one country's responsibility. That country actually doesn't exist anymore. Unless you think the United States started it, which some of my unfortunate brethren very much do. So who's left to pay reparations and be all humble? The Confederate States were absorbed right back into the Union. It would be like asking the city of New Amsterdam for a tax refund.

Also, while I understand the parallels, the Egyptians, Romans and many many other large states/empires also had slaves. And they fell. And, history tells us, they didn't fall because they paid reparations either. The South didn't invent, perfect or otherwise alter slavery. It is not a unique circumstance, and sadly, it is not an extinct one, either.

Additionally, genocide does not equal slavery, no matter how reprehensible both might be. Slaves were not killed indiscriminately by any means – that would have been a waste of money. A bleak economy, but not one built on slaughter.

And I whole-heartedly agree with the removal of the flag. What I think is more curious and contemptible is that people aren't really sorry about it. They're merely offended. It's the availability heuristic at it's most obvious. I'm disappointed that people are not thinking, and merely willing to be offended so they can nod knowingly on Facebook and hoot about what a tremendous victory it is. It would have been. A hundred more more years ago. Now, it's simply a sad commentary on how socially myopic we are as a nation.

Anonymous said...

I find this post sad.

Rich Siegel said...

Dear Anonymous,

I find your sadness, sad.

And I find your unwillingness to expound upon your sadness or somehow argue against equality for gays and disrespect for African Americans indicative of your reduced intellectual capacity.

Please feel free to stop reading this blog lest you slip into a major depression.

Have a nice life.