Mourning the Confederacy

Pastor Dwight McKissic has submitted a resolution to the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting which condemns display of the Confederate flag. Nobody who is aware that it was SBC theologians who found Biblical justification for slavery, or who grasps the reality of continuing racial animus in the south, will be surprised to learn that McKissic is getting pushback from Godly southerners.

As a proud son of the South, I agree, there are many, many great values, virtues, and customs embedded and inherent in Southern culture that I too celebrate and appreciate.

For some, the Confederate Flag (CF) is a symbol of Southern culture that affirms and applauds a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, fierce independence, state rights, faith, family, the right to bear arms, hospitality, congeniality, sharing, and a Bible-belt, church-going assumption. However, honesty also demands that Southerners admit that the CF—at least in part—represents “a slave society and a society bent on keeping Blacks living in the Jim Crow style.”

The above quote came from a member of an SBC church who requested that I consider withdrawing or modifying the Resolution that I proposed to the SBC eliminating the CF from public life. ( I appreciate the honesty and transparency of those who admit that the CF is complicit with racism, even while parsing out the positive aspects of Southern culture, that they maintain that the CF also represents.

Once upon a time, I suppose, one might have (uneasily) accepted the claim that display of the Confederate flag was the symbol and reminder of a chivalrous heritage, magnolia and honeysuckle, et cetera, et cetera.

Dylann Roof changed that; now, you display the Confederate flag for only one reason: You’re a redneck racist asshole and you want everybody to know it.

Which is fine with me. Why should I object if somebody wants to go around displaying a sign that declares he is an idiot whose company all educated, decent-minded grown-ups should avoid? Saves me the time of figuring it out — right?

My thoughts about public-sector displays of Confederate memorabilia are a bit more complicated. Basically, I think history should be rebuked rather than ignored or whitewashed; keep those Confederate flags and memorials, and add something explicitly renouncing the heritage they symbolize.

I am sure the SBC will pass the resolution, even if the majority of delegates are the grandchildren, children, and actual actors who stood at roadside and threw rocks at black freedom marchers in the ’60s. They need to get its ugly past as far behind it as possible so they can focus their energy on demonizing gays and transgenders.

UPDATE:   A sample comment:

So, we bully one group, so as not to offend another group.
Now that’s Christian.

And on top of that, this resolution has nothing to do with real racism.
But of course, we must be politically correct.

While this resolution has nothing to do with real racism, if it is not presented and passed, the media will condemn the SBC as racist and bigoted, or at least backward.

UPDATE II   Here is a comment I can endorse, from one of SBC Voices’ perennial outsider-underdogs:

In fact, we should be ashamed that society did what we as the church should have done first. Just look at what society has condemned and made laws to prevent while the church sat silent. This is just one of the many human issues that the church either went against or sat silent saying nothing. That is the shame of it all.

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