Boaz, Postrel, and the Flag

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The
recent vote on the Mississippi flag brought forth comments from
unexpected sources. I was surprised to see two prominent libertarians
weigh in on the issue. What surprised me most about the observations
of David Boaz and Virginia Postrel was their apparent acceptance
of the rhetoric of my race's professional demagogues. Perhaps I
expect libertarians to be sharper than most people in seeing through
underlying motives, especially those of the elites known as "black
leaders," whom Walter Williams refers to as "power-crazed"
and "vindictive." I would place the emphasis on vindictive.

Now,
if Boaz and Postrel had limited their remarks to a suggestion that
an official state flag need not incorporate the emblems of past
governments, and avoided attempts to define what cultural symbols
"mean," they might have made an acceptable case. Instead,
each chose to be a mouthpiece, perhaps inadvertently, for race charlatans,
even spewing the tired, old charges of "racism," and,
in Postrel's case, scorning Mississippi for not joining the "New
South."

Contrary
to what Mr. Boaz thinks, the "violence and cruelty of slavery"
would not be a "living memory to millions of Americans,"
without the vigorous and dedicated efforts of the civil rights industry.
Indeed, in recent years, Confederate symbols were hardly noticed
or remarked upon by most southern blacks. Nor were such symbols
viewed as a threat – that is, not until a conniving NAACP, flailing
around to justify its ongoing, worthless existence, decided it had
found a new money tree, that it has been shaking dollars off ever
since. Stirring the race pot is all that's left to these crusaders
without a cause.

In
what sounds like an authoritative voice, Boaz claims that the current
Mississippi flag does not represent "the values of Mississippi's
one million black citizens." So, we're now into a numbers game?
Do libertarians believe that rights are ascribed to individuals
on the basis of whose sensibilities may or may not be offended?
If aspects of a heritage means something positive to one set of
citizens, does it get canceled out because members of another group
are offended? If so, why?

And
what of the thousands of blacks who do not feel that their values
are upended by the symbols of a past society, even though an obnoxious
leadership presses them into protest posturing? Reporting on the
final vote that maintained the old flag, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper
informs that in some black counties there were votes registered
for the old 19th century flag. In an earlier poll of
blacks, the newspaper found that about 20% actually supported the
traditional flag.

Do
the sensibilities of those blacks who feel a historical attachment
to the old flag – the sight of which does not conjure up plantations
and wicked slave masters – count for anything, or do only the alleged
"one million" matter?

It
is disappointing to learn that even people who have reputations
as objective libertarians have fallen into parroting the mantras
of the established black leaders, whose primary goal, of necessity,
is to keep past grievances and sorrows alive and thriving.

May
5, 2001

Elizabeth
Wright [send her mail]
is editor of Issues &
Views
.

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