The Campaign Against Southern Symbols

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The
NAACP is continuing its "border patrols," which are stationed
at Welcome Centers on South Carolina's interstate highways. The
purpose is to discourage tourists from visiting and spending money
in the State. This is the NAACP's way of punishing South Carolina
for not obeying its directive regarding the Confederate flag, which
it calls the "Confederate Swastika," a symbol of hate.

After
last year's complaint by the NAACP, the Confederate flag was removed
from the Capitol and a smaller version was incorporated into the
existing Confederate memorial located on the statehouse grounds.
It was relocated to prevent the flag from implying sovereignty,
which was the essence of the NAACP's protest. Also, the Confederate
flag in the Senate chambers was removed. And, on another statehouse
grounds site, an African-American History Monument was constructed
and dedicated. These conciliatory actions should have ended the
flag squabble and allowed the state to move on to more important
business.

But,
as many of us suspected, the NAACP wasn't satisfied. It has demanded
that the flag only be exhibited in a glass case inside a museum
or other public building. Until this happens, the organization states
that the border patrols will continue.

After
the flag was relocated, another "symbol" protest was launched;
this one against The Citadel, Charleston's famous military academy.
The school's African American Society demanded that the playing
of "Dixie" be limited to one weekend a year during the
Citadel Story Pageant. Also, the Society insisted that cadets be
permitted to opt out of standing in formation when the song is played.
Then, in a truly magnanimous gesture, the Society said it might
allow "Dixie" to be played at other times if a compelling
historical context could be demonstrated.

Groups
like the NAACP don't seem to understand that a "symbol"
is something than can be perceived differently by different people.
So why should they think that we will accept only their interpretation?
Well, happily, we are now seeing evidence of resistance as exemplified
by citizens who have refused to surrender in at least two "symbol
removal" campaigns.

Citizens
are refusing to yield at Stone Mountain Memorial Park outside of
Atlanta, where immense figures of Confederate leaders have been
carved into the mountain's granite face. Activists are demanding
that these figures be sandblasted off because of their symbolic
connation.

Also,
standing firm is the Augusta National Golf Course, home of the famous
Masters Tournament. It is under attack because of the clubhouse,
which offends because it is a replica of Richland, a famous antebellum
plantation. Activists have mounted a campaign to have it torn down
and replaced with a less "insensitive" modern structure.

The
above cases show how irrational these "symbol removal"campaigns
have become. They have reached the point where we must stand firm
and start saying no.

We
have spent the last half of the 20th century removing
symbols in an effort to appease the NAACP and other civil rights
groups. Plaques have been removed, statues taken down, and roads
and highways renamed. State nicknames and state songs have been
changed, and state flags have been redesigned. Certain songs cannot
be sung or played, and certain words and phrases may not be used.
We have revised the mascot names for athletic teams; bridges, buildings
and schools have also been renamed. And we have removed books from
libraries, rewritten textbooks, and banned films.

The
same arguments for relocating the Confederate flag were used to
justify each of these "symbol removal" projects. Each
time the South capitulated, another tradition would be targeted
for extinction. And the process repeated itself. If South Carolina
makes yet another concession on the Confederate flag, we can be
sure that the NAACP will not be satisfied. Something else must always
be protested in order for this organization to justify the ongoing
corporate contributions as well as the large state and federal grants
it receives.

March
12, 2002

Gail
Jarvis [send
him mail
] is a CPA living in
Beaufort, SC, an unreconstructed Southerner, and an opponent of
big government.

LRC
needs your help to stay on the air.

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