Thank heavens we have a flag to draw the nation’s ire. A flag can’t be racist, but its symbolism can certainly be construed as offensive. This is a good thing at the moment for anyone who needs to convince themselves that we can make things right by discarding the Confederate flag. When we are finished the country can move forward by continuing to embrace the racist symbols that do the most harm.
Discarding the history of the Old South doesn’t atone for the deaths of nine people, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that politics is forcing the nation to accept blame for something we can’t prevent (see: Church Tragedy Will Be Dishonored by Politics). Unless the goal is to repress free speech and control the media and Internet, we will never be able to stop hate from being accessible to those who go looking for it any more than we can stop them from finding inspiration in a historic symbol like a flag.
Some racist symbols are easy to get rid of
The misplaced hysteria that accompanies anything to do with race relations in the U.S. will demand that we eliminate symbols that recall part of our history many of us are not proud of. This is not lost on public figures who shoved each other out of the way in their eagerness to denounce the rebel flag. This is a safe position to take if you have anything to do with shaping public policy. Taking down a flag or knocking over a statue doesn’t cost much and doesn’t address five racist symbols that are worse than any flag or hate-filled online screed.
5 racist symbols we won’t let go of
Before we lose our minds over historical reminders that politics will have a difficult time eradicating, we might want to consider five racist symbols that we plan on keeping around.
1. Black Americans on public assistance
Welfare spending is big business. This time-honored racist symbol will be with us as long as we kid ourselves that public assistance is temporary support and a way out of poverty.
Two years ago the Congressional Black Caucus backed our welfare state:
On June 3, 2013, Congressional Black Caucus Members discussed “Lifting Americans Out of Poverty” and the ongoing effort to maintain funding for anti-poverty programs that support millions of families across the country.1
A few months ago the Freddie Gray incident called for a new war on poverty:
As we begin the process to seek justice for Freddie Gray, we thought it was important to also focus on the underlying systemic issues that give rise to the tragedies that we’ve seen. And that means a renewed focus on trying to address poverty,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), senior Democrat on the Budget Committee. “We need a new 21st century War on Poverty rather than the failed War on Drugs.”2
We have been fighting a war on poverty since the days of LBJ. Other than keeping Democrats in office who demand that we keep spending to fix a problem that never seems to get better, what have we accomplished?
2. African Americans killing each other
Chicago is gearing up for Independence Day weekend by calling for lots of police overtime. There is a reason for all those extra hours (see: Illinois Liberal Politics Won’t Stop Chicago Shootings). This racist symbol is very real and too many Americans know it, but the news from Washington is that we need to get police departments who patrol dangerous neighborhoods under control to stop violence at the hands of law enforcement.
3. Activists whose fortunes grow as their flock fails
Public appearances and loud denunciation don’t help people but they do keep big, loud mouths in the spotlight. Poor activist is often an oxymoron. Poor African American is not.
4. Making a dismal standard of living a goal
Democrats have turned the minimum wage into an acceptable lifestyle for working families even though their loftiest hope of $15.00 an hour will still not be enough for a family to live on. This is not something businesses should be ashamed of. Public figures should be ashamed for telling people who trust them that this is a goal, not a stepping stone.
5. Using racism as a tool instead of doing something to benefit black Americans
Where would the likes of Al Sharpton be without racism? The money will stop flowing and the sky will fall if racism, hate, and these five symbols of how we feel about black Americans ever go away.