I love me,
I think I’m grand.
When I’m with me,
I hold my hand.
(from a vague childhood memory of a little ditty from Mad Magazine)
(I’m just kind of thinking through some things with this post)…
Here’s an ever-true insight – people act out of their own self-interest. Thus, it has always been, and always will be…
I’ve done a lot of reading about the Confederate Flag issue in recent days. One of the paths I have chosen to take is to read the “original” documents. I’ve re-read The CornerStone Speech by Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, delivered in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1861, and I’ve carefully read the official secession document from my own state, Texas: The Texas Ordinance of Secession, February 2, 1861. (I perused the documents of secession from a few other states also).
Here’s my conclusion. There is no way to escape the fact that the Confederate States of America, and thus the flag(s) of the Confederacy, were born under, and fully communicated, the idea of white supremacy; including the commitment to the idea that “slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” To do away with slavery was a threat to an entire worldview on the order of things, and thus the catalyst for the war.
Why? What is the why behind this unbending demand to maintain slavery? It is pretty clear that it was the incredible dependence on slavery for the economy of the Southern states. It was the “Empire of Cotton,” and without slave labor there would have been no such empire.
In other words… self-interest.
And, if we pay close attention, we see this time and again. For example: Why are there so few women at the top of the corporate hierarchy? (Of the Fortune 500 CEOs, the latest count was 21 women – barely over 4%). Why is this the case?
One answer has to be this: the people in such positions seem to be very good at making sure the next CEO is another male CEO. One would almost think that men, especially white men, see protecting their percentage of places at the top of the ladder as a matter of survival in the “proper order” of things.
In other words, self-interest.
But what happens when one group’s self-interest leads to the harm of another group? That is what has happened in the aftermath of the murder of nine Charleston church-goers by a young, white supremacist, draped in the Confederate Flag. The truth of that symbol becomes inescapable, doesn’t it? (Although, in reality, the horror done under this flag has been long-lasting. Lynchings in the thousands (read this New York Times article, if you can handle it); Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in front of the Confederate Flag proclaiming “segregation forever”).
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we are not looking at self-interest properly. I think it is in our self-interest to become much better at accepting, and promoting within our corporate and other circles, all kinds of people. Diversity is not just a good idea – it is a survival strategy for an ever-increasing diverse world.
There should be no symbols of white supremacy, male supremacy, or any other kind of supremacy.