By Mick Dumdell
It doesn’t happen very often, but this morning I was shaken out of an over-intellectualized stupor by a big, burly man at Starbucks. There I was, in line waiting to order my usual “tall skinny cinnamon dolce latte at 140 with whipped cream” and talking on the phone to a friend about all those racist Confederate flags in Charleston. I was in the middle of a rant about how racism and all the race problems in America would never be resolved while that horrid banner still flew.
This guy, looking like some ignorant redneck right out of Deliverance, turns around and looks at me, and says, “And pray tell sir, how many Confederate flags are flying right now in South Chicago? Or in Baltimore? Or Philadelphia? Or Oakland? Last time I drove my big rig through those cities, I didn’t see none of them at all.”
Something about the way he said, “big rig” frightened me, so I simply responded with, “Yeah, maybe you have a point.” Because I live in a backwards Red state, and I wanted to avoid one of those violent “stand your ground” controversies. After I got home, and my pulse rate leveled back out, I got to thinking about what he said. Although he was obviously a big simpleton with the inadequate mental capacity to understand the more esoteric fine points of racism in the 21st century, there was a certain primitive charm to his argument. I could see it being repeated on conservative talk radio, and FOXNews, and by certain noxious bloggers and commenters.
So, I came up with a solution. Now this is going to be controversial, and I want to be sure that everyone understands that I am only making it to help end racism and White Privilege. First, let’s look at something we are all familiar with, vaccination.
The country doctor Edward Jenner applied the knowledge that immunity to smallpox was related to exposure of material from another infected individual. He learned that milkmaids were often unaffected by smallpox after suffering hand sores. These sores are from the disease known as cowpox, a smallpox-related disease that is passed from cow-to-cow and (sometimes) cow-to-human. After finding a milkmaid suffering cowpox, Jenner ran a needle through the sore. This same needle was used to inoculate an eight-year-old boy named James Phipps. After exposure to the disease, Phipps did not suffer infection. Jenner published his findings, calling his new preventative technique a “vaccine”.
I submit that we should utilize this same technique with the Confederate flag. We should diligently strive to find white individuals to fly these flags in all those places where it doesn’t currently fly. South Chicago for example. The mere act of flying that flag will rile up passions against it in Black areas. This is analogous to the small prick of a vaccine needle. The Confederate flag should become a common sight in every Black neighborhood in the country.
Then, and only then, should we begin agitating to remove those flags. Because in all reality, what is the use of a symbolic victory, when the very symbol we are trying to remove doesn’t even exist in a material fashion in most Black neighborhoods? Plus, if that big, burly verbal-ruffian at Starbucks could so quickly and easily think of his response, the smarter conservative mouthpieces will certainly follow suit. We Liberals and Progressives need to put the cart behind the horse. We win little if remove the Confederate flag before we make it mean what we want to to mean to the people who we are trying to help.
Now, I am not certain on this point, but I am leaning towards not flying the Confederate flag in predominantly white liberal areas. While that would be great as far as motivating the base, I am afraid that the invasion of liberal safe spaces by such a noxious symbol could easily result in a great deal of emotional suffering, and maybe even physical suffering and death. See:
Very truly yours,
Mick “Spin” Dumdell