It’s Not About (That) Flag, Folks. It’s About Us…

By Earl Merkel

Commentary & Op-Ed Opinion

June 25, 2015

These days, omnipresent outrage is both a product to peddle AND a tactic for all ideologies to exploit. Even campaigns that begin with the best of intentions routinely turn into a feeding frenzy that makes Godzilla’s cinematic tantrums of urban “renewal” pale in comparison.

The current example: the “outrage” regarding the so-called “Confederate battle-flag.” Sadly, it’s turned a “symbol” —of racism, or of regional pride, or simply of a historical fact; you choose— into a “symptom.”  And that, of a disease that is both highly contagious and potentially fatal to the body-politic.

It’s Orwellian, this rush to stuff inconvenient “symbols” down the Memory Hole; it’s reminiscent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and carries with it the stench-whiff of other forms of “cleansing”… in Uganda, Serbia, the Middle East, and Nazi Germany.

No, I am not a fan of racism. I have no personal stake in “preserving” the Confederate battle-flag.

But I HAVE witnessed folks turn into a group-think mob; some of them have even been people I personally knew, and I considered some of them to be as “rational” as they were “ethical.” But they weren’t immune to becoming part of that mob; perhaps few people are, when the momentum gathers enough steam.

It would likely be expedient for me to shrug and keep silent about this issue. But I’ve also seen what expedient decisions often lead to, and it’s seldom beneficial.

But neither is any knee-jerk default to yet-another emotion-fueled “outrage.” The ramifications can be perilous, and the results horrific.

— Earl Merkel

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