Historically, the Confederate flag has been proudly carried into numerous wars by Southern soldiers as a symbol of their unity and patriotic pride. According to Greg Grandin, Author and Historian, presently the South provides more than 40% of all military recruits, many of them white; only 15% are from the Northeast. The negative result of a high percentage of Southern soldiers was evident during the Vietnam war when the Confederate flag was displayed by Southern soldiers as a symbol of white pride. Lieutenant Eddie Kitchen, an African-American writing to his mother in Chicago in February of 1968, “and we still have some people who are still fighting the Civil War.” Kitchen was killed two weeks after writing this letter to his mother. She is not so sure white soldiers weren’t involved in his death because of his statements made against the Southern soldier’s racist attitudes. The Vietnam War saw a proliferation of Confederate Flags such they were being sold in Vietnamese markets. Many black soldiers who confronted the racism by white soldiers in Vietnam were insulted and abused. (Before It Was a Symbol of Racist Backlash, the Confederate Flag was a Symbol of Endless War)
Grandin reports, “The Confederate flag still flies overseas. Is was carried into Iraq in 2003. In Afghanistan, at the infamous Bagram Theater Internment Facility, a platoon indicated in the torture of detainees, known as the ‘Testosterone Gang, ” hung a Confederate flag in their tent.” It is of concern that such a high percentage of our soldiers overseas may harbor racism based upon their Southern heritage. For obvious reasons, Southern soldiers war time behavior increases the risk of non-American soldiers being abused, and a higher percentage of civilians being killed.
Before the flag’s overt symbolic message of intolerance and racism, Grandin states, “…well before it became an icon of redneck backlash, the Confederate Battle flag served for half a century as an important pennant in the expanding American empire and a symbol of national unification, not polarization.” Later, during the Civil Rights movement the Confederate flag became a representation of Southern resistance to racial desegregation. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, many white soldiers celebrated by raising the Confederate flag and burning crosses” (Grandin).
Unfortunately, the American flag for many Americans is transforming into a representation of lack of acceptance of other religions and races. God speaks to us in various ways if we are but willing to listen and see. Two days ago I observed Middle School students, possibly track team members, running near their school while wearing red, white and blue and one young male carrying the American flag. No, it was not a national holiday. During the same day, I observed American flags flying from pick-up trucks, bumper decals, and yesterday on a bearded white man’s t-shirt. I understood God was trying to show me something, so I began praying and asking for discernment. There were different levels of discernment of God’s revelation, but yesterday God revealed our American flag is transforming into a symbol of twisted white American pride that excludes immigrants, Blacks, Muslims, Jews and gays.
The America where the French gifted the United States with the Statue of Liberty. The plaque later attached to the statue etched with the words written in a sonnet by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
My brothers and sisters of all races and religions in America, we need to wake up and see the truth. Don’t stay asleep. The warning signs are all around you. Lashing out at white people will not solve the problem, creating further polarization will not solve the problem, hiding within your respective ethnic groups will not solve the problem, nor being fearful will solve the problem. You must lay down your egos, and reach out a hand in friendship and understanding. Those who are ignorant and prejudiced are not going to reach out to you.
Jews and Muslims must make intentional gestures of peace and understanding towards Christians. Create personal relationships with Christians and each other as this will protect you and your families. Create peace. Create peace. Create peace. Black men must make intentional gestures of peace and understanding towards police departments. White police don’t understand the cycles of racism that leads to poverty that can lead to crime that leads to hopelessness that leads to anger. You must step out of your comfort zones of anger and educate white police officers. Dialogue. Understand you must solve the problem of white officers on black men racism together. Open their eyes. All religions must solve issues of hatred through the teachings of their respective religions. Seek God first. Filter all of your actions through the your respective religion’s teachings on peace and love. Pray for God’s (Allah’s) help in establishing peace.
Without peaceful actions, conflict and hatred will increase. Understand. Please have ears to hear, and eyes to see.