I wanted to sit down and write up all the stories from our vacation last week. We had a great time and I promise to tell you all about it, but first I need to talk about something more serious than frolicking on a beach. On our second evening in Orange Beach, Michael and I were enjoying a cocktail out on our balcony, just watching the water and the cars race up and down the street. We were chatting about nothing in particular when our conversation was halted by the sight of a Ford pick-up truck cruising down the road sporting a huge Rebel flag flying off the end of the truck bed. Both of us were shocked and outraged by the sight of it. Both of us were unable to comprehend the display of a symbol so blatantly racist.
Let's take for a moment into consideration, the swastika. What's the first thing that you think of when you see that symbol? Nazis? Holocaust? That's what I think of when I see it. To me that symbol represents a nation of conformity and anti-different. Those who were different, those who where Jewish, were rounded up like cattle and forced into concentration camps and slaughtered by the thousands. It doesn't matter to me that the swastika is an ancient symbol of the sun or stars or that it translates into "that which is associated with well being" in Sanskrit. It is and will always be forever tainted by the Nazis. When someone spray paints this symbol on something in an act of vandalism, we call it a hate crime.
Here are a few things we witnessed on this trip. There was a black family using the communal grill one evening in the condo complex we were staying in. It was about nine in the evening. The security guard went to them and reminded them that they close everything down at ten. She said some other things, but we didn't hear them. The family wasn't loud or out of bounds in any way and I'm positive that they only reason the security guard reminded them of the curfew was because they were not white. While we were driving home, we hit some traffic in St. Louis. Cars were zooming down the highway at brisk pace, but suddenly everyone slowed down in front us. When we noticed the police officer on the other side of the highway, Michael said something about how silly people were to slow down because they saw the cop. I realized we were in Ferguson and I said depending on who is driving that car, they probably feel they have to slow down because they probably fear the police. Because we have not done a good job in this country of telling them otherwise.
The Rebel flag is a reminder of a horrible injustice. It's a reminder that we treated fellow human beings in a very inhumanly fashion. It's a reminder that we are still treating fellow human beings unfairly and unjustly. It comes down to treating each other with respect and realizing that we all share this space. I don't know the answer to fixing the problem this country has with race relations. I would think that discrimination based on skin color would be a mute point by now. It definitely should be. Yet, it just seems to be getting worse. It has always been such a simple concept to me. Treat others the way you would wish to be treated. They teach us this in Sunday school and pres-school. Mr. Roger's told us this every day on PBS. Have respect for one another. So simple.
Yes, it may be your states' right to fly the Rebel flag, but it doesn't make it right. It doesn't make you right.