FW: Thomas Sowell on The conferderate flag in SC

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From: Dan Kohn (dan@teledesic.com)
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 05:48:06 PST

-----Original Message-----
From: Alexander Blakely [mailto:xander@speakeasy.org]
Sent: Monday, 2000-01-24 10:30
To: Dan Kohn
Subject: Re: Thomas Sowell on The conferderate flag in SC

(I had trouble replying to all, so, if you think this should be passed on to
others, please forward)

Flags are symbols of loyalty, not heritage. But the confederate flag is not
problem. As any real estate developer will tell you, it's all about
location, location. I think people have the right to fly any flag they want
(Confederate, Nazi, or Soviet) on their own private property. If Lawrence
can incorporate jumping over a broom stick at his large, but private
that is his decision. More power to him.

In South Carolina, however, the confederate flag sails over a legislature,
elected body empowered to make laws for ALL of its constituents, not just
landowners. Most South Carolinians polled last week want the flag off the
capital and put on a Civil War memorial. That seems rather sensible.
are intended to honor the past. And, if people want to honor the past
then that seems the proper place. Not atop an active legislature.

I lived in Russia from 1992 - 1996. I traveled around a lot. I would always
a chill down my spin whenever I'd enter a town center and see the sickle and
hammer still flying over city hall, or, even worse, the city court house. I
didn't mind the folks who marched every May 1st with their red flags and
pictures of Stalin. They were free to express themselves, or make fools of
themselves, however they chose. But atop an active government building, the
Soviet flag went from a tragic farce, to a frightening force.

One more thing. I think it is hypocritical for Republicans to try to outlaw
burning--something that offends their sensibilities--but defer to South
Carolinians on the matter of the Confederate flag. How can they protect the
stars and stripes as the symbol of our sacred freedom, then turn around and
claim that the stars and bars is just cloth and dye, not symbolic of
more than the past in general. People are free to burn flags, and incur the
wrath of their fellow Americans, and they are similarly free to fly the
Confederate flag on their own property. Just keep it in its proper place.
Location, location, location.

John Boyer accurately pointed out the sorry selection of black leaders today
a symptom of good times. Al Sharpton is a far cry from Frederick Douglas.
And Al
Gore is a far cry from Abraham Lincoln. (For that matter, George W. Bush is
far cry from George Bush.) It seems to be axiomatic, good times bring

Welcome to 2000

Dan Kohn wrote:

> Interesting viewpoint, but I completely disagree.
> >Any association of human beings -- from a
> >marriage to a nation -- involves putting up with
> >things we would rather not be bothered with.
> >Only children insist that everything must be done
> >their way.
> This week's Economist has an essay making a connection I hadn't seen
> which ties the debate about the confederate flag to issues of respecting
> minority rights in other parts of the world. It really comes down to a
> question of political leadership, and on this, the South Carolina
> legislature (and the Republican presidential candidates) are failing
> miserably. I should probably state my biases before I continue: I'm
> I grew up in South Carolina, and I fought on neither side of the War of
> Northern Aggression. However, just as "only children insist that
> must be done their way", adults understand that compromise is one of the
> keys to civilizations.
> <http://www.economist.com/editorial/justforyou/current/index_us5732.html>:
> The bitterness of the arguments is a reminder that America’s historical
> experience still shapes the country in a more powerful way than most
> Americans like to think. People pride themselves on being open to new
> History is bunk. The Internet changes everything. Yet such attitudes form
> only part of the overall national picture. Elsewhere, history still
> for good and ill.... And in South Carolina, while supporters of the flag
> talked of the state’s distinctive history, the protestors carried banners
> saying: “Your heritage is my slavery. This is, in large part, an argument
> about the past.
> Of the historical experiences shaping America, slavery still lurks most
> poisonously in the bloodstream. Of course, that partly reflects the
> of the system itself and the scale of the conflict that ended it: the
> War (which began in South Carolina) was the first modern war.
> But it also reflects a failure of political leadership over many years.
> Other countries—notably Germany—have come to terms with yet worse horrors
> a far shorter time. They have done so partly because leaders have moved
> country away from the poisonous parts of its history. When Americans look
> conflicts abroad—in South Africa, say, or Northern Ireland, or Kosovo and
> Bosnia—they expect the same thing. They want to see national leaders
> and persuade reluctant populations towards reconciliation. And when the
> elites start talking about “heritage, or cultural particularism, this is
> impatiently recognised for what it is: code for damaging nostalgia or
> cultural divisiveness.
> By this standard, therefore, the reaction of the local South Carolina
> legislators is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising. They started
> flying the Confederate Southern Cross not in 1860, when the state seceded
> from the union, but in 1962, as a reaction to the civil-rights legislation
> of the time. So their current attachment to it smacks more of
> deliberate defiance of black feelings—than the inescapable clutches of
> history. But they are the local leaders, and have the last say.
> The bigger failure has been on the part of the national ones, especially
> Republican front-runners. (Both Democratic candidates said the flag should
> come down; so did Bill Clinton.) George W. Bush, the governor of Texas,
> refused to take sides in the dispute, arguing that it was just a local
> issue, like some state zoning law. This was fairly unconvincing to begin
> with. It was compounded because Mr Bush has not hesitated to express his
> opinions about other state disputes which seem just as local, such as the
> decision by the Vermont Supreme Court to recognise gay marriage at the end
> of last year (he’s against that). “Compassionate conservatism now seems
> consistent with the Confederate flag.
> - dan
> --
> Daniel Kohn <mailto:dan@dankohn.com>
> tel:+1-425-602-6222 fax:+1-425-602-6223
> http://www.dankohn.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Boyer [mailto:johnboy@johnboy.to]
> Sent: Sunday, 2000-01-23 17:01
> To: FORK
> Cc: thanh
> Subject: Thomas Sowell on The conferderate flag in SC
> Thomas Sowell's latest column, in which he takes up the issue of the
> confederate flag. Once again he shows that he is one of America's most
> valuable intellectual assets. Well, that's my opinion anyway.
> Here is the best quote...
> "Over the past hundred years or so, black leadership in
> general has gone from the likes of Frederick Douglass to the likes of Al
> Sharpton -- and that has not been up."
> --johnboy
> http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell1.asp
> LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM is the author of
> a book about the black elite titled, "Our Kind of
> People." He is also one of them. However, at
> his formal wedding reception with 260 guests,
> he and his bride jumped over a broom.
> This was an old custom from the days of the
> slave plantations, when of course there was no
> legal marriage for blacks. This action signified to
> all on the plantation that the couple were to be
> considered married.
> Why such a ceremony on Manhattan's posh
> upper east side today? Because it "paid homage
> to our slave ancestors," Graham said. If that's
> what he wanted to do, so be it. But no one in
> his right mind would think that this was some
> sort of endorsement of slavery.
> We also have to recognize that white people in
> the South had ancestors as well. Some of them
> want to pay them homage -- and they do it with
> the Confederate flag, which is as much a part of
> the long gone past as jumping over a broom.
> Personally, as a black man, I am not thrilled at
> the sight of a Confederate flag. On the other
> hand, I am not thrilled at the sight of
> professional wrestling or Alan Alda, but I don't
> demand that they be banned.
> Any association of human beings -- from a
> marriage to a nation -- involves putting up with
> things we would rather not be bothered with.
> Only children insist that everything must be done
> their way.
> If the current campaign to get the Confederate
> flag off the state capitol in South Carolina were
> just an isolated controversy, it might not mean
> much.
> But it is part of a much bigger trend of
> constantly scavenging for grievances.
> There was a time when very real and very big
> grievances hit black people from all sides. You
> didn't have to look for them. You didn't have to
> do historical research or put people's statements
> under a microscope to see what they "really"
> meant.
> Ask yourself: Who do you know personally
> who has benefited from having a chip on his
> shoulder? Chances are you are more likely to
> know someone who has messed himself up, in
> any number of ways, by going around with a chip on his shoulder.
> Unfortunately, it has become very fashionable, and even lucrative, to
> encourage various groups to feel victimized and to go scavenging through
> history for grievances. Nothing is easier to find than sin among human
> beings, past and present, black and white and all
> the other colors of the rainbow.
> If you want to spend your time and energy on
> this kind of project, just be aware that there are
> all sorts of other things on which you could be
> spending that time and energy. Admittedly, if you
> are a politician or a leader of some movement,
> this may be where your biggest payoff will come.
> But it is not where the biggest payoff will come
> for those who listen to you.
> In a global economy, where the Internet is truly a worldwide web, you
> can engage in transactions with people on every continent who neither
> know nor care what you look like, much less who your ancestors were.
> In this environment, to burden the younger generation of blacks or other
> minorities with the grievance mentality is to sell their birthright for a
> mess
> of pottage -- or for money and power for race hustlers.
> There was a time when the civil rights organizations had a very important
> role to play and when they had leaders of a much higher caliber than
> those seen today. Over the past hundred years or so, black leadership in
> general has gone from the likes of Frederick Douglass to the likes of Al
> Sharpton -- and that has not been up.
> In a sense, this too is a consequence of the rise of blacks and of the
> country in general. At a time when blacks were being lynched at a rate of
> two or three per week, there was a literally life and death need for the
> best people in the black community to do whatever they could to turn the
> tide.
> If blacks were still being lynched today, no doubt many a black Wall
> Street lawyer or black Silicon Valley entrepreneur would be in the civil
> rights movement instead, bending his efforts toward saving lives instead
> of making money. But that has long since ceased to be the situation, so
> racial "leadership" now falls to the second-raters and the demagogues.
> If the current civil rights establishment has any worthwhile role left to
> play, it will probably be by making more and more Americans sick of
> hearing about race, and therefore more and more inclined to judge each
> person as an individual.

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