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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Symbols

All this talk of flags. There's ben a lot of news lately over two incidents that happened in America over these last couple weeks. We had a shooting in Charlestown, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where eight members of a black church and their minister Rev. Clementa Pinckney were killed by a white supremacist, Dylann Storm Roof, was charged with the crime. This was heinous act of violence and my heart goes out to the victims who were laid to rest. I sincerely hope that Mr. Roof gets his due process and the community and the US can start to repair the damage done. One of the casualties was the Confederate battle flag of Northern Virginia often the center of a widening debate between Southern states and civil right organizations. The debate is whether the flag represents Southern Heritage or oppression. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I am an observer. I'm a Connecticut Yankee living in North Georgia and Georgia is a battleground state. The number of confederate battle flags being flown has increased dramatically and all indications are that it as little to do with hatred and a lot to do with rebelling against oppression. I know, seems pretty ironic.

I'm going to take you back to 1979 when a TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard, premiered. It was about a couple of good ol' boys living in the fictional town of Hazzard Georgia, with their cousin Daisy and more importantly her iconic shorts, their Uncle Jesse and mechanic friend, Cooter, fighting the local corruption of Boss Hogg and the Sherriff, Rosco P. Coultrane. The Duke Cousins has a classic 1969 Dodge Charger named the General Lee and it was often seen thundering down the back roads of Hazzard decked out in orange with a Confederate Battle Flag painted on the hood. It was a fun show and good family entertainment, I recon to say the viewing probably extended well beyond my family and it was an international hit and it's stars were sex symbols. I'm sure I had a Daisy Duke poster on my bedroom wall. No one thought twice of the flag on the car, because the show wasn't about hate, or white supremacy, it was about family and making sure that Boss Hogg didn't get away with his schemes with as many car chases as possible. Skip to today and TV Land still airing reruns has pulled the show in a wave of reaction that has government buildings ripping down Confederate flags as fast as they can.

Ironically, I can still watch Hogan's Heroes where some of the characters are Nazi's and while the show is about POWs held prisoner in a Nazi camp. While the German soldiers are portrayed an bumbling idiots and are thwarted by the efforts of Hogan and his crew, they Nazis are also sympathetic and good natured. Often Sgt. Schultz and Col. Klink are just as fun and entertaining as any member of Hogan's crew. The swastika, before the Nazis took it over, was a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A sacred symbol twisted, corrupted and given power by a political party bent on the purity of a race of people.

Also in a very active couple of weeks the Rainbow flag has popped up everywhere to symbolize the 5 to 4 supreme court decision in favor of gay marriage. That has also brought out the best in some people and the worst in others. In my editorial opinion, congratulations! If it bring a little more happiness to the world, I'm absolutely in favor of it.

The US flag is a symbol the stars and stripes means something very specific to the people of the US and lot of people believe the flag represents freedom, democracy, fairness and tolerance and as an American I want people to believe that about my flag, because that's what I believe. I also know there drones circling around parts of the world hunting for people that don't agree with what I believe. I'm guessing the US Flag means something very different to them, probably not dissimilar to the swastika, or the Confederate Battle Flag. The problem is: it's a symbol and symbols have power when people give them power. (I'm not going to start on religious symbols as one can of worms per post is enough) While we may not all agree on the symbolism there are a few things we can agree on, a handshake is preferable to a pointed gun, a smile makes someone look more attractive than a sneer, a hug is way more comforting than a slug to the jaw and a hand up is so much better than knocking someone to the ground. (Unless, of course, they're evil and bent on world domination, then by all means stop them)

In other news, Pizza Hut has a pizza ringed with mini hot dogs and Hardee's/Carl's Jr has a hamburger on top of potato chips covered in hot dogs, because 'Merica. I think I'm going to eat Chinese food tonight.

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