An African-American concept artist has decided to celebrate Memorial Day this year by burning and burying the Confederate flag, according to the grio.
The artist, John Sims, 47, lives in Sarasota, Florida, and plans to orchestrate the event across the entire former Confederacy. Predictably, he’s drawn criticism from a number of anti-American groups, who call his move “divisive.”
A Symbol For Slavery And Treason
Many rightly see the Confederate flag — actually the Confederate battle flag, but the difference is a moot point — as a symbol for the Old South, and associate it with slavery, white supremacy, oppression of blacks and Africans, state-sponsored terrorism and lynchings.
That hasn’t kept the flag, which represents a state that died over 100 years ago, from popping up in the modern era, however. The Department of Revenue in Alabama approved of a license plate that features the flag in the background last year, about the same time that a New York teenager was suspended from school for flying the stars and bars. In December of 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear whether Texas was allowed to put the flag on their license plate, and ultimately agreed with Texas.
Earlier this year, outside of Detroit, a Livonia man hung a noose from a tree alongside the Confederate flag, while a group of Colorado teens caught heat for posing with the Confederate flag while carrying guns earlier this month.
The political dimension is even deeper. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley dismissed calls to retire the flag last year, saying,
I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.
After removing the flag from a soldier’s grave in Union Springs cemetery — public property, it should be emphasized — former State Senator and County Commissioner Myron Penn (D) received death threats. Penn called it a “symbol for oppression.” The Sons of Confederate Veterans are considering legal actions.
While the bloodshed of the Civil War is 150 years in the past, the specter lives on — Mississippi even has the confederate flag as it’s state flag.
“Inflaming Old Divisions”
Sims, who’s organizing the event, hopes to make people “reflect upon and critique the complex nature of the Confederate flag as a lasting symbol of terror.” Sims also wants to stage a funeral for the flag in all 11 states that made up the former Confederacy, including Kentucky and Missouri.
This doesn’t set well with some groups, however. Ben Jones, the spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said that it was “not only terribly offensive, but astonishingly idiotic,” and, “This sort of thing merely inflames old divisions.”
Jones added that for every flag Sims burns, “we will put 10 more up.”
Sims wasn’t deterred.
We are in America, and people have the right to fly whatever flag [they want]. And I have the right to bury whatever flag, and to burn whatever flag.
He called the flag “toxic” and said, “There’s a notion of ‘Southern Heritage’ and who owns [that], but a very important part of Southern culture is the African-American experience.… The Confederate flag is a flag of terror from its use by the Klan in the ’20s to the anti-civil-rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s,” Sims said.
The flag is almost too toxic to handle, and for those who do, I’m suspicious of their engagement. Are you in denial?
Given the war ended 150 years ago and they still haven’t let go? Denial may not be the proper word.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons