June 28, 2015
Two nights ago I watched the complete Eulogy which President Obama delivered in the memory of one of the nine victims of last week’s terrorist attack in Charleston; the good Reverend Clementa Pinckney.
Now, I have heard many sermons, speeches, and eulogies in my life, but I am not sure that I have ever heard a more moving and effective Eulogy than that delivered in the memory of the good Reverend, when President Obama spoke on his behalf Friday afternoon in Charleston. President Obama not only eloquently eulogized Reverend Pinckney himself; but he likewise spoke on behalf of the other 8 victims of the terrorist attack, and in the process he quite passionately represented an entire race of people who were actually the overall intended victim of a terrorist plot hatched in the mind of one who was raised to hate, and who then acted accordingly. (That is the scariest aspect of hatred. The only thing which distinguishes the murderer from the hater is that the murderer acts in accord with the hate. That is a scary and a sobering thought. Or so it seems to me.)
As my wife and I watched the President’s speech unfold; we periodically wiped tears from our eyes as our Nation’s leader proceeded to lay out before the entire nation; a case based upon the pain of being the victim of systematic social terrorism. And a clearly emotionally charged and inner afflicted President Obama soberly challenged us to think our way past the hatred and hostility of our era, in search of peace and harmony. The lump in my throat that night seemed a constant reminder of the obstacles that our President so clearly cited, and the challenge which he put before us all to overcome and conquer those obstacles which seem to so constantly beset us has laid heavily on my mind ever since.
Now, among the topics which our President so eloquently addressed in Reverend Pinckney’s eulogy, was that of the Confederate Flag. And, under the circumstances, with good reason. For the climate of white supremacy and racial hatred which abounds all too ever present in my beloved Southland, did in fact influence the thinking of, and the subsequent actions of Reverend Pinckney’s murderer. Consequently, the good Reverend and eight other innocent victims were maliciously executed, and now a lot of innocent people mourn. And whether we white Southerners choose to acknowledge reality or not; the fact is that our Confederate Flag is in fact a symbol of white supremacy and racial hatred, and furthermore is in fact a rallying symbol for those who choose to think thusly, and finally and fore mostly such did in fact influence the shameless murder of nine innocent people in Charleston last week.
Have we white Southerners no shame? Can we not connect the dots of reality without forming a Confederate symbol in the process? Are we so obsessed with an antiquated symbol which inflicts pain and which incites hostility that we cannot honor our ancestors by merely living good and decent lives?
As I see the situation; we white Southerners can put our heads in the sand and tattoo the Confederate Flag on our butts in such a way as to exhibit our ignorance and our insensitivity for all the world to behold, or we can wake up and realize that the year is 2015, and Richmond is no longer the Capital.
Now please understand my perspective: I am a born and raised Texan of multi generational Southern roots, and am of an ancestral heritage which ties me directly to the Confederate States of America on both sides of my family. As such, I hate to even carry a Five Dollar Bill in my wallet, because when I see the image of Abraham Lincoln, I see the image of a man who is in my judgment beneath contempt. As far as I am concerned, Abraham Lincoln was a cruel and insensitive tyrant who should have been brought up on charges as a War Criminal for utilizing his role as President to endorse the inhumane oppression and systematic efforts of regional genocide of innocent Southern citizens; especially during the last year of the War (I have a similar opinion of George W Bush with regards to endorsing the torture of my fellow human beings during the Iraq War). Furthermore, I cringe every time Abraham Lincoln is given credit for freeing the slaves, since he did not free a single slave at any point in time. (The truth be told, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave, nor was it effected to that end. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation actually AUTHORIZED the ongoing practice of slavery in the North and in specific regions of the South which were already under Northern control). And so it is my personal opinion, that if Abraham Lincoln had actually been the beacon of humanitarian concern that his image has come to represent in the history accounts, that he would have neither endorsed shameless and inhumane acts against innocent citizens of the South (which he did); and he would have freed the slaves under his jurisdiction (which he did not).
In addition to my low opinion of Mr. Lincoln as a person, my sympathies for my beloved Southland are as natural as anyone else’s love for their home and their heritage. Consequently, I have a hard time withholding further feelings of resentment for the free pass which has traditionally been given to the Northerners who were regularly involved in the slave trade, while my ancestors serve as the scapegoat for the national sin of human trafficking and institutionalized slavery. Thus, my shame for the crimes of my southern ancestors against humanity, is matched with my contempt for the Northern mariners who enabled the process and who profited handsomely by the transport and the sale of captured and maltreated African people. The fact is that slavery was a national sin; and was a shameful act of cruelty and insensitivity for which everyone actually involved should be forever known as shameful representatives of the human race.
Now all that said, I ask of my fellow white Southerners just how the displaying of the Confederate Flag in any way affects a change as to the injustices against the Southern people during the war, or how such in any way corrects the Northern biased misinformation and revisionist history regarding the same?
Will the displaying of the Confederate flag somehow enlighten the general public to the fact the Ulysses S Grant owned slaves until he was forced by law to free them (after the War); or to the fact that Robert E Lee was an Abolitionist who released the slaves that he received as an inheritance (before The Emancipation Proclamation)?
Will the displaying of the Confederate flag somehow spare our Southern women who were raped so routinely by General Hooker’s men that the very term “hooker” evolved from these heinous and barbaric war crimes which took place under his jurisdiction?
Or will the displaying of the Confederate flag somehow resurrect those countless Southern families who starved to death because their homes and all means of producing food were systematically destroyed by the likes of Sherman and Sheridan?
Speaking for myself, I have no problem thinking of the likes of Lincoln, Hooker, Sherman, and Sheridan as no good damned Yankees whose graves I would spit upon were it not for the fact that I have higher standards for my bodily fluids than the resting place of their long gone bodies.
However; I will be damned if I will justify being party to ongoing hostilities and hatred in the here and now, by displaying a symbol of such due to my contempt for the likes of Yankee war criminals who lived way back then.
Nor will I justify to myself the display of a symbol which, over the past 150 years has become a rallying cry for public torture, lynchings, church bombings, burnings and mass shootings; under the guise of honoring my ancestors by such a display.
And so I speak from the heart, as one Southern male to all my compatriot white Southerners, when I write these words:
The Confederate Flag has got to go!
We white Southerners simply must wake up to the reality, that whether we would have such to be the case or not, that over the course of the past 150 years the Confederate Flag has become the symbol of racism and hatred by those who have ignorantly claimed racial superiority, and yet who have conducted themselves in base and shameful ways as they have subjugated, tortured, and murdered African Americans, in their misguided efforts to cling to the antiquated myth of white supremacy.
Like it or not; perception is reality; and we cannot undo the history of the Jim Crow era ,of the beatings, of the torture, of the lynchings, and of the climate of hostility and hatred towards the black race in general and the black male specifically, which has been all too readily represented in our beloved Southland over the entire 20th Century, and even up to the present time. Surely anyone who is even vaguely socially aware must realize that the maltreatment of the black race by our Southern culture of assumed racial superiority has been an ongoing social ill, which unfortunately has been continuously represented by the symbol of the Confederate flag.
With these thoughts in mind, as a son of the South; as a descendent of several confederate veterans, but more importantly as a human being, I offer this heartfelt and passionate appeal to my fellow white Southerners:
Let us put aside that which unfortunately has become a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism; and let us so live as to sustain peace and harmony with all the family of humanity; instead of inciting hostility in the name of honoring our ancestry.
For the sake of humanity, and for the cause of social harmony:
The Confederate Flag has got to go.
And so I challenge my compatriot white Southerners: Choose ye this day how to honor your ancestors, but as for me, David Lee Henderson, a proud Son of the South; I will choose mine. For I choose to honor my fallen dead the best way I know how, and that is by simply being the best person that I know how to be on a daily basis, in the here and in the now; and by loving all people with no distinctions nor partiality, in the here and in the now, and by as far as is possible in me, to live peaceably with all my fellow members of the family of humanity, in the here and the now.
And for the life of me people; I simply do not see how I can do so, while at the same time displaying a symbol of ongoing hatred and hostility in the process.
The Confederate Flag simply has got to go.
And to quote another famous yet fictitious Southerner:
That’s all I got to say about that.