Still a Symbol of Hate

Liam Pickhardt, staff writer/ photographer

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It was a cool August morning in McMinnville, and like most mornings, I was enjoying my favorite pastime: running. The setting for my run was picturesque; the sun was shimmering down on the rolling hills, the wind had subsided, the trees rustled peacefully, and the sound of chipping birds echoed down the open road.

Then, without a moment’s notice, my dream-worthy morning was halted.

From abaft, a pickup truck came roaring past me, interrupting the peaceful morning air with the crackle of its diesel engine. Just as my anger level began to rise, I recognized the red white and blue of the American flag perched from the bed.

The sight of the flag vigorously flapping in the wind gave me an immense sensation of pride. Serving as a symbol of freedom and hope to millions around the world, I was proud to be subtly reminded of the positive ideals that are cherished in the United States.

With the pickup whizzing by me, I began fantasying about a world of peace; a world where no nation tried to rule the world. A world where we put our weapons down and decided to get along; and a world where we focused solely on living in blissful harmony.

As I slipped in and out of my romantic fantasy, the load clank of the pickup shifting gears brought me back to my senses. While I recovered from my daydream, the pickup rounded a corner, and there, in company with the American flag was Old Dixie.

The sight of the Confederate flag waving as if it holds equal sentiment to the American flag was appalling. It is a symbol of repression and hate that remains as hateful as it was when the first shots were fired at the Battle of Fort Sumter; to call it anything less is a rude disdain to history.

And in 2017, it seems ludicrous that this has to be pointed out, but the flag of the United States of America does not hold the same ideals as the Confederate flag.

While the arguments are frequently made that the flag represents the heritage of the South, and when the South seceded, its focus was not on racism, but rather on state rights’ and economic advances.

But before making those arguments, think twice.

Without the intention of preserving the violent domination and enslavement of black people, the South would have never seceded. And because the Confederate flag only exists because of that secession, it would have never existed without the enslavement of an entire race.

Proponents of the flag also argue that the First Amendment protects their right to fly the flag. And on that count, they are correct. Individuals have the conditional right to fly the flag, and the First Amendment protects freedom of speech—no matter how hateful.

But in this day and age it seems incongruos that any hateful speech or representation of such would be proudly displayed.

Although as demonstrated by the driver of the pickup, hateful speech is still present. I can’t—and nor can you—explain why the driver felt the need to display a symbol of hate. No matter the reason, there is still progress to be made in the fight to end racism. Ending racism is a tall order, but in the wake of a country divided by various forms of inequality, it is paramount that we put an end to hatred.

We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children, we owe it to our country. At the least, it is what Old Glory would want.