On Television: Did We Just Give The Confederate Flag A Power-Up?


We discussed two hot topics last night during my regular segment with Chris Berg on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program.

First was my story about the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program which is intended to feed low-income children but is, thanks to a loophole, providing food for just about everybody. A lot of the blowback I’ve gotten from that story seems to be based on the premise that I’m against feeding needy children. But that’s not really the point. What I’m against is using taxpayer resources to feed children whose parents are perfectly capable of purchasing lunches.

There is an endless struggle which surrounds financial support for social programs like this one. I had no idea that a preference for conserving public resources for those who truly need them would be so controversial. That shouldn’t be a right vs. left issue. That should be common sense.

As for the confederate flag issue, I’m glad we’re focused on ending the state sanction of it (i.e. flying it over state capitols, etc.), but I’m more dubious of these efforts to force private retailers to stop selling the flag and related merchandise.

For one thing, I’m not sure what we’re accomplishing. Amazon, for instance, has (mostly) banned sales of the confederate flag but I can still pick up a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. I can still buy Mao’s Little Red Book, and the Soviet flag, and swastika paraphernalia.

In other words, those looking for the symbols and texts of hateful ideologies can find them. And I suspect that enterprising retailers less sensitive to public outrage will continue selling the Confederate flag.

Only now that flag has been imbued with additional mystique. The shallow rush to attack the flag after Dylan Root’s murderous rampage in South Carolina – an act of avoidance perpetrated by the political/media complex, I think – has elevated it from a controversial but largely benign symbol (a 2013 poll showed 36 percent of blacks either approving of displaying the flag or neutral on the matter) into something much more powerful.

Rarely do efforts to ban or boycott things like books or ideas work out well. Very often they result in hardening support. I worry that we’ve done that now with the confederate flag.