We've Reached Peak Absurdity In The Confederate Flag Debate

The Dukes of Hazard, an iconic television show which has been on air since 1979, has been pulled by TV Land because the Confederate flag features prominently on the roof of the General Lee.

Warner Brothers will also no longer be licensing models of the General Lee because of the flag.

In related news, the National Park Service is pulling Confederate flag merchandise from its bookstores and gift shops, meaning that the flag’s display even in a historical context is in jeopardy. “Confederate flags depicted in books, DVDs and other educational items will remain as long as the image cannot be physically detached,” NBC News reports.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]The people fighting the war against the Confederate flag are operating on the same intellectual level as people who tried to blame violence on music and video games.[/mks_pullquote]

As I’ve written before, I’m not for state sanction of the flag. I don’t think it represents heritage that anyone should be proud of, and I don’t think it ought to be flying over state capitols. That being said, what exactly are we accomplishing by trying to expunge the flag from society?

Does anyone really think that the flag atop the General Lee is a source of fuel for murderous bigots? Are we going to have fewer racial incidents now because the Dukes of Hazard is no longer on the television, and you can no longer pick up a Confederate flag at the Gettysburg museum?

I’m not surprised that businesses and government officials are reacting this way. Social media has become a lynch mob. Once the Facebook and Twitter hordes sink their teeth into something they won’t settle for anything less than full-on eradication. It’s one of the most frightening aspects of modern communication.

Is a person who buys a General Lee model a bigot? Is someone buying a Confederate flag lapel pin at a Civil War museum gift shop a closet racist and potential mass murderer?

That seems to be the logic we’re using these days.

The people fighting the war against the Confederate flag are operating on the same intellectual level as people who tried to blame violence on music and video games. They honestly seem to believe that flags make racists. The truth is the other way around. People of all sorts of beliefs, including racists, make flags.

In the 1980’s three high-profile shootings – John Lennon, Ronald Reagan and actress Rebecca Schaeffer – involved J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. If those shootings had happened in the age of social media, you have to wonder if the book wouldn’t be banned by now. Even as it stands now, the book continues to controversial in American literature.

And what’s really problematic is that this obsession over a flag is the result of an unwillingness to have difficult conversations about why mass murderers commit their crimes, and how little we can actually do to stop them. Because a flag is easier for pundits and politicians and social media troglodytes to froth at the mouth about, 80’s television reruns and gift store inventories end up in the crosshairs.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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