Jason Dias: What The Confederate Flag Means To Me

Once the Confederate battle flag is really gone, racism won't be gone. And it could get worse. On Dixie Democrats, Republicans and the new KKK.

The Confederate Flag means something to a lot of people. It does. Here’s what it means to Jason Dias and what love has to do with it.

aNewDomainjason-dias-anewdomain — Love is a verb. Maybe, probably. It’s not an emotion, that much seems pretty clear. 

Babies don’t have a face for love. They have faces for disgust, anger, fear, interest and so on, but not love. Moreover, we say we love our spouses, lovers, children, family, friends, inanimate things (I love hamburgers!) but we (hopefully) mean something different in each case.  And we have different feelings in the context of each kind of love.

For example, I might be angry with my relatives exactly because I love them. Maybe one of them posts an unintentionally but obviously racist meme on their Fakesbook page. I’m angry with them. I might skip over it if it was some random stranger, but it’s not.  It’s a relative who taught me better.  Because I love them, I’m angry or disappointed.

what the confederate means to meYour kid is going to the prom.  You feel all sorts of things about this because he’s your kid that you don’t feel about the neighbors’ offshoots.  Because you love him.

But all of that is bullshit if the things you’re calling love don’t result in some kind of action.  Love, in other words, is a verb. It has to be a verb. What good is loving your spouse if you cheat on them, spend their money and leave them when they need you most? 

What good is your love if you won’t pick up your dirty socks or run the vacuum or make dinner? 

What good is your love for your children if you blow the rent on gambling?

Love means to put other people first.  Yes, sometimes to the detriment of the self.

It’s really hard, for example, to get people to put their O2 masks on themselves first and their kids second when a plane cabin depressurizes.

what the confederate flag means to be

That’s as it should be.  If your kids matter, they matter. We put down the smartphone, we let Fakesbook slide for a minute, and we go ahead and play another goddamn round of Harry Potter Trivia with them just because they want to.

Hate works the same.

You can do a lot of hateful stuff without ever feeling it as an emotion. People say, a lot, “I’m not a racist.” Then they proceed to do racist stuff.

Like wave Confederate flags at our black president, show up to political rallies with guns, post microaggressive crap on their Fakesbook, ad even call black people racist because they ask for equal treatment. They call the Congressional Black Caucus racist because there’s no Congressional White Caucus and they watch Fox News.

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I do care, I really do, what that flag means to you. 

It was a horrible war, by many metrics the worst war in human history. Almost all of us have relatives that died in it, sometimes families fighting on both sides and almost nobody under either flag knowing what they were fighting for, really. 

Yeah, I get it. 

At the same time, when the neighbor says, “I was attacked by a dog just like yours. Dogs scare me,” I don’t mount a campaign to force her to accept my dog.  I don’t sit on her porch with the dog, put pictures of him all over her car, raise him above the state capitol.

In other words, I have empathy and try not to dismiss other peoples’ experiences as silly. 

That damn flag. 

It was made with racism in mind, in the design, by the person or people who designed it. 

It stands for racism. It was raised over armies fighting to maintain slavery as the law of the land, and over state capitols to protest the end of segregation and Jim Crow.

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The people traumatized by the thing have good reasons to be. 

It’s not because you love them that you tune them out and try to explain other possible meanings. 

Tuning them out, discounting their arguments unheard, deciding your right to do offensive things trumps anyone else’s feelings or a collective need for common decency, that’s a hateful act.

Even if you feeling nothing while you do it. Because hate isn’t a feeling at all, it’s a verb.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Image one: Flickr.com, All Rights Reserved;  image two: assumption.edu, All Rights Reserved. Image three: Margory Collins, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons; image four: DickMacAlive.blogspot.com, All Rights Reserved. Cover image, Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Jason Dias

Jason Dias, PsyD is an existential psychotherapist who breathes words. He's a senior columnist at aNewDomain.