|Photo credit: USA Today|
150 years ago, 600,000 men were slaughtered in a conflict which concerned the forced enslavement of 12.5 million human beings. The Dixie Stampede reduced that conflict to the level of a football game.
I didn't notice, because I didn't think about it very seriously. I wasn't alone. Southerners are quick to defend the confederate flag, because to them, it means a football game and not a war. Ask them to defend the flag, and they'll talk your ear off. Ask them where Antietam is, and they'll say, "What?" If you didn't know, the battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day in the history of the United States.
Up until recently, a football team was all the Confederacy meant to me. It was just one of those things that came with being Southern - it was rebellious and funny and gave us a sense of pride. But with age, and the constant stream of racial violence on the news, I had to come to the same realization many To Kill a Mockingbird fans have lately: something I love, which speaks to me of old world romance and nostalgia, is probably way more complicated.
The most persuasive argument, for me, came from the fellow conservatives and Christians that I respect (accompanied by my own research into the horror of historical slavery). Dislike of the flag and the Confederacy comes not merely from liberal African Americans, but from conservative blacks as well. Republican commentator Alfonzo Rachel emphasized that, for the Right, allying ourselves with a historical Democrat symbol was a bad move - and that if we really want harmony between the races, we would discard a symbol of racial strife and oppression. Another African American conservative points out:
No one is saying the United States is without blood on its hands, and I don't have some oversimplified idea of the Civil War and racial relations. There were slave owners/sympathizers in the North and abolitionists in the South. There were black slave owners. But the fact remains that the Confederacy is a part of our past, and not exactly the nicest part. If we hope to foster healthy relationships, clinging to something that has such painful connotations for so many Americans in the name of "my rights" probably isn't the best approach.And the flag isn't just a Civil War symbol; it was embraced widely during the Jim Crow era. The confederate flag in the South Carolina Statehouse, removed in the wake of the racial shooting in Charleston (by Republican governor, female person of color, Nikki Haley), was only erected in 1961, at the height of the civil rights movement. Coincidence? Of course not.
In the last month I've seen more people flying the confederate flag than I have in my entire lifetime here in Appalachia. The front page of our local paper showed a picture of half a dozen chunky white dudes waving the flag. Facebook friends posted the usual "my rights are being infringed" rants, to general applause. I found the whole thing painful, and felt bad for our local African American population. I was out of step with co-workers and friends who defended their "Southern heritage." And I got a bit of a glimpse of what our black brothers and sisters feel like, living among us.
the full video, it's available and tells the same story.)
In between bites of salad and gulps of wine, Dr. Nucatola clinically described the process of removing organs from a fetus: "We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver because we know that, I'm not going to crush that part."
While the MSM lagged on its reporting, once the story did break, they'd had time to assemble rebuttals. Salon coldbloodedly published a defense of Planned Parenthood with this outrageously misleading title: "What the Planned Parenthood hoax really proves: Right-wing extremists have no qualms about destroying peoples’ lives." Salon's argument was basically this: what Nucatola did was legal, and therefore conservatives are terrible for getting upset.
Do not be fooled. Do not let them euphemize this. When they substitute "legal transfer of money" for "buying," and "intact specimen" or "tissue" for "organ," do not accept it. To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it. Nucatola talks, offhandedly, about the process through which she kills a child, uses an ultrasound to see what she's doing, and crushes body parts around the organ she wishes to remove. And Planned Parenthood has apologized for Nucatola's "tone," not her words or actions. They know very well the importance of using the right euphemisms. When you're crushing a baby, make sure you discuss the act with medical language.
Nucatola: I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps....So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact....
Nucatola: Some people want lower extremities too, which, that’s simple. That’s easy. I don’t know what they’re doing with it, I guess if they want muscle.
Buyer: Yeah. A dime a dozen.
Nucatola: Mhm.Planned Parenthood, like the Confederacy, is built on other things than one particular sin. But both of these diseases - slavery and abortion - have grown to infect everything the organizations stand for. Both now hold the legacy of killing millions of black Americans. One continues its grisly trade today. It's time for conservatives - and everyone else - to abandon both.
Conservatives cannot allow regional pride to overcome a desire for racial reconciliation. Liberals care about the oppression of innocents which occurred 150 years ago (good!); they must stop the oppression which occurs today. Unless we all recognize the need to empathize with the suffering, to look past the calm and logical lies which paper over atrocity, then Dylann Roof and Deborah Nucatola will be the names carved on our nation's tombstone.