For a long time I’ve wrestled with the question of political correctness vs. tradition. My liberal default position says we should be willing to axe offensive and oppressive traditions from our society in order to promote justice and equality for all. Yet, a wise man once said, "Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!" So, where do we draw the line?
Lately, in reaction to a hate motivated church shooting, an issue has arisen which has brought the question to the forefront of Americans’ minds. Certainly, traditions such a slavery and whites only lunch counters were exercises in cruelty which had to be abolished. Yet, I’m not sure it’s justifiable, or even healthy, to ban symbols of such eras.
That being said, here in Oregon, legal action is being taken to ban the symbol from, privately owned, Jefferson Davis Memorial Park. I’m not comfortable banning ANY symbol from private use.
Some debate the idea that the flag is a symbol of racism, claiming it symbolizes freedom from Federal control of local issues. The distinction is meaningless to the question of private usage though. Accepting, for the sake of argument, that the flag IS an offensive symbol of oppression, freedom of expression can’t only apply to non-offensive speech.
I’m offended by gay bashers who flaunt Christian symbols and claim to be acting in Christ’s name. I’m offended by people who claim the way to be happy is to lose 50 pounds and cut this or that from our diet. I’m offended by people who want student loans to be magically forgiven, after I spent twenty years paying mine off. You know what though? As offensive as I find their ideas, they get to speak.
The desire to ban the offensive was taken to the absurd extreme in 2012 when a Portland principle tried to ban peanut butter & jelly sandwiches from elementary school lunches, for being a racist sandwich. No, that’s not a typo. Her “reasoning” was that Mexican & Middle Eastern students are unfamiliar with white bread, peanut butter, and jelly, thus the sandwich symbolizes Caucasian oppression.
If someone wants to put a Confederate Flag on their bumper, hand out swastika arm bands in Pioneer Square, or write a book recommending we eat like cave men to lose weight they get to do that. We have the right to look down on them as idiots for doing so, but we have to let them speak.
Equality doesn’t mean we all need to eat, say, and think the same things. If we want to live in a society which respects diversity, we actually have to RESPECT DIVERSITY! It’s the only way a free society can work.