Op-Ed by Claire Bernish
June 24, 2015
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(ANTIMEDIA) There is no question that the deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston at the hands of a white man picked the scab on America’s institutionalized psychopathy with race—and justifiably so.
But what happened next—beginning with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to take down the Confederate flag from its 50 year tenure on statehouse grounds—was a textbook example of a diversionary trap used by governments the world over.
And the entire country fell for the bait.
PROBLEM: The state of South Carolina prominently displays the very embodiment of racism on government property in the form of a symbolic flag. This must be at least partially the reason for the shooting that occurred there.
ISSUE: If South Carolina continues to display said racism by keeping that flag in place, there will never be a solution to this racism. How will anything ever change?
SOLUTION: Take down the flag! In fact, remove that symbol from every government property in the country. Ostracize anyone who condones this racism by showing the flag. Boycott retailers who refuse to join the movement to erase this racism from existence.
RESULT: Confederate flag banished from memory. Good riddance. Now the racism isn’t in everyone’s face. We can all breathe easier. That was a close call.
REALITY: Institutionalized racism, both condoned and perpetuated by the State—from its genocidal birth to its police state, prison-industrial present—is still completely unaddressed and very much alive.
But at least that damn flag is dead.
This is, of course, what’s known as the Hegelian Dialectic. A manufactured problem elicits a manufactured solution that leaves everyone satisfied and allows the originating issue to simply fall from the spotlight, wholly unresolved. In this example, the red herring of the Confederate flag was the opportunists’ bait to ensnare the country in a brilliant diversion from the underlying—and inherently more critical—issue of institutionalized racism. Don’t believe it? Take a look around. Front pages of every mainstream and many independent news outlets are filled with reports about which company is besting another in how quickly and thoroughly they can yank Confederate flag-bearing items from their shelves. Suddenly, the racism they never realized (read: admitted) they were touting in the first place has become a source of shame and embarrassment in less than 24 hours. It was the same for the state governments. Sure, people have expressed outrage over this before—but now there is a reason to act. If a lone state should fail to follow suit, then the racism will surely continue.
Do you see where this is heading?
Racism, though, is not a flag.
It isn’t a symbol.
It isn’t a thing that can be solved—or kept in place—by a piece of colored cloth. No matter your feelings about what it represents, the flag itself is not the issue of racism.
But when opportunity knocked, that was precisely what it became—a red herring, a distraction—the symbolic “fall guy” for the insidious bigotry that is America’s open wound. The State wants you to believe it applied the band-aid in one fell swoop when it banished the Confederate flag.
Obviously, this is a fundamental fallacy, but the tactic worked. Suddenly, the sorely needed national conversation about race that had begun after the Charleston shooting wholly shifted to focus on that ubiquitous flag. And this wasn’t by lack of design.
The State, in fact, thoroughly relies on systemic racism to function. Minorities are disproportionately represented in prison populations around the country. They are targeted by police. They are targeted by government-insured bank loans with ridiculously high interest rates. Minorities are targeted in mainstream media as thugs when anger boils over into justifiable rage from being continuously and unfairly targeted.
The crying shame of it all is the government’s two-pronged “win” from this madness. Not only was the distraction successful, but a nationalist coup arose, as well.
Vociferous outrage toward one flag led the masses to take up defense of another—the American flag. How cruelly ironic. Erstwhile latent nationalism is rediscovered by proxy when one flag becomes unacceptable. In the blink of an eye, the iconic American symbol didn’t seem half bad. Nevermind that the government it represents depends on actualized racism as an institution.
At least it’s not the Confederate flag.
And we must have a flag.
Symbols really mean something!
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