Monday, September 21, 2015

Know Thy Enemy

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu is often quoted: “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
During this past year, we have been able to observe both sides of the debate regarding the Confederate flag, flown frequently throughout the South. Mostly, we observe that flag on license plates and bumper stickers. The raging arguments that occurred publically mostly concerned flying the flag on public, often statehouse grounds. Following the racist shootings by Dylann Roof at an Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, the flag arguments became open and vocal, with protests mounted to take down the flags.
The standard southern response to the outrage surrounding the flag has always been . . . oh the flag has nothing to do with racism; it simply is a symbol of southern heritage. But that line of argument has little basis in fact. The Confederate battle flag represented the southern rebellious armies. And what were those armies attempting to achieve? They were after the secession of southern states from the Union that would allow a new federation to be constituted. And in what way would that southern federation differ from its northern cousin? Why slavery, of course, because slavery was at the heart of the Civil War.

So, if the flag symbolizing a protest movement to retain slavery, it then follows that the symbol of the armies so engaged—the Confederate flag—is in fact a symbol concerning racism, the underlying core of slavery.

Having said all that—it has all been said before I realize—I come back to my original thought—“know thy enemy”.  Setting aside the issue of flying such racist symbols over public properties, I have now concluded that folks who display that symbol on their property are in fact announcing to the rest of us that they are openly racists. It is equivalent to someone flying the Swastika over their home, signaling that Nazi’s reside therein.  Recently, I came around a corner in downtown Concord, and saw this image.

At first, I thought, oh you little . . . .. But then I thought, well, this display provides the rest of our community with valuable information—the family living therein is telling all of us that racists reside there and we should act toward them accordingly.  It is all in the best tradition of Sun Tzu’s “know thy enemy”.

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