Local People

Published on September 7th, 2017 | by Randy Weeks

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View From the Balcony: Of Statues and Flags

Homo sapiens are the species that invents symbols in which to invest passion and authority, then forgets that symbols are inventions.Joyce Carol Oates

I ran into Jesus on The Balcony at City Grocery a few days ago. I ordered my standard greyhound and a glass of wisdom, and brought him some water in a wine glass. As usual he stirred the water with his left index finger and voila! Wine appeared. A cabernet. After a few sips I opened up a can of worms.

So, Jesus, what do you think about all the hullabaloo over taking down the monuments to the Confederacy?

I think it’s high time you Southerners dealt with it.

Oh.

Oh what?

I didn’t know you’d be so direct about it.

I’m always direct about things that matter.

So what do you think? You have to know about it. It’s in all the papers and on the news just about every day.

I don’t read newspapers much and I don’t watch TV. Got sick of trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

But surely you have an opinion about taking down the monuments.

Of course I do.  I also have an opinion about your state flag.

…and that is…?

Get rid of it.

Get rid of it? Just like that?

Just like that.

But it’s important, Jesus. There’s a lot of heritage in that flag and those monuments.

You are correct, sir. They represent the heritage of the belief that one man can own another man, tear him away from his wife and children, force him to do hard labor for your benefit, beat him if he doesn’t toe the line, and rape his wife at will.

Damn! You don’t have to get so upset over it.

Why the hell not? You oughta be.

Well, pulling down statues and flags destroys history.

You don’t even know your history, Randy. Mississippi didn’t have an official state flag till 1861. Even then it wasn’t the one you’ve got now.

“You’re pulling my leg.”

Don’t care to touch your leg, Randy.

I wasn’t gonna to bring up race, but since you broached the topic, we’ve come a long way in that department, mister!

Might I remind you that you’re the one who asked me about your icons? You can’t expect black people to believe that you really wanna heal old wounds while you’ve got a death grip on symbols of whips and nooses. You can whitewash your idols all you want. The blood’s still gonna shine through. It always will.

You say you wanna bring the races closer together – that your faith tells you to. Right?

“Absolutely!”

Then stop treating flags and statues like they came down from Mt. Sinai with Moses. G_d didn’t have anything to do with it. Y’all made ‘em up.  You’re blind, man, and I don’t think you really wanna see. You’re preaching peace and love while you’re bowing down to the idols of injustice and oppression. Wake up! You’re letting a piece of cloth and towers of stone stand in the way of true reconciliation.

It looks to me like your symbols are more important to you than people. When that happens you need to get rid of ‘em. Send all the monuments to Vicksburg.  But if you keep your Confederate statue on the Courthouse lawn raise one of a Union soldier looking north on the opposite side of the lawn. Tell the whole story and stop your damn revisionism.

“But Jesus…”

No more buts, Randy. I loved all the people in the Civil War no matter which side they were on. I loved all the people in the Civil Rights Movement. The same’s true for the protesters in Charlottesville. But could you imagine me walking around waving a Nazi flag?

That’s not the same thing.

Tell that to the eleven million Jews who were murdered under the shadow of the swastika. So could you? Could you imagine me standing proudly beneath a symbol that presided over lynchings?

“I guess not. No.”

Then why in the name of all things holy would you do it?

I think I need another drink.

I’ll bet you do. Keep on drinkin’ the Kool-Aid, Randy. Keep on drinkin’ the Kool-Aid.

And that’s the view from The Balcony. The Local Voice Ligature

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