Mike Rowe, host of CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” waded into the intense debate swirling around the Confederate flag on Tuesday night after a fan asked for his “feelings” on the matter.
Rowe was brutally honest in his response. He made it clear that the Confederate flag, like the Nazi flag, makes him “feel angry.” He went even further, explaining that the flag reminds him of the Ku Klux Klan and makes him want to “find the original Grand Wizard, and beat him to death with a golf club.”
But those are his personal “feelings,” he acknowledged. His “thoughts” on the matter are far more complicated and nuanced:
I know it’s irrational to allow talismans of evil to fill me with fantasies of time-traveling violence, but I’m a human being. I have no control over my feelings, or what triggers them. Fortunately though, I also have a brain. It’s a modest brain, but it functions in a way that allows me to acknowledge my feelings without being guided by them. Thanks to my brain, I came to realize that my feelings – while endlessly important to me – are surprisingly unpersuasive to everyone else. Consequently, while I’d love to tell you more about how I feel, I’m going to try instead to tell you what I think.
I think we need to be very careful about congratulating ourselves too enthusiastically for removing a piece of cloth from the public square – even if it’s removal is long overdue. I also think we need to stop calling people racist, just because they see the flag as something other than a symbol of hate. This is what happens when we put a premium on our feelings. We assume everyone who disagrees with us is not merely wrong, but dangerous.
I know many good Southerners who abhor racism, but view this flag as an important connection to their ancestors – the vast majority of whom never owned slaves. This doesn’t mean the flag should be allowed to fly on public property – not for a minute. But it’s a mistake in my view, to equate the removal of a symbol, with the removal of the evil it’s come to symbolize. And that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. We’re conflating cause and effect.
The Confederate flag flies on the Capitol grounds after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call for the Confederate flag to be removed on June 22, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate over the flag flying at the Capitol was again ignited off after nine people were shot and killed during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Rowe later argued that it’s “long past time” to take the Confederate flag down from the South Carolina Statehouse, which is public property. However, he also warned, “let’s not fool ourselves.”
“Racism and terrorism and all the other hate-filled ‘-isms’ that plague the species will never be eliminated by banning flags, burning books, limiting speech, or outlawing white sheets and pointy little hats,” Rowe wrote. “When Dylan Roof walked into The First Emanuel Church and killed nine black Americans, he wasn’t waving his rebel flag or screaming the N-word. He didn’t look like a racist. He didn’t act like a racist. Until he started killing people.”
“That’s the problem with people in white sheets and pointy hats. They don’t always dress the part, or carry the proper flag,” he added.
Read Rowe’s entire post below:
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