The working man’s TV host Mike Rowe weighed on the controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag on Monday with a complex response to fan’s question that expressed his personal dislike of the flag while warning his readers not to label those who like the flag as racists.
Rowe, the host of CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” wrote on his Facebook page that just seeing the flag reminds him of the KKK and makes him want to “travel back in time, long before the Klan came together, find the original Grand Wizard, and beat him to death with a golf club.”
But, he said, he also wants to travel back in time and beat Hitler with a golf club when he sees a swastika.
None of that, he said, is reason to brand people racists for not feeling the same way about the flag as he does.
From his Facebook page:
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.
For instance, we look at that picture of Dylan Roof, and we see a bigot who appears to have fallen off the cover of American Racist Quarterly. He’s got the whole package – vapid stare, dopey haircut, fancy apartheid patches, and of course, the Confederate Battle Flag. We’re repulsed, and yet, we also feel relief, because now we understand exactly what he is – he’s a racist, plain and simple. Now, all we have to do is eliminate the hatred that drove him to murder.
Sadly, we have no idea how to do that. Nor can we go back in time to introduce his head to a golf club, and save us all the agony of his cowardly act. So what do we do? We target his accessories. We focus on the accoutrements of bigotry, and assign them magical powers.
By all means – lets take the flag down. It’s long past time. But 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. 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 accompanied the post with pictures of Klansman carrying the American flag illustrating the point that it isn’t the piece of cloth that makes someone a racist, it’s their heart.
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