The ideas and arguments are bigger than my puny brain, but this is the very short version of what I wanted to say.
Many of us ally ourselves with a symbol because we feel small, because the symbol is both macrocosm and religion, bigger and wider and purer than ourselves. Whether it is the cross or the swastika, the peace symbol or the confederate flag, the symbol becomes absolution. There is great discord in our consciousness, there is great disconnect between our heads and hearts and hands. The symbol solves all of that (seemingly) because it is at once abstract and simple yet all-encompassing, and there resides the symbol’s power: it becomes potent for both believers and non-believers, as if the symbol itself is a living force, an idea and presence beyond humanity. Which is of course total bullshit. Humankind scrawled all these symbols, all of them, every one. Someone somewhere possessed the graphical genius to come up with and differentiate between MEN’S ROOM and WOMEN’S ROOM, someone somewhere designed flags for countries, symbols for computers, brands for corporations. People made these symbols, not the other way around; symbols do not dictate our thoughts and actions.
This is beyond obvious, but it needs to be said: the confederate flag didn’t inspire Dylan Storm Roof AKA sociopathic asshole to walk into a church and blow away 9 people during a fucking prayer meeting. If he didn’t have the confederate flag to identify with, why, he would have found another symbol: maybe a burning cross, or a severed goat’s head, or some bullshit drawing he scrawled on his napkin. It doesn’t matter. The hate started in his heart, not in a flag. Any flag. Any symbol. Any word.
Taking down the confederate flag on Friday morning will accomplish absolute zilch, save fuel the fires of mind-cracked racists who will breathe deep and check their ammo.
I’m something of an optimist. I still want to believe that human beings are capable of looking beyond the simple scrawl of a symbol and look instead to their own hearts—even their own hate. The biggest racist asshole in the world is still worth more to me than a graphic I could redesign in thirty seconds. They, us, WE are worth so much more than a fucking symbol.
Because we should be capable of clicking past a symbol, a flag, and move on.
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RECENT FILMS: Next time.