The surprising thing is that America, the self styled 'Land of the Free', is often at the front of the queue for the next ban.
One thing some Yanks have been trying to ban for a long while, guns, still seems to be untouchable. Every time an American shoots people, the usual suspects pop up and demand that all the law abiding gun owners who didn't shoot anyone have their guns taken off them.
It never works though, there are too many guns and too many gun owners in the USA for a ban to practical. There are some token gestures made and a lot of talk, but so far, gun ownership is still a liberal thing in America.
Following the latest shooting in Charleston, the same bleating for bans has been in the news, but I think the gun grabbers may have got the message that they are fighting a lost cause, at least for now. Huge bans like that need to be done in small baby steps, not in one fell swoop. Just like smoking bans, they need to start small but think big.
This time they've picked a different target to guns - they want to ban the Confederate Flag. Apparently the shooter was in some pictures with the Confederate Flag and they are suggesting that the flag promotes race hatred which in turn provoked the Charleston shooting.
There is much debate about what the flag actually represents. To some southerners it is a symbol of their heritage. To some black people it is a symbol of racial oppression.
The racism suggestion comes from two angles. The first is the fact that the Southern states who wanted to secede, wanted to do so in order to keep slavery. That isn't a reason to call the flag racist in my opinion. The flag does not represent slavery, it represents Southern Independence from the North
The fact that one of the reasons for the South wanting to secede was slavery, does not make the idea of Independence racist. Slavery was only one of the reasons and because the North won the war, they were in a position to write history to the tune that slavery was the only reason.
In fact it was a minor one. The Government in the North had simply got too big for it's boots and was interfering in the South to an intolerable level. For example, the North was in debt to the banks and wanted the Southern gold reserves to pay that debt. The South could see quite clearly that the Federal Reserve banking system was fatally flawed.
Slavery as an institution would still not have survived even if the South won it's independence. Many in the South did want to abolish slavery. As soon as an alternative economic model could have been achieved, slavery would have become part of history anyway. It may have taken a lot longer to happen, but could possibly have been a better option than a bloody civil war. We can only speculate. Something as reprehensible as slavery had no future in any evolving word and simply could not last, independence or no.
The second racism angle comes from how the flag was used in the years after the war. Certain groups who were definitely dyed in the wool racists appropriated the flag for their own reasons.
Symbols have been taken by groups and used for things other than their original meaning throughout history. The Swastika existed 3000 years before the Nazis but there are no ancient Egyptians about who could display one and say, "This is about my heritage", so now it's a purely Nazi symbol.
Does it matter that the Southern Cross has been used by racist groups in history? I think not. I think the important thing is not how a person views the flag when they look at it but how a person views the flag when they display it.
If a racist person displays the Confederate Flag, the flag is no more to blame for that person being a tosser than one displayed by a Redneck who can trace their family history to the battle of Gettysburg. Why ban the Redneck flying the flag rather than challenge the racist person?
I have a small Confederate Flag lapel pin on one of my jackets. I wear it because I personally see the flag as a symbol of the fight against big Government rather than having anything to do with race. (I also have a large one behind my drum kit, but that's just a Lynard Skynard thing. The Cross does appear in a lot of Country Music stuff, of which I'm a big fan).
But the gun grabbers have got their little victory. Items displaying the flag are being taken off the shelves, both real and virtual, by a number of large stores. That isn't a victory in the fight against racism, that's a victory for ignorance and fear. Do you remember what happened last time a western country began using those reasons to control what people think?
And it won't stop there, the first victory is only ever the start of the race for those who want to ban symbols and control speech and thought:
So what are we to do? Wipe the history of slavery from modern life in case a reference to it offends someone? History is supposed to be learned from, not erased. As soon as we forget the bad things that happened in our pasts, we're doomed to repeat them.
This chap makes a good point:
As long as major companies are ending sales of the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, why not pull rap music from the shelves as well?The PC brigade obviously haven't told him the black people cannot be racist as they're all victims innit.
"A lot of the music by those artists is chock full of the n-word and the b-word and the h-word, and racist, misogynist, sexist anti-woman slurs none of those retail executes would be caught dead using,” he said.
“We’re in the process of banning everything. Just a thought.”
It's a good point but I'm sure he understands that the correct response to banning A is not to ban B in retaliation.
I hate rap music but I don't want it banned. The correct response to banning A is to get an A and display it with pride.
(If any of my American friends spot mistakes in my interpretation of American history, please put me right in the comments)