What Would 8-year-old Me Think?
I have decided recently that, whenever faced with a moral or ethical dilemma, the most effective way for me to come to a decision regarding what is the right thing to do in an given situation is to ask myself, what would 8-year-old me think? 8-year-old me really seemed to have it together; she had a firm grasp on right and wrong and wasn’t afraid to give her two cents on the matter, regardless of what listeners may think or say in response. Regarding the whole Confederate flag debacle, for instance. At first, I was just annoyed at all the in-your-face rednecks parading around with whole armies of Confederate flags, dressed in Confederate flag garb, and basically just trying to make everyone feel uncomfortable. Don’t they know they look like jackasses? I wondered. And at first it was just hilariously incorrect and ignorant of them to start using the swastika argument (if you haven’t heard, apparently it’s okay to tout the Confederate flag everywhere in the wake of the racially-charged fatal shooting of nine black people guilty of going to church and being nice to a little white boy who came in to pretend to worship, because the Germans still have the swastika on a flag). Note: Any use whatsoever of the swastika was banned in Germany in 1952. They lost that war, and have since been apologizing for the events that lead to it in the first place. Despite the general annoyance surrounding the myriad ignorant and ill-informed posts that assaulted my Facebook news feed for almost a month, grown-up me would not have been too bothered by the whole thing. Why should I? I’m white and from the south (if you even consider Florida as truly part of the south in this context), and completely understand the whole “southern heritage, not hate” argument. But then, I confided in 8-year-old Sarah, and she told me she just learned all about the Civil War in school. She just learned all about how it was not entirely a slavery issue, although that was part of it. She had also just recently read the American Girls book about Addy Walker, the little slave girl her same age, who endured a brutal whipping for some minor infraction that was described in strikingly vivd detail for being a children’s book, and reminded grown-up me of how horrid I’d felt while reading it. 8-year-old me also argues that hate groups have since been using this alleged “heritage flag” while committing such vile crimes as lynchings and burning crosses, setting black peoples’ houses on fire, brutal and often fatal beatings and rapes of black people for no reason, etc. After my conversation with 8-year-old me, I am left with no choice but to say, “Huh. You’re totally right. In my adulthood, I’d nearly forgotten all this stuff under the influence of the college psychology and literature classes I’d been taking throughout adulthood. But you’re right, 8-year-old Sarah, just like you were right to reprimand my step-dad for throwing soda cans in the trash despite that the recycling bin was literally ten steps away in the garage.” There is no place for this flag anymore, except in museums about American history, or inside the houses of those heritage enthusiasts who wish to keep it as a reminder of the war fought by some great-great-great-grandfather. It has no place flying in front of government buildings when it is a symbol of hate and oppression for an entire race of people living in our country. For them, it is a reminder of that subgroup of people who still wish cotton fields and free labor ruled the south. For them, it is a flying middle finger in the wake of losing a loved one in a shooting at an effing CHURCH, for Pete’s sake. Maybe the group of activists who organized the mission to climb the flagpole in front of the South Carolina capitol building for the purpose of removing it should’ve been a clue that this flag is indeed a “big deal” for many people.