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Hate Dogma and Symbols

June 19, 2015

Many of you that follow me know my position on hate and violence. Hate and violence are a cancer that is consuming not only our US culture but world-wide civility in social intercourse. The case of Dylann Roof, the 21 year old white male who attacked and killed members of the Emanuel African American Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina is a case in point. These growing acts of terrorism in America must be curtailed.

Violence often erupts and is perpetuated by distortions in identity confirming symbols. Distortions may be dogmatized by symbols in the form of pictures or ideals and are often linked to patriotism that is mobilized by religious, cultural or hate driven fears or other individualisms.

I want to exemplify this in the confederate Battle Flag otherwise called the Stars and Bars. Although this flag, one of many confederate flags, is not the Confederate National flag it has been embodied by many as an identifier of patriotism; a symbol. Identity is a ‘quality’ of understanding about belonging. This understanding of identity is one of multiple identities we share as human beings. Some qualities are good, some not so good, but some are bad. In the example, the Confederate Battle Flag creates identity ranging from ‘nobility and patriotism’ to extreme forms of ‘hate and patriotism’. Note the dogma of patriotism exists in both forms. Patriotism is a quality of social control that all groups and nations utilize to bond people together. Through social institutions we are socialized to internalize patriotism from birth. It can be used for good or bad and is a powerful mobilizer in time of perceived need.

I personally have no objection to a person taking pride in and displaying a flag no more than any other means of expressing identity. What is critical is the use of the flag symbol. Flags create intense feelings of patriotism that rival religiosity. The question begged is whether the design for patriotism is one of nobility or is it hate. Neither of these two outcomes may be controlled, they may only be regulated. No laws stamp out all dogmas. This resonates the more when these dogmas are entrenched in the culture and history of a people.

Thursday, the US Supreme Court in a 5:4 split decision, ruled against the Son’s of Confederate Veterans and in favor of the State of Texas holding that Texas did not violate the Constitution’s protection of free speech when the State refused to issue members of the group pre-authorized license plates bearing the flag. This is only my opinion but I believe the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of a State to deny previously approved stars and bars license plates will ultimately create a rallying point for those that identify the symbol with ‘patriotic hate’. A greater fear is that some who have in the past valued this symbol as a ‘patriotic nobility’ will change and start valuing it as ‘patriotic hate’. This is the last thing we need. However, when people who feel passionate about a previously legal ideal are denied this avenue of expression by laws which they perceive unfair in singling them out there is often patent and latent reaction campaigns to express themselves. In other words the Court has created a ‘martyr of the flag’. In my opinion this. Those like the terrorist and criminal Dylann Roof in South Carolina will be invigorated in seeking recognition through more violent public displays.

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