I had always thought this story written by Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark in the early nineteenth century was mere fiction created for small children. Yet they seem to be reenacting this tale in the state of South Carolina as I speak.
The original story is about a vain Emperor who had been duped by a pair of swindling weavers into thinking he was getting an extravagant new outfit and was later climactically called out by a child as being completely naked when the emperor paraded his new clothes down the streets of the capital. The swindlers depended on observers’ pride and ego to make them unwitting accomplices to the crime by claiming that the Emperor’s new clothing would be invisible to anyone that was unusually stupid. But this summary doesn’t do the tale justice. The story is short, so check it out yourself at The Hans Christian Andersen Center website.
How It Applies
In this month’s reenactment, the swindlers are played by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SOCV), who have considered it their job to convince us that the Confederate flag is not being used as a symbol of racism and hatred, even though it was resurrected throughout the South in the 1960’s (one hundred years after the Civil War) specifically as a protest against federal laws giving blacks some of the rights they thought they had won a century earlier. No, according to the SOCV, that’s not the case at all. In fact this flag is THE ONLY true symbol of Southern Pride. The Governor of the state is not playing the Emperor, as some might think (or hope). That’s not because the Governor is a female, I’m sure, but because the legislature somehow made her powerless in this instance. The star role is played by the state lawmakers, who have been solidly Republican, and solidly white, and solidly male since about the time the flag returned to prominence. The child is aptly played by 21-year-old Dylann Roof. Some might consider him too old for the part, but because of the culture he grew up in and the current state of our education system (which he dropped out of in the ninth grade), I would argue that he is every bit as qualified as that young child in Denmark from a time just a little bit before the South’s finest hour. In a dramatic and tragic fashion, Dylann demonstrated that he knew the true meaning of that flag based on the context in which it was used. He was not buying any of this Southern Pride crap. And neither should you.
Where I Fit In
I’m not originally from the South, but have lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else and like to consider this home. I’m really saddened by these recent developments. While I’ve always been puzzled by all of this Confederate pride stuff, now I’m starting to question my own actions, or lack thereof. There is no telling how many lives could have been saved if I had the heart, or is it the balls, to break it to y’all many years ago that the Confederacy actually lost that war (go ahead and Google it), which means there are a lot of losers down here worshiping bigger losers. But that has always been their right, and I’m a big believer in personal rights and freedoms, brushing their obsession off as harmless fun. I may even owe my neighbors and all true followers of the Lord an apology for misjudging the harm in this ruse and for my inaction. But then again, my voice may not have made a difference. In Andersen’s original story, only a child would have been able to expose the Emperor (no pun intended). Any adult making the claim the child did would have been dismissed as a simpleton and subjected to ridicule (OK, now maybe I’m just making excuses for myself again).
So What’s The Point?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the good guys win every war. This isn’t Hollywood. But in this case, if it’s not bigotry and hatred, exactly what ARE the principles (which are lacking in those “damn Yankees”) that we are really trying so hard to defend here? And although pride is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”, there are many who consider it a virtue A. Either way, it has to be acknowledged as a basic human characteristic. But it is just so very sad that in the last 150 years (and probably the 150 years before that), we have found absolutely nothing else around here beside the Confederate flag that we could possibly take any pride in. That certainly didn’t change this week. (Or did it? Could it be possible you just don’t know where to look?)
So What Happens Next?
Hans Christian Andersen was no Walt Disney; his story ends long before they reached “Happily Ever After”. In fact as the curtain dropped, the Emperor, after being outed as an idiot, was determined to continue on, “so he walked more proudly than ever”. What that means for the Confederate flag, or human decency, or the citizens of the Great State of South Carolina I have no idea. That is all up to you.