As a proud son of the South, I agree, there are many, many great values, virtues, and customs embedded and inherent in Southern culture that I too celebrate and appreciate.
For some, the Confederate Flag (CF) is a symbol of Southern culture that affirms and applauds a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, fierce independence, state rights, faith, family, the right to bear arms, hospitality, congeniality, sharing, and a Bible-belt, church-going assumption. However, honesty also demands that Southerners admit that the CF—at least in part—represents “a slave society and a society bent on keeping Blacks living in the Jim Crow style.”
The above quote came from a member of an SBC church who requested that I consider withdrawing or modifying the Resolution that I proposed to the SBC eliminating the CF from public life. (https://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/resolution-on-the-elimination-of-the-confederate-flag-from-public-life/). I appreciate the honesty and transparency of those who admit that the CF is complicit with racism, even while parsing out the positive aspects of Southern culture, that they maintain that the CF also represents. I feel and sense their pain and consternation, and I understand why they want to throw out the bathwater—the racist aspects of Southern culture—and keep the baby—the positive aspects of Southern culture. There are those who fly the CF high while repudiating the racist aspects of Southern culture, and simultaneously celebrating the positive aspects. My heart bleeds for those who compartmentalize in this manner and are sincere in doing so.
However, here is why the compartmentalization approach will not work. All will not agree with the illustration that I’m going to use to make my point, but it graphically explains my position. Rat poison is comprised of 90% corn meal and 10% strychnine. The corn meal is certainly not the problem. It is the strychnine that taints or poisons the whole bottle, once mixed.
To the extent that the current banner wavers of the CF intend to symbolize or celebrate the non-racist and positive aspects of Southern culture—I suggest to you that because of the racial animus also historically and currently associated with the CF, it is disqualified to fly as a symbol of Southern pride. You cannot separate the strychnine from the corn meal once mixed. At this point, you cannot separate the White Supremacy/Black Oppression values/views from the CF. It was birth in that atmosphere and to perpetuate racist causes.
Therefore, I cannot modify or withdraw my resolution. The move to remove the CF from public life is not a move toward political correctness. It is a move toward biblical righteousness (Acts 10:34, 17:26; Malachi 2:10; Revelation 5:8-9). Southern Baptists need to be viewed as continuously moving toward biblical righteousness and racial healing. This would be another—and in my judgment the most significant—step in the right direction on the subject of race.
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William Dwight McKissic, Sr. is a prominent African-American Southern Baptist minister from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He is the founder and current senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.