The license plate read “Heritage Not Hate."
Right on the front of the pick-up truck it made me think. With a Confederate flag as its background it made me wonder: Does that heritage come without hate?
Who celebrates the antebellum South?
It turns out lots of people do. They celebrate it with Confederate flags and Civil War re-enactments. They celebrate it by whistling Dixie and loving “Gone with the Wind.” They mourn it's passing by renovating elaborate monuments to human misery that once dotted the southern landscape. They call these monuments plantations and pledge their undying love for each other on the buildings' steps. That time is a time steeped in nostalgia, and if there is one thing people love, it is nostalgia.
But how do you divorce the heritage from the hatred? Do you ignore the backbone of the South, the soul-destroying practice of enslaving humans that made the entire shebang function so smoothly? Do you ignore the birth of the Klan, the rise of Jim Crow and the systematic attempts to recreate slavery without violating the Constitution? How many mint juleps must you consume to perform that level of mental gymnastics?
It is hard to respect someone who won’t acknowledge the obvious. It’s almost impossible to accept people who never want to pay the cost of the beliefs they espouse.
If you love that South, don’t try to pretend that it was something it wasn’t. Don’t try to sell us this dream that it was just good ol’ boys working hard and playing harder.
Own up to what that time really was about for your ancestors and mine. Admit what they tried to accomplish, and what you still resent that they failed to do. Otherwise, I refuse to take you seriously.
It is a heritage steeped in hatred. There is no separating the two, and it doesn’t matter how many bumper stickers and license plates say otherwise.
Have enough self-respect to refuse to accept the easy lie.