Did you know that this newspaper is named for a slaveholder? It’s right there on our masthead, the name of a man who for 56 years held other human beings in bondage on his Virginia plantation — a man, according to the official Mount Vernon Web site, who “frequently utilized harsh punishment against the enslaved population, including whippings.” This dreaded symbol of oppression is delivered to the doorsteps and inboxes of hundreds of thousands of people each morning.
Sure, George Washington also emancipated his slaves in his will, won our independence and became the father of our country — but no matter. It is an outrage that this paper continues to bear the name of such a man.
It is time to rename The Washington Post!
Think that’s stupid? You’re right. But there’s a lot of stupid going around today. The latest example: The TV Land network has pulled the plug on reruns of one of America’s most beloved shows, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” because the car in the show, the General Lee, bears a Confederate flag. There is nothing racist about “The Dukes of Hazzard.” It is a show about moonshine, short shorts and fast cars. What is accomplished by banning “The Dukes of Hazzard”? Nothing.
Our country is in a miasma of political correctness. So where does it end? Are we going to rename our nation’s capital (and Washington state for that matter)? Should we close the Jefferson Memorial (named for a man who never freed his slaves)? How about renaming Arlington (which is named after Robert E. Lee’s estate) . . . or Washington and Lee University (names for not one, but two slave owners) . . . or Fort Hood (named for Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood) and Fort Bragg (named for Braxton Bragg, military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis).
This impulse to wipe away history is Stalinist. Just like Joseph Stalin once erased people from photographs, we’re now erasing people from our collective history.
These historical purges are not only wrong, they are also completely unnecessary. If you want to see where race relations are in the South, just look at how the people of Charleston, S.C., reacted to the shootings at Emanuel AME Church. There were no race riots. The city didn’t burn. People came together — black and white — to mourn and heal together. The white mayor of Charleston joined hands with the state’s black senator and its Indian American governor to pray. Thousands of people of all races, creeds and colors formed a “unity chain ” that stretched two miles across the Ravenel Bridge to honor those who died.
What a testament that is to how far the South has come since the days of segregation. The alleged Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, wanted to set off a race war. Instead he set off an amazing display of unity and love. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
Now come all these self-righteous liberals from cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, doing what the Charleston shooter failed to do — sowing division and discord where none exist.
Let’s be clear: The recent criticism of the Confederate flag is really not about a flag — it is about the people of the South. It is driven by the notion that most Southerners are a bunch of racists who agree with the Charleston shooter’s murderous actions. As we saw after the shooting, nothing could be further from the truth.
According to the FBI’s Hate Crimes database, in 2013 — the most recent year for which there are statistics — there were just five homicides in the United States that were classified as “hate crimes” and only one found to be anti-black. By contrast, that same year there were 2,491 recorded homicides of African Americans, of which 2,245 (or 90 percent) were committed by other African Americans. Meanwhile, of the 3,005 white people killed that year, 2,509 (or 84 percent) were killed by other whites. So most whites are killed by other whites, and most blacks are killed by other blacks — and almost none are killed in hate crimes.
In other words, there is no race war in the United States today.
Moreover, none of this political correctness is helping African Americans at all. Getting rid of the Confederate flag or banning “The Dukes of Hazzard” won’t save a single black life. It won’t do a thing to help the nearly one quarter of young African American men who are unemployed — or to lift up black kids trapped in failing schools. Instead of sowing division with historical purges, let’s celebrate how far our nation has come — and focus our energies on actually helping those who have been left behind.
And when it comes to symbols of the past, perhaps we should take our example from Abraham Lincoln. After the South surrendered, Lincoln addressed a crowd gathered on the White House lawn and asked that the band play “Dixie,” which he said had always been one of his favorite songs.