Straight Talk with Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist
Last week, the Confederate War Memorial in Dallas was the site of one of the latest battles to remove Confederate monuments in public places. This movement is bigger than Dallas, it is a nationwide movement that has spread across the south. Whether it is New Orleans, where they have removed the statues, or Charlottesville where they are in the process of removing, or Dallas where we are currently debating statue removal. Through these actions and debates, we are exorcising ghosts.
These ghosts are malevolent spirits of an unholy alliance between treason and hatred. Dallas stands now in the crosshairs of public attention. Whatever political decision made in the upcoming weeks, it’s not going to be easy. This week, as discussed in our cover story, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the formation of a taskforce to consider for the next 90 days if the Confederate monuments will be removed from Dallas’ public spaces. These are indeed contentious times affecting us all, from the White House to the street corner, the nation seems to be at odds. The debate on the removal of the Confederate monuments for many white southerners is a connection not only to white supremacy but to a past built upon the subjugation of African-Americans.
The counter protesters last week who disrupted the Reverend Michael Waters, a Black man, as he gave his speech acted in a manner similar to the protesters in Charlottesville. The lack of decency and decorum has now resurfaced as if it is a rerun of ‘Eyes on the Prize.” As neo Confederates waved their anti-American flags, and that’s what a Confederate flag is, they symbolize the intolerance of America today and its past glorification of “The Lost Cause” of slavery.
Having raised this issue in my last column, I was at the rally as an observer from my vantage point I saw what had moved the crowd. Raw emotion and a physical presence of a black man in the south have resulted in changing a gathering into a lynch mob.
The challenge to Dallas is to contain civil disruptions and replace it with civil discourse. We must talk to each other with respect and no disrespect. Dallas has had a documented history of past extremist violence, whether it is the neo Confederates of last week’s rally or the documented excesses of the ultra-right in the 1960”s, Dallas has made a bet with extremism and lost. The difference from the 1960”s as we compare today, is that extremism is in the White House. Alt right extremism took over many neighborhoods in America, when the “White House” at 1600 Pennsylvania had a black occupant.
Extremism in Dallas was noticeable at the Confederate War Memorial protest when the presence of black independence was moved to the forefront. Protest organizer Eric Ramsey, and fellow speakers Edward Sebasta, and Dr. Michael Phillips who are white had read their speeches uninterrupted with very little fanfare.Reverend Michael Waters then stepped forward to give his speech, and the counter protesters stepped back to 1865.
The protesters yelled, interrupted, and surged forward to intimidate. They attempted to assert White privilege. Reverend Waters did more than held his ground, as he stepped forward to 2017. Boldly placing himself forward to rebut any challenge to his intelligence or manhood.
Dallas, and yes America’s, challenge is how it responds when black men or women step forward to assert their rights. In Dallas, the people stepped forward to 2017 as the statues of the Confederacy loomed over the protesters and counter protesters like ghosts in a bad dream. We can only banish the ghosts of the Confederacy when we banish hate.
This is Ed Gray and this is straight talk.
Ed Gray, the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on FBRN.net, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.