Sunday, October 30, 2005

Half Mast

The flags were at half mast today. I usually don't notice, they're on a different end of the building. It's been a weird year for flags and flag protocol. The political jurisdiction that I work for is both extremely political and extremely ignorant of proper protocols, so in the last year the flag has been at half mast for some very odd things.

Today it was at half mast for Rosa Parks. A little late, maybe, but it makes good sense to me. She was an important figure in our nation, history and ideals.

We all know, every thinking, feeling one of us knows, that it's wrong to treat little old ladies shabbily. Some people felt and maybe still feel that skin color can erase this simple moral fact. It can't. Treat old folks nicely. That's an order.

Mrs. Parks made us realize that some people weren't doing this simple right thing if they could use race as an excuse. It made us look at other places where the right things weren't being done and race was an excuse.

Have you ever read "Uncle Tom's Cabin"? Uncle Tom gets a bad rap in modern black culture, but it is undeserved. Between the 19th century writing style and the religious platitudes it was a hard book for me to read but it was powerful. Stowe set up Uncle Tom as an impossibly good man- kind, generous, protective, loving and confident that he was in the hands of a loving god. The she stripped away his family and his life, and brutally murdered him at the hands of another and much lesser man.

It is a ruthless piece of tear jerking literature aimed at and successful at provoking a reaction. She pointed out that the simple moral truth, that killing a man is bad, that killing a very, very good and kind man is reprehensible and deserves justice did not apply in that world and at that time- provided the man was of a certain color and the murderer had a piece of paper describing the dead man as property.

It was an obvious moral truth brought out into the light. Something had to be done and in the bloodiest war in American history 600,000 died and the nation was brought to the edge of destruction to make it right.

Rosa deserves her flag.

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