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On the Confederate flag, rap music & symbolism
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Dennis Wyatt

I do not like rap music.

My attitude toward the genre isn't anchored in the beat.

It is due to the fact a majority of rap music glorifies sex, violence, the marginalization of women, drugs, and a long list of smaller vulgarities. Yes, I do understand that not all rap music wallows in such slime and hatred. There are distinctive bright spots such as Christian rap as well as songs more about love and brighter things in life than hate and the dark side.

I understand rap music means different things to different people. While I find it personally distasteful and the genre as a whole less than desirable I certainly wouldn't want it banned but then again I wouldn't want the State of California to adopt an official rap song.

Which brings me to the Confederate flag.

There are some who view it as a symbol of rebellion.

Some see it as "southern heritage."

But many see it as a banner of racism.

I get how you can display the Confederate flag and not be a racist.

But I also understand that the second a lot of people hear rap music they immediately think vulgarity, sexism, and violence without even hearing the message of the singer let alone the thoughts of the person playing the music.

It would be sheer lunacy for a state to adopt a rap song as the official state song given how a large number of people associate the genre with less than wholesome activities.

Yet, in the 21st century there are a number of people who see no problem with states displaying the Confederate flag on the grounds of government buildings such as their state capitols as South Carolina does. In fact while the American and South Carolina flags were flying at half-mast at the Capitol in Columbia after what appears to be the racially-motivated murder of nine blacks gathered for Bible study, the Confederate flag was flying nearby.

Symbols matter. If you doubt that, how do you think people in Texas and California would react if the Mexican flag was flown at their respective state capitols? A lot of people would go nuts.

But guess what? The Mexican flag is part of the heritage of both California and Texas given both sates were once part of Mexico. In both instances, rebellions not led by the United States but by groups within both California and Mexico battled for - and secured - their independence before eventually joining the United States.

Yes, the Bear Flag Rebellion and the Texas fight for independence are both history.

But then so is the Civil War. We don't fly the flag of England over our nation's Capital nor do we display the Mexican flag on the capitol grounds in Sacramento or the capitol grounds in Texas.

And no matter how you spin it, there is a large segment of American citizens who view the Confederate flag as symbolizing racism. That doesn't mean it can't legitimately mean other things to other people that aren't rooted in discrimination or hatred.

Mitt Romney is right. The only official treatment that states or the federal government should give to the Confederate flag is its placement in a museum.

As for individuals, they should feel free to use the Confederate flag to represent what they like whether it is their Southern heritage, a rebellious attitude or - no matter how distasteful it sounds - racism.

An outright ban of the Confederate flag - just like an outright ban of rap music - would run roughshod not just over the concept of individual rights but would assume that all who display a Confederate flag are racists and all that listen to rap music are drug-crazed, murderous rapists who kill for joy and who have a vocabulary limited to the depravity of the gutter.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.