27 June 2015

Hey Ben Affleck:History makes us who we are

I had someone tell me this week that they find it hard to blog because they don't know their audience. I told her that I don't really know mine either but I just write what I know as much for myself as for anyone else. Then I found myself questioning if I should write this blog for fear of being branded something I am not.

I have been following several stories in the news that effect genealogy and family history. One could argue that every story in the new has the same effect. I have been reading about the senseless mass shootings at the church Charleston, South Carolina. Psychosis and hate are a plague among man. I do not know why man can reach the depths they do, I only know that there is balance in all things. I have also seen men do great acts of compassion and love.

There have been calls over the years to remove the confederate flag from state capitols and other government facilities. I am not sure for the exact reasons the confederate battle flag flies anywhere really. I am sure men have decided why and where for both good and maybe bad reasons. However it seems to be a blatant removal of objects from history could doom those in the future to forget what has happened.

There has also been an uproar about Ben Affleck requesting that his southern slave-owner ancestors be left out of his appearance on "Finding Your Roots". His attempted cover up is seen with scorn. I am not sure how his embarrassment and attempted cover up over his roots is any different than removing the confederate flags or monuments in the south. Whitewashing the past does not make things any less true.

My grandpa, Richard Junior Trotter, was in the 82nd Airborne. He fought in WWII in the European theater. He was caught behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge. Adolph Hitler and the Nazi movement is not anything to be proud of. My grandfather hated few things but the Nazis and Hitler were on his list. I do not think it is right or proper to agree with or fly the Nazi flag. It is a true symbol of hatred and beliefs that can only be condemned.

The swastika was not always a symbol of hate. I am not sure what could be done to remove the stigma that is now attached to it. It it now owned by those that deal in hate. An easily used symbol to convey meaning with out words. Races, religions and the rank in file all know the hate behind the symbol. If the swastika had been reclaimed as a religious symbol of the cross or an oriental symbol of the sun the hate it now conveys could have been lessened.

I fear the same fate will become of the confederate flag. Instead of a century of forgiving but not forgetting, it will be a symbol left to haters and the uneducated. Ben Affleck had an opportunity to admit his heritage and then acknowledge how far removed from slavery he is now. As far removed as we are from our southern roots we now live in a country without slavery but not a world with out it. I cannot believe that there was a time my ancestors could own other people and believe it was a right. I cannot believe that there are still people in the world today that believe the same.

Instead of Whitewashing our heritage and history we should turn perceived symbols of hate into symbols of change. Hiding American history under the rug from our children does not teach them anything. You can bet the haters will only wave their flags higher. Which side do you want teaching out kids?