Mr. Cope's Cave: The Proper Way to Flush a Flag 

Isn't it enough that this symbol of suppression and intolerance is being rejected?

You must be pretty happy, Mr. Cope.

Why's that?

Over the reaction to the Confederate flag this week. Gosh, it's been moving like crazy, how all those politicians have come out against using it anymore. And how all those big stores aren't going to sell it anymore. Why, it's just amazing how fast it's all changing, isn't it?

I suppose.

You don't seem so amazed.

It's not that I'm not amazed it has changed so fast. I just want to be sure I understand exactly what it is that's changing.

Well isn't it enough that this historical symbol of suppression and intolerance is being rejected?

Junior, it's important to remember there's a difference between a symbol and what it symbolizes. And it's even more important to remember the difference between a symbolic gesture, and an authentic shift of attitudes. I have to see something beyond this big show of renouncing that stinking flag to be convinced something is really changing.

But it's been Republicans who've done the most renouncing. That should mean something.

It'll mean something if those same Republicans now renounce the voter suppression in their own states. It'll mean something if they now renounce police responding to minor threats with lethal force. It'll mean something if those same politicians, who've been more than happy to take NRA money and NRA endorsements, now renounce the f***ing gun cartel and the f***ing Second Amendment goons who've made it so inevitable that a murdering piece of racist shit like Dylann Roof has a goddamn gun in his hand whenever he decides to go out and make a name for himself. It'll mean something if those same newly-sympathetic leaders, who've built their party's base by pandering to the crassest, most-unsympathetic assholes in the country ... who have been throwing gas on the racist fires for decades ... who've built their careers on fear and exclusion and vilification ... if they now recognize how, with their implicit aid and comfort and encouragement, there are undoubtedly thousands of Dylann Roofs out there, feeding off each other's evil, stroking their guns and dreaming of the day when they, too, will crawl out from under their rocks and go make a name for themselves. Then it will mean something ... when Republicans renounce just about everything they have come to stand for.

Uh, but it's still a good thing we won't be seeing that flag anymore, isn't it?

I have a hunch we may be seeing it more than ever. Nobody seems to love their symbols more than white supremacists, Nazis and proud southerners, have you noticed?

Maybe it's because their symbols is all they have to be proud of, Mr. Cope. Like, it's pretty darn hard to be proud of the stuff the symbols symbolize, know what I mean?

May be, Junior. But I'm not sure we're talking about people smart enough to understand there's a difference between the symbol and the reality.

So that would mean the reality they think they live in is nothing but symbols stacked on top of other symbols, and maybe they've even lost track of what the symbols were meant to represent in the first place.

Or that they've attached a significance to the symbols that has no relationship to the original intent of the symbols.

Oh my, Mr. Cope. That would mean there are people around who are only as deep as the decals they stick on their cars and trucks. Or am I getting this wrong?

Nope. I think you have it about right.

Oh dear God, Mr. Cope. I just had this horrible feeling that I'm turning into you!

Don't be alarmed, Junior. It's just growing pains.

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