I just had to ask, didn’t I


Jason Smith

Columnist


I wasn’t planning on writing this column.

In fact, I did everything I could to avoid writing it. But, recent events across the country have compelled me to say something before things get even crazier.

In my last column I wrote about a few items that had been all over the news. They included: the tale of Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner; the fallout from a pool party in McKinney, Texas; the saga of “transracial” Rachel Dolezal; and the church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

I ended that column by asking what would happen next. It didn’t take long to find out.

When the alleged gunman in the shooting case, Dylann Roof, reportedly confessed to the crime, we began to find out a lot about him. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we soon saw a photo of Roof holding up a Confederate flag.

The backlash was almost immediate. Roof was rightfully condemned as everything from a racist to a terrorist, as people began to rally around the families of the victims in that case. As has happened many times before in the face of tragedy, America was doing its best to come together, to heal.

What followed that response was the most logical step that could be taken. Reruns of “The Dukes of Hazzard” were removed from TV Land.

I think my actual response to that move was, “Um, what?”

Before I go any further, let me say that I don’t hold any sort of emotional attachment to the Confederate flag. Some people love it and wave it proudly, and others hate it and everything it stands for.

As for me, I’m proud to have been born and raised in the South. My house in Newton County isn’t terribly far from where some episodes of “Dukes” was filmed. I was also a diehard fan of the show, being glued to my TV every Friday night when it aired on CBS … 35 years ago.

Now, there are folks chasing the Duke boys and the General Lee out of town like they’re all named Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.

I get it. The Confederate flag is offensive to a lot of people in this country. But it seems to me that, rather than creating a symbolic scapegoat in the form of a muscle car in a fictional town from 35 years ago, we should be doing more to attack real racism where we find it today.

Besides, if being offended by something is all it takes to remove something from public view, I have a few suggestions based on what offends me in Hollywood. I’m offended whenever people of faith are portrayed as intolerant, backwards jerks. I’m offended when I see fathers depicted as buffoons in sitcoms, and people who don’t engage in premarital sex being portrayed as prudes.

If such portrayals were taken off the air, there wouldn’t be much left to watch at all these days.

Someone might say that my aforementioned examples are different, because no one used them as an excuse to kill someone. But that’s exactly my point.

Nine people died at that church in Charleston. What can we do to help them? What can we do, today and in the future, so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again?

Racism didn’t start overnight in this country. It’s going to take more than a symbolic gesture to get rid of it. It’s going to take time to change people’s hearts and attitudes.

I guess the question now is, what are we going to do about it?


Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.