We were surprised when the Confederate flag resurfaced with the big-screen redux of the Dukes of Hazzard in 2005. (It's painted on the roof franchise's iconic car, aptly named General Lee). Weren't we, as a society, beyond this redneck symbol of an ugly past? Apparently not. And no one seemed to care too much except for one person we interviewed back then, L.A. author and radio host Earl Ofari Hutchinson.
Fast forward nearly 10 years and attitudes have inched a little more toward uncomfortable. America is not as blasé about the implications of this flag, even if some southerners still argue that the symbol is a display-worthy icon rich in history, good, bad or ugly.
An L.A.-based California assemblyman thinks the thing should be banned from state property, and this week his effort saw a key victory:
Assemblyman Isadore Hall's AB 2444 was approved by the lower house 72 to 1. The only dissenting vote was cast by SoCal Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a gun nut and undocumented-immigrant hater who is Quixotically seeking the Republican nomination for governor.
Hall's law would prohibit the state from displaying the Confederate flag, making it an optional graphic for California license plates (Georgia has approved Confederate-themed plates), or otherwise selling items featuring the flag.
The only exception for the state's own sales is if the flag appears in a book for for educational or historic purposes, according to the bill's language.
Here's what Hall's office states:
The Confederate flag is a symbol of racism, exclusion, oppression and violence towards many Americans. Its symbolism and history is directly linked to the enslavement, torture and murder of millions of Americans through the mid-19th Century. Even today, its public display is designed to instill fear, intimidation and a direct threat of violence towards others.
His folks note that the proposal wouldn't prohibit
idiots people from displaying the symbol on their own private property. Hall:
No Californian should be exposed to the type of domestic terrorism caused by the image of the Confederate flag. AB 2444 respects Constitutional protections by restricting government speech, not individual speech and will send a strong message that California and its taxpayers will not be in the business of promoting racism, exclusion, oppression or violence towards others.
The bill still has to work its way through the state senate and then seek the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown. It's a no-brainer with no cost and little actual real-world effect (does anyone believe the DMV is going to sell Confederate plates anytime soon?), so we think it pass easily.