There were a lot of new signs in Boone. Some of the buildings were new, but mostly only the signs had changed. The vintage clothing store's sign had been replaced by a glass blowing shop sign. What used to be the movie theatre marquee was now advertising space for rent.
However, the newest sign was made with white spray paint on a shop window. The words are not fit to be printed where my mother might see them. That sign was brand-spanking new. In fact, it seems like it had occurred sometime during the night before we saw it.
The store was a little house-shaped building, slightly apart from the rest of the downtown buildings. There seemed to be multiple businesses within. An eye doctor and a white-water rafting company shared the downstairs. And upstairs, a place called "Dixie Pride." It specialized in Confederate memorabilia and history. The stars and bars flapped in the breeze from a top balcony.
Vandalism is no good, guys. I am pretty sure that my beliefs are much more in line with whoever was bearing the spray paint than the store owners, but property damage does not advance your cause. Although, I have to admit that writing "OBAMA 2012" on the side was a little funny. Again, probably not helpful.
I remember years ago, when South Carolina was fighting about whether to fly the Confederate flag over the capitol building. Whatever we might like to tell you, we North Carolinians are not so different from our more southerly brethren. Kids wore Confederate shirts to my high school, where I was taught in U.S. History that the Civil War was really about states' rights. And so when some people said that flying the flag was about "heritage, not hate," that seemed reasonable to me. After all, I was proud to be southern, because it is the place I first loved. We have good food and hospitality here! That didn't make me a hateful person, so maybe the flag wasn't necessarily hateful either.
I don't believe that anymore.
A couple of years ago, I started reading the blog of Ta-Nahesi Coates, a black Civil War buff (and fantastic writer and all-around interesting human being). Most of my ideas about The Civil War are ripped straight from his words. One of TNC's main themes is how much the discussion and narrative of the Civil War leaves out the slaves entirely. "Heritage, not hate" does the same thing - omits the heritage of a big chunk of the population. You know, the descendents of slaves. Is the flag about them?
TNC refers to the Confederate flag as a flag of treason. And, man, if that doesn't get right to the heart of things. It's the first phrase I think of when I see it anymore. Before, it was a mildly obnoxious symbol of my home. You know, like a drunk uncle you tolerate at holidays. Now, it just makes me cringe. Even if we generously assume that it is only about heritage to the flag-waver, what does it mean to the people that see it?
Again, don't go vandalizing. Because it doesn't help your cause, any more than that stupid flag helps the South's.