L. Neil Smith's
Number 239, September 21, 2003

Evil is as Evil Does

Stars and Bars
by John Hoffman

Exclusive to TLE

Last weekend, a high-school football team forfeited a football game because they objected to the other team's use of the rebel flag as a team symbol. Objecting to its racist meaning, they decided not to play rather than allow the symbol to be displayed. "That has got to stop. We don't do that in today's age. We're beyond 1864."

We sure are. Back then, children who went to school were taught multivalued logic. Today's schools have been dumbed-down.

Single-valued logic is the most common version taught now: "This is how it works, this is how it happened, it cannot be any other way." Learn by rote, don't bother trying to fathom how things work, just memorize and spew it back out on command. No reasoning required. Later on, they may be taught dual-valued logic: "Either this is true, or if not, then that must be true." If it's not good, therefore it must be evil. There are no shades of grey.

Civil war history has been boiled down to "the war to free the slaves." Little or no attention is paid to the other issues, such as the economic burdens placed on the Southern States, or on the issue of States' rights. No one mentions that the reason most Northerners wished to end slavery was because they hated black people and felt they were taking valuable jobs. No one mentions that raiding parties that crossed the Mason-Dixon line to burn plantations also usually torched the slaves' quarters with all the slaves inside. No one seems to teach any more that in the term "United States", a "State", when the term was officially used, meant a separate country, and that the US was supposed to be a federation of countries, rather than trying to patch together different areas populated by people with differing beliefs into a monolithic mass.

And so the "Stars and Bars" has been equated with racism and evil and been made a symbol to be banned, invalidating any other message that might be implied. Single-valued logic: "Anyone waving the flag is a racist." Dual-valued logic: "If you support Southern values then you are a racist; otherwise, you are a good person." Multi-valued logic:

"Why are those people waving that flag? Of all the things it stands for, which do they support?"


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