Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Unnatural Rebellion

It's so hard to know for sure.

Passion leads to misjudgement and hypocrisy; better to eschew passion.

"I think people my age are embarrassed by too much enthusiasm," wrote Susan Orlean, "and believe that too much passion about anything is naive."

Yes, and taking a stand is grotesque, seems somehow unconsidered sometimes. So I'm too much the Devil's Advocate. 99% against violence, but what if violence is necessary and saves lives? Better shut up and let someone else take care of it.

Pretty damn sure that gays should be able to marry, but with 5% reservation that "marriage," the word, has specific physico-spiritual meaning that just can't be easily discounted. Quiet, then.

Plus, there's the question of self-righteousness. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and be thought preachy.

But on this there can be no doubt. In Jacksonville, FL, there is a school called Nathan Bedford Forrest High. It is named after the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

How can this stand?

(Nota bene: there is another Forrest High School in Tennessee, w/o the N.B.)

He was a man of his times, some might say, and a military genius. Well, let him be that, let him have a corner of a museum and a plaque with copious, condemnatory footnotes. Don't make a bunch of young black kids root for the Rebs.

From a news article: "'As students, (the name is) not a big deal to us,' said Jamal Freeman, a black student, who noted it would cost a lot to change uniforms for the band and sports teams, nicknamed the Rebels.

Sabrina Lampp, a white student, said a change 'takes all the memories away.'"

Really, Sabrina? Really? Wouldn't it be great if all your memories didn't rest on the legacy of a racist fool, if you didn't have to honor that hooded history every time you donned a basketball uniform?

(And now I'm stopping to think--What if he wasn't a fool? What about his redeeming qualities? What about Sabina's? She just wants to give a rebel yell at homecoming just like last year's senior class did. Is that so wrong?)

Jamal's right, too, I guess. There is the money.

In a recent school board vote that kind of rationalization won, 5-2. The name stands. All the white members voted for it. The two black members against it.

My outrage is unoriginal. And, truthfully, the fear of that unoriginality would usually be what really stopped me from saying anything. Outrage is a collective response. I like my emotions untethered.

I like the idea of getting rid of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School even more.

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