Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Sunday, October 28, 2007
  Proudly Honoring His Ancestors
Adding to my occasional commentary on the flags of The Confederacy and their meaning in modern American culture, I give you Maurice Bessinger:
Bessinger's decision to hoist the Confederate flag at his restaurants in 2000 led to stories about pamphlets still available at his restaurants which said Africans were grateful for slavery because they were better off in the United States than in Africa.

The publicity led several large grocery store chains to remove Bessinger's sauce from their shelves. Bessinger unsuccessfully sued, and the golden, mustard-based sauce can now only be bought at smaller retailers, Bessinger's restaurants and online.
Read the article. Be sure to notice that Bessinger openly refused service to Black customers until the Supreme Court intervened in *1976*.

Honor? Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Maurice.
We know, a least those of us with a smidgen of sense, that you Honor a Flag because of what it stands for. Flying the Confederate Flag, in other than in a purely Historical setting, is honoring all that was wrong with the South. We know that the Civil War wasn't fought over only slavery, which was more of a rallying point than a reason. But wait.....What it may have meant in 1860 may not mean what it does today for some people. Just a thought here mind you, but today it may mean a gesture of defiance. The Rebel wing. Those that still believe that The "South Will Rise Again" Lets hope not!
There are tricky boundaries when trying to figure what the Constitution and law require and permit of a public accommodation. Does he have a right, if he chooses, to fly a Confederate flag?

Clearly he's using the Confederate flag, at least in part, as a way of implying that blacks are not welcome. To use text to say this, even obliquely, would get him sued by the federal government. And no doubt the flags work to keep most blacks out; some are explicit about their boycott of the restaurant chain. So he has in a sense largely gotten his way (a white restaurant), and arguably the NAACP is merely playing in to his hands.

On the other hand, people of whatever color have a right not to patronize offensive merchants. I certainly would avoid a business with a prominent Confederate Battle Flag outside. (I doubt I'd notice the "new" flag.) I expect he's losing a lot of white customers, but perhaps he's attracting others by the same means. This change of flags, I think, means he believes he's now losing more white customers than he's gaining. And that's a good thing, for the South and the country.
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