Friday, March 6, 2015

Kevin Levin's Hopelessly Divisive Melodrama

Kevin Levin has weighed in on the Pensacola Five Flags news with a lite-weight argument that does little to inform folks about Confederate heritage, but gives a clear, crisp, concise look at his motives.

Hey, Kevin!                          
Sez Levin, the return of the flags to the Pensacola Bay Center with the First National instead of the battle flag is a victory that "rings hollow" to him. My question is -- who cares how it rings to him? He hates the Confederacy, heritage advocates, and the evil white South in general. So who cares about him and his opinion? Screw 'im.

But the fact is, this is a victory for Confederate heritage, and it just kills Levin, so he's doing what he can to minimize the victory. But my gosh, THREE of the five county commissioners have Confederate soldier ancestors who they say weren't fighting for slavery and who they are proud of.

Citing the war against Confederate heritage in Virginia, he says, "...perhaps this does feel like a victory. Somehow this victory will have to accommodate the fact that the decision reinforces the community’s belief that the battle flag is a hopelessly divisive symbol."

Ah, no. What it reinforces is that the battle flag was not a national flag of the Confederacy -- and the five flags displays in Pensacola were the national flags of the countries to which Pensacola has belong in its 4+ centuries of existence. 

From the Fiesta of Five Flags website:  Fiesta of Five Flags History
In the late 1940's, a group of community leaders began to develop the idea of an annual summer festival to promote tourism in the Pensacola area. That idea developed into the Fiesta of Five Flags Celebration, and it may have been the first community attempt to recognize and develop tourism as an industry.

Calvin Todd, President of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce in 1949, proposed the concept of combining a historical theme with tourism promotion. Thus, the focus of Fiesta was based upon the founding of Pensacola, America's oldest city, by Don Tristan de Luna in 1559. It would also be a salute to our history under the flags of five governments that have flown over our city: Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States.

...Throughout the 64 years of the Fiesta’s history, the mission has remained the same: "To celebrate our heritage, promote tourism and build pride in Pensacola through festive activities which enhance the quality of life in our Community." Today Fiesta mobilizes community support for its year-round events, contributes funds to the promotion of Pensacola's history, while providing exciting entertainment and events for the entire community to enjoy.
Now, I don't know why the Fiesta organization back then chose the battle flag to represent the Confederacy in its five flags displays. And you know what? I don't care. Today, in 2015, flying a national flag of the Confederacy in a display of national flags rather than the soldier's flag is not a problem for me.

One thing this minor "flag flap" has done, however, is reveal just how badly more information about the Confederacy is needed in west Florida (pretty much just like everywhere else).

As for the battle flag being "hopelessly divisive," so what? I think the "hopelessly" is a ridiculously melodramatic attempt to manipulate. I do concede the battle flag is, or can be divisive. But, again, so what? Total accord and harmony aren't possible... and who would want them to be?

Here's a picture of the complete absence of divisiveness, from the pen of Madeleine L'Engle in "A Wrinkle in Time":
Below them the town was laid out in harsh angular patterns.  The houses in the outskirts were all exactly alike, small square boxes painted gray. Each had a small, rectangular plot of lawn in front, with a straight line of dull looking flowers edging the path to the door. Meg had a feeling that if she could count the flowers there would be exactly the same number for each house.  In front of all the houses children were playing. Some were skipping rope, some were bouncing balls. Meg felt vaguely that something was wrong with their play. It seemed exactly like children playing around any housing development at home, and yet there was something different about it. She looked and Calvin, and saw that he, too, was puzzled.

"Look!" Charles Wallace said suddenly.  "They're skipping and bouncing in rhythm! Everyone's doing it at exactly the same moment."

This was so. As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so did the ball. As the rope curved over the head of the jumping child, the child with the ball caught the ball.  Down came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again. Up. Down.  All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses. Like the paths. Like the flowers.

Then the doors of all the houses opened simultaneously, and out came women like a row of paper dolls. The print of their dresses was different, but they all gave the appearance of being the same. Each woman stood on the steps of her house. Each clapped. Each child with the ball caught the ball. Each child with the skipping rope folded the rope. Each child turned and walked into the house.The doors clicked shut behind them....

"How can they do it?" Meg asked wonderingly. "We couldn't do it that way if we tried.  What does it mean?"

"Let's go back." Calvin's voice was urgent.  ....

"Come on." Impatience made Meg squeak.  "You know we can't go back. Mrs. Whatsit said to go into the town." She started on down the street, and the two boys followed her. The houses, all identical, continued as far as the eye could reach.

Then all at once, they saw the same thing, and stopped to watch. In front of one of the houses stood a little boy with a ball, and he was bouncing it.  But he bounced it rather badly with no partiacular rhythm, sometimes dropping it and running after it with awkward, furtive leaps, sometimes throwing the ball in the air and trying to catch it. The door of his house opened and out ran one of the mother figures.  She looked wildly up and down the street, saw the children and put a hand to her mouth as though to stifle a scream, grabbed the little boy and rushed indoors with him. The ball dropped from his fingers and rolled out into the street.

Charles Wallace ran after it and picked it up, holding out for Meg and Calvin to see. It seemed like like a perfectly ordinary, brown ball.

"Let's take it in and see what happens," Charles Wallace suggested.....

They went up the path to the house. [Charles Wallace] walked briskly up the steps and knocked at the door. They waited. Nothing happened. Then Charles Wallace saw a bell and this he rang. They could hear the bell buzzing in the house and the sound of it echoed down the street.  After a moment the mother figure opened the door.  All up and down the street other doors opened but only a crack, and eyes peered toward the three children and the woman looking fearfully out the door at them.

"What do you want?" she asked. "it isn't paper time yet; we've had milk time; we've had th is months Puller Prush Person; and I've given my Decency Donations regularly.  All my papers are in order."

"I think your little boy dropped his ball," Charles Wallace said, holding it out.

The woman pushed the ball away. "Oh, no! The children in our section never drop balls! They're perfectly trained. We haven't had an Abberation for three years."

All up and down the block, heads nodded in agreement.

Charles Wallace moved closer to the woman and looked past her into the house. Behind her in the shadows he could see the litltle boy, who must have been about his own age.

"You can't come in," the woman said. "You haven't shown me any papers. I don't have to let you in if you haven't any papers."

Charles Wallace held the ball out beyond the woman so that the little boy could see it. Quick as a flash the boy leaped forward and grabbed the ball from Charles Wallace's hand, then darted back into the shadows. The woman went very white, opened her mouth as though to say something, then slammed the dor in their faces instead. All up and down the street doors slammed.

"What are they afraid of?" Charles Wallace asked. "What's the matter with them?"
Well, Charles Wallace, they are the result of unity, of accord, of harmony ... of hopeless non-divisiveness. Oddly enough, this kind of sameness is what those who champion "diversity" really want....  Charges of "divisiveness" are simply an excuse for removing whole swaths of unique heritage and culture -- because it might not be the heritage of everyone, so some people are "left out" .... therefore, the heritage must be erased.  And that will move society in the direction of homogenized sameness.

To the Kevin Levins of the world, the only choices are "hopeless divisiveness" and L'Engle-style uniformity...

No thanks. I don't think even opponents of the battle flag would want to live in that neighborhood...

Bronx Cheer video -- Wikimedia Commons


  1. Connie, I applaud you! Not only for making a good point, but for using one of my favorite young adult novels of all time as a reference.

  2. And thank you, Carl. I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was a teenager, and that scene above was utterly chilling to me. And not just that, but haunting; and it has stayed with me all these years.

    "Divisiveness" is one of the most over-harped on subjects in PC America. Sometimes I think I'll throw up if I again hear, "We should focus on what unites us, not what divides us." Divisiveness isn't always a negative, and unity isn't always a positive.

    1. I read it when I was 13 as a class assignment. I was amazed by the story and the writing of Miss L'Engle. I own a copy of that book today, and it stands as an inspiration for my writing projects and the novels I am currently working on.


Comments are welcome, but monitored.