“I realize I’m not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach,
but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say
we need to get rid of it. I’ve been told not to talk about that. But if
anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could rid of it.”
There has been a lot of discussion about race in America and most of it has in some part involved college campuses. The Duke and Rutgers stuff got on my nerves after a while because so many of the causes and reactions were based in thinly-veiled opportunism. There were eloquent and constructive opinions in the wake of each, but there was also a lot of fluff and grandstanding.
Of all the incidents, the story I found most interesting was the one coming out of South Carolina. Steve Spurrier is the football coach at South Carolina. He is of the opinion that the Confederate Flag should come down from the state capitol. And this weekend, he decided to make his opinion known at a couple of banquet events he was speaking at.
I'm not a big Confederate Flag fan. I will never fly one, and the sight of it tends to make me uncomfortable. I make certain assumptions about people who do take pride in the flag, shallow as that might make me. I wouldn't shed any tears if it came down from the South Carolina state house. And yet, it's not one of the causes I would throw myself out there for right now because I also understand that the flag is a part of our country's history, and it wasn't created as a symbol for the causes that would later come to represent.
With that being my own personal paradigm, I'm pretty shocked that Spurrier came out so strongly against the flag. Hey, mad props to him for doing so. He has a lot to loose. He is the highest paid state employee in South Carolina at $1.75 million per year. What puts him in a tricky spot however, is that he isn't exactly paid through tax dollars. Most of his salary is paid through private donations by university boosters, then allocated to the appropriate budgets. I haven't done the research on this, but I'm going to guess that most of these boosters are white. I'm going to guess that a good portion of them are from "old money" and are very proud of their Southern heritage. There is a slight chance that the majority of his salary is paid for by black people from the North who were drawn to The University of South Carolina for its great African Literature department, but I'm not willing to put any money on that.
Still don't believe me that Spurrier took a risk here? Ok. Explain to me why two of the most prominent Republicans in the 2008 Presidential race have refused to denounce the flag when asked about it point blank. Ok. I'll do it for you. In the 2000 Republican primary it was a pretty big issue. McCain denounced. GWB did not. That, coupled with a well-timed rumor that McCain had an affair with a black woman turned the race in GWB's favor after McCain had been winning early on.
I have a lot of respect for Spurrier. He owes a lot of his fame and fortune as a football coach to black athletes. While nobody would have blamed him for ducking the issue, he went out there and spoke his heart because he felt that his community could do better in respecting members of that community. I'm down with that.