Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Of flags, marriage and denial

There is a severe absence of embarrassment here in rural Georgia over the Confederate flag kerfuffle. Like belligerent teens, current owners of the most recognizably rancid symbol in America are now flying the flag more prominently, highlighting it like Justin Timberlake did Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl tit.

A bit of background: I am a white South African whose formative years took place under apartheid. We also had a flag. And we also got a new one, because the old one stood for such a hateful generation of oppression by white people against black. Don’t forget, that white supremacist murderer in South Carolina may have had a Confederate logo on his car, but the apartheid South African flag is etched onto his jacket.

So I am not speaking from a place of ignorance when I say I am in full agreement that the Confederate flag has no place on the official grounds of any government in the Union, state or local. And that I think private citizens who fly it are largely morons, and I look down upon them as condescendingly as I do people who think Shia LaBeouf can act.

And so it will be regarding the people who hate on the civil institution of marriage equality. This country has seen people of the same sex marry for over 11 years now, and the deities of various religions have yet to smite the nation with any weather that hasn’t been seen before.

When I moved to the United States in late 2011, there was still fallout from New York State’s legislature allowing men to marry men and women to marry women. Although the bill had moved through the legislature six months earlier, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was still complaining like Donald Trump in economy class. Newspapers were still debating what the effects would be. And Americans were still passing constitutional bans against marriage equality with flawless success—it was the prejudice equivalent of the S&P 500 in Obama’s America.

Merely four years later, the situation has been tipped on its head, and more than one public official who was once against gay marriage, or was too scared of the political fallout to say otherwise, is now in our boat, paddling merrily along to Cher’s greatest hits. We’ve struggled a bit with Republican officials, but as more of them breed gay children, or realize where they are in relation to the public opinion in their districts, that resistance will fall as readily as if David Hasselhoff had sung on top of it.

Although Mike Huckabee and his votaries, with their selective reading of both the Bible and the Constitution, have made a big noise since the Supreme Court ruled, their squealing has had all the effect of a rolled-upon piglet. Public opinion will not be hauled back by bitter people without an argument that can’t reasonably be construed as having its basis in anything other than disliking gay people. This is not really the sort of thing that goes backwards (the Roberts Court’s demolition of the Voting Rights Act notwithstanding).

So while, of course, we are not out of the woods, and a third of the nation still thinks we’re just out to do to the nation’s morals what Illinois governors do to the state fiscus, there will come a time when crapping all over the civil institution of same-sex marriage makes you look like as much of an in-denial dickhead as a Confederate flag bumper sticker attached to the rear of your car.