It’s a common narrative from many in the media and on the left: Liberals are tolerant and kind, while conservatives are mean-spirited, intolerant racists.
That may have been what a teenage girl initially assumed about a man she encountered last week, but it turns out that she was the one with who had prejudged others.
On Wednesday, a 17-year-old Twitter user who uses the name “Chan” ended up stranded with her father on the side of the freeway. She wasn’t expecting a Southern “redneck” to stop — but what happened next surprised the teenager even more.
According to Chan, a rough-looking man wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt and tattoos approached the girl and her father. For reasons that will be clear in a moment, it must be pointed out that the teenager is black, while the tattooed stranger was white.
The teenager might have expected a confrontation from a “racist hick.” Instead, it was an act of kindness.
“So my dads tire blew up on the freeway and this dude, with a Confederate flag tattoo, wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt, with Confederate flag car stickers, stopped and changed our tire,” Chan explained, along with photos of this happening.
So my dads tire blew up on the freeway and this dude, with a confederate flag tattoo, wearing a confederate flag t-shirt, with confederate flag car stickers, stopped and changed our tire. My mind is blown, don’t judge a book by its cover y’all 🤷🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/CEjcDcjbSo
— Channnn (@Chan_the_world) May 3, 2018
“My mind is blown, don’t judge a book by its cover y’all,” she continued.
The girl’s story quickly caught people’s attention on Twitter, and it has received over 100,000 “likes” as of this article’s publication. Some readers pointed out that despite the recent claims of some in the media, many people who display the Confederate flag do so for reasons besides personal racism.
Chan stumbled onto a truth that many people would rather ignore: The “rebel” colors have a lot of history attached to them, and assuming that anyone who has a Confederate flag is automatically hateful is a serious oversimplification of the issue.
The teenager explained on Twitter that she still believes displaying or wearing the Confederate flag is distasteful, but that the helpful stranger reminded her that things aren’t always so cut and dried.
“I know how to think for myself and no, even after all this I don’t believe in flying or wearing the Confederate flag or the Virgina battle flag,” she stated.
Then she summarized the most important realization from the incident: Narratives don’t always hold up, and individuals are much more than their appearance.
“What I’ve learned though is not everyone sees it that way,” she said about the Dixie flag. “Y’all associate the flag with different sentiments, not necessarily racist ones.”
By simply recognizing that displaying a 150-year-old flag doesn’t make someone a horrible racist, the teenager showed that she was much more “woke” than many on the left.
“Cody is a great guy and my dad and I are grateful for his help,” she said about the man who stopped to help. “Do I agree with his flag supporting? No. Is he a nice guy? Yep.”
The reality is that the Civil War era was a complex time, and trying to summarize it into bumper-sticker phrases misses the mark. Yes, slavery was obviously a major issue, but there was more to the story.
Many Confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee, saw secession as a way to reject mandates from the North that would have destroyed Southern life as they knew it for decades.
States at the time were much more independent and viewed as almost sovereign nations. Many if not most Southern soldiers were fighting not for slavery but for their home states against what they believed were foreigners imposing far-off orders. In a word, they saw themselves as rebels.
Somewhat ironically, secession was about the South deciding for itself how to run its territory, while many Confederates hoped that slavery would fade away into history without a large-scale war tearing the land apart.
“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil in any country,” Lee wrote in 1856.
There is, of course, a huge amount of disagreement and debate on the Civil War era, and that by itself is not a bad thing. As this teenager herself said, walking around draped in the Confederate flag is probably not the best social choice.
But that’s very different from labeling anyone who identifies with the Southern rebel attitude as “racist.” Most likely, those who attack and prejudge people with a Dixie flag haven’t talked to many of them.
Making broad assumptions about a person’s character based on his or her appearance isn’t wise, yet it’s what far too many on the left do everyday. There’s often more to the story than meets the eye.