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Racist tweet leads to social consequences

by Alexandra Weaver - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Oct 10th 2017 09:10 pm

We live in a different world than we did in 2015. Racists, who have always walked amongst us, have crawled out of the woodwork like cockroaches, empowered by a president and an administration that wears the term “racist” as a badge of pride. Racism is no longer seen as shameful. In fact, many consider people who care about the needs and feelings of others to be weak.This attitude is becoming clear in all areas of life, but it is perhaps the most clear on social media platforms. While racists used to hide behind pseudonyms like “Baked Alaska”, they now proudly tout their repugnant beliefs on an account that reveals their real name, which can easily be connected to other accounts of theirs that have personal information.

While they may feel empowered to do this, the fact is there are still consequences for saying racist things, even online. This is what Wil Forberg, a freshman at Monroe Community College and graduate from Hilton Central High School, learned over the first weekend of October.

Forberg is one of those super cool people who drive with a Confederate flag on his truck, harming his gas mileage as well as the eyes of every decent human being on the road. Yes, a boy born and raised in New York State believes that the stars and bars somehow represent his heritage.

Forberg took to Twitter to whine about his hate symbol being destroyed. His tweet read, “Shout out to the n***** at mcc who vandalized my confederate flag… you’ll be a white man’s property soon enough give trump time.”

Now his freedom of speech does protect him and his hate symbol, but I’d argue that destroying his hate symbol is symbolic speech as well. The fact is, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. If you decide to be a terrible person and further punch down at people that have been oppressed in this country for hundreds of years, you shouldn’t be surprised when you are punched back. 

I’m going to take a moment to digress into the history of the actual confederate flag. Usflags.org provides a comprehensive history of the many flags that the Confederacy used when it committed treason against the U.S. and murdered U.S. citizens. The first flag had three stripes, red on the top and bottom and white in the center, and a blue square in the top left corner that had seven stars in a ring. It was too similar to the Union’s flag at the time, which caused confusion on the battlefield.

The Confederate battle flag is like the stars and bars, but it is smaller and square-shaped. The flag later evolved to the stars and bars in a square in the top left corner of an all-white flag. This was further changed with the addition of a red bar down the righthand side of the flag, as it looked too similar to a white flag of surrender, which would have been a more accurate flag for the Confederacy anyway.

The modern day Confederate flag was never used as a battle flag. It was used from 1863 onward as the Confederate navy jack.

The flag was never the official symbol of the Confederacy. According to PBS, it was adopted by the pro-segregation Dixiecrat Party in 1948, and became a symbol for people who opposed desegregation. You know, the angry white people that you see in history books who are screaming at black children who are trying to go to school. Forberg may or may not understand this, but he chose to fly this disgusting rag, and reacted incredibly poorly when another student did to that flag what white people have done to people of color during the entire existance of this country: bring destruction. Now he is facing the consequences for his actions, at least on a social front.

Forberg was “exposed” after the disgusting tweet. He has since made his Facebook account private, even to people with friends in common, if not deleted it completely. Concerned, decent human beings brought his tweet to the attention of MCC administration. MCC has a weaker code of conduct due to the fact that it is a community college. There is nothing MCC can do to punish him, although in an email that MCC sent out to students, it was confirmed that Forberg was required to come in for a discussion, which I personally hope amounted to more of a shaming. MCC is also hosting forums about diversity and inclusion in an attempt to build an  atmosphere of diversity and inclusion.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that this strategy is clearly not effective, but alas, it is. There is no reasoning with people who are looking forward to owning people of color one day thanks to dear leader Trump. Once again, the onus falls onto reasonable people to explain to angry white people that their lack of melanin does not make them better than people of color and that thinking it does is not okay. Just once, it’d be nice to see the responsibility fall to the people who are actually doing something wrong.

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