Lionel Robinson in comments complains:

Your equating of southern heritage with racism does a great disservice to southerners like Leroy Collins and Ralph McGill. But as long as you think racism is something that happens only in the south, you don't have to admit that it's a national problem not restricted to one region and should be rejected wherever you find it. I heard the N-word more in Milwaukee than I have in the south, and I live now in an area where people put rouge on their necks and buff it every morning.

I plead innocent to all charges. There's obviously more to southern culture and heritage than racism, as you can see from the simple fact that African-American southerners are distinctly southern, as well as African-American. Nor do I think it's fair to dismiss claims made by white southerners -- especially those of a certain age or simply of limited horizons in life -- who say that the Confederate Flag, to them, represents all that other stuff and not just, or even primarily, white supremacy. Symbols mean all sorts of things to all sorts of people. The damning thing about George Allen's lifelong fascination with the Stars and Bars is that Allen's not from the South. To northerners, that flag means white supremacy. There's no conceivable a white person living in California would adopt the symbol in the 1960s other than to affiliate himself with the resistance to the civil rights movement.

Similarly, it's true of course that there's racism all over the place and that an undue focus on the South can distract from that. On the other hand, George Allen is actually running for re-election this year. And he's doing so in Virginia. And the evidence suggests he's a pretty serious racist. And his affection for the Confederate flag is an important part of that evidence. It would be silly to ignore all that. But, obviously, that racism exists outside the South is at the core of the case -- Allen isn't a Southerner, he just moved there.

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