I was born in Pennsylvania, but when I was 5 years-old my family moved to South Carolina. In third grade, I was on the playground when I let slip my place of birth. Bodie Upchurch challenged me to a fight …because I was a Yankee. I really didn’t want to fight. First, Bodie was just as skinny as me (if that was possible) but much shorter, so there was nothing to gain. Second, I didn’t think being a Yankee was something to fight over. (Now if he had said that Hot Wheels were better than Matchbox or if he had cheated at playing marbles, those would have been actionable offenses — I was known to enthusiastically throw punches for good reasons like that.)
Bodie tried explaining why we were compelled to hate each other. And then he went the standard route of goading me by questioning my pre-adolescent manhood, but I wouldn’t budge. In the end, he assured me that the next time the North and South went at it, the South would win. He left satisfied he made his point. I took a mental note not to bring up Pennsylvania again during recess.
Today, I like to imagine that if Bodie Upchurch were an elected official in South Carolina, he’d do the right thing and vote to remove the Confederate battle flag from their state house grounds — despite his ideology, despite his pride, despite his middle name being “Lee.” (I don’t know for sure that it was “Lee,” but I found that to be a pretty safe bet.) In a similar way, I’d like to think that Senators Arlan Meekhof and Dave Robertson would do the right thing and stop blocking passage of a bill that would make voting more convenient and inclusive — despite their ideology, despite their pride, despite their middle names being “Manipulate the System to the Benefit of My Political Party.” (Again, I don’t know for sure that it is, but it seems that way.)