Inasmuch as I find the whole Confederate flag controversy to be worthy of nothing more than an eye roll, at the same time I happen to also believe it has a silver lining.
It is during these cause célèbres we see who can be trusted or not. Liken it to the parable of the two houses, one built on sand, the other a rock. When a storm comes, one is swept away, while the other stands firms. Such controversies, then, demonstrate whether or not a man’s outward beliefs are built upon genuine convictions or if they stand on a slippery, unstable foundation easily manipulated by the capricious ebbs and tides of popular opinion.
The man who stands on the rock will continue to stand there, even if they stand alone. The intellectual coward, on the other hand, will be swept away in the torrent of popular opinion. They will turn on their own in an effort to save themselves. Worse is when it is done to gain something previously denied.
Tom Woods’ description here offers us a portrait of what the coward looks like.
John Wayne once described courage as being scared to death but saddling up, anyway. I would prefer a more contextually relevant definition: Courage is maintaining one’s beliefs, irrespective of the consequences; the more unpopular the belief, the more palpable the courage required to maintain it.
One would be wise to watch carefully and take notes of how public figures respond during controversies like these. The coward scrambles to placate the masses; his principles wane and break when pressed against the tide. But the brave one holds his ground without apology or excuses, come what may, for he knows he will weather the storm intact.