That Damned Flag
Racism seems to be the drug of choice for some of the lefty bloggers out there, and it appears that racism is so rampant that it is everywhere. In fact, you might be a racist and not even know it, at least according to the standards now being floated about my the more paranoid in our midst. I know for sure I am a racist, because just like Bill Frist, I would choose to hand out unsharpened pencils if I were campaigning- that is the level of absurdity to which the current debate has sunk. At any rate, now the confederate flag appears to be an issue again with the lefty bloggers. I admit no allegiance to the confederate flag, and I have no idea why people like it and wear it proudly. To me, and to most black people, the flag stands for one thing- slavery. As I have stated before, when I see someone wearing a confederate flag, I just think of them as having a case of the stupids- because the meaning of the flag is so clear to me, at least. To others, this is not the case, and I could never figure out why, particularly when I know a lot of decent, non-racist people who do fly the flag. I knew a bunch of great guys in the Army who were proud of Dixie, and they did not have a racist bone in their body. Sebastian Holdsclaw, in a comment on Matthew Yglesias’s site, has one plausible explanation:
I think that displaying the Confederate flag is disgusting, but if the question is, “How can Americans who think of themselves as patriotic wear it?” I have a thoeretical answer: symbolism drift. It isn’t a technical term (so far as I know) but I think you all know what I mean.
Roughly (and with many intermediate steps) I think that the drift is: Symbol of the Confederacy (treasonous), Symbol of Rebellion against intrusive Government (somewhat unmoored from the specific rebellion), Symbol of General Southern Rebelliousness (think Dukes of Hazard). Generally, patriotic, Confederate flag wearers tap into their southern rebelliousness as a facet of their American spirit.
In parallel with this drift (or perhaps causing it) are the lies which Southern culture tells itself in order to ennoble the Confederate rebellion without embracing slavery. I do not mean the coded racists who embrace the Confederate rebellion because they hate black people, I mean other people with Southern roots who want to be able to take pride in their heritage. Unfortunately for them, the legacy of the Confederate rebellion is such that their heritage is deeply tied to the evil of slavery, so mental gymnastics are required which end up looking foolish or scary to outsiders.
I can understand that. I am coming to the conclusion that the flag is worshipped by those people Sebastian has discussed, as well as the real racists, skinheads, and other scum. Throw into that mix people with sentiments like this:
As much as I hate to admit it, I doubt if we will ever get a chance to vote on the flag issue,” said Tom Nesbitt, 61, a disabled Vietnam veteran and farmer in Cordele. “It’s like everything else the liberals cram down our throats. Once they have the upper hand, there’s no going back. All we can do in rural Georgia is keep voting the [politicians] out of office.”
Perhaps he is lying. Perhaps he is speaking in code. Or, perhaps this is a legitimate protest against an obnoxious ruling party. I guess there are multiple reasons that people loved that damned flag, but for me, I can live without it. I don’t like the meaning I associate with it.