Reflections of a Rebel regarding flags and such

Howitzers at Bull Run  (I think artillery is beautiful)
In 1962 or ’63, I attached a small Confederate flag to the antenna of my family’s car. Thousands of people did the same, and mine made me feel united with my town, state, and region, for we saw ourselves as the victims of a second Northern invasion. White Southerners had been lumped into one basket and despised, ridiculed, and portrayed as stupid hicks, and the Confederate flag united us with virtuous ghosts and represented our attempt to hold our heads high by looking to our valorous past.

As I matured, I went from not thinking at all about the causes of the Civil War to wondering why the hell all those guys who were economically hurt by slavery were willing to die by the hundreds of thousands so rich men could own slaves. I no longer believe that they saw themselves as fighting for slavery but rather as fighting against an invasion by a part of the country that then, as now, looked down upon the South. Because I hold this view, I found Obama’s remarks on June 26, even more offensive than usual:

“Removing the flag from this state’s Capitol would not be an act of political correctness, it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers, it would simply be an acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong. By taking down that flag we express God’s grace.”

I deplore his over-simplification, and I deplore his claim that he and God think alike (the worst ad hominem attacks that I regularly hear from flag
detractors claim that both God and every decent human being can clearly see that  flag supporters are no better than Hitler). It’s also true that politically correct people never claim to be acting out of politically correct motives. Like Obama, they don’t say that their goal is to stomp their enemies. No, no, no, they say that they only want to promote kindness, decency, equality, acceptance, and inclusivity, all of which are words that bring a happy flutter to the heart and a joyful mist to the eye. How is it then that they are so quick to vilify, harass, and marginalize anyone who disagrees with them? I don’t write this as one who feels any great love and loyalty for the South. After all, I left the South in 1986 at age 37, and the militant conservatism, intolerance, and religiosity that caused me to leave have only gotten worse. Still…

I agree that the Confederate battle flag shouldn’t wave in front of state capitols, and I think it’s long past time that it should be removed from the Mississippi state flag, but now the drive is on to change street names, remove the statues of racist governors from statehouses, remove the Confederate flag from Confederate positions in national battlefields, and take the statues of Confederate soldiers from hundreds of courthouse squares all over the South. The man who owns the old Dukes of Hazzard (a childish TV show from the ‘70s) car has even announced plans to paint the U.S. flag over the Confederate flag on its roof (to be consistent, he  needs to change its name from the General Lee to the General Grant). The goal appears to be the erasure of every evidence that something called the Confederate States of America ever existed. Can anyone seriously believe that this push is being made by people whose only desire is to create a society that values all of its citizens, and that they have no interest in rewriting history, dishonoring the dead, and trampling upon the feelings of  Southerners who value their Civil War era heritage? 

The General Lee
I have consistently seen statements by Obama—and many other politicians who hold the public’s attention—as destructive rather than healing. I’ve also observed that politicians who were fine with the Confederate flag two months ago have suddenly had the revelation that vehemently opposing anything vaguely associated with the Confederacy is simply the right thing to do, the thing that God would have them do.

Our national response to tragedy is often focused upon scapegoating and symbolism rather than substance. For instance, instead of calling for an understanding of police racism, politicians and activists are content to vilify individual cops and sometimes whole departments. I think one reason for this lack of curiosity is that t
hey would anticipate being accused by the politically correct as trying to justify racism. It’s far safer to act as if the problem is caused by the willingness of individual cops to embrace evil for no reason whatsoever. That half of the cops in the Baltimore incident were black is simply ignored. Clearly, if a fact gets in the way of what one wants to believe—in this case that individual white racists are the problem—it’s easier to ignore the fact than to reconsider the conclusion. So it is with this push to abolish everything Confederate from public view, the implication being that 150 year old symbols of a complex war can be reduced to one issue, racism, and by getting rid of the symbols, we’ll be less racist.

Again, I’m not defending the war. It was an unjustified war in which more Americans died than in WWII
—although the population was far lessand for what? But it wasn’t slavery for which all those Southerners fought. Only 4.8% of white Southerners owned a single slave, and the other 95.2% suffered from having to compete with unpaid labor. This economic competition was not only caused by the presence of house servants and field hands, but to skilled laborers as well. Slavery hurt nearly everyone in the South, so Obama’s claim is either naive or disingenuous. It’s simply a politically correct rewriting of history by a man whom many people will believe simply because he’s president. As with other inflammatory remarks Obama has made, violence will come from this, but in this case, it won’t be directed at cops but at individuals who persist in displaying the flag.

I think that an important reason for the Civil War was the same as for most wars, namely, one side felt disrespected by the other. The American Revolution, for example, wasn’t only about taxes and representation, but about America’s perception that Britain regarded the colonists as yokels. Canada eventually won the same freedom we enjoy without a shot being fired, so I don’t see our war with Britain as reason for pride but an indication of impatience and failure. Every war we’ve had with the possible exception of WWII was just such a waste, so are we to rid ourselves of every reminder of those many wars? Of course not. This isn
’t about justice and consistency, this is an attack on the South, the white South, and white Southern politicians are jumping on the politically correct bandwagon right and left to save their careers.
When I heard that a woman was to be put on our paper currency, I hoped she would replace Andrew Jackson (a long ago American president). Not only was he a slaveholder, he was racist to the point of genocide. It was my Indian ancestors that he forced on that wintertime death-march from Georgia to Oklahoma, so rather than paying him the respect of keeping his picture on a $20 bill, I would like to tie his corpse to my bumper, and drag it through the streets. Such is my hatred of Andrew Jackson, but where does the desire to wreak revenge and sanitize history end?

All of those old white politicians—Lincoln included—were the enemies of black people, yellow people, and red people, if not for what they did, then for what they didn’t do, and I resent this singling-out of the South as the bastion of racism. It wasn’t moral superiority that kept slavery out of parts of the North (many people don
’t realize that some Northern states had slavery), it was the fact that slavery is much more practical in an agrarian economy, and  the North was industrial. Besides, those slave ships were often built in, and sailed from, Northern ports with Northern crews; and since the North’s own economy was based on low pay, child labor, no benefits, long work hours, unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and offered no options for social or economic betterment, many of its workers were only marginally better-off than slaves.
Property covenant

My house in Oregon was built in 1955, and the deed stipulated that it couldn’t be resold to a non-white (see item 8 at left). Most Oregon towns had sundown laws, which meant that a black person had to leave town before sunset. Oregon also had a Klan powerful enough to swing elections. Things were so bad here that the NAACP pronounced Portland (Oregon’s largest municipality) the most racist city on the West Coast. Everything it could do to keep black people out—and to persecute them when it could no longer do so—Oregon did, yet all of these liberal Oregonians by whom I’m surrounded look down upon the South as the home of virtuous but persecuted black people and ignorant rednecks who get up in the morning trying to figure out how to make the lives of minorities more miserable. It’s a self-congratulatory view based upon ignorance on the part of people who have no knowledge of modern-day life in the South and no knowledge of their own state’s recent history. They’re also blissfully unaware that the latest black migration is to the South rather away from it, and they read nothing into the fact that, to this day, few blacks live in the Northwest.

After MLK died, and Northern cities (by which I mean cities in states that stayed in the Union in 1861, a list that includes California, home to the Watt’s riots) started to see race rioting, Southerners cheered for the same reason that Palestinians cheered when the U.S. was attacked on 9/11. We had told one another that the Freedom Riders were hypocrites who found it easier to fix problems a thousand miles from home than to cure the ills in their own backyard, so we were glad when their chickens came home to roost. Likewise, I heard my classmates cheer when the Kennedys and King were killed, and while I was mortified (I wrote to Jackie Kennedy, and her response is below
), I knew that the reason they cheered had to do with enduring well over a century of contempt and ridicule. When I was a boy, the South still felt the scars of the Civil War and its aftermath, and it saw the Civil Rights movement as nothing more more than the latest episode of Northern harassment.

Letter from Mrs. Kennedy's office
A few years ago, word went around my atheist group that it had been scientifically proven that the more convincing the evidence against the beliefs of conservatives and evangelicals, the more tenaciously they cling to error. Supposedly, the same doesn’t apply to atheists and liberals whom, as we like to see ourselves, are open-minded and readily admit error. Yeah, right. To fight for something is to become invested in it. When the Civil War started, both sides believed that the first battle would be the last and that their side would be victorious. While picnickers looked on (picnickers who would be running for their lives when the bullets and cannonballs started coming toward them), 60,000 men fought and 5,000 of them were wounded or killed—along with a few civilians. Because they won, the Confederates made the hasty conclusion that their enemies were cowardly, and, because they lost, the Yankees decided they were going to have to take the rebel army a lot more seriously. Four years and 600,000 lives later, the South surrendered, defeated not by men but by a scarcity of resources. I was two when the last Confederate veteran died, and I am honored that our lives overlapped. 
Perhaps, I inherited—from my father if not my region—the willingness to stand firm despite social pressures. This can be either virtue or vice, but we all must choose between thinking for ourselves and letting others think for us, and the mere fact that millions of people jump on the same bandwagon at the same time, leads me suspect that they’re not thinking for themselves, and that they’re likely to go to destructive extremes. A friend told me yesterday of his respect for the South Carolina woman who climbed the flagpole and took down the Confederate flag. If she had stolen something he respected, I have every thought that he would be outraged, but since the theft was of someone else’s sacred symbol, her lawlessness was transmogrified into virtue. Such is the climate today regarding any and all reminders of the Confederacy images: get rid of them now, get rid of them all, and if people or laws are in your way, too bad for them.

Rather than seeing the Confederate flag as having any number of meanings to any number of people, and seeking a dialogue in which everyone is heard and everyone’s rights and feelings are considered, it’s far easier to follow Obama’s lead and dismiss all things Confederate as nothing more and nothing less than symbols of slavery. That way, you can immediately start tearing down flags, removing portraits, destroying monuments, repainting a car from an asinine ‘70s TV show, comparing white Southerners to Hitler, and marginalizing anyone whose holds competing values as well as anyone who counsels slowness and dialogue.

Likewise, when someone goes into a church and murders nine people, it’s ever so easy to blame the problem on the fact that the shooter was a white, Southern, conservative male. This politically correct approach saves an enormous waste of intelligent thought and inquiry (saves it for what, I don
’t know), as well as the odious possibility of having to confront one’s own prejudices against people who are white, Southern, conservative, and male.

The Confederate flag is only evil in the minds of those who hate it, and assuming racism on the part of its supporters doesn’t eliminate racism, it only forces people into warring camps. A parallel is the tendency to assume racism on the part of every white cop who is involved in a violent interaction with a black person. Nothing is done to eliminate racism, but a lot is done to inflame silly people, to conflate
assumptions with facts regarding the motives of white cops, and to judge their behavior from a position of ignorance about police-work. Likewise, labeling mass murderers as evil, racist, fanatical, and so forth provides no insights into their behavior and no means by which to discourage others from following in their footsteps, but it sure saves having to think.

For the first time since the early ‘60s, I feel an allegiance to the Confederate flag. My reasons are as follows: part of me will forever remain a Southerner; I deeply resent the rewriting of history; and my sympathy is usually on the side of the marginalized, although I often take a contrarian view about whom is marginalized. I consider it grievously wrong to dishonor dead Southerners who died for what they believed was right. As with those who fight in America’s senseless wars today, the worst that can be said of them is that they were young, rash, ill-informed, had a surfeit of testosterone, and were tragically naive about the realities of war. These men dressed in gray were no more and no less evil than the soldiers in blue against whom they fought. To the extent that they had it in their hearts to do what was right, I honor them all.

Destroying every remembrance of those who lost a war is what people do when they want to gloat instead of unify. I interpret this drive to eliminate every evidence of the Confederacy as like a cancer that will spread as far as it’s permitted and without the least regard for those whom are harmed. It’s fascism just as much as the Klan is fascism. The damage done by political correctness isn’t so obvious as the damage done by the Klan, but its stated values are just as farcical. While the Klan pretends to promote Christianity, the politically correct pretend to promote inclusivity, but how accepted do you think millions of white Southerners are feeling right now? If you’re like many, you don’t care. You take a get out the way or get run over approach to making the world a better place, and I wouldn’t object to it nearly much so much if you didn’t claim to be working in the interest of kindness, tolerance, and inclusiveness, because that
’s a lie.


Stephen Hayes said...

The Confederate flag isn't something I can get worked up over, but then I'm not black and haven't ever been oppressed by institutional prejudice or bigotry. Still, I think the flag should not be flown on state property, but I have no problem with it waving over private property. We have much bigger issues to deal with and this flag is just a distraction.

Snowbrush said...

One of the most honored positions in combat back then was that of flag bearer, yet the flag bearer was the fellow most likely to get shot. I should think that the last thing any of his comrades would want to do would be to the pick up that damnable rag that had already cost one man his life, but just to let it touch the dirt was to incur dishonor, and to incur dishonor was unthinkable. When you’re white and you’re from the South, and you learn something like that, it becomes hard to regard the Confederate battle flag that all those many men died to protect as simply a distraction. Rather, it takes on a life of its own that is composed of all those beating hearts that died for it. In the realest sense, this is not about an issue, it’s about keeping that flag out of the dirt. I think about Rhett Butler who laughed at the South until the war was clearly lost, and I see the same protectiveness in myself.

Elephant's Child said...

I am commenting, not because I have anything worthwhile to add, but to see the discussion as it unfolds. Furthering my education again.

Charles Gramlich said...

The idea that the Civil War was fought for one and only one reason is just so oversimplified that it's hard for me to imagine anyone holding to it. It was a complex event with many triggers, many of them different for the 'individuals' who fought in it. The idea that the north was categorically more moral than the south in every way is just as flaming silly. I definitely think all confederate flags should be removed from government property except where they are part of a museum display. I have no problem with streets once named for Confederates being renamed. But the statues need to be saved for historical reasons, although I wouldn't mind, if possible, that they were removed to museums. And people still should be free to own a confederate flag for personal reasons. If that reason is to show hatred toward blacks, that is just being an asshole. But the idea that everyone who has a Confederate flag is expressing white power is also so oversimplified as to be ridiculous.

PhilipH said...

I know hardly anything about this topic. I've never even seen Gone with the Wind although it's frequently on offer on tv.

What I certainly DO know is that flying a flag can be highly inflammatory in certain circumstances.

I've never flown the Union Jack, or the England flag as these are often associated with racists in the UK. I prefer to keep my head down with national flags.

The ONLY flag I would proudly fly is the RAF ensign. I have a small one which I have occasionally flown in my back yard and once on the car. I also wear my RAF tie when visiting an airfield or museum, which could be construed as a flag in a way.

I'd would have been asking for trouble if I'd flown the flag of St.George or the Union Jack when living in Scotland. Although I never had any bust-ups with the Scots their flag, the Saltire, is the only flag the Scots deem allowable in their domain. A Sassenach is, to many Scots, the enemy and I can understand why, so one would be a nutter, a nut-case, to attract attention to one's Englishness.

You've argued your case well, as usual but that's all I can say by way of comment.

Snowbrush said...

I’m still mentally foggy, just not as bad. I went back over this post just now, took a lot out, added and lot, and rewrote a lot. Some of what I took out was embarrassing. This diminishing of my mental faculties is horrid, especially when it comes to my writing, and I don’t object to help when something seems off to you. I am better, but it’s still a struggle.

One of the disingenuous things about this flag business is the claim that it can still be flown on private property. Right. The politically correct do everything they can to equate the Confederate Battle Flag with racism, and then point out that people can still fly in their yards! Do you imagine that I would feel safe flying it here in Eugene Oregon? Here’s what I would expect to happen: the news media would come around, my property would be vandalized, and I would be cursed, and perhaps, assaulted. If I worked for city or county government, my job might at risk because it would be claimed that “racism” was making it impossible for me to treat people equally. I also don’t believe that one’s freedom to fly the Confederate flag on private property won’t come to be at risk, because, having been equated with racism, hatred, and violence, it would be a pretty small step to claim that it promotes terrorism. I hope I’m wrong, but when I’m attacking political correctness, this is the kind of thing that I envision. I fear the politically correct considerably more than I do Moslem terrorists, and Moslem terrorists are at least honest.

“I am commenting, not because I have anything worthwhile to add, but to see the discussion as it unfolds. Furthering my education again.”

I have so much respect for you, the moreso because you’re an Australian, and the content of this post is removed from your need-to-know kind of knowledge. You show an intellectual roundedness here, and I love you for it—among other reasons that I love you.

Snowbrush said...

“I definitely think all confederate flags should be removed from government property except where they are part of a museum display.”

I used to go the Vicksburg battlefield frequently, and I don’t recall seeing any Confederate flags or Union flags either except for the one Union flag near the headquarters. As for battlefields that had Confederate flags (until last week when they were removed from all historic battlefields), I think that if you take one flag down, then you should take the other down too except where, like in Vicksburg, a U.S. flag was flown over the main building. But to have the U.S flag all along the tour where both sides fought, hell no. That would be acting in the service of triumph, not history.

“I have no problem with streets once named for Confederates being renamed.”

Okay, fine, the let’s Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill, because when it came to racism, he made all those Confederate generals look benign. You see my point? If you’re going to tidy up by removing all reminders of people who were—or might have been—racist, be consistent. Don’t single out the South. Take Teddy Roosevelt statues down because he regarded other races as the white man’s burden (although he didn’t hesitate to steal their lands and kill them). This is the thing about political correctness. it doesn’t even try to be fair to everyone. Non-whits, transgender people, the disabled, foreigners who sneak into the country, and various others are all easy objects for its patronizing benevolence, but the targets of its hatred are often downright bizarre. For example, I’ve twice been corrected for referring to various people from the far east as Orientals. The non-racist word, I’m told, is Asiatics. Well, great, Russians live in Asia, but they’re Caucasians, and this makes the word Oriental more focused when I’m talking about someone with yellow skin (a term that is probably “racist” as well). Like the term African American being synonymous with black-American. Egyptian-Americas, Libyan-Americans, and Moroccan-Americans, aren’t necessarily black but they’re Americans and they’re from Africa, and the politically-correct term simply ignores them. Isn’t this odd? I mean that the very people who claim to be inclusive exclude everyone who is from Africa but isn’t black when they make African-American synonymous with black American. I call black people by the term black people, and if the politically correct don’t like it, well, I’ll leave it them to survive their unhappiness with me.

Snowbrush said...

“But the statues need to be saved for historical reasons, although I wouldn't mind, if possible, that they were removed to museums.”

And if it’s not possible? and do you favor removing them from public cemeteries too? Etc. My point is that there’s really no end to how far political correctness will go in its Orwellian passion for cleansing language and imagery, and I would see trying to accommodate it to some reasonable extent as impossible, because it’s not a reasonable mindset, but rather a fanatical one. I can easily picture millions of dollars going into the removal and/or destruction of reminders that the Confederacy once existed, and, beyond taking Confederate flags from capitol grounds and other obvious misuses of it, how much good will it really do? Besides, if statues, flags, and such are moved to public museums, couldn’t their presence there be objected to as well on the basis of racism? I see all this as being the kind of thing that begs for backlash. Last I heard, five black churches had been burned in the Carolinas of late, and while no racist motives were given, it’s hard to imagine that the reason had nothing to do with racism. The more that people feel attacked, the more likely they are to attack back. The ONLY people whose feelings are being taken into consideration here are blacks and liberal whites, yet they claim to be working for a better society for everyone. Yeah, sure they are, and some of us just aren’t intelligent enough to trust them to help us.

“I've never even seen Gone with the Wind although it's frequently on offer on tv.”

It’s a romanticized version of the Old South which makes the blacks look happy to be slaves and the whites look childish, spoiled, and of minuscule intelligence. Then the war came and, afterwards, the blacks still remained devoted to their former masters, people who were, as you might imagine pretty bummed about losing it all. For all its inaccuracies, it’s still a good movie. I saw the first half when I was about 12, and when the word “Intermission” suddenly appeared on the screen, I didn’t know what it meant and so assumed that the movie was over. It was a couple of decades before I finally watched the second half. The performance of Butterfly McQueen (an outspoken atheist in real life) as one of the slaves is the best part of the movie. Even if you forget all the rest, you’ll remember her. It’s tragic that such good actors were once limited to playing servants and not many of those.

“I've never flown the Union Jack, or the England flag as these are often associated with racists in the UK.”

You darn former imperialists! Ha. I would guess that every flag has given its blessing to evil men doing evil things.

“one would be a nutter, a nut-case, to attract attention to one's Englishness.”

But where does nuttiness leave off and courage begin? I want so much to run a Confederate flag up a flagpole in my yard, and while I tell myself that it would only cause me—and Peggy—suffering for no good reason, I really can’t say whether I’m being prudent or simply cowardly.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, you and I are more alike than either of us probably wants to admit. I have said for most of my life that I don't live my life by majority opinion, and I also claim that when all the world is advocating A, I consider the merits of B. I grew up in the South but I didn't move there until I was six and I had northern parents. We were one of only two "Yankee" families in our little town. In those days, one didn't flaunt that fact but tried to keep a low profile.

You make some good points. I think one of the main differences in Northerners and Southerners is that Northerners never lost a war. I read yesterday that some people want to tear down the Jefferson Memorial because he owned slaves (never mind that he wrote the Declaration of Independence) and someone who lives in Washington, D.C. wants to change the name of their hometown to Black City. I predict that political correctness -- which started in Communist China, but nobody cares -- will run amok until it jes' caint run no more. We can wring our hands but we won't stop the steamroller. I kind of like most southerners except the ones who really are stupid rednecks (a very low percent of the population). Did I ever tell you that my college fraternity was Kappa Alpha Order? We're the ones with the Confederate flag and the Old South Ball and the painting of Robert E. Lee in the foyer and the cannon on the lawn.

I believe the current term for people who live in southeast Asia (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.) is Southeast Asian and the term for people who live on what used to be called the Indian sub-continent is South Asian.

America's female soldiers will be surprised to learn they had a surfeit of testosterone.

As usual, my thoughts are disjointed, and I can't blame the medicines I'm taking. I hope you know that your post resonated with me a great deal, and as far as I have been able to determine, I am not a racist.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

A very interesting post. A good point about why so many of the poor whites were willing to fight the rich slave owner's battles but I guess it is no different than having low income people fight in a made up war to enrich Cheney's contractor company. One was for the glory for the Old South and the other The War on Terror.

So you want to fly a Confederate flag? Yep, you are asking for it.

To me, as a Northerner, the Confederate Flag seems to be a symbol of outright rebellion. If SC and the other states truly believe they are part of the US, they should not fly it. And it also appears that the people who fly it, really wish for the prewar way of life in which owning slaves was OK. I am not black but I could see why they would find this flag flying over a government building offensive. I guess I can see it as a symbol of solidarity among Southerners.

I live near the Canadian border. I once took a group of Girl Scouts to Fort Malden in Ontario built to keep Americans from grabbing "upper' Canada. We pretended we were early 19th century British/Canadian soldiers. Got a different viewpoint than from the American history books. And then on to Kingston Ontario with all sorts of buildings and roads dedicated to 'loyalists'. What is the opposite of Loyalists?

From Kingston, I would travel to relatives in Montreal and then drop down to Boston; both problematic places in the Loyalist mind. French separatists and the epicenter of Rebellion (Boston). Interesting discussions would ensue.

You say you are a Southerner at heart..what are you doing up North? I am guessing you are conflicted.

I love GWTW despite its inaccuracies.

Snowbrush said...

“Snow, you and I are more alike than either of us probably wants to admit. “

Speak for yourself. As for me, I was hoping to install cameras around your house so I could imitate you down to your tiniest gestures and mannerisms.

“We were one of only two "Yankee" families in our little town.”

I think you’re about 74, and I’m 66, but I know what you mean. Today, the division between the South and much of the rest of the country probably has more to do with politics and religion than with where a person was born, but I remember the word Yankee being an insult. For example, “He’s as squirrely as a Yankee.” My Grandpa moved to southwest Mississippi from northeast Alabama (Bridgeport) in 1908, and because he had an Appalachian accent (complete with you-uns and we’uns) he was called a Yankee. Talk about some bad schooling in geography! What’s more, until I spent time in the Appalachians, I thought his word usages were peculiar to him, so I got a real kick out hearing them from other mouths because it was a little like having him there before me.

“I read yesterday that some people want to tear down the Jefferson Memorial…”

When I said there’s no end to such sanitizing, it wasn’t meant as hyperbole. Last night, I heard a program about “superbugs,” and then there’s the threat of global warming, terrorism, falling educational standards, overpopulation, aggressive religion, and many more, but none infuriate me so much as political correctness, and I recently lost two local readers who were friends largely because of it. Without PC, I could be a halfway decent liberal, but the arrogance of these people trying to deprive me of my freedom while denying they’re doing it! I could become fixated on the subject. I swear to Allah, I’m going to buy—and wear—a cap with the Confederate flag on it, and I’m tempted to add to that a Bernie Sanders button and an atheist t-shirt. PCers might want to beat me up for the cap and the t-shirt, but I would feel safe knowing that they couldn't lay a hand on Bernie Sanders? I just I were pro-gun so I could add to the mix an NRA belt buckle.

“someone who lives in Washington, D.C. wants to change the name of their hometown to Black City”

Maybe they were just wanting to name things descriptively, it being my understand that few non-blacks live in the city proper. Anyway, as we are both old enough to have learned, the media likes nothing better than to take the stupidest thing that the stupidest person in the whole country says, and claim that it’s a movement. I know that that is true in this instance, because the name would clearly have to be African-American City. Well! NOW I’ve certainly proven myself a racist. I can envision a sign on a door,” Meeting for the Promotion of Political Correctness—Depose of Sense of Humor Prior to Entering.”

Snowbrush said...

“We can wring our hands but we won't stop the steamroller.”

So, then, how’s it looking for a Republican for president?. Can the country go head-over-bum into political correctness and still vote for a party whose candidates are occasionally heard to suggest that rape victims brought it on themselves and that illegal aliens (oops, that should be “undocumented immigrants”--as if the problem is merely a clerical error) are all criminals (as the PC bumper sticker says, “No human being is illegal”)? Maybe. I have noticed that those Republican politicians who are seeking national office are either on the bandwagon or keeping their mouths shut on the flag issue. If just one of them would say, “You know, this is getting ridiculous, and I think it needs to stop,” I would probably re-register as a Republican so that you and I could be seen walking arm-in-arm to a Donald Trump rally wearing Herbert Hoover t-shirts and big smiles (well, we would be wearing pants too, and also shoes, but you get my point).

“America's female soldiers will be surprised to learn they had a surfeit of testosterone.”

Maybe some will, and maybe some won’t. Testosterone is, of course, measurable, and the more one has of it, the more aggressive one becomes. I don’t know, but I would guess that people who join the Marines probably have higher levels of testosterone than people who join the Air Force, and I would guess that this would hold true for women as well. (It’s being able to say things like this while knowing that the worst that can come of them is that I would might lose a reader or two that keeps me from running for president.)

“As usual, my thoughts are disjointed, and I can't blame the medicines I'm taking.”

Very well then, what can you blame? The Republican Party, perhaps? How about the time of the month? Senility? Your wife? Yeah, sure, blame her. Say that the strain of all the decades of putting up with her is finally getting to you. If you need any help coming up with more options, just let me know.

BTW, I continue to make more comments than appear on your blog. From now on, if I write more than a brief comment, I’m going to copy it and email it to you.

Snowbrush said...

“A good point about why so many of the poor whites were willing to fight the rich slave owner's battles but I guess it is no different than having low income people fight in a made up war to enrich Cheney's contractor company.”

The South has long been preternaturally eager to shoot itself in the foot. For example, no region relies more on government welfare, yet no region want to put an end government welfare so much as the South. Likewise, the lowest-paid workers in the country are in the South, but no region is more opposed to unions (Billy Graham used to trash them in his sermons, no less) than the South. No region is more ignorant in terms of formal education, but no region holds good schools in less importance than the South (when I was a teacher in Mississippi, it was the lowest paying state for teachers in the nation). No region is fatter than the South, and Mississippi is the fattest state in a fat region, so what do they do? When Bloomberg (mayor of NYC) tried to limit calories in fast food, Mississippi passed a law to keep them there ( for no reason whatsoever except that Mississippi is a reactionary state and has hated NYC with a passion for as long as I can remember.

“To me, as a Northerner, the Confederate Flag seems to be a symbol of outright rebellion.”

It’s many things to many people. In my case, I’m at present most drawn to it because I regard political correctness as tyrannical. I resent these people defining issues on my behalf and then trying to coerce me into going along with them.

“I am not black but I could see why they would find this flag flying over a government building offensive.”

I too would find it offensive, but the only government buildings that, to my knowledge, it’s flying over are in Mississippi, where the Confederate battle flag (for that is what it is, rather than the official flag of the Confederacy: is a part of the state flag. This is simply wrong, and I’ve been appalled that Mississippi has been able to get away with it for as long as it has. I expect the pressure to remove it to build now.

“What is the opposite of Loyalists?”

Yet, Canada’s colonial ties did end, so surely not everyone was a loyalist.

“You say you are a Southerner at heart..what are you doing up North? I am guessing you are conflicted.”

I came “North” to get away from the heat, the provincialism, the ignorance, the forced religiosity, the right-wing politics, and to hopefully to find a place where I would fit in. I was interested in communal living and group marriage back then, and this was a hub for the latter and had a lot of the former (if anything, Peggy is happier to be out of the South than I). Well, I don’t currently feel that I ft in here (I’ve become less enthusiastically liberal), but for a long time I did, and this is certainly a far better place for me than there (although I would probably do okay in a Southern city that was big enough to not be so socially monotone). I often wish I hadn’t moved so very far from home (it’s 2,500 air miles from Eugene, Oregon, to Jackson, Mississippi), but I would never move back. For one thing, I can’t understand how anyone who has loved and lived among mountains, would ever choose to leave them, and the Southern mountains just wouldn’t serve my need for such places. Two-thirds of Oregon is desert, and I love the desert too, and although I no longer get there much, I love knowing that it’s near. Likewise, the beach is but an hour’s drive what a beach it is being far more beautiful and interesting than anything the South has to offer.

Sparkling Red said...

This has given me much food for thought. I have never read a defence of the Confederate Flag before, and probably wouldn't have gone looking for one. I'm glad that I was able to hear and ponder your views.

To be honest, I would feel uncomfortable with that flag if it were flying somewhere unfamiliar to me, where I wasn't sure that I was safe. It comes from growing up in Jewish family, where the message that there are people out there who would like to kill me just because of my background was constantly being delivered to me. Now, if you invited me over for tea, because we have discussed the matter, I would not have any problem with your flag. But if I just met some guy with, say, a confederate flag belt buckle, I would feel worried, until I could determine otherwise, that I might be in dangerous company. It would raise a red flag for me, if you'll excuse the pun. And because one doesn't have the opportunity to discuss with each person or place exactly what their intentions are, it would be uncomfortable for me to be in a place where these symbols are displayed. Of course, you can force people to take down their symbols, but if they are racists that won't make them stop being racist. And I definitely do see your point of view. It's complicated.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I've always seen he flag as simply representative of the South..if it has to go, I wish there were some other symbol of the most unique area of this country

Snowbrush said...

“You seemed very pissed off with rhymes in the comments on your latest post. Is it because he's not publishing your comments?”

(This came in an email.) No, I’m not in the least mad at Rhymes. As for my comments on his blog, its not that he doesn’t allow them but that they don’t appear after he does. I shouldn’t have brought the matter up here because I can see how it would be confusing.

“It comes from growing up in Jewish family”

Rhymes is both Jewish (by birth) and Southern, so I wondered how he would feel. I can see how the flag would represent oppression to many people, but if I were to fly it now, it would represent solidarity with the oppressed, which is the way I see Southern white people, because they’re constantly being told that their past is something to be ashamed of, and it’s not that simple. While I have many problems with the South, I NEVER hesitate to tell anyone that I’m from there (my accent no longer being strong enough to necessarily let them know), and while I might criticize it, I won’t let other people do so in my presence because what I’ve learned about such people is that: (1) They have rarely even been to the South, and they don’t know what they’re talking about, and (2) They don’t want to engage in rational dialogue but rather to trash the South and me with it because I’m Southern, and (3) Their part of the country is different only in that it has fewer black people in modern times and no need for slaves in the old days. This superiority that people feel over the South doesn’t fly with me.

“But if I just met some guy with, say, a confederate flag belt buckle, I would feel worried, until I could determine otherwise”

After the Civil Rights movement, the flag became the symbol of being a redneck, and this made me positively ashamed of it because the definition of a redneck is that of someone who is ignorant and proud of it. In other words, it represented the worse kind of Southerner, the one whose only interests were sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, and maybe NASCAR. It also became the symbol of Southern Rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, who represented themselves as a mixture of redneck and dirty, hippy, drugging alcoholics. In other words, the flag came to represent losers and Southern losers at that. I knew such people. They looked like hippies, but underneath they remained rednecks. They claimed to have pride in their Southern culture, but they themselves denigrated that culture just by being who they were.

Snowbrush said...

“because one doesn't have the opportunity to discuss with each person or place exactly what their intentions are, it would be uncomfortable for me to be in a place where these symbols are displayed.”

I would just see myself as being among people who had the guts to stand up against PC, and I would therefore feel like I had come home in a good way. I embrace you as a friend, and I love your comments—including this one—so I only mean to meet you at your own level of honesty when I say that I wonder if it’s the flag that makes you uncomfortable or rather the thought of being among unapologetic white Southerners. Liberal white Southerners are (among liberal Northerners) like men at a NOW meeting in that they’re only welcome to the extent that they feel apologetic. I used to feel apologetic. When I was among people who were trashing the South, I would trash it with them, and then it hit me, that in trashing the South, they were underhandedly (though barely) trashing me, and I was helping them. Well, screw that! I don’t care anymore whether such people like me because I don’t like them. I DON’T MEAN YOU. You’re just being honest, and I respect you for it. I only mean to point out that this flag thing is complicated, not just for me, but for you because of the feelings that it brings up. It’s hard for many of us to sort out feelings, but those who hate the flag have no trouble with it. To them, it’s racist now, racist in the past, and will be racist in the future, and that’s all it is. Well, that’s not what it is for me, but they’re not going to respect that, they’re just going to me as someone who hates black people.

“Of course, you can force people to take down their symbols, but if they are racists that won't make them stop being racist.”

The flag is being trashed to the extent that a lot of people—including myself—would feel unsafe to display it, and it is hypocritical on the part of those who are doing this because at the same time, they’re acknowledging that it’s a person’s right to fly it on private property. Well, if it’s a right, then don’t do everything you can to assure that those who make that choice are going to be in physical danger because this amounts to legislation by fear instead of by law.

“'Ive always seen he flag as simply representative of the South..if it has to go, I wish there were some other symbol of the most unique area of this country.”

Since you came from the South, I wondered how you would feel about the flag. You make a very good point about the South’s uniqueness. People in other parts of the country take pride—more or less—in their state or region, but it IS different in the South because only white Southerners are persecuted because of where they’re from, only white Southerners endured Reconstruction (a fact that was still a source of anger when I was a boy), and only white Southerners went to war against the US government. I MISS the South. When I left it, it was like the song about seeing Lubbock in the rearview mirror. I had thought I would never look back, but I look back A LOT. I also know that the South I left in 1986 isn’t the same South that exists today. For example, the problem I had with the in-your-face religiosity has probably increased tenfold. My fear is that I would only be welcome among most Southerners as long as they thought I was an evangelical Christian and a Tea Party Republican, and that wouldn’t be long.

Sparkling Red said...

I believe that I'd be comfortable with unapologetic white southerners so long as we had established an absence of racist feelings/beliefs and were on friendly terms. I've never visited the American south (I've been as far as Indiannapolis), but there would be no other conceivable reason for me to feel uncomfortable there. I'm happy to listen to country music. I think it's sweet when people call each other "ma'am" and "sir". Aside from preferring sugar in my iced tea, I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't be happy there.

Snowbrush said...

“I believe that I'd be comfortable with unapologetic white southerners so long as we had established an absence of racist feelings/beliefs…”

If I understand you correctly, you would be uncomfortable around “unapologetic white Southerners” until such time as they had proven to your satisfaction that they weren’t racist? Well, I’m racist, and I would even go so far as to surmise that everyone is, but that some people might be better at fooling themselves into thinking they’re not, especially if they rarely interact with people of another race. That’s pretty much the situation here in Oregon. I don’t even recall the last time I spoke to a black person, there being so few of them, yet white people here are just sure that they don’t have a racist bone in their bodies—ha. The thing that white people here don’t seem to grasp is that if you live in an area where there are few black people, they conform to white culture, but if there are a lot of black people, they tend to have a distinct culture. Since most people are more comfortable with those who are like themselves, both blacks and whites in a place like the South tend to hang-out with people of their own race, but not so much for racial reasons anymore as for cultural reasons. Another thing that comes to mind is that a person can have a failing and still be worthwhile, so if you draw the line at associating with racists (as if racism were an either/or proposition), what other lines do you have that, in your mind, would make a person unworthy of your time? To me, racism just wouldn’t be a big deal unless the person went overboard by using the N-word, or telling racist jokes, etc. The kinds of things that would be line-drawers for me would involve kindness, consideration, honesty, and well-meaningness.

“I'm happy to listen to country music.”

Oh, but you’re a scream! Because Nashville is in Tennessee, you’re assuming that white Southerners are really into country music? I don’t care for it, and, when I lived in the South, most of the people I knew didn’t care for it either. I actually interpret your statement as suggestive of prejudice. By way of example, I doubt that, upon meeting a black person, you would be inspired to say that you enjoy rap, soul, or blues because your listener’s blackness couldn’t reasonably be taken to mean that he or she gave a fig about such music, yet you tell me, a Southerner, that you like country music! I’m okay with it, but you did take me by surprise because I never even imagined that you would associate being Southern with a preference for country music. We’re really not all one way about a great many things. Heck, a lot of us don’t even like grits (although I do), and I’ve yet to eat my first ‘possum. The things that ARE common among white Southerners are evangelical Christianity, conservative politics, and, sad to say, obesity, and various other things, yet it would be unfair to assume that any given white Southerner had any of these traits. It’s nearly always unsafe and unfair to stereotype. I guess if someone is in the Klan, it would be safe to assume racism, but that’s just because the Klan excludes non-racists.

“I think it's sweet when people call each other "ma'am" and “sir".

I will grant the truth to that stereotype, although I’ve been away so long that I don’t know if it’s still common down South.

“Aside from preferring sugar in my iced tea”

Another stereotype that’s true but in the reverse of what I understand you to be saying. I don’t remember ever having iced tea that didn’t have sugar (it’s important to add the sugar before the tea cools as you surely know). Again, I’ve been away so long that I don’t know if iced tea remains common down South. I rather got the idea that it was being abandoned in favor of Coke, but I’m really out of touch anymore.


Sparkling Red said...

For the record, my first husband was black, or mixed, as you prefer. His mother was white, and his father was black. They got married in Indianapolis in the early 1970's, and immigrated to Canada because the mom's white brother chased the black dad around town with a loaded shotgun. My ex was raised in mainly white culture, although he looked unambiguously black, and would have trouble hailing a cab late in the evenings because of his looks. He wasn't into rap music, or black culture per se. He was no good at basketball either, despite being tall, and for some reason the guys at our school (99% white or Asian) never seemed to pick up on this and always chose him for their team in gym class. So, yes, obviously I was picking on some stereotypical "Southern" things, and being a bit facetious on purpose, to make a point, but you don't need to teach me any lessons about not judging a book by its cover. People make plenty of assumptions about me on a regular basis because of how I look that are totally wrong. (Ex., I'm the secretary, or I'm just a clueless young girl.) Yes, like everybody with a brain (the brain loves categories, that's how it works) I start with certain presumptions upon first meeting someone based on the categories that I think they belong to, but I keep a pretty open mind when it comes to being proven wrong about those presumptions. I have spent plenty of time with evangelical Christians (I was a church member for 4 years), and members of my family are very politically conservative, and while I may not get agree with everything they say, we get along just fine and I am comfortable with them. Therefore I stand by my statement that I would be comfortable with Southerners, even if they were stereotypical Southerners. I'm cautious with anyone I meet initially; that's just common sense. It's not like I feel that anyone owes me proof of their worthiness by being racially open-minded or the equivalent. You just don't know someone until you know them, no matter where they're from.

Snowbrush said...

“So, yes, obviously I was picking on some stereotypical "Southern" things, and being a bit facetious on purpose, to make a point”

Peggy said you were pulling my leg, but I played it straight because I hadn’t known you to be anything but serious. I’m lost on your “point” though, perhaps because I get stereotyped enough for real, or at least I did when my accent was pronounced and I spent more time around people. As for being around black people, I rather miss them because I never had any problems with them in the South, and I did enjoy the cultural differences, but I found them—meaning the ones I came in contact with on the bus and in the downtown—more than a little scary in Minneapolis (where I lived for two years). I would even say that what prejudice I feel came much more from Minneapolis than from the South.

I heard on the news that 192 murders have occurred in Baltimore this year, nearly all of them black on black. I see no reason to think that black problems are due to blackness, but I do think that America’s black race is statistically troubled, and while I really don’t know what the reason is, I don’t accept that it’s entirely due to prejudice. Then again, maybe it’s fair to ask which came first, the chicken or the egg? I mean, are blacks statistically more prone to social problems (crime, joblessness, broken homes, etc.) because of white prejudice, or are whites prejudiced against blacks because, blacks are more prone to social problems? Surely, to ask such a thing sounds awfully horrid, bigoted, prejudiced, and all things wicked and evil. Still, anytime the problems of black people come up, all I hear in explanation are that white employers won’t hire them, that white cops abuse them, that white people isolate them in ghettos, that white judges and white juries treat them unfairly, and so forth but, again, is it really fair to blame white people for all of the problems of black people? Here on the West Coast, the Chinese faced prejudice that was probably as bad as that against blacks, so why is it that they excelled statistically and blacks didn’t? I don’t know. Was it due to cultural differences, or the fact that the Chinese never lived in slavery, or…? I don’t mean to say that prejudice against blacks isn’t still a very great problem, but at what point does it become scapegoating to blame ALL of the problems of black people on white people, and what could be more disempowering to blacks than to endlessly portray them as victims whose situation will only improve when white people change?