The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    A Flag Is What We Make It


    In the 21st century controversy over the legitimacy of the 19th century Confederate battle flag, one question remains unanswered:  What does it mean to those who want to fly it?

    The answer:  Anything they want it to mean.


    When we run our American flag up the flagpole at our house, it means we love the idea behind it, we love the look of the stars and stripes; we love how it waves in the breeze, telling us the wind direction, giving us an indication of the velocity.  (A perk, I know.)

    We believe the stories about Betsy Ross and the Star Spangled Banner.  We love the image of the flag-raising over Iwo Jima.  We pledge allegiance to our flag whenever the occasion arises. (Without endorsing the wholly unnecessary Red Scare defense "under God", it should be said.)

    My husband the Marine will not allow the flag to touch the ground and replaces it with a new one when it begins to look tattered.

    But there are other Americans who use that same flag to make some pretty awful points.  Hate groups bent on destroying the present government use it as a backdrop for photo ops.

    George Lincoln Rockwell - American Nazi Party


    Cliven Bundy uses it to try and save his ranch after refusing to pay his government lease for more than 20 years,

    enlisting militiamen hostile to the government to protect him from eviction.

    The American flag is a symbol for every American, but, as symbols go, the symbolism is in the eye of the beholder.

    So it goes with the Confederate flag.  The KKK uses it interchangeably with the American flag.  Militia groups and White Supremacist groups use it interchangeably with the American flag.  Many Southerners fly it from their homes and stick it on their cars.  It flies on public buildings, much to the displeasure of certain groups who see it as an affront.

    Is it offensive?  Is it racist?  It can be, and to some it ever will be.  Vile racism is, at the very least, inappropriate, and if a historic flag is co-opted to endorse hate, it wouldn't be the first time.

    For many years we've spent our winters in South Carolina.  The confederate flag is everywhere and, as a Northerner indoctrinated in the offensive nature of what we called the Rebel flag, I found each instance shocking.  But their heritage, I came to realize, is not my history, and nowhere am I more aware of it than when I wander through an old Southern cemetery.

    These are their ancestors.  Hundreds of thousands of their countrymen died fighting for a cause they may or may not have even understood.  Were those young men--often just boys--fighting to ensure that wealthy plantation owners could keep their slave labor?  Doubtful.  More likely they saw themselves as freedom fighters making sacrifices in order to save their homes and form their own union.  They fought in a terrible civil war and their side lost.  Because real people in real families were affected forever, this is not a part of their history the modern South is willing to forget.  And we as a nation have no right to ask it of them.

    It's not our place to decide what the Confederate flag means and who should be able to fly it.  We've allowed our own American flag to be used and abused in such a way that by rights it should be nothing more than a meaningless piece of cloth.  It's much more than that because it means much more than that to each of us.

    At different times in our history, parts of our country belonged to the English, the Spanish, the French.  We fought them and won, and we still fly their flags in remembrance.  It's a part of our history.

    The South once fought to belong to the Confederacy.  They had their own flag.  How can we recognize that part of our history without recognizing their flag?   The answer is, we can't.  And the truth is, we shouldn't.


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    You make some good arguments, and I would never support legislation preventing people from flying the Confederate battle flag.

    However, I am not OK with a public building (i.e., one paid for by tax payer money, whether local, state, or federal) flying the Confederate battle flag because while the people in power might think the flag means one thing, many in that locality might feel that it means something far more sinister.

    When you drive into Pensacola you see all the flags from all the countries that had claimed rights to that bay in it's early history.  There is a confederate group that has a giant flag displayed north east of Tampa on a flag pole.  I see the Canadian flag and Mexico flag around my town displayed.  There are many Canadians that come here for the winter. Cinco de Mayo is a big holiday here and the Mexican flag is put out for the holiday. I don't see the confederate flags and stickers like I used to around here on pick up trucks.  The area is demographically changing and that maybe the reason. 

    We are still fighting the fall out from the civil war and reconstruction politics.  That is why that flag is still insulting to many.  

    Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that the descendants of the enslaved may have a different take on the issue of the Confederate flags. There is no massive storehouse of images from plantations documenting the deaths and abuses that took place. Confederate soldiers benefited from a system that spared them the back breaking work done by the slaves. The poorest Confederate knew that he was better than the highest ranking slave on a plantation.

    You benefit daily from the death of a million Indians/Native Americans, whether it's the land your flat is on or the food we eat or the homegrown oil our cars consume (or fracking for futures). I'm sure the symbol of the stars and bars brings horror to descendents of Wounded Knee and the thousands of broken treaties, including those trained Northern soldiers who rode west after the Civil War to wipe out and enslave the last of the tribes. They got so good at enforcing a moral viewpoint, standing up against racism in the south - how'd they slip so far into immoral cruelty and murder just 1-2 years after slaughtering a few hundred thousand for a just cause? Could there be more to Dick Day's story? Should we take the US flag down off the capitol for the crimes we've committed?

    The Southerners always point to the Amerindian problem.

    Like the South did not exterminate Native Americans?

    Andy Jackson was personally responsible for the extermination of so many tribes and of course, he was a slave owner and a real prick, actually(no matter how Charlton Portrayed the guy). 

    I told a story years ago about my life in Richfield, Minnesota where we wrote MEMOS supporting Black Folks down South. At the same time, elementary schoolers in Arkansas wrote their support for the Native Americans up here.

    It's all bullshite.

    I have stated time and time again that the North and the South attacked the Black folks and the Native Americans in a brutal and barbaric manner.

    The North is not free of its past and present sins.

    Liberals in the North and in the South are just attempting to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    And I remind you, the South began the Civil War because they wished to abolish the territorial fiats against a slave owner moving to US territories with 'his goods'.

    This all had to do with the Satan Taney and the Dred Scott Decision.

    It was the spread of slavery that gave the South her fire!

    And damn them for that.

    I point to the French-Indian War when we (as Brits) stole the Midwest and southern Appalachians. I point to the cleanup Indian wars around the south, culminating in the Trail of Tears plus the theft of Florida. I point to the war for Texas and the Mexican-American War when we stole the homesteading land and then brutally ripped off 1/3 of Mexico. I point to the Amerindian Wars where bored Civil War soldiers went off marauding for another 30 years. I point to Hearst's trumped up Spanish-American War where we ended up with Puerto Rico and control of the Philippines for 50 years. I point to our armies overthrowing Latin American countries for the sake of Chiquita and United Fruit, continuing to us training people in tortorue at the School of the Americas, and even to our current Attorney General and his previous work defending hiring of death squads. 

    I see it as a continuum of violence and similar approach to expansion and influence. Somehow we're always saving someone, and we always end up with more land, money and dead bodies. No, I'm not much for flag waving of any sort.

    No you are not. The continuum ....bullshite.

    The only defense that the South has is that it is now and never will be as bad as what the North did!

    This is fine.

    Let us have the argument.

    But you will never be able to excuse the South for its sins anymore than I can find an excuse for the sins of the North.

    EXCEPT, the Radical Republicans changed this nation.

    It might have taken a hundred years, but change came. The Thirteenth and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to our Constitution changed this nation and the world forever! 

    And nobody can attack those victories won in that era!


    And those Radical Republicans changed the world forever and nobody, I mean nobody will ever get to erase that change!

    Welcome to the new ERA!

    And this new ERA came with no help from the South!


    • The only thing that the discussion about the Confederate flag does is remind  us that these are the same backwards subgroup of Southerners who obstruct addressing climate change, attack women's rights, etc. They are unwilling to compromise. When you ask what responsibility these flag Luddites have to everyone else, you get crickets in response. They want their way and nothing else. Give an inch and they will take a mile just like the "I'm not a racist" woman who wants to make sure that her Black neighbors have to see her Confederate flag.
    • The Confederate romanticizers receive the same type of compassion they show to everyone else.

    Man, you got that right!

    Oh honor and self-discipline and....

    Oh who the hell cares.

    It is all bullshite.

    Well put, better than me.

    The important thing Coates tries to do is separate out "feelings" and "racist feelings" and hurting peoples' feelings from the reality of historical events and institutions that destroyed people and their families and culture.

    Reducing this to feelings and a subset of feelings we call "racism" that may or may not be felt by certain individuals trivializes what the flag symbolized and the movement it represented.

    "There is a gulf of understanding that I was trying to address. The most surprising and upsetting thing was being thought of by some as a racist. I have no interest in offending anyone -- especially anyone in the African-American community. That song was absolutely, earnestly supposed to be a healing song. One hundred percent."

    To be sure, Paisley is probably being sincere here and he may or may not be a racist, i.e., have racist feelings or beliefs. But the flag (all flags, really) goes way beyond how people feel. The Nazi flag didn't stand for "feelings"--it stood for the elimination of Jews and others. It stood for these acts and the ideology that fueled them.

    There is not going to be agreement on this issue. Some Whites take a more detached point of view that they define as "objective". It is always interesting that this "objective" viewpoint is to give that benefit of the doubt to Southern apologists. The only thing really under discussion is whether a protest against the Confederate flag is justified or somehow represents abuse against flag wavers. The underlying message seems to be that opposition to the Confederate flag is not permitted.

    You make good points.

    Not sure how to respond or move on from here.

    Clearly, a protest is justified. But shouldn't we ask what the goal of the protest is? What do we want to see happen?

    Removal of the flag from public status is a clear goal to me.

    Protesting the waving of the fly at events designed to impinge on voting rights is clearly justified. I don't know what the goal is here except to point out the racial connection between the Voter ID laws, for example, and the racial history of the flag.

    It's hard to argue with a straight face that the CSA flag is about Southern pride when it's being as a catalyst in movement designed to cut blacks out of the democratic process. So I guess there, the goal is simply to point this out.

    The flag wavers are talking about the Southern gentle way of life, the good food, rebellion, or using the flag to stay warm whilst camping out in the Georgia pines or taking a bong hit on a Friday night.

    They are making a connection between the flag and a clearly racist movement to restrict voting rights.

    People can fly any flag they want on their private property. I visited the South Carolina grave sites of  ancestors  during a family reunion. The area was well kept, but I was reminded of the fact that many similar Black grave sites are in disrepair. The Confederates did want slavery expanded into newer regions of the United States. People who fought for the Confederacy supported White Supremacy. The mortality rate for slaves in South Carolina was extremely high. If we honor the Confederates, we should spend equal time honoring the slaves tortured under slavery in the United States. 

    Thank you.

    Mona, I sympathize with your argument that a symbol is malleable thing, but I think you go too far in legitimizing the myth that poor confederates fought for a nobler cause than slavery. Political and religious leaders certainly manipulated poor white southerners, but the means of manipulation were race-based fear tactics. For example:

    As one southern prisoner explained to his Wisconsin-born guard "you Yanks want us to marry our daughters to niggers." This fear of a loss of racial status was common. A poor white farmer from North Carolina explained that he would never stop fighting because what he considered to be an abolitionist federal government was "trying to force us to live as the colored race." Although he had grown tired of the war, a Confederate artilleryman from Louisiana agreed that he must continue to fight. An end to slavery would bring what he considered horrific consequences, for he would "never want to see the day when a [N]egro is put on an equality with a white person."

    The confederate flag continued to symbolize racist ideas and policies long after the end of the Civil War. It did not become a ubiquitous symbol of southern pride until the 1950s, when racists hoisted it to protest civil rights legislation.

    As I said, I agree with you that symbols are malleable, and it's certainly possible to wave a confederate flag without racist intent, but that doesn't mean that people can erase or ignore its racist history. Like the swastika, the confederate flag is trailed by an infamous past. Those who claim that it merely expresses regional pride are either deceiving themselves or everyone else.

    I guess you can't fathom the idea that Jack Daniels, a case of beer and dueling guitars would be all that's on people's minds on a hot southern day. Thank Satan I grew up before it became a national pasttime to psychoanalyze every tidbit of behavior - that damn racist Canuck who wrote "The Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down" oughta be ashamed of himself... That SF Bay Creedence guy who wrote that racist "Willy and the Poor Boys" and played all those southern songs ...

    "The South's Gonna Do It (Again)"

    Well, the train to Grinder's Switch is runnin' right on time
    And them Tucker Boys are cookin' down in Caroline
    People down in Florida can't be still 
    When ol' Lynyrd Skynyrd's pickin' down in Jacksonville
    People down in Georgia come from near and far
    To hear Richard Betts pickin' on that red guitar

    So gather 'round, gather 'round chillun'
    Get down, well just get down chillun'
    Get loud, well you can be loud and be proud
    Well you can be proud, hear now
    Be proud you're a rebel
    'Cause the South's gonna do it again and again

    Elvin Bishop sittin' on a bale of hay
    He ain't good lookin', but he sure can play
    And there's ZZ Top and you can't forget
    That old brother Willie's gettin' soakin' wet
    And all the good people down in Tennessee
    Are diggin' Barefoot Jerry and C.D.B

    So gather 'round, gather 'round chillun'
    Get down, well just get down chillun'
    Get loud, well you can be loud and be proud
    Well you can be proud, hear now
    Be proud you're a rebel
    'Cause the South's gonna do it again and again

    I wrote that the confederate flag has a racist history (hardly a shocking revelation) not that southerners or southern culture are racist. But you seem determined to take offense, so rock on.

    We've had this same bullshit argument a dozen times now - I grew up in the south, didn't own a rebel flag, but also nobody I knew ever talked about the flag in terms of slavery - it was only being a 'rebel' - south vs. north or simply a symbol of being an outlaw. Being from Dixie was as much about music - Allman Brothers & Lynyrd Skynyrd, 2 bands that got wiped out in accidents, as a kind of ironic allegorical message - as well as the iconic recordings from Muscle Shoals (biracial, from Aretha & Wilson Pickett to the Stones), the artists like Neil Young & Bob Dylan that came to Tennessee to record, the bands elsewhere that tried to get the southern sound, etc. Nobody I knew talked about slavery, the Civil War was for re-enactment by history geeks (no one debated the leadup to the war much - all about boring troop movements), no one thought or mentioned anything related to civil rights, much less any talk of white supremacy or miscegenation or what all - sure, there were probably people in podunk towns who had these ideas, and one time I actually drove through a small Klan march when driving a friend home, but that was through seriously miles-from-nowhere cracker land. "Gone with the Wind" was a quaint old nostalgic tale, not a call to arms or message for modern times.

    "Those who claim that it merely expresses regional pride are either deceiving themselves or everyone else." well, obviously it's become a big symbol for assholes over the last decade, but no, there was a period where it was more about regional pride. Even going to Wikipedia, you find that southern regiments used the Dixie flag in some fashion during WWII to denote, drumroll please, regional pride, being from the south - great writers, great musicians, both black and white, slow friendly folk. Dixieland of course was symbolized by Louis Armstrong above all in the Big Easy. We watched Flip Wilson and Sanford & Son and Greg Morris on Mission Impossible and didn't think of the world coming to an end or even think of anything but "funny/cool".

    In the middle of this, one of the images was the southern flag - then there was Hee Haw, RC Cola/Coca Cola, Sounder and Deliverance. Perhaps we were all buck-tooth cross-eyed congenital idiots playing Dueling Banjos as well.

    I think that explains why you're so often blind to racism. When you were growing up in the south you didn't see it. It was just everyday ordinary life. Where as when I moved at 40  to live in Florida for ten years after growing up in Pennsylvania I was shocked to see so much overt racism.

    My point was that racism isn't necessarily an everyday thing in the South, but of course it very much depends on where you are. And no, I'm not blind to racism, F U very much.

    Racism doesn't have to be an "everyday thing" in the way you're thinking for it to be racist. Racism today isn't about walking around with bad feelings toward blacks, keeping them out of white restrooms, flinging slurs at black passersby, or not inviting them to your party.

    If, for example, the GOP pushes for Voter ID laws that clearly target AAs, then that is a racist act, per force. It doesn't matter whether the pushers are thinking racist thoughts when they push. The act itself has racist content. They can still be good, kind, and even thoughtful people in other ways.

    These aren't mutually exclusive. The confederate flag has been used to celebrate southern pride AND slavery/segregation. To say that the flag is only a symbol of racism is as inaccurate as saying that the flag is a only symbol of southern culture.

    Perhaps no one you grew up with was racist or used the flag the celebrate racist ideas. That's wonderful. But that does not mean that flag has no racist history.

    For some people, the flag is *only* a symbol of southern pride, though undoubtedly most are smart enough to know the flag was also part of the war to defend slavery and defend against the north so that its heritage is mixed.

    For those who are into it for racism, I'd guess most have it for southern pride as well, though some of those flag fans are from the north/west/elsewhere.

    Did you know more slaves passed through Bristol than Charleston? When are we going to get that racist Union Jack banned? it was certainly used in the movements to defend slavery in the Caribbean, along with imperialism over India, completely wiping out aborigines in Tasmania along with many in Australia, slaughtering the "wogs" in Iraq.

    You're missing the point, and I suspect deliberately so because you've shown yourself to be smart. The Union Jack has not been waved by people throwing bottles at African Americans, to the best of my knowledge. As you acknowledge, there are those who are into the Confederate Battle Flag for its symbolism of racism, just as I acknowledge that there are those who are into it for purely non-racist reasons (heck, I painted it on the top of my pinewood derby car when I was in Cub Scouts to make it look like the General Lee). Although you might find a small subsegment of the population who is into the Union Jack for racist reasons, surely you must confess that it doesn't compare to the numbers who are into the Confederate Battle Flag for racist reasons?

    I concur with you that the South is hardly the only source of racism, and it's an argument I often wager myself, but to pretend that there's no significant cultural difference between how the Union Jack and the Confederate Battle Flag are used is disingenuous, at best.

    "The Union Jack has not been waved by people throwing bottles at African Americans, to the best of my knowledge." Check out British skinheads - who like the Union Jack on shirts and jackets - fucking with blacks and other immigrants. Any idea what "Paki-bashing" is?

    I think that the point with national flags is that while there is evil associated with the flags, there is also good. Slavery has a vise grip on the Confederate flag(s). The Confederates lost. The only positives associated with the ideals of the Confederates are buried with the soldiers. The idea that they would have freed the slaves  cannot be proven. The fact that they would have been more humane to the slaves cannot be proven. The fact that the states themselves would have respected states rights cannot be proven. What can be proven is that they were willing to support themselves on the backs of slaves.

    Britain faced a similar economic quandary when they freed the slaves in 1833. Liverpool was profiting by building slave ships. A significant portion of the British economy was built on slavery. Britain stayed out of the Civil War despite Southern agents like Henry Hotze traveling to England to try to convince the British of the inferiority of Africans. 

    The Confederate flag stands for one thing, slavery.

    "The Confederate flag stands for one thing, slavery." No. It. Doesn't. Thousands of words wasted on you, even Michael right below tried to sum up the idea of complexity for our symbols. You insist on the "my interpretation only" approach. Frankly, as I was writing the note saying I'd support removing the flag from state buildings, part of me was thinking "but I'd support keeping it just to piss off RMRD". 

    Hotze was sent to London to promote slavery and White Supremacy not States Rights as the rationale for British support of the Confederacy. Slavery was the main thrust of the appeal to the British.

    It wouldn't matter if you supported the Confederate flag being on state property, as there are enough voices that would be raised in opposition to the plan.

    If we look at actions being taken by the current GOP, the Confederacy is brought to mind. The Republicans want the summer school lunch program to apply only to the majority White communities in Appalachia. The program excludes urban (read minority) areas. While you see the flag as a symbol of pride, in the context of actions like a rural-only school lunch program, flag support is tied to the GOP and anti-minority bias. You see only one type of complexity. The other side is that the GOP rural school lunch focus to feed only poor White children during the out-of-school summer months fits into what one would expect from a Confederate bias. You don't want to deal with that view of your flag.

    The Confederate flag may not be on government grounds, but government actions are supporting what one would expect from a Confederate legislature. 

    As Elusive Trope notes below Abraham Lincoln found one dispute between the two regions of the country in his Inaugural address 

     One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute 

    That was Lincoln 's view and the view of Confederate leadership 

    The point is you cannot use a symbol to mean *only* what you want to mean. The meaning comes with it regardless of how you feel about it. That's why I drew the swastika analogy. For some people, a swastika is *only* an invocation of the Hindu gods. But if you wave a 45-degree, right-facing swastika on a street corner in Berlin, that is simply not the only meaning. If you wave a swastika in Berlin *only* to celebrate Lakshmi, then you are deceiving yourself (or others).

    American and British flags carry meanings too, some good, some bad, but they have more complex histories. The swastika is so notorious because in Europe, it was only used by the Nazi regime. If it had been a long-standing German national symbol, it would be more complex. A more nuanced example is the rising sun flag of Japan, which is inextricably associated with Japanese imperialism in contrast to the simple red disk on a white background.

    The confederate flag is certainly more complicated than the swastika and probably the rising sun because it is indeed associated with southern pride, yet it also remains entwined with its pro-slavery origins and anti-civil-rights popularization. 

    A closer analogy would be the orange order flag of northern Ireland. This flag is both a symbol of Protestant pride *and* Catholic repression. You cannot wave it in Belfast to symbolize one without the other. Similarly, you cannot wave the confederate flag in the South to symbolize regional pride without simultaneously invoking slavery and racism--even if that is not your intention.

    This pretty much nails it.

    Of course I've never said symbols only mean what I want them to mean - I've spent this whole thread arguing quite the opposite - that people have different interpretations of symbols, and labeling them racist by saying they interpret the symbol exactly as I think it should be *may* be a mistake. So yes, pretty much agree - it's complex.

    And I never addressed the issue of say banning the confederate flag from the capitol - I'd probably agree, from the same notion of freedom of religion, et al - that the political symbol of equality and acceptance is more important than some celebration of one symbolic interpretation to the exclusion or grave annoyance of another.

    I fully understand why a lot of people are incensed by the sight of that flag, but I can also understand why the ancestors of those soldiers want to be able to fly it as a symbol of their own history. 

    Many state flags in the south still incorporate variations of the Confederate flag.  They do see it as a symbol of their own regional heritage, whether we like it or not.  I realize I come off sounding like I'm defending that flag, which really is not the case--and is beside the point.   I'm interested in what any flag means to anybody.

    This article by a southerner sees both sides but thinks it's time to put the flag away, while Civil War historian Shelby Foote, Southern-born and bred, saw it another way in this NPR interview which included Roger Wilkins and others--who, by the way, vehemently disagree with him.

    It's been a symbol of racism to some (to most) and it's been something else to other Southerners.  The point is, who gets to decide which it really is?

    I don't see the comparison to the Nazi flag.  The swastika was a party symbol forced on Germany by a mad dictator.  When the war was over most Germans were glad to be rid of it.  But here in the United States, 150 years after the Civil War ended, there are still Southerners arguing for their right to fly a Confederate flag.  There's something to that and I'm interested in finding out what it is.


    It's an imperfect analogy for sure, but the point is that no one gets to decide what a symbol means--whether the symbol is a swastika, a cross, or a national flag. You can't erase the history. So just because some people see the confederate flag as an innocent symbol of regional pride doesn't mean that's all it is.

    In the full scope of things the Confederate flag is a side issue. The point is that the folks who feel that is fine to celebrate the Confederate flag and demand that everyone else meekly accept their benign view of the flag are taking a position that assumes that their position is not to be questioned. It reeks of White Supremacy. I take pride in my ancestors who tried to put as many Confederates in the ground as possible just as the Confederates want to celebrate those who wanted to do the same to a Union troops. Colored troops knew those Confederates would kill and torture those Blacks who were captured.

    Those who believe in the benign view of the Confederate flag should put themselves in the position of current day moderate Muslims. When a fatwa is issued or innocent girls are kidnapped, moderate Muslim are told that they have to demonstrate forcefully that they oppose the Islamists. The benign version of the flag supporters should be put to the same test. Where are your strong public demonstrations showing that you are upset about how the flag has been desecrated by the racists? Give us strong, repeated and vocal examples that you are different. 

    The point is that the folks who feel that is fine to celebrate the Confederate flag and demand that everyone else meekly accept their benign view...

    I think what Ramona is arguing is NOT that anyone has to accept anyone else's view of the flag. She's arguing that we have to accept that there ARE other views of what the flag means. I still find it to be weak, but I don't think you're accurately expressing her view, quite. The end result, though, and perhaps this is what you're saying is that the flag's meaning becomes so watered down or so varied that the benignity provides cover for racists.

    It has become pointless. The flag is going to show up in enough places held high by groups based on hatred, that any other interpretation pales by comparison.

    It's refreshing to hear a non-Southerner speak wisely that Southerners have the right to express fellowship and regional pride. We were FORCED back into the Union by the barrel of a gun and are STILL constantly reminded that many statists want to eradicate all honor and respect for our precious, independent Confederacy. They deride our noble ancestors as evil men for daring to  depart from the new Hamiltonian Empire being forged by the tyrant, Lincoln, and the brand new Republican Party! 

    Flying a Confederate battle flag was no big deal at all even DURING the Civil Rights Movement. Even AFTERWARD, EVERY Southern Rock band used the flag with regional pride. Prime time TV wasn't even a problem! Southern bands on TV displayed the flags! LOTS of TV shows had no problem. "The Beverly Hillbillies" flew the flag because they were proud Confederates!

    Abruptly, with the changing of the guard in Hollywood, the hippies of the Sixties and Seventies took over positions of power in media. TV shows and movies began to use the battle flag as a shorthand method to indicate the bad guys. It has only taken 30 years, less than 2 generations, for Hollywood to completely rewrite public perception of the Confederate battle flag!

    Could you provide links to support your statements?

    You mean it's no longer good enough to have lived it - we need to provide web links to justify our childhood? I hate me some internet - perhaps we can use our brains & memories when blogging rather than a collection of Encyclopedia references.

    The statement was made that the Confederate flag was cool even during the Civil Rights era. This counters the idea that the flags came out in response to Brown v.Board and other events in the Civil Rights era. I was asking for clarification.

    sorry, I wasn't around for Brown v Board - you'll have to ask great-granddad.

    As noted, I was responding to the comment of another person. You injected yourself into the discussion.

    It's interesting that Hamilton vs. Jefferson came up the other day at EmptyWheel. Hamilton having the nastier interpretation for democracy. If Lincoln were sending in troops to take over the North's proper naval bases & eternal property in Sebastopol, Crimea, I'm sure we'd still be supportive...

    It is curious that Southern bands were once symbols of rebels and counterculture, and now they're a magnet for retro racists, but then we've dumbed down most issues these days.

    Is the extension of slavery into new territories involved?

    ??? we probably studied the Missouri Compromise and Kansas entry in school, but you think we discussed extending slavery or slavery at all? we were too busy trying to find dope and souping up our cars and figuring out how to get the music louder and getting laid - don't know how you spent those years, but we were intent on serious mind alteration, not analyzing society or nursing some stupid century-old grudge. The brain damage by the way was just gravy.

    If the century old grudge is over, why do you need the flag?

    BTW I was asking if extension of slavery was involved in the entry into a Crimea, since you put it in the context of Lincoln.

    The flag's to keep you warm outside at night, cover the car window while you're smoking a bong, put under the Thunderbird while you're underneath fixing the suspension.

    As for Crimea, yes, the slavery and massacre of the Tatars and Ukrainians (Siberia et al) has been an issue for hundreds of years. But if Mr. Putin feels he has a historical right to some naval base and the surrounding peninsula, I guess he has the right to just take it, no?

    If the century old grudge is over, why do you need the flag?

    This is actually a very good question. If warmth is the goal, fleece works better and sheets are just fine for covering car windows, and I can recommend old bedspreads to lay down under your T-Bird. You're not really going to get the pride of the South all greezy, are you?

    I never claimed southerners were too smart ;-)  Me, I don't own a flag, nor a T-Bird. My mammy & pappy would be so disappointed. Not even a dawg or a trailer.

    Tolerate is not the same as acceptable. Many were against slavery when the constitution was written but without the power to change it. So it was enshrined in the constitution. Those against it had to tolerate it as they couldn't change it at that time. But they didn't accept it and the fight went on. When those against slavery gained sufficient power slavery was abolished. Many were against Jim Crow laws but powerless to change them. When those against them gained sufficient power Civil Rights legislation was passed. That racist morons waving the confederate flag during the civil rights protests weren't often condemned doesn't mean it was acceptable or that it was no big deal.It was simply tolerated so that more important issues could be addressed. The fight against Jim Crow laws and for equal rights for blacks took precedence.

    The confederate flag was always a symbol for racism, it was never acceptable. Liberals are simply just getting around to dealing with it.

    The South had several flags, because they wished to be a Confederacy!

    The South was against any Union, so they were really against any one flag!

    Just to remind folks, THE SOUTH LOST THE DAMN CIVIL WAR and they cost us all, as Americans 650,000 citizens on both sides.

    And why?

    Well Jefferson Davis said the unrest had to do with slavery.

    And his Vice-President said it was because of slavery.

    The Confederate Flag has nothing to do with nothing except slavery!

    Oh well, I go on and on as I have for six years.

    Robert E. Lee was a traitor.

    the end

    Great synopsis

    Wow, you're so modern. BTW, the Confederate flag went through several versions, and descended from several early American & Spanish flags. Mardi Gras, dudes. Have some fun - you're all so sour.


    There is no FUN in any of this, just look at the photos of Gettysburg that exist today!

    What in the hell is the matter with you?

    I already said there was no one Confederate Flag; that would be impossible until after this war, the KKK and the South said:

    Screw you all!

    We whites shall do whatever the frick we want to do.

    And all the racists, all those who hated Negroes and all those who today will even speak of the slaves singing in the cotton fields whilst their wives were raped by slave owners....

    Oh damn

    And here is our 'new' flag.

    Fuck flags!

    Take a valium - it's 2014. wake up, wake up...

    Well your friends are not taking valiums.

    They aint takin things as they are.

    They are pissed and they are without historical knowledge and they are making up their own history.


    And yet the South still lives.  Its full of Southerners.  They're all Americans and some of them are shits and some of them are sweethearts.  Some of them want to fly a flag their great-great-grandaddy carried in the Civil War and they don't want to be called racist for doing it. 

    Some of them carry that flag and are racist as hell.  They make it look bad for the rest of them.

    And some Southerner's ancestors were slaves in the South.  They're offended by that flag and never want to be reminded of that part of Southern history again

    It's complicated but not insurmountable.  They might all just have to come to terms with the idea that it's a flag and the symbolism is what they make it.

    People are ready to move on once the Confederates realize that we are all under one flag now. I agree with Richard Day. People can fly what ever flag they desire. They do not have the right to suppress the free speech rights of others who oppose their views.

    Under the flag for drones in Pakistan and trumped up wars in Iraq?

    Usually when I see a flag pulled out, such as Russian & Ukrainian flags recently, it's for some damn obnoxious act of chauvinism, frequently accompanied by atrocities and repression. Typically flags everywhere are battle standards, and the US flag is no different. Or standing at attention to feel some awe and reverence and take part in a piece of anachronistic patriotic propaganda fitting for the Eisenhower years. Even at the Olympics it's a bit hokey and primeval.

    [yeah, in WWII we were on the right side of history - Okinawa flag pretty cool - the Indian and Mexican-American Wars, not so much]

    But you like your flag of repression, just not someone else's flag of repression.

    [disclaimer: I don't begrudge anyone's enjoyment of their flags - mostly I keep my mouth shut and let them enjoy - people have a lot of interests I don't share. and I've never owned a flag of any sort from what I recall]

    I bet you can't wait for the World Cup to start in June - plenty of flag waving and people draped in their country's flag.  Should be interesting when Russia takes the field, no?

    Wow, 2 things I dislike together - soccer and flags. If Justin Bieber sings, I hit the trifecta.

    The South had several flags, because they wished to be a Confederacy!

    The South was against any Union, so they were really against any one flag!

    Just to remind folks, THE SOUTH LOST THE DAMN CIVIL WAR and they cost us all, as Americans 650,000 citizens on both sides.

    And why?

    Well Jefferson Davis said the unrest had to do with slavery.

    And his Vice-President said it was because of slavery.

    The Confederate Flag has nothing to do with nothing except slavery!

    Oh well, I go on and on as I have for six years.

    Robert E. Lee was a traitor.

    the end

    Ramona your dewy eyed ingenuous take on flags startles. The French, British and Spanish are contemporary nations, nations where slavery is illegal.

    There is no CSA.

    The Confederate States of America were slave from short beginning to end. Even when returned to the Union they would not ratify the 14 Amendment without a military occupation to force them to do so.

    The Confederacy could no even let go of it's racist ideology with it's back to the wall, when CSA General Patrick Cleburne proposed arming slaves and abolishing slavery in late 1864 President Davis refused to even talk of it.

    President Jefferson Davis opposed, as did governors of Georgia and North Carolina, the grounds being: “If slaves will make good soldiers[, then] our whole theory of slavery is wrong.”  link

    The Confederate flag also is associated with lynching, and as late as 1948 the late Strom Thurmond ran for President to oppose Harry Truman's plans for federal legislation to outlaw lynching and poll taxes.

    So the noose, even today, is often combined with the flag, as it was in Mississippi when students put a noose and a Confederate flag on the statue of James Meredith on the campus. No other flag on earth has such an association as the Confederate flag.

    And sometimes it's just a flag.

    How do you know that in that tv program it was used as just a flag? That's only one possible explanation. My guess is that it was used to appeal to a certain demographic. A majority of that demographic is racist imo.

    Its also possible that some involved in producing or acting in that tv show were racist and attempting to send a coded message.

    I don't think either of us know how or why the decision was made.

    You simply cannot understand, We will agree to disagree.

    Ramona, I do see you point about the difference between the Nazi and Confederate flags. However, there were/are some ex-Nazis and new Nazis who still believe in the cause and wish to fly the flag. They believe(d) in what the Nazi movement stood for.

    Not sure about all flags, but a lot of flags stand for certain principles. A person can be ignorant of history or, through a mental jui jitsui, separate the flag from the principles for which it stands, but he can't erase the history. Nor can he erase the effect a flag has on other people who are familiar with its meaning. A flag isn't a private symbol. It's meant to declare openly and broadly the things it stands for. It's meant to communicate and evoke emotions in those who view and honor it.

    You may know that the swastika is an Indian symbol, and you will see it in India. Indians have a different relationship to the symbol than Europeans and Americans, but when flown in the West, it means something very different than what it means in India. And, in fact, I believe the Indians have become somewhat sensitive to this other history.

    What happened in the South, as I read it, is that they sanitized the history after the war. It was no longer about slavery, but about states' rights and the "lost cause" and a "way of life" and lots of things that were easier to digest. No doubt many southerners grew up on this gentler diet and came to associate those things with the flag.

    Just because a lot of people died for the Third Reich believing in their country and in that cause doesn't bestow honor on that cause or make it worthy of celebration. Sometimes, a country takes a seriously wrong turn and THAT is what needs to be remembered. The Third Reich probably did some good things, and those things should be brought forth, e.g., the VW. However, they can't overwhelm, obscure, or elbow out of the way the awful beliefs and practices that that flag stood for.

    I agree, Peter.  Flags are symbols that bring out emotions in everybody, but my point is that our emotional reactions to flags don't always match up.  We may not be able to understand a feeling of pride for the Confederate flag but for many people it's there, nonetheless.

    This flag is still in use in the South some 150 years after the Civil War ended and after spending so much time in the South I've come to see that there is more to its longevity than its widely accepted perception as a vehicle for hate or racism. 

    It means different things to different people, but I'm not here to judge--just to explore.  I can understand the animosity toward it.  I'm working on trying to understand the affection for it.

    You introduce bias in your analysis because you start out eliminating race as a factor in the love of the Confederate flag. You take a position. By default there is something wrong with people who actually see race as a factor in the attachment to the Confederate flag. I remember seeing a " if they can  wear their "X" (as when the Spike Lee movie was being being promoted) "I can wear mine" the Confederate X) t-shirt. That shirt has race all over it. To me it seems that it reflects the idea that Malcolm X came out of thin air and was not preceded by the Confederate emblem.

    I think that the need to celebrate the symbol is a need to cloak oneself in the comfort of White Supremacy. Do you have any data that there has been repeated, direct confrontation of the bad actors using the Confederate flag by the benign folks you tell us exist?  Have you seen these benign folks do anything positive in the Black community?

    I don't see a non-racial, non White Supremacy rationale for the need to have the Confederate flag(s) flown.What have you seen that should give the Black community comfort over this issue?

    I don't think that's a fair analysis of Ramona's post. She clearly sees race as a factor and stated it a few times. The implication I get is she doesn't see it as the major factor while I think racism is by far the predominate reason the confederate flag is still displayed.

    It's like the Union Jack, dude - nice design, fashion - my kids wear the Union Jack & t-shirts with the Eiffel Tower, and they're not Brits or French. People go to Texas and buy cowboy hats even though they can't tell the front end of a cow from the back. New Orleans it's Mardi Gras & jazz.

    Tell you what - you want a different symbol for the south, design a cool flag people will like and feel proud wearing/flying/whatever. If I come back from Dixie, I'm not going to wear a t-shirt of grits. If you actually give a shit about symbolism, figure out something positive to move on. 

    Here's a black guy that just liked the design & didn't like being told what he could do.

    Racists or bad 70's TV?

    This is ridiculous. The confederate flag isn't like the Eiffel Tower or cowboy hats or a Mardi Gras parade. its a symbol of slavery. After the Civil War it was a symbol of racism. Attempts to whitewash and sanitize that history only shows your ignorance. Its not just some cool design.

    Frankly I think you reveal yourself every time you post on these issues. One can always find a token black to say anything. Its a common tactic of racists to find one to justify their racism. So we have that crazy black minister saying Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya giving cover to the racist birthers. Or Alan West claiming Obama abjectly despises whites. West gives a lot of cover to some of the most extreme racists. There are several others. So the fact that you found a token black man to support your view doesn't surprise me at all. It also doesn't sway me at all.



    [sorry I included Byron Thomas - from an initial reasonable interview, his later internship looks like he's embedded himself in wingnuttery - perhaps following Clarence Thomas]

    Sigh... yes, the Rebel Flag is a symbol like the Eiffel Tower or cowboy hats or Mardi Gras. 

    Yes, it was it was a standard in a war defending both slavery and the independence of the south. I don't see anyone "whitewashing" that, but from my experience, most white people's attitude towards it these days is not nostalgia for slavery or even thinking of it as that, but much more about being a rebel, fighting back, being an outsider, later having long-hair and being a vagabond. Sure there are David Duke types, and there was always fundamentalist PTL Club and Jerry Falwell stuff - we used to think of them as fringe nutcakes, but since Newt Gingrich, these assholes and their attitudes have gone mainstream. 

    When I was growing up, I knew lots of people who went into the military, but we didn't have this glorified "support the troops" shit, where somehow a soldier's a minor deity. All of this crap is politicized imagery and symbolism. The fucker grazing out in Utah wouldn't have been a hero in the south back in 1970 or 1975 - but all our tea party politics and turning everything into some God vs. liberalism has changed everything. I sat through maybe hundreds of southern church services with no one telling me the earth's less than 10,000 years old - we would have laughed. Somehow there was the 8 years post-apartheid George Wallace in this mix - basically the southern split was the conservatives against counter-culture at that point, just like Reagan's smug anti-hippie comments, but even for many conservatives, going to church was about socializing, not a heavy religious or political statement.

    Most kids can play cowboys and indians without really thinking about the genocide we committed 160-120 years ago. Roman toga parties are tied in with symbolism of slaves, concubines, feeding Christians to lions, conquering people in bloody wars from Africa to Persia to Germanic lands and Hadrian's Wall - do we strike our Roman military heritage from our history and architecture and reading lists?

    It really amazes me when you get on stuff like this that you lose your ability to actually evaluate similar issues together in context, just like the bit about ignoring Pinochet's actual numbers killed vs East European and North Vietnamese communism. I'm simply trying to look at issues objectively - the Texas flag and all that Remember the Alamo shit is about killing Mexicans and stealing Mexican land by reneging on a treaty. But the Confederate flag is *partially* like the Pinochet thing - someone gets a bone and they can't let it go, so here you have a guy who killed 3000, and perhaps half of America think he was worse than say an Idi Amin who killed 100 times that amount. It's a visceral and propagandized reaction as much as intellectual.

    Of course as noted, the last 20 years also has spiteful Conservatives now playing up this issue, just as they take up strange attitudes like leaving lights on and buying gas guzzlers when Conservatives in the 60's had the sense to save money.

    I.e. I'm trying to address the shifting state of our politics, culture, etc, and folks seem to just want to pigeon-hole things in simple terms.

    Yes, it was it was a standard in a war defending both slavery and the independence of the south. I don't see anyone "whitewashing" that, but from my experience, most white people's attitude towards it these days is not nostalgia for slavery or even thinking of it as that, but much more about being a rebel, fighting back, being an outsider, later having long-hair and being a vagabond. Sure there are David Duke types, and there was always fundamentalist PTL Club and Jerry Falwell stuff - we used to think of them as fringe nutcakes, but since Newt Gingrich, these assholes and their attitudes have gone mainstream. 
    Your paragraph starts sorts off saying no one whitewashes slavery. The paragraph ends noting how mainstream individuals who specialize in whitewashing  history have become. That is the rub.

    If you paid attention, 1st line was re: the flag's from a war defending both slavery & independence. Last line's about the new crazies not running away from slavery, but somehow embracing it as some natural peaceful symbiotic state - a long way from discussions about flags.

    but since Newt Gingrich, these assholes and their attitudes have gone mainstream.

    This is important and perhaps why the flag has become a big issue again (if it has).

    Same thing with guns. They used to be no big deal. Now using one is a patriotic act.

    It really amazes me when you get on stuff like this that you lose your ability to actually evaluate similar issues together in context, just like the bit about ignoring Pinochet's actual numbers killed vs East European and North Vietnamese communism.

    I think the same about you which is why I tend to drop out of dialog when you get this way.

    The idea that the confederate flag is the same as the Eiffel Tower or cowboy hats is too stupid for words. The Eiffel Tower wasn't built to commemorate some event in France. like driving the jews out of Paris. It hasn't been used for years to celebrate French antisemitism.

    Sure kids play cowboys and indians but a cowboy hat has never a symbol of it. Its just a sensible useful hat for very sunny ecosystems. When I moved to Arizona three years ago I began wearing one since a baseball cap wasn't enough protection for my bald head and very white skin. A cowboy hat isn't a KKK hood even though both will keep the sun off your face.

    The idea that the confederate flag, or the nazi flag, or a KKK hood is similar to a cowboy hat or the Eiffel Tower is too stupid to waste time on.  Until you decided to insult me I had intended to drop out of discussing it.  As I did in the Pinochet discussion

    There's an old cliche, Prophecy is difficult especially when its about the future. You have an advantage in that you were writing alternative history and there's never a do over to prove you're wrong. Your claim that Allende would have been as bad as other brutal communist dictators rests totally on the premise that all communist leaders are evil and the same. I reject that premise and I don't think you've proved it. There is no evidence of any brutality during Allende's reign and therefore no evidence he would have been as bad as Pinochet. 

    You also scourered the internet to find the highest numbers you could for deaths in communist dictatorships, at times from dubious sources. Then you chose the lowest estimate of deaths you could find for Pinochet's reign. The number, 3000, from the first commission that investigated Pinochet is widely contested. Many consider it a whitewash.  I could have done what you did, scourer the internet to find much higher estimates for Pinochet without considering the sources. But I decided it wasn't worth the time. I addressed the only question I thought worth discussing. Would Allende have been as bad as Pinochet? I considered your premise that all communists are evil and the same as too stupid to discuss and dropped out of the conversation.

    That's pretty much how I handle you. When you get too stupid and make claims like a confederate flag is the same as a cowboy hat I state my views and drop out of the conversation. Statements like that aren't worth discussing. They're only worth laughing at.

    For you a Cowboy hat's something to keep off the sun - for others it's a way of life - I met an old guy in a bar who handed me a business card that said, "occupation: Cowboy" - "Momma don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" was a southern anthem, with Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson from the "Outlaws". Elsewhere, cowboy hats stand for rodeo and real ranching, or for Bush Jr. it was a PR mark and symbol of a Reagan-like touch with the people and his hands, while for tourists it's a symbol of the west, but for Native Americans it can be a horrifying reminder of the mass of cowboy settlers that slaughtered their ancestors, and then the rancher out in Utah is bringing a whole new level of stupid to the Cowboy hat. Read Blood Meridian, and McCarthy nicely deconstructs the myth of our old West and the behavior of these horsemen that we've gotten from decades of Hollywood westerns and penny novels.
    The rebel flag certainly carries the symbolism of its origins with the defense of slavery and fighting for southern independence - but a couple weekends ago I was driving through a slightly rural weekend settlement here in Europe, and there I saw *2* confederate flags flying from cottages, amusingly a bit beneath a medieval castle. European racists, or just a symbol of the country, Nashville, a bit of rebelliousness and freedom...? It's really bizarre to think that every person who likes the Confederate flag is embracing or even considering its racist past, rather than other obvious interpretations. Call it stupid or laugh if you like - 1 person's opinion.
    As for Pinochet, no, I didn't go scouring for numbers - Wikipedia lists Pinochet at 3200 killed up to studies in 2004. Rummel lists it as likely 10,000 - that's still a lot less than Ho's 300-500,000, and some 65,000 in Czechoslovakia plus those killed in the uranium mines. If you'd prefer to the latter 2 to Pinochet, would be interesting to understand why.
    If I consider Allende inviting aid and arms and military advisers in Moscow, as Moscow was backing North Vietnam's final push & 4 years after the crackdown on the Prague Spring, and then think of him inviting Castro to visit for a month with Castro's record of imprisoning dissidents, exporting violent revolution, and some 22,000 killed plus double that number dying at sea in escape, well, Allende was playing with fire, along with his rather radical nationalization program. I don't blame people for being suspicious and fighting back. I'm just playing the numbers. " I considered your premise that all communists are evil" - how about "most Communist systems end up murderous"? it's been a fairly predictable outcome, if you look at the chart here, even though Rummel documents lots of atrocities by non-Communists. [it should be noted that the Sandinistas didn't descend into that kind of ruthlessness, and considering the Somozas they were replacing and the bloodiness of our Contras, we were way off-base building up our dirty war]

    A cowboy hat is included in the class of objects designated symbols. Just as the confederate flag, nazi flag, Eiffel Tower, and numerous other objects are included in the classification symbols. In that way and only that way they are the same. But the Eiffel Tower and the cowboy hat has never been associated with oppression as the confederate flag has and it should not be treated the same way.

    Your attempt to make that association is wrong and stretches the imagination to the point of ridiculousness. I've spent considerable amount of time on the Lakota reservation as well as Apache and Navaho reses. I've studied with several Native American elders and participated in hundreds of Native American ceremonies. I've seen cowboy hats on Native Americans everywhere. That's because its just a damn useful hat in certain climates. It has never been a symbol of oppression just because ranchers wore it. Yes it could have become a symbol of oppression but it never was and it is not today. Just as boots with spurs could have  became a symbol of oppression to Native Americans but they never did.

    Clive Bundy is not adding a whole new level of stupid to the cowboy hat. The fact that he wears one doesn't make it a symbol of him. No one is refusing to wear a cowboy hat in opposition to Bundy. No one is suggesting that supporters wear cowboy hats to show solidarity to Bundy. A cowboy hat is not a symbol of Bundy's fight nor was it used as a symbol of previous fights with the Federal government over the use of the large tracts of federal land in many western states.

    If you can't see that there are intrinsic and fundamental differences between the use and history of symbols like the nazi or confederate flag and a cowboy hat or the Eiffel tower there's no sense in continuing this debate. So this will be my last post on this stupid waste of time idea you've posted.


    So cowboys and Indians has no racist, murderous symbolism, and cowboy hats and other symbols of cowboy lifestyle aren't actually symbols at all. Thanks for letting me know. Me must be too stupid. Perhaps you'd like to correct the Wikipedia entry on Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

    Update - look at that picture of Dukes of Hazzard - the flag is there to promote racism? Or it's a big symbol telling the audience, "hey, redneck good ol' boys driving fast cars around the backwoods - leave plot line and character analysis behind, pull up a beer and tune in"?

    Do you really think the producers were trying to cash in on racism, or much like Hee Haw, just present simple easily-digested cultural symbols and cute stereotypes for a bland program?

    Finding a Black guy who supports the crazy is typical. One thing entertained with the Confederate flag is the myth of Black Confederates who fought for the South. The Black Confederates are a figment of the Southern imagination. There were many more a Blacks who escaped or participated in rebellions than could ever be linked with the Confederacy. Finding Black Confederates serve the same soothing purpose as the crazy Black guy noted by PP

    There were also black slave holders.

    But rhetorically, when folks point to these fascinating exceptions, they mean to say, "Don't get on my case for owning black people, black people owned black people." Or, "how bad was it if even blacks owned other blacks."

    Reality is a fascinating and complex place to explore.

    I'm SURE there were Jewish Nazis.

    The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military. Hitler's Jewish Soldiers.

    The film The Grey Zone (I haven't seen it but hear it is good) focuses on A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkomando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.

    One technique the slavery apologists use is that Africans sold Africans into slavery. Somehow all. Blacks are supposed to be ashamed that some evil Black people sold slaves. Other Black people owned slaves. I put those Blacks into the same category that I put the others who owned slaves or hunted down slaves. The fact that there were evil Black people dose nothing to diminish my sense of pride in being Black. I celebrate ancestors who survived slavery.I celebrate ancestors who escaped slavery. I celebrate ancestors who fought in the Civil War.

    We have found nothing in family archives to indicate ancestors who owned, sold or hunted slaves. If we had we would not be raising Confederate flags, we would have a sense of sadness. The Confederate would be used as an example to the generations to avoid repeating the evil done.

    I have no love for Africans who sold, hunted or owned slaves. That historical record cannot be used to cause me to feel shame.

      That the slaves were sold by other Africans creates some shared responsibility. But there wasn't an equivalence. The slavers were both black and white, but none of the victims were white.* The white buyers determined the scale of the slave trade, and sometimes compelled Africans to supply slaves.


    * The people enslaved by the Barbary pirates were white,  but black Africans had little to do with that.

    It's not a matter of eliminating or ignoring race.  The issue of race is forever entwined with that flag and has been explored each and every time the arguments over it surface.  There is no doubt that it's offensive.  It causes public, visceral reactions and there are many more people who would like to see it banned than there are who see it as a more benign symbol of the South. 

    We can argue over and over that Southerners have no right to make light of or place any kind of reverence on a battle flag with a history of such vicious intent, but the fact is, many of them do.  They see it differently. 

    You can keep rehashing the reasons why they shouldn't, if it makes you feel better, and you can hate them for it, but the fact is, there is an acceptance of that flag in the South that you and I may not ever be able to understand.  But we can try.

    But when you try, what do you come up with?

    I thought that's what I was doing when I wrote this piece.

    The effort was appreciated.

    Thank you, PP.  Twice now I've written a comment to you and twice the Dag gods have rejected it.  Gone.  I just wanted to thank you for your Southern perspective.  It does seem there is something to that whole "eternal humiliation" thing, as if the secessionists and their ancestors must do penance for the rest of eternity.

    But I've pretty much said all I can say about it without repeating myself.  Just know I get what you're getting at.

    (So here I go.  Gonna try again.  Hoping the third time's a charm.)

    Thanks - I'm not even a good example of a Southerner, but 1 thing I tried to get across is that people seem to think living there it's day-to-day racism, when there were years went by where nothing racial was even discussed - I played hockey with a black kid and it was as completely uneventful as that clause. Aside from a few stupid racist jokes and youthful amusement at Soul Train or the local black radio station (who quite played up their morning patter like all AM radio), around the neighborhood there was never any talk of superiority or any worries/not even mention about civil rights, no big differentiation if something was done by a white or black person - we simply didn't care and were oblivious to it. The first 2 black kids at my school fit in very well, very nice kids, everyone seemed to like them, I'd recall any racist comments in my presence and there were none. Getting a bunch of white rednecks from the country to bolster the football team caused a much bigger stir. I don't pretend this was universal, but I imagine it was more common that folks think. Even now when I visit, the black ladies in the shops will launch into a 5 minute chat with me as if I've been living next door to them all my life - teasing, scolding, joking - and I wonder why my reality is so different from the angst-ridden discussions on these blogs.

    I see the same thing when I'm down there. I'm sure there are pockets of overt racism in some places there, but I've never seen it.  There are pockets of racism everywhere, including in my Michigan. 

    Where I live up north it can get ugly and the poorer and more disenfranchised these people get (They will not stop voting Republican) the uglier it gets.  People may be surprised at the white animosity against blacks here, but it has existed ever since Southern blacks started moving up to work in the Auto plants.  I hear more nasty comments in Michigan than I've ever heard in South Carolina.

    I posted a comment to PP addressing this issue. You are not the direct target of racial commentary and most Blacks don't go into detail about racial slights that Blacks have experienced. Your perception may be correct or it may be skewed. When Black teens responded to the murder of Trayvon Martin they indicated that there was still active and aggressive racism in Florida. Are these teens delusional.

    I think that I'm sensitive to women's issues, but I am often surprised by how much gets by me. Women in the family point out things that I have missed. Melissa Harris-Perry has panels of women that bring more enlightenment. Because I am not the direct target of misogyny, there are things that escape my notice. I try to pay attention to the experiences of the targets of bias rather than relying solely on my own experience.

    What I'm getting from this is that since I'm not the direct target I can't possibly know how a black person feels when they're under a racist attack.  You're absolutely right about that, I said as much here..  But I've been hurt enough in my life that I can imagine.  (I'm a woman, after all, and an old one at that.) 

    Are you really asking me if I think black teens are delusional for saying racism is alive and well in Florida?  Do you think I live in a cave up here in the north woods?

    You're suggesting that only someone who lives it can understand their feelings.  So consider this:  There are Southern whites who fly the Confederate flag for reasons you couldn't possibly fathom because you aren't one of them.  They may or may not be doing it to hurt your feelings.  They may or may not be doing it to honor fallen ancestors.  They may or may not be doing it because they see it as a cool Southern thing.  You don't know.  You can't know.  And yet you have no problem with making judgments about their motives. 

    Double standard?

    I'm not stopping them from raising their Confederate flag. They are free to convince me that I'm wrong if I mount a protest.

    It doesn't really matter what their motives are, Ramona. Nor is this really a question of "hurt feelings."

    You seem to think that someone can take an object that's been soaked in historical meaning...woven into its very fabric...and simply make it mean whatever you want.

    If that were true then, again, I could take the Nazi flag simply make it mean whatever I wanted it to mean.

    This issue gets confused when accusations of racism enter into it.

    CSA flag wavers may not have a racist bone in their bodies, but that still doesn't change the fact that the flag was created to symbolize a movement that sought to establish itself as a country whose purpose was to perpetuate slavery.

    Again, Peter, it's not what I think, it's what THEY think.  You keep wanting to equate it with the Nazi experience, and I get that, but I'll go back to the fact--the fact--that to many white southerners the Confederate flag is a Southern flag.  They don't see it as the flag of an illegitimate country, the founding of which was based on keeping slavery alive.

    I don't quite get why you think you can somehow change their perception by telling ME how wrong they are.

    It is unlikely that you can change the opinion of a person who says the earth is 6000 years old, that man plays no role in climate change, that Islamists are going to create voter fraud and bring in Sharia law so we need stricter ID laws, that Obama is a Muslim, etc, Slavery was the big issue in the Civil War and it is symbolized by the Confederate flags. Since people have mistaken beliefs about the age of the earth, climate change, voter fraud and Obama's faith, should we just stay silent and let them have their way, or should be present facts? Most people will double down on heir belief when presented with facts on the age of the earth, etc. Should we just humor them too?

    Nobody is asking you to stay silent.  Nobody HAS stayed silent.  The consensus is the flag is a racist remnant of a war fought over slavery.  The flag belonged to the side that fought to keep human beings enslaved.  Nobody with any sense of history questions that.

    It's not a matter, either, of humoring those who, 150 years later, might use it for different reasons.  It's simply a matter of trying to understand them.

    This is the core of our disagreement. I think I understand them better than you understand them. You don't see Confederate flags supporting the fight against Stand Your Ground or rallies against voter suppression. You don't even see efforts to counter the use of Confederate as a symbol of hatred by your "benign" flag supporters. If they want the image changed, they need to put in some effort. 

    Have you discussed the issue in detail with any of these folks. Do they trend Liberal or are they, in general, on the Conservative side of the isle? They still have a free speech right to fly the flag but my suspicions about their overall viewpoint would be confirmed. 

    Physicians are taught early on that using personal experience as a guide to treat patients can lead to disaster. In your example of personal experience, you reflect exactly that, your experience. The impressions of your Black classmates may have been totally different. You fail to account for this reality.  Reason examples of failure to consider a more harsh reality was demonstrated when the Duck Dynasty guy opined that Blacks were happy during Jim Crow. The reality is that Blacks knew that one of too things was true, complaining to a White person could lead to disaster or that there was nothing the White person could do anyway. When you detail your benign existence, you dismiss the complaints of Blacks because it doesn't fit inside the bubble you have created.

    No, I dismissed no one - I just noted *my experience*, that there was another reality in there that often gets ignored, which doesn't claim that racism doesn't exist or what all.

    To agree with Ramona, it also seemed to me that blacks in the south were happier and more carefree than those I met in Michigan - a lot of politics and grievance in the Detroit area - and I was also surprised by the voluntary self-segregation on campus. This, as is obvious, is not a statistical observation - simply anecdotal, but my anecdotes.

    Were Whites happier in the South?

    A person could say that women were happier in place A than in place B. The opinion is worthless if we don't have numbers to back it up. The observation merely serves to support a personal bias. Personal observations about happy Blacks really don't impart any real information. The example of the Duck Dynasty guy about happy Blacks in Jim Crow, for example, is worthless. 

    By "happy", they didn't have a big chip on their shoulder or run around shitting on everything that someone else says. Whatever life's difficulties, they still approached it with a good mood and kindness. No, whites I met didn't have this kind of happiness, in the north or in the south. I personally think it's a kind of grace they were blessed with culturally, but I'm sure you'll find some way to make that a racist insult.

    You approach things from a White Supremacist standpoint. You bristle when others point out that you fail to recognize racism. You dismiss observations that your arguments don't pass muster. Many realize that you have a blind spot.


    Beautiful - you call me a White Supremacist and then say I have a blind spot.

    I've never stated or implied that whites are inherently better than anyone else - and certainly pointed out places where they (we) have done worse.

    But you're obsessed with turning everything in the universe into racism only from your standpoint.

    I certainly acknowledge racism past and present, but fortunately I have something in my life besides it to dwell on. Ramona tries to reason with you - but in your head, no one else besides a black can understand racism or prejudice - it's all too complex, wow!

    [you could consider the grace to acknowledge or at least pretend that a 70-year-old woman who's probably experienced and witnessed enough sexism in her life and likely observed a lot of racism might have some clue - but no, grace is not part of your toolkit - you have a need to shut her down bluntly]

    Shorter RMRD: embrace my point of view 100% or you're a racist. And even if you embrace it, you really don't understand because you're not black.

    From my "White Supremacist standpoint", that's pretty racist - and worse, it shows a pathetically silly little mind. Fortunately I'm not racist enough to extrapolate your limitations to others.

    Of course you are not concerned about racism here in the United States, you somewhere in paradise. When I say that you view things from a White Supremacist context it comes across in your defense of of people like Beau. When I challenge a statement that the Confederate flag  was cool even during the Civil Rights era, you reflex was to come to his defense. I was asking for data that supported his statement. You said that your shared experiences should be enough. That means that instead of searching for data, I should let your White experience trump my Black experience. I was aware of data that the Confederate flag push cranked up higher during the Civil a Rights era. I was willing to look at data that showed something different.

    You then tell the story of your happy Southern a Blacks bringing forth the image of the Duck a Dynasty guy and the folks who, during the Civil Rights era, said that it was all those outside agitators who were spoiling Southern Blacks. The meme of things being spoiled by outsiders continues today with efforts to keep college students  born in other states from voting in certain states, many in the old Confederacy. It fits into a White Supremacist concept of things.

    My rigidity on the Confederate flag being an abomination that shouldn't be displayed in public is matched by your view of the flag as being a symbol of Southern pride and being a rebel. I see the rebel as being part and parcel of the obstruction we see from the GOP in Congress. I see the rebel as being the reason for voter suppression effort.You see the rebel as speaking truth to power and a great thing. Shorter Peracles Please, if I don't agree with you, then I am in the wrong.

    Regarding Ramona, my core difference is that she finds a more benign reason for people flying the Confederate than I. We will agree to disagree on this one issue. We will be in unison on other issues. Would she have a different view if she were a Black woman. Possibly.....probably. She is looking for harmony. I don't trust the Confederate flag wavers. We disagree on this issue.

    We are not going to agree. Feel free to respond to my White Supremacy comments. I am not going to make further comment on this aspect of the discussion.

    Too much insanity and diversion to respond to all.

    However, my memories were about a) me and the lack of civil rights issues in our different world, and b) southern blacks who weren't as uptight as you. - no Duck Dynasty. Really, you are unable to differentiate basic stuff.

    Re: Ramona - hopefully doesn't matter her skin color to understand people can have different reasons for the same action.

    Nowhere in anything PP had to say here suggests White Supremacy.  You water down your own argument when you resort to such hyperbole.  There is room for discussion here where both sides can honestly present their own opinions.  You've been allowed yours without anyone resorting to name-calling.  Please have the same consideration for others.

    See reply below

    I don't get this comment at all. I don't see how its eternally humiliating to say you don't get to wave the symbol of slavery and racism without public disapproval.

    Are the ancestors of Germans who fought in WWII humiliated because they can't wave a nazi flag?

    That's not the humiliation Ramona was talking about.

    I guess I haven't found your exploration of those meanings to be helpful.

    If everyone can and does make of the SnBs whatever they will, what is there to understand? Meaning, there's a different meaning for every individual who waves the flag. Okay. I can buy that.

    When I see a SnB waving from a car on the highway, I have no idea why he's waving it. I can buy that it could mean anything to him, but where does that get you?

    But it's worth noting, I think, that everyone having his own meaning doesn't change the principal history behind the flag. It was the standard for a group of states that chose to secede to protect slavery.

    I can sympathize with folks wanting to honor their dead. And as with all wars, I'm sure the soldiers had lots of different views as what they were fighting for. I'm more than certain that not all German soldiers held to the Nazi ideology.

    But the fact remains that these folks fought to protect and promote evil causes. And they did it under the banner of these flags which symbolized these causes and ideologies. Someone is welcome to say that, to them, the SnB is simply something to lie down on while watching the moon rise over the river and sipping a few beers.

    Okay. Fair enough. I don't quite buy explanations like this because they don't quite explain all the affection for it and attachment to it. Anyone is welcome to say anything they want--who am I to object?


    Most of the hoopla around the SnBs has centered around its use in official state flags and thus their use in state governments. To me, this is fundamentally wrong. It's wrong unless someone is going to state that southern blacks, somehow, aren't really "Southerners" and don't need to be considered in selecting and using these collective symbols. Unless and until, the symbol can be reconstructed in a way that includes all Southerners and not only the chattel owners, then it should be banned from these uses. If you want to paint it onto the roof of your car, well, go ahead. You might also want to write up a brochure explaining what the flag means to "you," because a lot of people are going to misunderstand you and for very understandable reasons.

    There's also the secessionist element. With all the talk about treason that seems to emanate from the conservative regions of our country (hint, hint, wink, wink), I would think that folks would be a little more careful about sporting a flag that was a symbol of high treason.

    Momoe points to something else that's important.

    The Nazi ideology was rejected by most Germans because of the disaster that it brought upon their country. They didn't fight a civil war--Nazis v anti-Nazis--they were crushed by outside forces; the country was destroyed. Had the Nazis been successful, many Germans would've embraced the flag and what it stood for. IOW, they rejected Nazi symbols because they had very little choice; Naziism, they saw, had been a suicide pact, and they came to their senses.

    Despite the horrific destruction, this isn't what happened in the South. If the defeat and subsequent Reconstruction had been as thorough in the South as it was in Germany and Japan, then we might not have had 100 or so years of Jim Crow. Of segregation. Of lynchings.

    In Germany, Naziism was wiped out; in the South, the ideology that fueled the Civil War was not wiped out. Yes, slavery was outlawed and slaves were freed, but if white folks couldn't own blacks, then they could force them to use separate bathrooms and oppress them in other ways.

    This is why the continued affection for the SnB is somewhat suspect, as RM points out, and puts folks on guard. The aftermath of the Civil War has sort of tribbled out over 150 years or so; the stream gets thinner and thinner, but it's still discernible.

    Yes the stream is getting thinner. Younger generations are less racist then their parents.  They are more influenced by social media on line, even in the south, that is progressive about human rights. They have even made friends on line in other countries of different races and religions. 

    Harrison, Arkansas was a hotbed of activity for the Klan and the White Christian movement. There were even squabbles about which group was the purest White group. Now, businesses and government are trying to uproot the groups  and remove the racial stigma. Times are changing.

    Because both hate groups cling to the Confederate flag and face no direct confrontation from "benign" Confederate flag wavers upset about "misuse" of the SnB, the tarnish on the flag will remain. The haters will control the image of the flag.

    What happened in the South, as I read it, is that they sanitized the history after the war. It was no longer about slavery, but about states' rights and the "lost cause" and a "way of life" and lots of things that were easier to digest. No doubt many southerners grew up on this gentler diet and came to associate those things with the flag.

    I hereby render unto Peter the Dayly Line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, Given to all of him from all of me with all my thanks!
    the end




    These awards always make my Dayly. LOL

    Even though I come down pretty hard on one side of this issue, I can see the points Ramona and PP are making. In fact, I'm now wondering whether PP's contrarian instincts are "a Southern thing."

    I do believe that part of the problem here is that the South never reconciled itself to having truly lost and truly been in the wrong. To be sure, there was a rebellion, and to be sure, it was about certain states asserting their independence.

    But being rebellious, anti-authoritarian, and a states' rights advocate is NOT what the war was about. That's the gloss the South put on it later instead of giving in and saying, "We were wrong." Instead they said, "We lost, but we weren't wrong."

    So now, a bunch of folks who are ignorant of history, or who've accepted a T.V. version of the past, can sport the stars 'n bars without "being racist" or having racist thoughts and attitudes. But so what? If you're black (mostly) and have a conscience, you have a pretty understandable reaction. I'm sure the same thing happens when the Union Jack is raised in Belfast or the American flag is seen on Indian reservations.

    Byron Thomas is being provocative or is simply ignorant when he says, "Ignorance gave that flag a bad name, ignorant people like the KKK." No, Jeff Davis et al did.

    I keep thinking about all those WWII-era German military cemeteries. How do Germans process seeing their parents and grandparents and great grandparents lying there? Knowing they died in the service of unadulterated evil. To be sure, many of them were good people. Hopefully, they can hold on to their familial affections without trying to whitewash the Nazi cause as something it was not.

    Ramona, the stars 'n bars have been sanitized and made to stand for something they did not stand for.

    Just a word about "regional" pride. The S 'n Bs was not a regional flag. It was the flag of a nascent country created in secession from the mother country. The flag is about regional pride only to the degree that the South doesn't quite want to admit that they lost and history has moved on.

    The contrarian side shows in the ability to make up facts. The Soutthern argument becomes that the Civil War was not about slavery. The next shift is that the wrong racist flag is being discussed. If you argue that Southerners have an incorrect view of history, you are a cussed of holding a 150-year old grudge. You will be told that everyone was fine with displaying the Confedrate flag even during the Civil a Rights era. If things were kept to the past tense, things would not be so bad, but they keep up the antebellum attitude to the current day. The urge to suppress minority votes has its roots in the control the Blacks attitude that provided the air to the rippling Confederate flags. 

    The contrarian view also tries to convince you that a television show that depicted the Confederate flag was loved by everyone. The truth is that groups like the NAACP did oppose the flag depiction. In fact, a toy company that manufactured the "General Lee" model car were forced to remove the flag from the top of the car.

    Southerners are free to display Confederate flags. Those who find that the Confederate flag dishonors their ancestors have a free speech right to express their displeasure. Opponents of the Confederate flag(s) are not obligated to give an inch. 


    Edit to add: 

    Even NASCAR is distancing itself from the Confederate flag (and the "General Lee")

    As I said above, we can keep rehashing the reasons why we need to take the flying of that flag as an affront, but it won't change the fact that not everybody sees it that way.

    I don't think it's a matter of being ignorant of or attempting to revise history.  I think it's more a matter of getting comfortable with a symbol that belongs only to them--if that makes any sense.

    The temperament of the South is baffling in many ways, not least in their politics.  It could be that losing the war caused something to be embedded in their DNA.  I don't know.  But I'm fascinated by this never-ending issue over the Confederate flag.  If it's not PC, I'm fine with that.

    The flag love is interesting pathology. The political actions taken as an outgrowth of the concepts imbedded in the flag are more important. The push to limit access to health care, cut education,, suppress women's rights and voting rights all seem tied to the same stubborn in your face strain that supports the Confederate flag. 

    Some of that might be true, but you're assuming it all is.  If the people of the South were all sheep that might make sense, but they're clearly not.  You're assigning a lot of responsibility to a symbol.  What do you see when you look at the Stars and Stripes?

    This is very easy. I see the flag that was flown when my ancestors fought for the Union. Not always perfect, but capable of change. Whatever version of the Confederate flag I see is a symbol of a people who were willing to see my ancestors enslaved. I will repeat, the descendants of the Confederates have a free speech right to peddle whatever nonsense they wish. The states where the Confederate flag nonsense becomes an issue is also the region that is trying to keep people who look like me from voting and getting healthcare. They were crazy in the 1860s and they are crazy today.

    I am not talking about all Whites in the state because many of then care about the Confederate flag as much as I do. I tam talking about the ones I identified above. I don't understand why it falls on others to stand aside while a Confederate flag is shoved in our faces. I am willing to spend as much time trying to understand their feelings as they are willing to understand mine.

    They can display their precious flag. They can expect pushback from those who see the flag as a symbol of racism. What obligation do those who support the Confederate flag have to the rest of us?

    There are many people around the world and even in our own country who despise our flag.  They despise it for what in their eyes it represents.  Sometimes they may even have a case, but we, as Americans who love our country, cry foul whenever someone desecrates our flag. 

    I want to scream when I see our flag being burned in some foreign square.  It's not just a patch of cloth, it's a living representation of my country, and whatever grievances they might have, they just lost me by attacking our flag.  I'm that emotional about it.

    They're counting on that kind of reaction or they wouldn't waste their time.   They know that the one way they can get our attention is by attacking our country's main symbol--a simple banner, but one we've given properties that are almost magical.  Men and women fought and died for that flag and their sacrifices are stitched right into the fabric.

    It's like that.  Right or wrong.

    When I see the Confederate flag, I see the symbol of a bunch of arrogant, racist yahoos who refuse to admit they lost a war. If they want to visit Confederate graves on Veteran's Day, they are free to do so. When they want to parade the flag in public, I will consider their feelings as much as they consider mine. They feel no obligation to me, I feel no obligation to respect their feelings. I will peacefully protest. I will shame them. They dishonor my ancestors, they dishonor my family and they dishonor me.

    So the only way they could consider your feelings is by removing their flag from your sight. 

    And you'll condescend to allow them to visit Confederate graves on one day out of the year. 

    But nix on parading that flag in public, or else. 

    They're arrogant, racist yahoos who dishonor you and your family so they need to be shamed. 

    But otherwise you can live with them. 

    In America.

    Got it.

    That pretty much sums it up.

    I cannot prevent anyone from flying the Confederate flag. I can protest when they do. On a practical level, I am going to spend more time countering Confederate flag wavers beliefs because I expect them to support voter suppression, expanding healthcare, and to be misogynistic and homophobic. I'll spend more time fighting them for having Conservative politics than protesting the Confederate flag. 

    I see no reason why I don't have the right to publicly shame Confederate flag wavers. It's just not going to consume a significant amount of my time.

    Ramona believes the Confederate States of America are like France or Great Britain.

    This might seem like a shocking failure in reasoning, as France and Great Britain have long and storied histories and long lists over hundreds of years of great citizens from a multitude of social and scientific fields who have advanced western civilization. Both also still exist. 

    The CSA started with rebel cannon fire at a US fort in South Carolina and ended after 4 years of war. The CSA lost it's battle make slavery and lynching, or raping, black folks a white man's privilege......There is nothing in the way of accomplishments in the history of the CSA except precipitating the most deadly war in US history.

    BeauEvil says the Confederate States of America were precious, something to be proud of cause white folks wanted their independence. White folks deserved to be free. And BTW allowed to buy and sell black folks. That is what the flag means to him.

    BeauEvil says Lincoln was a tyrant, and hippies in Hollywood made slave holders look like bad guys. I guess the hippies invented time machines and went back to 1860 too.

    Ergo, Ramona can't grasp why anyone who would be dishonored by folks like BeauEvil waving the Stars and Bars...


    France occupied Algeria for 150 years, proclaiming it not just a colony but an integral part of France. She killed 1 million Algerians in her messy departure from Africa in 1961, aside from her reputation with cruelty from the Isle d'If to the guillotine to Devil's Island to its slave plantations in Haiti and French Guiana and of course its colonies in SE Asia, and nowadays they have their popular racists like LePen and daughter ironically asking Arabs to go back home. Thanks for the little lecture about how important France's contribution to mankind has been, but the people are still racist murderous shitheads like much of our European forbears. We can't change who we are.

    Great Britain of course was who controlled the seas and thus slave boats - over 10,000 slave trips from Liverpool, London & Bristol - who led slavery into the Caribbean where it was much bigger than what we had in the colonies (sugar cane harvesting in Jamaica and Trinidad was big money). But they were equal time racists - the sun never sets on British atrocities, from the Black Hole of Calcutta/the East India Tea Company enslaving all India to Churchill's massacres protecting oil in Iraq to Cecil Rhodes' massive black-worked diamond mines in Africa to a man-line across Tasmania to clear out the last aborigine to the Indian wars west of the Appalachians. But the Brits do sound quaint saying "wah-tuh" and "shedule" and talking about Oxford this and Eaton that, so let's not bicker about who killed who - it's a happy occasion, as Monty Python would say.

    Both still exist because they were more effective at enchaining the world around them, though in the end both lost their empires as well - even Napoleon got sacked, poor guy, but not till he'd ripped up Europe and Egypt a few years.

    Really, one of the dumbest elitist comments ever. I'd give you a Dick Day award, but he's too busy fuming over flags.

      France and Britain gave the world good things too. More importantly, neither France or Britain were created  for the purpose of preserving slavery when other people were trying to get rid of it.

    Wow, so a few hundred years of slave-driving doesn't matter as long as you quit at the right time. Very persuasive. A moral code with lots of asterisks.

    As near as I can tell, the South didn't want to quit.

    If it had been up to them, they wouldn't have quit and, in fact, would've worked to spread slavery to the other states.

    This isn't a matter of the North quit on Friday and couldn't wait for the South to quit on Monday.

    But the main point here (because Ramona is talking about the flag) isn't the relative blamelessness of the two sides. The point is that one side still wants to wave the "war flag" of over 150 years ago.

    "More importantly, neither France or Britain were created  for the purpose of preserving slavery when other people were trying to get rid of it.

    ""As near as I can tell, the South didn't want to quit.

    If it had been up to them, they wouldn't have quit "

    From what I recall of Gandhi's "Quit India" movement, the British didn't much want to quit either - they imprisoned 60,000 in 1942 when Gandhi announced it - if it hadn't been for WWII and the large scale exhaustion with these colonies, the Brits would have never left.

    The French showed no eagerness to give up their plantations in Algeria and Indochina either - took 2 bloody revolutions to send them packing, but not before they killed over a million people.

    Next excuse?

    What does the UK or French example have to do with this discussion?

    That certain formerly colonized countries and lands (some folks within them) still puke at the flag of their former colonizers?

    And with good reason?

    Well yes! For the same reasons a lot of people puke at the sight of the CSA flag. Or the Nazi flag. How does this advance your argument?

    Part of the problem with these analogies is they aren't analogous, really. We had a civil war; the South tried to break away and got brought back in. They had colonial wars. Yes, these lands had been part of the French and English empires, but the right path was breaking away, not coming back in. They were different peoples and lands, not one people divided by a cause. That's one.

    Point two is that England and France were are much bigger "enterprises" for lack of a better word than the CSA. Though the Empire was central to England, there was and is an England apart from the Empire. Same for France. There wasn't anything more to secession than the South's desire to preserve slavery. Minus this sticking point there would have been no war or secession; they would've stayed with the country of which they were already a part and which they'd helped found.

    So when a non-involved person looks at the Union Jack or Tricouleur, it is possible to see a variety of things. For example: Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see anything close to that kind of symbolism in the CSA.

    One sign of this is that in all the ink we've spilled, no one has been able to adduce anything other than "Southern pride," "bong hits," "rebelliousness," "keeping warm," and "staying clean under a car."

    And frankly, "Southern pride" has to be changed to "White Southern pride" because one finds a vanishingly small number of black Southerners who feel that pride and want to express it with the CSA flag. That says something about the flag's social and historical role as a symbol. And as you pointed out, it was a WAR flag and one that was only in use as such for four years. As a WAR flag, it inevitably brings one back to the WAR and what it was all about.

       Peracles didn't use to engage in this misrepresentation of what others were saying.  But I wouldn't have guessed that he was a supporter of Pinochet, so there must be a side to him we weren't aware of.

    Correction: I'm not a supporter of Pinochet - I'm an opponent of movements and ideologies that kill millions, whether fascism, communism, unfettered capitalism, radical Islam or racial supremacy.

    Chinese communism in the 50's/60's killed some 30+ million and enslaved Tibet and Xinjiang. Russian communism in the same period wasn't as insanely murderous as in the 20's & 30's but enslaved about 20 different countries. Communism in several other countries in the same period killed hundreds of thousands each.

    I make the assumption that if you're a big fan of a murderous ideology put in charge of a country and begging for help from murderous thugs, sooner or later there's going to be an atrocity - call me whacko if you like.

    As I pointed out, Gusmão acknowledged that his group's radical Marxist stage was a mistake that brought justified resistance from the West - eventually they took a turn and won independence.

    I also pointed out countries like Czechoslovakia that had pluralistic election victories that they then turned into repressive, bloody Communist dictatorships.

    So when a naïve Chilean politician intent on nationalizing most everything in Chile and goes begging to Moscow and Havana for aid and military support, I just assume he's criminally stupid, whether he's intent on a brutal dictatorship or not.

    You also perhaps still don't understand that it could have been much worse - that Suharto's purge of Communists after their failed coup in Indonesia killed a half million people.

    Yes, it could have been better as well, and sadly it wasn't. But it was just one of many atrocities - for some reason many on the left are still obsessed with this smaller one 40 years later, and not the larger ones at the time in Guatemala, Congo, Indonesia, Algeria, Uganda, Haiti, et al. People seem to be very selective with their historical outrage - I'm trying to correct that a bit and put it in historical and relative perspective.

      First, people on the left do care about what happened in Central America, Indonesia, and Haiti. At the time, they were the ones making a fuss about it. I'm surprised that Peracles brings up  Guatemala. Guatemala is where we overthrew another socialist--one who also developed a fondness for Castro-- and installed another murderous gang of tyrants. Shouldn't Peracles support that too, on  the grounds that it saved Guatemala from Communism? And why doesn't Peracles support Reagan's actions in Nicaragua, since the Sandinistas were also Marxists, and also friends of Castro and the Soviet Union? If Allende's socialism is proof that he was going to set up a Stalinist state and kill huge numbers of people, then that means Arbenz and Ortega would have too.


      Also, I think that if we support the installation of  Pinochet, we have to be considered supporters of Pinochet.

    Guatemala - the redistribution of fallow lands under a socialist was a much more modest, required measure than what Allende proposed. The US *always* says a country's going communist - we did that with Iran/Mossadegh, Guatemala, Chile, Sandanistas in Nicaragua, Yemen (going Al Qaeda), elsewhere. 

    What you don't seem to understand is I actually look at context - the Sandinistas came in after a dictator who controlled over 90% of the land. Of course they had to redistribute. I don't recall the Guatemalan socialist sucking up to the Russians and his main opponent was United Fruit - who I've condemned before, while the Guatemalan rightist slaughtered some 200,000 Mayans (it is possible that my threshold of atrocity is about 10,000 or so - if it were less frequent I might become less desensitized). If Allende had just nationalized the copper mines and a few other things, I'd be less critical - as I noted, I supported Hugo Chavez - but Allende seemed something like Bush, taking a small victory (only 36%, a plurality) and making it a mandate for radical change. I'm less of a fan of overthrowing him than simply understanding it. 

    I also don't think the US should be in the business of training torture and death squads, as in the School of the Americas, and propping up brutal conservative dictators in the name of preventing possibly more brutal socialist dictators isn't exactly an elegant admirable strategy. If we can take a positive role encouraging both economic growth and democratic institutions (such as Soros has helped with) it's a better strategy - even a bit humane. But unfortunately, a Soros isn't always around.

       Imperialism can always be "understood".  Allende, Arbenz, Mossadegh, and Ortega were all interfering with Washington's economic interests, so they were taken out. And Ortega did "suck up" to the Russians, so Peracles should understand the ravaging of Nicaragua as well as he understands the overthrow of Allende.  I don't see that destroying democracy is more palatable if the victim has nationalized several industries, as opposed to one. Certainly the CIA didn't see a moral difference. Peracles gave the impression that he supported Allende's overthrow; he said there were good reasons for doing it, and he never condemned it.

     It's also strange to complain about the United States engaging in murder and destruction, but  to support one of our most murderous and destructive wars-i.e. Vietnam.  But we've covered that sufficiently, I guess.

    For Vietnam we never discussed what could have been done better. Most people still deny it was even necessary - giving Ho the benefit of doubt of just being a nice patriotic guy who hardly killed any civilians. Obviously Agent Orange etc. were horrid - what would have been a reasonable way to help Vietnam against French/US colonialist and inhumane communist North Vietnam/China/Russia and corrupt/immature internal South Vietnamese leaders?

      Come on, you know I didn't say Ho "hardly killed any civilians".  Even Fall's 50,000, which I accept(I can't say for sure that it wasn't more, although I think the U.S. government is likely to exaggerate) isn't "hardly any". The 39,000 is also quite a lot, although our side killed a lot more, besides devastating the countryside.

     The best thing for the Americans to do was to leave the Vietnamese alone. It wasn't Washington's right to impose a regime that most of them didn't want, and imposing it cost probably two million lives. The millions that Stalin and Mao killed have nothing to do with Vietnam; even Ho's purges in the fifties don't have much relevance to the war, cuz the war didn't save those people.

    Okay, to me, this post says something important about what you're generally trying to do. I think it's valuable to look at the particulars and not just broad brush every situation. You may be right or wrong about the particulars, but the particulars should be discussed and evaluated.

    I'm still waiting for a Beau to give me instances where the Confederate flag was cool in the Civil Rights era (or anytime really). I think I've got a long wait .

    In the 21st century controversy over the legitimacy of the 19th century Confederate battle flag, one question remains unanswered:  What does it mean to those who want to fly it?

    The answer:  Anything they want it to mean.

    Fair enough. But you open with the above, and I think it's pretty manifestly wrong, and the sense in which it's true is trivial. To be sure, someone can use any symbol and say that it means what they wish it to mean. But so what?

    For example, I could say, "Ramona, that apple is blue," and then explain that when I say "blue," I mean a color that most people see as red. We can attach personal (or even group) meanings to any symbol.

    I could don a KKK outfit and walk down the street, and when folks looked at me and asked, I could say, "I wear this because it reminds me of France, where I'm from." Fair enough. Who's to claim otherwise?

    But here's the thing, a symbol is a means of communicating something between people. And if I want the KKK outfit to mean "a fondness for France," then I'm going to have to do some real work to make that so, and it's probably going to be an uphill battle. Or...I can rest content with people thinking I'm a KKKer. My choice.

    I don't follow much news about flags in general, but if I'm not mistaken most of the controversy around the SnBs centered around its use in state flags and at public ceremonies. Now a whole bunch of people could say that they want the SnB in the flag and flying over the capital buildings because it represents "Southern pride."

    Unfortunately, the South and those States existed long before the Confederacy seceded, and there are a LOT of residents of those States for whom that flag represents evil. If you're going for a symbol that represents "all of us" Southerners, then that symbol is a bad, bad choice. It doesn't matter how many other people say, "Naw, that flag is all about Southern Pride."

    And how do we know that what those people really mean is that it reminds of the good ole days when folks had manners and everyone knew his place? The powerful thing about symbols is that they can visually "glue together" a lot of disparate meanings.

    And how do we know that what those people really mean is that it reminds of the good ole days when folks had manners and everyone knew his place? The powerful thing about symbols is that they can visually "glue together" a lot of disparate meanings.

    Uh huh.  Which is why I opened with, "It can mean anything they want it to mean."

    The group called "Sons of Confederate Soldiers" say the battle flag is a "soldiers flag" and consequently is not representative of the states, but is, rather, the flag their ancestors carried and is deserving as a visual remembrance of their sacrifice.  They want to see it flown at Civil War memorials and monuments, but to others any public viewing of that flag brings up the pain of slavery.

    Who is right?

    As long as someone says sincerely what it means to them, then they're "right."  It means that to them.  Sometimes we have symbols and terms and phrases that mean something benign to us, but is highly offensive to someone else.  So we have to balance our right to say and display what we want and the reaction others may have.  

    At a place I recently worked at, the word "bitch" became off limits, even though both males and females were used to using it in playful banter, because there was one person who demanded it never be uttered.  So people respected that, even though occasionally a friendly reminder not to use the word had to be made. 

    This is similar to the whole debate over the name "Redskins" for the Washington NFL team.  It isn't about who is right, as much as how much we are willing to do something we don't necessarily agree with in order to please someone who is being offended.

    Yes, that is the question. Its important to remember that many developed nations with free speech rights have differing views on what constitutes protected speech. Many countries ban or limit hate speech. For example both Germany and France ban all public display of all nazi symbols.

    "In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one's legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment," Frederick Schauer, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, wrote in a recent essay called "The Exceptional First Amendment."

    "But in the United States," Schauer continued, "all such speech remains constitutionally protected."

    In America we protest hate speech and use public disapproval to push it to the fringes.. That's the fight we see happening with the confederate flag. Those who believe it a symbol of slavery and racism are attempting to raise people's consciousness as to its history and push back against the sanitizing of that history. There has been some successes, many restaurants and businesses have removed the confederate flag from their establishments. But many also have not.

    In the end the public will answer the question as to who is right. I've been pretty clear which side I'm on. I think the confederate flag should occupy the same place in the public square as the Nazi flag i.e. relegated to the fringe by overwhelming public disapproval.

    I think when you equate the Confederate flag with the Nazi flag it's a sign there is no wiggle room.  I'll leave it at that.

    If you are black in particular, then the CSA flag IS the same as the Nazi flag. Why wouldn't it be? Racial hatred based upon biological theories of inferiority. Outright ownership of another human being. They didn't gas them, I grant you.

    Sounds sort of like you want some wiggle room to say that the CSA wasn't really about slavery somehow. Or it was about many things, one of which was slavery. It's okay with me if you want to make this argument; I'm here to discuss. But it sounds like you're making the argument that the Nazis were only about hatred and extermination and thus were worse than the CSA, which was about many things, only one of which was slavery.

    But let's take the Nazis and your comment here:

    "...the flag their ancestors carried and is deserving as a visual remembrance of their sacrifice.  They want to see it flown at Civil War memorials and monuments, but to others any public viewing of that flag brings up the pain of slavery."

    Why is the CSA flag somehow appropriate as a solemn memorial, but the Nazi flag is not? We recoil at this idea, but what's the difference, really? I do believe Germany has war cemeteries for their WWII dead and has probably tried to honor its dead in some way--as they should. These guys didn't fight for Bonn and Willy Brandt; they fought for Hitler. That's what they did.

    I mean, we've all moved on. My roommate's father my freshman year fought for Germany in WWII. It was a bit weird for me meeting someone with his past at first (though it wouldn't have been had I been living in Germany). He was perfectly nice. He worked for Agfa, and later, his son did, too. They spoke German at home.

    Was Ralph's father not supposed to grieve and honor the friends he lost in battle? And while he was grieving and honoring, what sort of story was he supposed to tell himself? That Helmut died for the greater glory of Germany? Yes, in a way. But in a bigger way, no, he fought for the Third Reich. He fought so that the TR and its leaders and policies might prevail. Of course, like most grunts, he was probably just scooped up in the war effort and sent to the front lines. Just fodder for the machine.

    But I doubt they put swastikas on military gravestones. That would be to honor an unjust cause. The same is true, IMHO, of the SnBs. Yes, the sacrifice of the Southern dead should be honored, but the cause of protecting slavery should not be.

    I've seen estimates by historians that 15 to 60 million slaves lost their lives. 30% during capture, 15% during passage, and 35% during containment on American shores and during the first year. Without even considering the suffering of a life of slavery that's a major atrocity in the history of mankind. I don't think it trivializes the suffering and genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany to believe that slavery was an equivalent atrocity. Just slow motion over a few hundred years instead of several years.

    I don't see any reason the confederate flag should be open to rehabilitation any more than I think the nazi flag should be rehabilitated.


    As you note - over a few hundred years, under British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian, US and various Arab flags. The Confederate flag was in use for 4 years for a war, and US slave practice was 10% of slavery in the Americas. Then there comes salt mines in India, diamond mines in Africa, etc., etc.

    So your analogy is (a bit facetiously) like banning the flag of Hannover for being a symbol of Nazi atrocities.

    A subtle(?) difference is the Confederate flag was a *war* flag used for 4 years of rebellion as a symbol of the southern states - not a symbol used at every political rally for 25 years on flags and armbands and cars as a symbol of a particular ideology focused on racial superiority that then committed genocide.

    If the rebel flag had been part of every plantation and slave auction the way that "Arbeit Macht Frei" and the swastika adorned concentration camps and trains to doom, it'd be easier to see why this flag would carry such horror. As it is, I'd think the mere mention of "cotton field" would bring much more shock and visceral disgust to blacks than the flag, but I'm obviously not in a position to judge.

    Okay, this is worth thinking about.

    If the SnB--I actually did a little research on the CSA flag last night, and it appears that a different flag was the real SnB, something closer, in fact, to the US flag--was only used for four years in association with the rebellion...

    And the rebellion is over, yes...

    Then it seems to me that it's served its purpose and should go into the museum. It's worth noting that the war/rebellion flag may not have been flying at every plantation, but it was flying as the standard of rebellion to preserve the plantation and slave auction. I think that's right.

    Anyway, there's no issue around individuals flying the flag whenever they want and to mean whatever they want. Fine. But they shouldn't be surprised when it gets a certain reaction, either. Even if I have a mental ticker with all the possible meanings the flag could represent to the waver, one of those possible meanings is the rebellion for which it stood and the way of life for which the South rebelled.

    If the waver wants to avoid others taking his flag to mean that, then maybe he needs a second flag that says, "The first flag just reminds me of the grits I used to eat as a kid. Boy were they yummy." Up to him, however.

    But I do agree that we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that just because a person is waving the CSA war flag he is a racist, etc., etc. Who knows what he believes? No one does unless you ask him.

    However, I draw a line at the war flag being used as a state flag or as an inset in the state flag. And this is really where the controversy has raged.

    At that point, you're ignoring the feelings and history of a sizeable portion of your native population of Georgians, etc., and saying they don't count. Of course, individuals have all kinds of feelings about flags and everything else, but a flag is designed to represent a collectivity, a group, a state, a people and their aspirations. And for most black people, I'd wager, the CSA flag represents the fight to preserve slavery and later Jim Crow, etc. So unless, "you" want to say, "Black people don't count," or "Let's create or reinforce a race-based division in our state," then it's not a smart move. Unless your goal is to appeal only to certain white people in your state.

    To bring it back to Ramona's thesis: I don't think a state or any governmental body can reasonably fly the CSA flag (or any flag) and then say, "Well heck, that flag can mean anything to you that you want it to mean." That's not the function of an official flag; that's not how an official decision to adopt a certain flag as THE official flag works, IMO.

    Just to shift gears a bit...

    One of the sources of Southern resentment around this whole issue (as I read it) is the implication that the South was racist and the North was not.

    The other point of resentment has been the implication that slavery was an economic system whose benefits accrued only to the South.

    In fact, as I read it, the entire country benefited from relatively cheap agricultural products and exports. And beyond this, the major slave traders were from the North, including the author of Amazing Grace.

    Why should the South be pinned with the sin of slavery while the North escapes opprobrium? The whole country was implicated. MLK noted that the racism he encountered in Chicago, I think it was, would put a Southerner to shame.

    Some have argued that slavery, as an economic engine, was on its way out. Geo. Washington, for example, saw at a certain point that his slaves cost him much more than they made him.

    Had the cotton gin not been invented, it's possible--I hope this limb is thick enough to hold my weight!--that slavery would have been abandoned entirely.

    If true, these are good points to keep in mind, IMO. It doesn't affect the arguments about the flag, but it does take some of the energy off the "English" that gets put onto some of these North-South arguments. We don't want to say that, "everyone was guilty, so no one was guilty," but still, some perspective is worth keeping in mind.

    All this said, RM makes great points about the current attempts at voter suppression and how the CSA flag can play into emotive parts of the issue.

    The argument that Northern racism is ignored is bogus. People remember that Delaware and Maryland were slave states. People know that Martin Luther King operated in the North. Jesse Jackson's Operation Push was based in Chicago. The idea that the North gets a pass is another dodge used by Southern apologists. In New York City, mere blocks from the 9/11 museum in lower Manhattan sits the African Burial Ground Museum, a tribute to slaves dug up while constructing high rises. Instead of raising Confederate flags honor the tortured slaves.

    When Southerners make this type of argument, they look as bad as Kentuckian Rand Paul fumbling and mumbling as he tried to teach Blacks at Howard University something about Black history and the GOP. They should just stop.

    Southerners catch flack because they tend to lead the way of the desires of the Black voting public. The fact that they want to celebrate their obstructive tendencies with a racist flag is rubbing salt into a wound. As Dick Day would say, Fuck Them.The end.

    You make good points.


    Just my personal experience of growing up on the west coast and in a generally liberal environment both at home and the school, and watching tv and such, and yes the North were the "good guys" fighting slavery and the South were the "bad guys" trying to keep slavery. In the fifth grade, I got personally interested in the underground railroad. The books I read as I remember them, was basically there were a few "good" whites in the South who helped the slaves escape to the land of the good folks in the North.  So on the surface of the cultural consciousness, these facts about where Jesse Jackson operated don't really have much strength.

    The South has to answer for its own sins rather than passing off the blame especially when they want you to consider the Confederate flag as a norm. 

    True, but the reality of the cultural conditioning most people are put through,especially as children, and rarely challenged as adults (dancing with the stars doesn't do it etc etc) has to be considered.  I doubt most people even really know who Jesse Jackson is, let alone about the Rainbow Coalition and his role with MLK.  Answering for sins is a very complex and scary thing, and just saying people should do it seems to imply that it is, even though I know it isn't.

    Not exactly sure what you are saying here. From my perspective because the South is known for things like celebrating the Confederate flag, it draws scrutiny. When arguments are made to place said flags on state office buildings, they draw more scrutiny. The Southern argument is then made that the south is being scrutinized. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting a Rights a Act, Southern states were the first to attack voting rights. It seems that Southern actions in the present day support the antebellum image.

    Politically, when we here of Moral Mondays in North Carolina and The Dream Defenders in Florida, the protests against Southern government oppression support the stereotype. Add the Confederate flag to the mix and simmer.


    Raising a flag is often a collective act.

    The flag is a symbol of a collective.

    So I agree with you there...

    However, "collective guilt" is a tricky concept.

    "Collective" in the sense that the actions of Conservative Governors and legislatures define the state for most. North Carolina is viewed as falling backwards racially despite the obvious action of Moral Mondays. Florida is views with skepticism because of Stand Your Ground and other issues. Because they are Southern states it feeds into the theme.


    Southern cotton was processed in Northern mills and shipped on Northern boats which also for a time brought more slaves on same ships. I don't think they share the same amount of blame as those who actually imprisoned blacks and worked them in horrific conditions, but they were to some extent complicit, economically and morally.

    And I doubt if one of their daughters or sons brought home a person of color home and announced they were engaged, there would be hugs and congrats going around the room.

    There is much of our history as a country and as a nation that remains buried  and forgotten. We want simple story lines with clear heroes and villains.  Complexity, ambiguity, and conflicting sides to the people and events who make up our history unsettle us for a host of reasons.  We just want to focus on the "Greatest Generation" that came out of WWII in the  fight against the obvious pure villain Hitler.  Or Godzilla or zombies or whatever.

    The complexity still doesn't support the Confederate flag as something that should not be debated.

    I am not saying it shouldn't be debated.  But that the context within which it resides is so vast it makes debate a very difficult thing, one in which needs to be treaded upon with care.  We are all bringing our agendas to the game, so to say, stepping into one of the country's most complex historical moments.  I would go as far as to say it is its most complex moment, even more so than Vietnam War because of the fact none of us were there at the time it happened. 

    I think you mean "...should be debated..."

    Which is why I opened with, "It can mean anything they want it to mean."

    Ramona, I'm afraid this is where we part company. A flag can't mean anything you want it to mean. It comes with inherited and imposed meanings that restrict the "anything." The CSA flag, for example, can't stand for equality and friendship between blacks and whites no matter how hard you try to make it mean that.

    Maybe...maybe...after many decades of work, it could come to mean that, but you can't simply hoist it above your house and say, "This flag stands for equality between blacks and whites." It's already saying a lot of other things.

    Peter, I didn't say it could mean anything YOU want it to mean.  I said it can (and does) mean anything THEY want it to mean.  This entire conversation whirls around the notion that, based on historical fact, a specific flag has only one meaning and nothing will change that.  I say that's not necessarily true.

    I personally don't believe and have never said that the Confederate flag might stand for equality and friendship between blacks and whites, and I can't imagine that anybody would ever believe that, no matter how long the planet stays afloat.

    What I presented here for consideration is the thought that not everybody who flies that flag is doing it because they're racist, even though that seems to be the prevailing notion.  I don't expect that everyone will agree, but I really hate having to choke on words people keep insisting on putting in my mouth.

    Ramona, I think we need to share a cuppa Joe and talk this over. Somehow, we're sort of writing past each other.

    For example, I would say the pronoun here doesn't matter either. You, they, he, she or it--in short, anyone--cannot simply take an object and make it mean whatever he, she or they want it to mean. Especially not one that was created for a particular purpose, as this one was.

    Unless, unless they do a lot of work to make it mean that. A lot of work between people. Symbols can change their meanings but it takes time and work.

    But if you're going to say that "they" can have the flag mean whatever they want it to mean, then I think you have to allow for the possibility that "they" might want it to mean that blacks and whites are equal. And if they can have it mean whatever they want it to mean, then why can't they have it mean that?

    On this, we largely agree, however:

    "What I presented here for consideration is the thought that not everybody who flies that flag is doing it because they're racist, even though that seems to be the prevailing notion."

    I'm willing to believe this is true under most definitions of "racism." When I see a flag of any sort waving, I can't read into its owners' hearts. I might have suspicions, but I'm normally willing to withhold judgment. To be honest, I'm somewhat suspicious of folks who wave the American flag, but that's another story.

    The conversation gets off track when we start imputing feelings and motivations to people based on something like a flag. He's waving the flag, ergo he must be a racist. No one can know what another person feels simply from a flag.

    I will say this, though, that if I were a Southerner interested in showing my Southern pride, and showing one's pride to others is the whole point, I would pick something other (more positive) than a flag that served as the standard in the war to preserve slavery. The fact that it has these strong historical associations makes it a bad choice because, even if you're a wonderful person of good will, you will have to shovel a lot of shit uphill to make your true feelings known to other people, which is the whole point of waving a flag, no?

    Paisley, assuming his good will here, seems a little naive and maybe ignorant of Southern history. I don't know. I mean, it's not as if the CSA flag predated secession. It was created for the purpose of symbolizing the rebellion and what the rebellion was all about.

    This is why I'm a little suspicious of folks who say the flag is simply about Southern pride. Anyway, good conversation!

    I do think the missed communication here is that the Confederate flag is supposed to be accepted on the basis of good faith,. Nothing is required of the flag wavers. On the other hand, those who question the use of the flag are the bad actors. The criteria make no sense.

    You've missed my point completely.  I don't fault anyone for objecting to the Confederate flag. There's good reason to do it, and I've said so.  I wrote this piece suggesting that there might be more to it now because, while almost everything written about it comes down on the side of banning it because of it's racist history, there is some evidence that not everybody thinks of it as a hateful example of in-your-face racism. 

    Sometimes there's another side.  Can't hurt to look.

    You have missed my point. The people who are still waving the Confederate flag are the ones stuck in time. You miss that the same stubbornness that refuses to consider human impact on climate change, consider the earth to be 6000 years old and suggest the evolution is not real forms the basis for the refusal to acknowledge the true history of the Confederate flag. Even a person who posts here rejects the words of the Confederate leadership and Abraham Lincoln that slavery was the reason for the Civil War.

    I have asked before what obligation do the Confederate flag wavers have in this discussion? It seems that you call for them to do nothing and everyone else to comply with their imaginary concepts. You provide no evidence that they do anything to combat the racists who taint the image of their precious Confederate flag.

    Since these pro-flag people can't find the time to address the racism issue, I don't have time to listen to them. I am willing to give the pro- flag people the same consideration that they give those who oppose the flag....none. Seems fair to me.

    No, it can't hurt to look, and I wish you had.

    We've spilled 1000s of words here, and what have we come up with?

    "Southern pride" which really must be called "White Southern pride" because no black Southerners are sharing in it?

    To be honest, I think there are conceptual or logical errors here that are sending the conversation astray. For example...

    "I wrote this piece suggesting that there might be more to it now because, while almost everything written about it comes down on the side of banning it because of it's racist history, there is some evidence that not everybody thinks of it as a hateful example of in-your-face racism."

    All of the real banning of the flag has to do with its official use in state flags. Some people may lash out that the flag should be banned, but the chances of the flag being outlawed for personal use are zilch minus shit over zero. It's a non issue.

    But the fact that a bunch of WHITE people don't think of it as in-your-face racism is hardly surprising since they weren't the victims of racism. What does this prove?

    For example, the whole idea behind separate-but-equal was that segregation was NOT racist. No one was being put down. We were all separate...but we were also all equal. What could be bad about that? We got to hang with the people we wanted to hang with and we didn't have to be troubled by people we didn't want to be troubled by. It's so much easier to deal with people with whom you share a lot.

    IOW, it was entirely possible for people who didn't think of themselves as racist and may not have had hateful racist thoughts to support separate, but equal. The whole scheme seems utterly fair. After all, men and women have segregated bathrooms, but that doesn't mean women's rooms are NECESSARILY unequal to men (leaving aside capacity issues for the moment). Right?

    I could imagine something like this...

    • Great great great great grandaddy fought for the CSA and his flag was his pride possession. It stood for slavery and later Jim Crow and the whole Southern way of life thrown in.

    • The flag gets passed down through the generations as a revered family heirloom.

    • Because conditions change, future generations of the family no longer associate the flag with its original meaning, but still know that it's a revered family heirloom, a part of their history, and they're proud of it. The pride stays because the thing has been handed down as a prized possession. Maybe they remember that GGGgrandaddy risked his life for it. Must be special.

    • After a while, the pride gets associated with the IMPROVED social conditions. It might even become: Because of GGGgrandaddy's valor and sacrifices, we now enjoy all this good stuff. And if the flag kept GGGG going, then it keeps me going.

    I can imagine a process like this occurring. So, in later generations, the flag becomes a point of pride that is only associated with good, and improving, conditions. So its use becomes innocent and detached from its origins except as a point of intergenerational "pride." I know where I came from and this gives me the confidence to get where I'm going.

    Maybe this is what has happened. But I would argue that this innocence depends on an ignorance of what this flag meant to other people and how it affects them. And why it was created and how it was used. History is evoked to support an ahistorical awareness. When you raise the CSA flag, you think you know where you came from, but in fact you don't. You're using an historical artifact to forget history.

    It's easy for Americans to forget their history, but that doesn't mean that actions that spring from this innocence are benign. You may not be aware that you're stepping on my toe, but you are, and it hurts, and your ignorance of that fact doesn't make your stepping benign. Inadvertent perhaps, but not benign.

    If Don Sterling sports a rebel flag, I'm sure he'll be forced to step down and sell his team. While I already said I'd back its removal from state buildings, don't even imagine that the issue will stop there.

    Except what IS the issue?

    One issue is state buildings. That's been joined and actually there was ferocious push back on that ban. I think it's mostly been won.

    Personal use will never be banned for all the reasons we all know about. However, it will still cause a ruckus.

    Unfortunately, when the folks who wanted it displayed as the state flag continue to sport it on their trucks, it keeps the issue alive.

    Southerners get to keep the flag AND they get to keep the fallout from it.

    You keep telling RM et al to get over it, stop holding onto grievances, and get on to some real issues.

    But the fact is, the CSA flag wavers need to get over it and move on.

    First, they lost the war and slavery, but got to keep Jim Crow and lynchings for another 50 to 100 years.

    Second, they lost segregation, but got to keep voting rights garbage.

    Third, they lost the voting rights garbage, but wanted to keep official recognition of the old South's flag in state capitals.

    Fourth, now they're digging back into their bag of voting rights tricks with a shiny new separate-but-equal style justification.

    All through it, they INSIST on waving the one symbol that symbolizes the whole sorry historical train of events and pretend that it symbolizes everything that's best about the South.

    Good grief. If anyone is stuck in the past, and a pretty awful past, and collects grievances and petty slights and resentments, it is the wavers of the CSA flag. The thing belongs in a museum.

    Alas, Mississippi appears to be the holdout:

    In that context, their pledge might raise an eyebrow:

    I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God.

    Yes, but if I'm not mistaken, I THINK that all the states of the union are sovereign, but with limited sovereignty. It's sort of what's unique about our system. Sovereign parts within a sovereign whole. But they aren't sovereign in the way that's talked about today, i.e., independent entities. They are independent WITHIN or as part of the whole. They can't secede or nullify and remain within the Constitution. Federal law always trumps state law.

    But you make a good point in that these folks still want to think of themselves, and act, as a separate country.

    Exactly. Ab vacuo there's nothing wrong with that part of the pledge (although I'd still object to the last two words), but when you combine it with the context of their choice of flag…

    Once again well put. The group of Southerners who see value in the flag are not going to be moved. It is the same rigidity that got them into a war they could not win,

    Edit to add: We need to always keep in mind that the Confederate flag is to bolster White Southern Pride. The flag wavers don't care about the sentiments of other Southerners. In fact this subgroup gets enjoyment watching the discomfort of non-White Southerners.

    Here's the deal - you can move on if you want. Others will do what the fuck they please. If I want to stay in 300BC digging on symbols of the Roman Republic - those obnoxious shitheads who destroyed Carthage as well as the remnants of the much more evolved Greek civilization - and terrorized Europe and the Mideast, I will. And God knows how we love the trappings of our militaristic warmongering Roman heritage as the symbol of how Europe's better than all. Symbols of oppression? tee hee hee, we eat up that feeding Christians to lions and scaling Hadrian's Wall and galley slaves and toga toga toga...

    Funny, I had the realization that Reconstruction was a failure the same way our occupation of Afghanistan was a failure - because we're overconfident assholes but with super weapons, but if our rhetoric fails or our patience wears out, we just slip away and do something else.

    PS - RMRD can keep his litany of grievances - as far as I can tell, it's all he has - why would I tell him to move on?

    You are delusional.People realize you are the one with the problem. You said yourself that you can stay locked in the past. It appears that is what you want to do. I bring up problems happening today you dismiss them. You see the happy Blacks that you want to see because you are locked in the same world as the Duck Dynasty guy. You probably see the outside agitators trying to spoil the happy Blacks that are dancing in your mind. You have really exposed yourself.

    Here's the deal - you can move on if you want.

    Your entire argument, almost, has been RM and others with a dim view of the South and its attachment to the war flag need to move on. The South isn't the Confederacy.

    Now, I guess, you're fine with the South staying stuck in the past with its flag from long ago and far away.

    Okay, yes, folks can do whatever they want, but they shouldn't be surprised that when they cling to the Confederate war flag a lot of people still think of them that way.

    That's the message the CSA flag wavers are sending.

    The argument style used by PP is the same one used by the GOP. They look at the criticism lodged at the Republican Party and they accuse the Democrats of actually being the ones who have the problem. Racism is not a problem in the GOP, the Democrats are the racists. Republicans don't have a war on women, Democrats are the ones harming women economically.

    Peracles waxes nostalgically about the meaning of the Confederate as a symbol  of White Southern Pride. When go give historical perspective on the flag. Peracles says that you are the one mired in the past. If you point out present day inequities, Peracles will say you are whining. He will then yell repeatedly that his subgroup of a southerners can stay locked on the Confederate flag and how dare you talk about the righteous pride some White Southerners take in the Confederate flag. These White Southerners are not whining, they are supporting their heritage.

    When he can't support the merits of his arguments, he takes you on a tour overseas. When pressed, he will insert somebody named Ali G who I guess is supposed to be relevant because he is a rapper?

    He has become a parody

    I never said anyone had to move on - that's your schtick.

    I never said they "had" to move on.

    I said that if they don't move on, they shouldn't be surprised when people think they are stuck in a Confederate past.

    I have recommended that they do move on if they want people to think they aren't simply pining for the old South by insisting on the principal symbol of the old South's war to preserve slavery.

    "I never said they "had" to move on."

    But the fact is, the CSA flag wavers need to get over it and move on.


    Except the South hasn't stayed stuck in the past.  Significant changes have taken place since the Civil Rights movement won the many battles they were forced to fight.  I think that's what PP is trying to say.  That there's a kind of "normal" in the South now that moves it closer to the black-white feelings in the rest of the country.

    That's not to say there is no prejudice or racism.  PP isn't suggesting it's a happy place for all blacks, just that it's no longer the violent, hate-filled place that marked the Old South.

    How much time have you spent in the South?  I'm wondering, too, how much time RM has spent there?  There is a vibrant black culture, at least in the parts of South Carolina that I see.  The Gullah/Geechee community is very active in promoting their art and their language. 

    Artists like Jonathan Green are famous in the low country for their fabulous, exuberant depictions of black life.  They're celebrations, not protests, and they're beloved by both black and white art lovers.  (The first time I saw a Jonathan Green exhibit, in the Myrtle Beach Art Museum, a feeling of pure joy swept over me.  They took my breath away.  I can't afford one of his paintings--not even a print--but I could afford post cards and I can look at them whenever I want.)

    Atlantic Beach is a small black community north of Myrtle Beach.  The town was organized in the days when blacks couldn't go onto any other beaches along the coast.  Blacks from as far away as Georgia had to travel to Atlantic Beach in order to have a beach holiday.  Once segregation was a thing of the past and hotels and beaches were open to anyone, the little town nearly died out, but it's still a black community and they still would prefer that white folks stay off of their beach.

    But Congressman Jim Clyburn represents Atlantic Beach, and if it wasn't for their activism in getting a black man elected to congress we wouldn't have the champion of liberal causes we have in Rep. Clyburn. 

    The south is a different place now.  You have to go there to get a feel for it, and if you don't then you're only guessing at what you see as a problem.

    (Don't take my singling out of black communities as a sign of segregation.  That's long gone.  My point is that blacks, for the most part, appear to have moved on and arguments over the flying of the Confederate flag on government buildings are but a minor part of their lives.)

    This is insulting. I have spent a great deal of time in the South. I have direct family ties to the South. I here commentary about how things are in South Carolina. What impression do you think I got of your Appalachian trail hiking ex-Governor or your current Governor? What do you think they feel about Sen. Graham? 

    Why are you mentioning the strides taken by Blacks in South Carolina while putting in all this effort telling them to just get over any feelings they have about the Confederate flag. How many Blacks in South Carolina do you think support your benign view of the Confederate flag.

    Perhaps I should put you in contact with my cousin, the Charleston minister who can tell you directly what he thinks about Whites who still want to fly the Confederate flag.

    Blacks have moved on, you want them reminded of a misguided war fought to keep slavery in place. I do not understand why you think giving in to a symbol that does not represent Southern Pride for all is a good thing.

    It's only insulting if you take it that way--which you have.  Again, you're putting words in my mouth.  Where did I say anywhere that blacks should just get over fussing about the Confederate flag?  Nowhere.  If they feel strongly about it, I can totally understand and respect their reasons why.

      That has nothing at all to do with my original post, which was simply to point out that not every Confederate flag-flyer has racist motives.

    You seem to think that since I'm an old white woman from the north I couldn't possibly understand the feelings about that flag.  That's idiotic and an insult to me.  I don't need to explain myself to you.  I wrote a post and you took off on it as if I wanted to fight the Civil War all over again.

    I don't feel the need to defend my own Civil Rights actions, nor do I feel the need to go on defending what I said in my post.  You can believe whatever you want to believe.

    We disagree on the motives issue just as we disagree on what Peracles Please has been saying. You mentioned James Clyburn. I'm going to recommend his new autobiography, "Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black". Section 17 talks about his role in the Confederate flag flying over the Statehouse. The flag flying over that building was the same flag that the Klan used in terrorizing Black South Carolinians. There is never going to be peace on the flag issue.

    It doesn't matter if those who wave the Confederate flag consider themselves to be racists or not. The fact that my pastor cousin will one of the first out there condemning the flag. They cannot steal the term Southern Pride. They can call their need to raise the flag "Self Pride" or something else. It is no longer reflective of the South.

    My commentary has nothing to do with you being White, Northern, or Southern. I point out that the flag wavers are a small subgroup. I do admit, that I had to remind myself of the Southerners who supported the Union as shown in the "State of Jones".

    Non-racists who hoist the Confederate flag are not going to get a pass. I don't get your passion on the issue.

    String too narrow.  See comment below.

    You missed the memo - Southerners aren't allowed to have pride.

    Sure they are.

    A good chunk of America's best--world-class--writers are from the South.

    A good chunk of our best films are set in the South.

    A lot of our best bands have come out of the South.

    Jazz was born in the South.

    Blues was born in the South.

    Southern cooking is renowned.

    There are lots of articles about economic dynamos like Atlanta.

    Almost everyone retires down South.

    Lots of BMW and Mercedes plants opening up in the South.

    Most of our military is in the South and comes from the South.

    Before Obama, the last two Democratic presidents came from the South.

    The president who did most to combat racism and push progress programs in this country came from the South.

    But if Southerners want to symbolize all that with a war flag whose purpose was to preserve slavery, then--up to them--but I think they're missing a good thing. It's like the friend who, unbidden, keeps reminding you of all those stupid things he did just as you're beginning to forget all about them. "Hey, I really am that stupid and immoral--and proud of it!" Okay; it's their choice.

    Once again great response.

    Good points, although most or all of the cultural aspects of the South originated in the Afro-American community.

    Some economists believe the perpetuation of racism in the south stymied economic development. Some not so great facts about southern states:

    High rates of poverty

    High rates of gun violence

    High rates of murder

    High rates of teen pregnancy

    High rates of child poverty

    Low rates of college completion

    # Residents lacking health insurance

    "most or all of the cultural aspects of the South originated in the Afro-American community" - uh, Southern music has both black and white elements (jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, choir music was both African and Scottish, southern rock, R&B/funk/soul, rockabilly, bebop, certain kinds of folk...). Writers were both black and white. Southern cooking has both white and black roots. The south has distinct architecture, gave us Coca-cola and CNN/Turner 24 hour news, stock car racing, gar fishing with dynamite, skeet golf, and cow tipping.

    Re: your teen pregnancy figures, a lot of those high states are the *Southwest*.

    But yes, you've found out our deeply hidden secret - agricultural societies tend to be poorer than industrial economies - how did you figure it out, Sherlock?


    Ramona, I gave the example of the 2 European weekend cottages I saw flying the confederate flag - you'd think that would click in their heads that the symbolism that prompted them to do this likely wasn't slavery. But people get a hard & fast rule in their head, and it's difficult to shake it.

    Here is how Canada responded to the Confederate flag in 1861. Here's is how Canada responded to the Confederate flag in 2013. Doesn't seem to be a positive response either time. Canadians remember that the Confederacy planned attacks on the country because Canada resisted slavery.

    I don't think that you named the places hoisting the flag in Europe. When the flag was recently hoisted in Kiev, it wasn't viewed as a positive event. You may have been in a special place.

    ...the symbolism that prompted them to do this likely wasn't slavery.

    How do you know what is likely here?

    Did you talk to the people?

    Were they Europeans or Americans or from somewhere else?

    Why did they say they were flying the flag?

    You can't really make the "likely" argument unless you know the first thing about them. Here are some possibilities I could imagine and there are more:

    • The people were Americans from the South or had friends or relatives there.

    • The people were Americans from the North with racist views who didn't feel free to let their freak flag fly back home.

    • They were right wing Europeans who would've flown the Nazi flag if it weren't against the law or against social mores, and so flew the next best thing.

    • They were right wing or racist Europeans who thought that, on balance, the South had it right way back when.

    • They had no idea what the flag was, but saw it and liked the colors and design. I could see that happening to someone who just encountered the swastika too, a very interesting, ancient geometric design.

    • Some Americans who were tired of Europeans thinking that every American or Southerner was a racist and so decided to stick it to them by flaunting it.

    "You can't really make the "likely" argument unless you know the first thing about them. " - I live here - I know the first thing about them. They're not Americans. They all know about Nashville, Nancy Sinatra & Johnny Cash, Jack Daniels the rebel flag, and the wild west, and regularly spend their weekends by a campfire singing, drinking, lighting up. They know the words to Folsom Prison Blues better than I do. They're not right-wingers. Where they quite possibly are racists is against gypsies, not blacks, which has nothing to do with the rebel flag. They've never even met a black.

    I found Bucharest, Romania to be somewhat cold from a racial standpoint. Gypsies were definitely considered lower class. Things seemed to go well if you were traveling with Romanians or White American. Touring as an individual Black person felt somewhat strained when going into stores. I did come across this commentary recently. It added some perspective. 

    Here's what you said...

    Ramona, I gave the example of the 2 European weekend cottages I saw flying the confederate flag...

    You didn't say you knew the people, the individuals, living there. Nor did you suggest it. Is that what you're saying now? Somehow, I thought you said you lived in South America, but okay...

    I'm not sure what knowing about Nancy Sinatra et al means in the context of this conversation except that they're familiar with American culture. So is almost everyone by this point. When you run across an African kid in a remote village wearing a Nike cap, it doesn't say much. How does this help your argument?

    But here's the problem...

    You're talking about people who are not of our culture, but have consumed it from afar. It's easy for folks who aren't from a culture to pluck a symbol here and there that appeals to them for some reason and use it.

    This says nothing about the symbol, which is culturally and historically defined, and is not at all analogous to someone from the culture using the same symbol in their own country in various social and political contexts.

    This is why it's easy to make faux pas when you travel to other countries. Why it's easy to spew dirty words in a foreign language which have no emotional resonance for you even if you happen to know their meaning. Why it's easier to spend money in a foreign currency, because it doesn't quite seem like real money to you until you've used it for a while.

    I knew a Swedish scientist who was a US citizen and had lived here for many years and spoke perfect English. But when his son told him he loved him in Swedish, it meant more to him than when his son spoke the same sentiments in English, even though there was no language barrier.

    I could give someone from Bhutan the Nazi flag, and he might find it quite beautiful. He might think it was a part of "Western culture," admire its design and colors, and hang it outside their house. This says nothing about what the Nazi flag means. The Nazi flag, like all cultural symbols, is defined by the culture where it was created. What counts is how the members of that culture use it and feel about it.

    It doesn't help your argument that these Europeans have never met a black person; it only supports what I'm saying here.

    I will venture this, however, on a purely speculative basis. Hitler disliked the gypsies almost as much as he disliked the Jews. They were biologically inferior beings, much as white Americans viewed blacks for much of our history. Jefferson wrote about this at some length. It's possible that Americans haven't traditionally viewed gypsies this way because we haven't had many of them here. And it's possible that those Europeans haven't put blacks--real flesh and blood black people--in the same category as gypsies because, well, they've never met one. Who knows?

    I just said these Europeans weren't waving the confederate flag to support slavery, but obviously it symbolized something ("the South", a bit of rebellion) to them, so it's not impossible to separate the 2.

    What people do with a symbol that isn't part and parcel of their culture is irrelevant to the meaning of the symbol. Especially when they're physically located outside the culture.

    Finding two Europeans waving the CSA flag and claiming they didn't do it to support slavery or for racist motivations doesn't say anything about the flag's meaning, or how the flag is used in the US or in the southern states when flying from state capitals or at gun rallies. The little African boy wearing a Nike cap is probably not an athlete encouraging folks to "just do it."

    I could buy a statue of a Hindu god and use it as a side table on which to set down my martini. My extra-cultural use of the statue doesn't change the statue's religious meaning in India. Seeing my use of the statue as furniture, no one can reasonably claim that Krishna is as much about martini drinking as he is about reincarnation. 

    While I was living in Japan I once went out to eat with some Japanese friends. When I decided to drink some tea or whatever I poked my chop sticks, into my bowl of rice instead  of lying them on the table or resting them along side the rice. My friends were horrified. I was told that means you're going to commit hari kari, suicide. I nodded since I assumed they were sharing some interesting historical and cultural data. But no, I had to remove them, immediately. One friend was so upset I could see him reaching toward my bowl of rice struggling between removing my sticks himself and not being rude.

    Of course I never did that again. The symbolism didn't change simply because I was an American totally unaware of what it meant in that culture.

    At one point I was learning some Arabic and dumbek and was speaking to a Nubian friend, a musician and a deeply religious person, about this song I was learning.

    Somehow, I used the title of the song and the name Mohammad (not even the prophet, but a guy named Mohammad) in one sentence.

    The guy froze and was visibly trying to control his anger. Well, it turns out the song's title was a gentle term for prostitute or consort.

    After a bit, and much to his credit, he said, "I have to remember that you don't speak Arabic and aren't Muslim." It was a strong Pavolovian response. Had I been Egyptian or from any Arab country, he probably would've wrung my neck.

    But just because my use of the words was innocent of this negative meaning didn't mean those words and this combination were suddenly acceptable and didn't carry a very definite (and negative) meaning.

    I don't think it's a matter of being ignorant of or attempting to revise history.  I think it's more a matter of getting comfortable with a symbol that belongs only to them--if that makes any sense.

    Ramona, not to play gotcha on a phrase, but it is impossible for the CSA flag to "belong only to them." If a flag is used to kill me off, then it "belongs" to me, too. The arrow was shot by someone else, but now it's embedded in me.

    This, in a nutshell, why it's impossible for white Southerners to go off and have their own private meaning. They can TRY to do that, of course. They can SAY that's what they are doing. I can SAY that word "red" means the color blue whenever I utter it.

    But in the end, this effort fails because the shooter hasn't consulted with ones he shot.

    "The Soutthern argument becomes that the Civil War was not about slavery." No, it doesn't - it's that the Civil War wasn't *only* about slavery. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    "In fact, I'm now wondering whether PP's contrarian instincts are "a Southern thing."" Hardly. It's trying to deal with facts and principles and context, rather than myths and illusory absolutes. I'd be hard-pressed to call that a "Southern thing"

    "The S 'n Bs was not a regional flag. It was the flag of a nascent country created in secession from the mother country. The flag is about regional pride only to the degree that the South doesn't quite want to admit that they lost and history has moved on." well, Betsy Ross' flag was for a nascent country created in secession from a mother country - the Colonies. It's certainly about regional pride - the Atlantic colonies. Would it have mattered if we'd lost the Revolution? Catalunya has been under Spain for a long time, just as Scotland's been under the UK - both are getting some rendition of power. Should they have stopped using their flags? Do you have the same contempt for those losers?

    "I do believe that part of the problem here is that the South never reconciled itself to having truly lost and truly been in the wrong." I'm sure they needed a shrink, but even such anthems as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" or books/movies like "Gone With the Wind" are about absolute destruction. Scarlet will pull herself together back at Tara, but there's certainly now thought her old world will come back.

    You seem not to understand that the "South's gonna do it again" refers to being great - whether writers, sports, music, other parts of culture, new industry like Ted Turner's media empire - not some fantasy about reviving antebellum plantations and slave society. Yes, Virginia, most southerners have accepted slavery as wrong, and that the old racist empire is gone with the wind (or Sherman's troops).

    "But being rebellious, anti-authoritarian, and a states' rights advocate is NOT what the war was about. That's the gloss the South put on it later instead of giving in and saying, "We were wrong." Instead they said, "We lost, but we weren't wrong."" - the problem with this of course is you think as the winner you get to phrase all details of the conflict the way you'd like to.

    As just a tiny example, Lincoln can be right about the evil of slavery & justification for invasion, but that doesn't mean he's right about the North owning federal bases in southern harbors forever and ever and ever (just like our holding on to Gitmo in Cuba, or the British holding Gibraltar are pretty ugly remnants of colonialism).

    Some people think it's wrong to bring up any issues like the last paragraph - they're a bit idealistic or too superior in their idea of victory, and seem distressed that southerners haven't been humiliated enough to parrot history exactly in the terms they'd choose. So it goes - can't always get what you want.

    "The Soutthern argument becomes that the Civil War was not about slavery." No, it doesn't - it's that the Civil War wasn't *only* about slavery. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    PS: At bottom, however, it was really about slavery. Minus slavery, there would have been no war. You can add in whatever you want, and other "reasons" were adduced, but the whole Southern economy and way of life was based on slavery.

    "In fact, I'm now wondering whether PP's contrarian instincts are "a Southern thing."" Hardly. It's trying to deal with facts and principles and context, rather than myths and illusory absolutes. I'd be hard-pressed to call that a "Southern thing"

    PS: That was a joke, son.

    "The S 'n Bs was not a regional flag. It was the flag of a nascent country created in secession from the mother country. The flag is about regional pride only to the degree that the South doesn't quite want to admit that they lost and history has moved on." well, Betsy Ross' flag was for a nascent country created in secession from a mother country - the Colonies. It's certainly about regional pride - the Atlantic colonies. Would it have mattered if we'd lost the Revolution?

    PS: Yes, it would have. Betsy's flag represented a nascent country based on pretty lofty principles expressed in the Declaration and Constitution. The Confederacy was based on owning other people and forcing them into lives of degradation and hard labor. So even if we'd lost, it would have been a fight worth fighting. Had Confederacy won, evil would have prevailed.

    Catalunya has been under Spain for a long time, just as Scotland's been under the UK - both are getting some rendition of power. Should they have stopped using their flags? Do you have the same contempt for those losers?

    PS: I'm hard-pressed to regard comments like this an attempt to work through principles. But yes, if Scotland and Catalunya were all about owning other people, etc., they would be losers and their flags worthy of scorn.

    "I do believe that part of the problem here is that the South never reconciled itself to having truly lost and truly been in the wrong." I'm sure they needed a shrink, but even such anthems as "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" or books/movies like "Gone With the Wind" are about absolute destruction. Scarlet will pull herself together back at Tara, but there's certainly now thought her old world will come back.

    PS: And?

    You seem not to understand that the "South's gonna do it again" refers to being great - whether writers, sports, music, other parts of culture, new industry like Ted Turner's media empire - not some fantasy about reviving antebellum plantations and slave society. Yes, Virginia, most southerners have accepted slavery as wrong, and that the old racist empire is gone with the wind (or Sherman's troops).

    PS: The phrase I always heard was: The South is gonna rise again! I'm not sure it had much to do with Tennessee Williams, et al, but I don't know. I'm not sure the South ever stopped producing writers and music, etc., so I find it hard to believe they were talking about Faulkner or Ted Turner. That could be a modern gloss on an old saying, I suppose.

    "But being rebellious, anti-authoritarian, and a states' rights advocate is NOT what the war was about. That's the gloss the South put on it later instead of giving in and saying, "We were wrong." Instead they said, "We lost, but we weren't wrong."" - the problem with this of course is you think as the winner you get to phrase all details of the conflict the way you'd like to.

    PS: A lot of scholarship has been done on this point. States' rights was used as a supporting justification for a rebellion that was provoked by a perceived threat to slavery.

    As just a tiny example, Lincoln can be right about the evil of slavery & justification for invasion, but that doesn't mean he's right about the North owning federal bases in southern harbors forever and ever and ever (just like our holding on to Gitmo in Cuba, or the British holding Gibraltar are pretty ugly remnants of colonialism).

    PS: Once the war is over, the country is the country and its government is in Washington, D.C. and it has the right to have military bases anywhere in the country the government deems appropriate. Gitmo and Gilbraltar are only apposite if you think the Confederacy is a separate country with its own territory.

    Some people think it's wrong to bring up any issues like the last paragraph - they're a bit idealistic or too superior in their idea of victory, and seem distressed that southerners haven't been humiliated enough to parrot history exactly in the terms they'd choose. So it goes - can't always get what you want.

    PS: You're welcome to bring up any issue you like. In this little post, you've mostly been wrong.


    Great reply

    Harry Turtledove has a whole series of books based on the "what if the CSA had won." I haven't read them, but I'm told they are fascinating.

    "PS: Once the war is over, the country is the country and its government is in Washington, D.C. and it has the right to have military bases anywhere in the country the government deems appropriate." was referring to *before* the war, not after - the immediate precipitation of war was not about slaves, but about whether the north would relinquish forts in states that had seceded.

    "In this little post, you've mostly been wrong." happier to be logically able to parse distinct issues and "wrong" than the converse.

    happier to be logically able to parse distinct issues and "wrong" than the converse.


    When did you apply logic?

    Before the war, the country was also the country with a government in Washington, D.C.

    I want to add that southern military bases were put there because of the mild climate and because southern politicians fought for them to bring federal dollars into communities that were desperate for jobs. It had very little to do with occupation of the south after Reconstruction. The same reasons the armories were in the south before the civil war to have the fire power close to the country's boarder for defense. The southern states grabbed the armories and then fired upon the forts in the harbors.  The federal government kicked their butts for the treason. 

    Reconstruction was ended too soon.  It left too many pieces unfinished that we have had to deal with.  The stars and bars will end up in the dust bin of history because as a nation we have a much bigger problem facing us to survive in the near future caused by climate change.  

    The American flag is a symbol for every American, but, as symbols go, the symbolism is in the eye of the beholder.

    Maybe this is just semantics, but it seems like a fundamental point to me. The symbolism is NOT (just) in the eye of the beholder, as if the fuss were just about perception. It's also in the eye of the waver. And in the eye of the collective to whom the flag is address and who look up to it as representing some deep part of them.

    And it doesn't help if you equate beholder and waver.

    The waver picks a particular flag for a particular reason. Despite its varied uses, the flag isn't a tabula rasa where it can mean whatever you want it to mean. It comes with a lot of meaning, a lot of "baggage."

    If it were the case that a flag could mean whatever you wanted it to mean, then wavers could wave any old piece of cloth with the idea that it meant whatever they want it to mean.

    But whatever the CSA flag means, it clearly doesn't mean that whites and blacks are brothers and sisters and equal in God's eyes and under the law. I don't think we can say that that is what the CSA flag means, even if we want it to mean that.

    The fact that Rockwell equated the Nazi and American flags doesn't make the equation legitimate because, hey, that's the way he saw it and who are we to judge? Not all opinions and meanings are equally valid. You can place the N flag and the A flag next to each other and say, "Look, they stand for the same thing." It's true that Rockwell believed that, but what he believed wasn't true.

    I just wanted to add this from what is still my most popular blog, which centered on the controversy over the Civil War.

    The article inside the issue “The Way We Weren’t” by David Von Drehle begins:

    A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

    It was not a controversial statement at the time. Indeed, Southern leaders were saying similar things during those fateful days. But 150 years later, Americans have lost that clarity about the cause of the Civil War, the most traumatic and transformational event in U.S. history, which left more than 625,000 dead — more Americans killed than in both world wars combined.

    Shortly before the Fort Sumter anniversary, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,500 adults across the country, asking what the North and South were fighting about. A majority, including two-thirds of white respondents in the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, answered that the South was mainly motivated by "states' rights" rather than the future of slavery.

    The question "What caused the Civil War?" returns 20 million Google hits and a wide array of arguments on Internet comment boards and discussion threads. The Civil War was caused by Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation. Or it was caused by high tariffs. Or it was caused by blundering statesmen. Or it was caused by the clash of industrial and agrarian cultures. Or it was caused by fanatics. Or it was caused by the Marxist class struggle.


    Shortly before the Fort Sumter anniversary, Harris Interactive polled more than 2,500 adults across the country, asking what the North and South were fighting about.

    I first read that as, "Shortly before the Fort Sumter attack, Harris Interactive polled…", and I thought you were channeling Wolfrum.

    The question "What caused the Civil War?" returns 20 million Google hits and a wide array of arguments on Internet comment boards and discussion threads.

    The question, "What caused the Civil War?" isn't as clear-cut as "What motivated the South to secede?" The lack of clarity has more to do with the semantics of the word "caused" than with anything else, however.

    Regarding the second part of your response, I put into Goggle "why did the south secede" and on the first page got this from the Capitalism Institute's website.

    Why the South Really Seceded:

    So what were the real reasons the South seceded? The following should be helpful to understand:

    • Anti-South Party. The GOP was anti-southern. For the first time in the nation’s history, a political party was based on location rather than just different views. The south was demonized. That meant that their future of political influence was questioned because they had slaves. The impacts here would be much, much more than just slavery, as explained above “vote yourself a farm, vote yourself a tariff”.
    • Anti-South Tariffs. In the 1830s, the US government passed tariff essentially forcing the South to buy products from the North. Meanwhile, the South had to compete against the global market. The tariff laws were written in such a way as to force the South to enrich the North. This was feared to get worse and worse, especially since Lincoln — a member of the new “anti-South” party — was elected.
    • No Nullification. Nullification and other “state sovereignty” rights were essentially run down, ignored, or made impossible — this means the original “government” the South was agreeing to essentially didn’t exist. The “strong central government” camp had become much more powerful than the state-sovereignty camp, at least in DC.
    • Capping Southern Influence. Refusing new slave states to be created was essentially a political move that destroyed Southern influence — southern influences were suddenly capped, while northern influences could continue to grow and get more and more of an influence in congress. The North was soon to completely overpower the North in the federal government, leaving the South in a position where they were essentially forced to do whatever the North wanted.
    • Structure of Government. The North repeatedly was trying to change the constitution to make the senate elected by popular vote rather than state legislatures. They succeeded after the war. This was a huge change in the structure of government — the state governments are now not represented by the federal government. This was an attack on states across the board. The South wanted state sovereignty, and the North wanted the federal government to more able to regulate the internal affairs of the states — and not just in slavery.
    • No Need for the North. The South rightly believed that there simply wasn’t a reason for the South to need the North. Since they were being politically isolated and economically exploited, they believed there was nothing keeping them to stay in the
    • North. They also believed that leaving the Union at any time was their contractual right.

    Are you taking this as the fruit of real scholarship?

    Hardly.  It is to point out that "real" scholarship has little (or nothing) to do with how people perceive the South, the North and the Civil War, and in the end the Confederate Flag and what it symbolizes. 

    But real scholarship can illuminate what the flag was REALLY all about.

    If you're saying that people are regularly wrong and prejudiced about what they think they know...then no argument.

    Oh, I'm sure there are ignorant fools who will argue such stuff. My point was merely that the question about "why the South seceded" is a simpler question from "what was the cause of the Civil War", since the latter one hinges on the former, and causes are such slippery creatures. For example, do we mean ultimate or proximate cause?

    Ramona here is commentary on the statement of the Duck Dynasty guy. I find a direct connection between his never seeing unhappy blacks and Peracles Please seeing happier Blacks in the South. Couple this with prior comments about Blacks being poor swimmers because of heavier bone density. Follow that with support for the Confederate flag being cool even during the Civil Rights era and relying on his lived experience to support the person making the statement.

    The concept of White Supremacy effects us all. Many, if not most, Blacks bought into Bill Clinton's welfare reform because we bought into the lazy Black meme pioneered by Ronald Reagan 's Welfare Queens statement. We now realize the basic problems is a lack of jobs not inherent laziness.

    Regarding empathy for others, I think people can empathize with Latinos, but I would be lying if I said I know how it feels to have a family member deported. I can empathize with Gays but I can't know how it feels to be unable to marry. I can empathize with women  but I can't know how it feels to fear for my physical safety because of my gender.

    During 2008, we saw a clear gender versus race divide between some Democrats who supported Hillary versus some who supported Obama, Oppressed groups are not always in lockstep. Blacks have only recently changed positions on Gay marriage. When I say that a Black woman might have a different opinion than yours, it is not meant as a slight. Michelle Cottle wrote an article stating that Michelle Obama was not a positive  feminist image. She got pushback from Black feminists. A White female Progressive yelled at Michelle Obama.duringva speech given in a private home. Some Black women were offended. There are sometimes differing points of view.

    Going back to my original paragraph, given the  full view of other statements. I don't see the happy Southern Blacks as a benign comment.

    "on the statement of the Duck Dynasty guy. I find a direct connection between his never seeing unhappy blacks and Peracles Please seeing happier Blacks in the South." Uh, Duck was talking about blacks share-cropping pre-civil rights - I was talking about nice ladies ringing me up at the cash register or laying out clothes. I see a direct connection between your head and your ass.

    I don't believe that  happy cashiers is what you wanted to get across with your statement.  Did you test their bone density?

    You made a universal statement, not something about the people who waited on you in a store. Your cover-up falls short.

    Ever the paranoid victim.

    BTW, the mouth leads to the esophagus. The esophagus leads to the stomach, duodenum, small and large intestines and the anal canal. Is that what you were trying to say? smiley

    I certainly appreciate the effort not to be grim devil

    This is another of what I see as too stupid to respond to statements. Though the crazy always does seem to generate a large flow of dialog. I don't think I know anything about a person's life or level of happiness based on how happy and chatty they are while ringing up my pasta, milk or jeans.

    It's something about how strangers interact, nothing more, nothing less. I've also experienced the same living in Mediterranean countries, and dealt with grumpy grimacing strangers in East Europe. Yes, I think it tells me something about their life - though certainly not everything. You're welcome to disagree - but it's not like I'm the first to note this rather stereotypic observation about these regions.

    It's fucking amazing - I can say something obvious like "Italians are more chatty than Finns" and I'll get 10 Dag-bloggers arguing with me that either it's not true or I'm ignoring some sorrowful cultural issue that makes it too painful for us to discuss or some other weird objection.

    Your post said that Blacks were happier in the South full stop. Now you take the coward's way out and say you were talking about sales people and cashiers. You are not trustworthy.

    You are simply retarded and can't read - 

    1 thing I tried to get across is that people seem to think living there it's day-to-day racism, when there were years went by where nothing racial was even discussed...

    there was never any talk of superiority or any worries/not even mention about civil rights, no big differentiation if something was done by a white or black person - we simply didn't care and were oblivious to it....

     I don't pretend this was universal, but I imagine it was more common [than] folks think.

    Even now when I visit, the black ladies in the shops will launch into a 5 minute chat with me as if I've been living next door to them all my life - teasing, scolding, joking - and I wonder why my reality is so different from the angst-ridden discussions on these blogs.

    The comments were about *ME* - in *MY* world as a white southerner at the time on one particular block & one particular school, no one was discussing civil rights or what was going on with blacks. Unlike shock radio, our parents weren't fretting about welfare mothers or miscegenation or segrated schools. Obviously there were places where people did, but I think it was less universal 24x7 than people might assume.

    My comment about the clerk ladies when I visit is to note how warm it is - white & black strangers meeting in a store turns into a 5 minute friendly chat about this and that - not a cold "clothing on aisle 3, sir" nor a Zimmerman/Trayvon angry stare standoff/potential homicide. It was literally, "How're you doin', honey..." No,  It wasn't my attempt to update "Darkies Never Cry"  it's just how it was.

    Everything here is so tense and fretted over.

    You cut and paste commentary. Your comment about Southern Blacks being happy was a stand alone comment to suggest that the South was more enjoyable for Blacks than the North.

    You request that people end over backwards to understand and respect YOUR life experience. Yet your modus operandi is to dismiss the life experiences of others. You are upset the Southern supporters of the Confederate flag who wish to celebrate the rebellious spirit of 150 years ago. When students at. Law school relate their life experience of current day racism, you dismiss them in the bat of an eye. You have no compassion for the students, you want compassion for the Flag waving Southern apologists or perhaps we should call them Southern amnestics who want us to forget the history of the flag. The flag wavers are good old boys. The UCLA students are whiners.

    You talk of happy Southern Blacks. You talk of Black bone density and swimming, You dismiss the court decisions in the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases. You call people whiners, paranoid, etc. Yet you want Southerners who raise the Confederate flag respected. That is why I say that you approach life from a White Supremacist viewpoint. You dismiss and ridicule the life experiences of others while demanding that you express your experiences without comment.

    If you want things less tense, you might actually look at how you present your positions.


    Putting together an encyclopedia of grievances?

    This is a dodge. When I use the statement that you view the world from a White Supremacist viewpoint, I am saying that you tend to see wrongs occurring to Whites in a higher order than you do for a Blacks. You see White experience as trumping Black experience. When BeauEvil puts a benign mark on the Confederate flag during the Civil Rights era, instead of reflecting on the fact that the flags had a resurgence during the Civil Rights era, you rubber stamp his comment.

    You view Southerners as having reasons to be aggrieved, but Blacks who complain about injustice are whiners. You dismiss things that fall outside of a myopic White viewpoint. Do you acknowledge that slavery was evil. Yes. But you have also wanted it noted that Blacks during slavery had parties on the plantation. Happy slaves. You wondered why people would not want to focus on the fact that slaves could have periods of pleasure. You needed to diminish the harshness of slavery. Your current commentary about happy Blacks in the South has the same tenor as your focus on plantation parties.

    You reflexively dismiss ongoing injustice against Blacks. That is not a list of grievances that is a direct observation of behavior. Couple those facts with your statement about bone density rather than lack of access to swimming pools being the reason for low percentages of swimmers in the Black community.

    Blacks don't find the fact that people want to wave the Confederate flag as something that is benign. You dismiss those feelings and give support to those who want to fly the flag. Your experience says that the flag is benign and people should just get over bashing Southerners for wanting to be rebels.

    Given the bone density comment, the dismissal of Black grievances, the need to focus on plantation parties and happy Southern Blacks, I would have been more surprised if you condemned the Confederate flag as an abomination. 

    I don't have a list of grievances, I'm just making observations. You don't live in the United States, so your impact here is zero, I don't get upset. Your statements serve to confirm an impression.

    Oh great - I mention 1 list, and another pops up - you've got a green thumb.

    [plantation parties? WTF? party hats & punch? antler dance? you'll have to refresh my memory - this one's too bizarre. or did I somewhere say that black slaves still lived and did their best within their harsh confines to enjoy themselves and be human, like celebrating a child's birth somehow within their 18 hour day? who knows]

    I heard Kim Kardashian was measuring bone density, but suspect she meant something else.  Maybe I can find it on V's blog. Good thing Ali G's a Jamaican Brit, as his humor couldn't withstand American racialist sensitivity.

    Stay in denial

    I lived in a similar bubble growing up. I was completely unaware of any racism from the whites around me. You know what changed that? When I dated a black girl. The first surprise was the response of my parents, who had brought me up to be a tolerant person. Both of them told me that I should "think of the hardships of any children we might have" (note that we were 18 and hadn't come close to discussing marriage). This was mild compared to other responses, both from blacks and whites. I was called "n*****-lover" by whites, and she was told to "find a real man" by blacks. (Such epithets were usually yelled out of passing cars.)

    So, while I can completely believe that you thought that there was little racism around you, if you were black it would've been a hard thing to ignore. As intelligent as you seem to be, I'm frankly surprised that you aren't self-aware enough to realize that your ignorance of the racism around you did not mean it wasn't there.

    I'm sure many blacks were treated well enough, as long as they "stayed in their place".

    Completely irrelevant - it wasn't what I was talking about. We didn't hear about it 24x7, we weren't following riots or what not on TV, we were more into WWII model airplanes or sniffing glue or ripping apart car engines. I.e. we were in the middle of the South, and we weren't hating on blacks, nor we sorrowfully mourning the loss of the Civil War. No one talked about any problems at school, there was no worrying about Civil Rights or mention of it. We went to the river or pool, played sports, hung out, and that was it. I remember Humphrey and Wallace and Nixon on TV, but the main thing anyone cared about there was Vietnam and hippies.

    Maybe you think it's terrible I grew up in the south and wasn't embedded in racism or radically aware of it or somehow touched by it. To me it's a nice side of Civil Rights - that once it got put into place, once integration happened, for many it was no big deal - a lot of white panic over nothing.

    Great, you weren't hating on blacks. You didn't see any problems. After civil rights legislation was passed there was integration and it was no big deal. But some whites in your town might have been hating on blacks and the blacks might not have been telling you. Blacks might have seen a lot of whites that found integration a big deal and had to deal with their problems with it. Blacks might have seen the legislation in some or many cases unenforced and been disappointed or angry about it.

    Those friendly chatty sales people might have gone home that night and talked to their family and black friends about what that damn racist boss did that day. They just didn't mention it to you when they were chatting it up.

    I work in a ghost town and deal with tourists all day. I chat with them as long as they want and smile and joke and answer all their question until they're ready to walk off with the map and look at the old buildings anf ruins. They will often call the owners and tell them how nice I am, much nicer than the previous caretaker. But I'm not nice. I'm just a good employee. I don't get to say what I think or act like I want when I'm on the job.  And sometimes what I think after I walk away from some tourists isn't nice and would likely get me fired if I said exactly what I think  to every tourist that annoyed me or pissed me off. So yes, they all see me as nice and friendly and happy. Believe me PP you'd have a much different opinion of me if you chatted with me during a visit to the ghost town instead of chatting with me on dagblog.

    Unless you tell me that you had lots and lots of black friends and you hung around with them all the time and this is what they told you about their and their parents and their grandparents experiences of racism in your town you're the one whose stories are completely irrelevant. But you never mention having black friends nor relate any of their stories. That's why I think your stories about what racism was like in your home town is completely irrelevant.


    Get ready for "Some of my best friends are ....."

    I'm a bit better at picking out grouchy insincere people with a smile on their face than you imagine.

    Your comments here suggest that definitely wasn't the case when you were young.

    Where did I say I met a smiling black person when I was young? I said things were uneventful.

    You're missing my point, by a country mile. I also grew up in the South, so no, I don't think it's terrible you grew up in the South. I think it's amazing that even after all these years and all of your ranting about dagbloggers being part of an echo chamber you don't realize that you were living in a bubble.

    We I didn't hear about it 24x7, we weren't I wasn't following riots or what not on TV, we were I was more into WWII model airplanes or sniffing glue or ripping apart car engines. I.e. we were I was in the middle of the South, and we weren't I wasn't hating on blacks, nor we was I sorrowfully mourning the loss of the Civil War. No one talked about any problems at school around me, there was no worrying I didn't worry about Civil Rights or mention of it. We I went to the river or pool, played sports, hung out, and that was it. I remember Humphrey and Wallace and Nixon on TV, but the main thing anyone I cared about there was Vietnam and hippies.

    FTFY. As I said, when blacks stepped outside of "their place", they were quickly reminded of white society's view of their place. Naturally, being a white boy you wouldn't have been likely to witness this. I share your opinion that this phenomenon was not limited to the South.

    I wonder if he hung out at an integrated pool, or if Blacks didn't come because their bone density was too high,

    I wonder if you were always an asshole, or if you had to work at it.

    If you stop sniping at me every fucking comment with some stupid dickish insult, perhaps I won't curse at you, but behave like a dick, get treated like a dick.

    You seem to think I respect you or your opinion. Given your defensive tone. I'm guessing you were too self-centered to notice that your public pools were segregated. I'm not sniping at you, I'm just placing your commentary in context. Much of your racial commentary doesn't seem that Liberal. 

    No, you're sniping at me, nipping at my heels every comment, then will bring up every little thing like "bone density" or Rosa Parks' attorney from other threads like a cat pridefully parading around a fresh-killed mouse.

    Re: much of what I discuss here, I don't care to be "liberal" or "conservative" - I want to discuss issues rationally, historically, in various contexts and viewpoints, so not to stay in the same tribal mentality regurgitating policy positions for our team without realizing where they're hypocritical or nonsensical.  That of course is often automatically labeled "other team" by both conservatives and liberals. C'est la vie - the standard scripted dialogue isn't that interesting and doesn't move very far.

    Your comments do matter and they do inform my opinion of you, bone density as a reason there aren't many championship Black swimmers is way out there. Being too stubborn to admit error in the a Rosa Parks case, and even doubling down, does inform on how reliable you are and whether you are willing to reassess things.

    On racial issues, you come across biased and unaware. I am not the only one who notices your behavior.

    I mentioned Liberal because you commented on the political leanings of your friends. Most, you said, were Liberal. Liberal/ Conservative worked better when compromise was not considered profanity in the Republican lexicon. Even Ralph Nader laments the lack of bipartisanship in his book "Unstoppable"

    You mentioned blacks' lack of access to swimming pools, which rather ignores the number who live near lakes, rivers and the oceans. Who's "way out there"?

    But of course it had to be a racist reason - whitey keeping blacks from swimming, news at 10.

    Studying physiology as part of sports science - wow, you play the racist card more than I used to play euchre - keep on beating that drum, someone'll give you sympathy.

    As I said you have become a parody. Your commentary on racial issues is laden with bias. If you wanted to do a study you would set up one that looked at a host of parameters that could include, cardiopulmonary function, muscle mass, etc, if you set up a study that focuses on one value, say bone density and you found that bone density was different, you might conclude that you had solved the puzzle.

    Another investigator who decided to focus on getting Black children paired with White children and have both sets of children placed in early swimming programs and following threw to their teen years and early adulthood, you might find that even with different bone density ( if that was found) Black swimmers were statistically identical to White swimmers. The expected difference was completely overcome by simple exposure to a swimming program.

    You are biased, so just as you did not reflect on why there were no Blacks a your local public swimming pools, you will not ask about whether Blacks living near bodies of water are exposed to swimming programs. You make an assumption and your research will lead to an erroneous conclusion.

    Because you are biased you will take the same position that Charles Murray takes in his research. It is others who are biased. Murray considers his research pristine. this will go over your head because you are stuck in a bubble.

    You are more far gone than I thought you were.

    "If you wanted to a study..." - I don't want to do a study. I assume someone who knows this area has done or will do them, and over time they'll get more insightful.

    Blacks didn't become good at sports by being exposed to programs - they liked playing sports and many had a good build for those sports, so it worked out - does help in the enf if there's a league that pays, but obviously wasn't the case in the days of Eddie Tolan and Jessie Owens. Jackie Robinson started out a sharecropper's kid and then played 5 sports in High School, including winning the Pacific Coast tournament for tennis. I rather doubt he had early access programs or a country club for tennis in Georgia, and I suspect if he wanted to swim in his new home of Pasadena and Brentwood (UCLA) as an athletic star, he might have gotten a pass to the school's pool and at least 1 of LA's many beaches.

    If blacks are statistically identical to white swimmers, then there's likely some issue of cultural preference more than opportunity. It's not like a rich star like Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wouldn't sponsor an olympic pool and coaches where black kids/families were asking. I'm sure Lakers and Clippers stars own their own pools just like many own their own courts. But you have via your version of Occam's Razor selected the most racist reason why blacks aren't typically among the top swimmers.

    By coincidence, the family yesterday was at a physical therapy session & lecture yesterday where the doctor was comparing Usain Bolt's use of his upper muscles to help his stride, vs. the other runners (I believe they were white, but I wasn't there) who had strong upper muscles but didn't use them holistically with the motion. The doctor then went on to talk about a white skiing star and his physical attributes, various advantages & problems he'd had including bone structure. I kinda assumed that with the billions of dollars that go into professional sports, that this kind of sports medicine and physiological analysis was already a huge business. Baseball scouts for decades have looked at physiology as a sign of future success as well as being prone to injury. Sorry I gave you the vapors by whispering "bone density", even though I never said I knew whether this theory was accurate or not (again, I'm not an expert, nor am I Charles Murray doing "research"). If you want to see racism behind every corner, I'm sure you will, but some people are just trying to figure out how the world and people and bodies work.

    You are filled with bias. Here is another point of view.Access to pools is an issue that you ignore. You make a biased statement and expect it to go unnoticed.

    It's one of several issues - fear, hair, culture, lack of parent who knows, and torso/bouyancy. Not everything is distilled down to 1 variable. The comments bear this out in your BBC article. Here's a graph on bone density, which is also why black women have less osteoporosis. Nothing surprising here.

    WTF? I made it clear I was talking about my/our bubble (I still communicate with the same neighbors, and strangely enough, only 1 of them turned into a teabagger/rightwing Rush fan - the rest quite liberal on racial/gender/welfare/government issues, so I'll stick with "we", thanks).

    If you grew up in the south, perhaps you'd have a bit of an idea of what I'm talking about, but guess not.

    It might have been your intention to talk about our bubble, but the way you write about it comes off as sounding like racism was practically non-existent where you were, not that you were just blithely unaware of it. Perhaps you should re-read what you wrote.

    You re-read it first - I'm rather bored after all the need to paint me some awful racist. Lots of projection and hysteria.

    You are biased. People only point out the truth. L

    Okay, let's shift gears and take what you said at face value and as accurate as far as it goes. We can speculate as to why these differences:

    • In the case of Eastern Europeans v Italians...well, Italy has a much more pleasant climate and better food. It never went through 40 years of communism, etc. The Italians do scream a lot, though, so who knows. If we're going with generalizations, then northern Europeans in general seem more dour than southern Europeans, and it's possible the weather has something to do with it.

    • Blacks who went North were dissatisfied enough with Jim Crow and their limited horizons that they went through the grueling journey of uprooting themselves from where they and their forebears had lived for many years. They dared to hope for something better and were willing to endure pain and suffering to make that their hopes a reality.

    They went from a warm, sunny clime and a slower-paced life--which had to be a bit unpleasant right off the bat--because they weren't willing to "settle." So the grumpier, less satisfied, more critical, more energetic and ambitious folks self selected by going North.

    By contrast, the ones who stayed behind were, perhaps, more timid, less willing to rock the boat, less critical, more willing to accept (until they weren't). They also faced stiff consequences for letting their thoughts show, as Mr. Till discovered, if those thoughts were disagreeable to whites.

    Up North, you could talk back, be unpleasant if you felt that way, and not get lynched; down South, you were taking your life in your hands if you sassed or argued or became disagreeable. Or even flirted with the wrong woman. So even someone who was agreeable down South might turn disagreeable up North simply because he had the freedom to be that way.

    Anyway, it's a theory.

    Due to the Fugitive Slave Laws many escaped slaves took the 'underground railroad' to Canada, 'the promised land', as they were still not safe in 'free states' from slave bounty hunters who could legally take them back south.

    Britain had banned the slave trade in the 1820's, a description of a British ship intercepting a slave trader in 1829 here.

    In some cases the bounty hunters took free blacks instead of escaped slaves, ergo the true story related in 12 Years a Slave.

    Blacks, and others, Jews Italians etc, were also lynched, mostly in the south, but some north of the Mason Dixon Line. See flash presentation of lynching photography at link.

    Postcards were sold at most lynchings, and attending one was considered good American entertainment. You could chalk one up for the hippies in Hollywood for changing public opinion on that I guess, if BeauEvil is right.

    Down south, you could even bring the kids, as this one in Ft. Lauderdale Florida in 1935, from the Without Sanctuary website:



    By 1935 lynchings were down to 18, 1936 it was 8 and for the most part disappeared by the 1950's. In a region of 10 states and 24 million people, you make it sound like weekends were to fix up popcorn and take the family to go lynch black people. Should I judge 40 million African-Americans today by the heavy murder rate in Detroit? (345 blacks murdered in 2012, 411 total)

    Since you just recently discovered the South is poor and poverty brings social problems like murder and unwanted pregnancy, I'll clue you in on another tidbit:

    On the eve of the Great Depression about two-thirds of farm land in the state [Georgia] was operated by sharecroppers. The majority were poor whites who lived on an annual per capita income of less than $200.

    The article then goes on to describe the situation as even worse for blacks where only 12% owned their own land.

    We're talking about conditions comparable to modern day Afghanistan. Context, buddy, context - these dirt-poor people black and white during the depression were scrabbling out existence and hunting food under rocks, and you're obsessing or amazed that social relations were horrible and they treated each other badly? Have you seen the daily death toll between Sunnis & Shiites in Iraq, or the various groups fighting it out in the Congo?

    [Beau, by the way, was talking about the 60's and 70's, i.e. after the Great Society and Civil Rights]

    you make it sound like weekends were to fix up popcorn and take the family to go lynch black people.

    I don't think that was NCD's point. But your immediate reaction is always to defend the poor white folks. I think everyone knows that most white people in the south never lynched anyone nor saw a lynching. But neither did they stand up in mass, not even a significant minority of white people, and demand something be done to stop it. Mostly it was supported by the whites and when there was a rare court case the all white juries found those charged not guilty.

    The thing is lynchings usually weren't committed by an out of control angry mob. Law enforcement were complicit in the majority of lynchings in the South after the Civil War, he said. For the most part, lynchings went unpunished. Its not the number of lynchings that matter. It doesn't take that many to change the behavior of all blacks in a state or region, especially when its the police that are the perpetrators and the judicial system their defenders.  "The larger point for African-Americans is that they had to tread carefully everywhere."

    I have no doubt those "few" lychings were backed up by many more scare tactics  and night time visits for any black that got a bit too uppity. With the knowledge each time that it could have been a lyching in the minds of the black people in the communities and there was nothing they could do about it except knuckle under.

    Call it "PP Derangement Syndrome" - your logic goes all to shit when you talk to me.

    "you make it sound like weekends were to fix up popcorn and take the family to go lynch black people.

    I don't think that was NCD's point. But your immediate reaction is always to defend the poor white folks."

    "Postcards were sold at most lynchings, and attending one was considered good American entertainment...Down south, you could even bring the kids, as this one in Ft. Lauderdale Florida in 1935, "

    Explain the difference between "fix up popcorn and take the family" and "good American entertainment, bring the kids"

    NCD's linking an event at the tail end of the lynching monstrosity with BeauEvil's comments about the south 35 years later after Civil Rights et al. And was there a flag in the photo I missed?

    Re: scare tactics, I'm sure there were gangs and break-ins and beatings and terrorizing the neighborhood/projects that surrounded many of those 411 murders. Not quite equivalent, but nor is painting all southerners as lurkers at a hanging.

    "Its not the number of lynchings that matter." Marginally true - you addressed this to me with vaccinations - below a certain amount and it's not effective. 140 lynchings across the south is a vibrant ominous reminder of something that's commonplace. The 1-3 per year after 1946 are shocking but a disapproved abnormality.

    While I've read enough about southern cowardice and silence in front of mob violence against blacks, at the same time I don't think it's fair to say or imply that most southerners even in 1935 would take their kids out to see black folks strung up, whether for fun or duty, and certainly we came a long way since the "Good Ol' Boys" era Randy Newman sang so nicely about.

    Really - it becomes very easy to just toss any accusation at all white southerners. Throw in a picture of a lynching sometime somewhere, and it's all justified.

    Acknowledgement - even after slavery, white southerners terrorized blacks, lynched them, imprisoned them on false charges, beat them, denied them work and property and education and opportunity, did all sorts of terrible things - the worst period was probably reconstruction up to the turn of the century, but the renowned racism and lynchings in the "Birth of a Nation" period continued  well into the 30's, and the racist rantings, beatings, harassment, terrorizing by many white southerners continued on into the 1950's and 1960's, when the problem was largely confronted with great improvement by the Civil Rights act of 1964 and the subsequent protests up to say 1970. That of course didn't end the story or racism, but it's overall pretty much ended the aftermath of the Civil War, 100 years later than it should have.

    There's enough bad shit that really happened - to stir things up with unrealistic distortions doesn't help and isn't justified.

    to stir things up

    And that is precisely what clinging to the flag does.

    What else would anyone expect?

    Ramona has stated quite eloquently that flags are inherently emotional things. They are designed to do that. They aren't logical arguments or historical treatises listing fact after supportive fact.

    If Southerners want to say--and it is true as you've pointed out--that things have changed radically...

    Why oh why cling to a symbol that, by virtue of having been born at the worst of times and in support of the worst of the worst of those times, says eloquently and with great emotion that things have NOT changed at all?

    If we're going to take Ramona's opening question seriously--why do they love it so? and I guess we've tried here, though without success--it doesn't do to say that Southern folks ain't too smart.

    Vietnam called - since they kicked our ass even tag-teaming with their French colonialist occupiers & exploiters, they want us to stop using that imperialist stars-and-stripes we put everywhere the way a dog pees on door stoops. It's the least we can do to show things have changed. Or are you clinging to flags and religion?

    Lessee - what other symbols need to go - any mention or sign of cotton fields, plantations, antebellum homes, debutante dresses, confederate cemeteries, Charleston harbor, Scarlet O'Hara, Huck Finn & straw hats, steamboats, hounddogs, REM's Fables of the Reconstruction, Faulkner... Maybe we could use the north's famous southern railroad which no one could afford and no one rode on - ghost train to nowhere. Kinda fitting. Think I'll write a song.

    Except that there's essentially ZERO objection to many of these other symbols of the South...and there's a good reason for it.

    I'm pretty sure that the US flag and French flag don't fly anywhere in Vietnam except, maybe, when they're trying to drum up export business or a foreign dignitary visits.

    But like I say...

    If you want to cling to that symbol of hatred and oppression as representing the best the South has got...go for it.

    You're right, we shipped all our Vietnam-era flags to Iraq. I hear the people are crazy about them - greeting us with flowers and all.

    The Iraqis don't like our flag and the Vietnamese don't like our flag.

    All for good reasons.

    A lot of people also don't like the CSA flag for similarly good reasons.

    It stood for a stupid and immoral cause. And as far as you and Ramona have been able to elucidate, it still does.

    Other flags have had the opportunity to be, as it were, "rehabilitated" because they ALSO have stood for some very good things.

    Unfortunately for the Nazi and CSA flags, they do not. Both were CREATED to stand for immoral causes and remain stuck there.

    You know...

    Some modern-day Germans could point to all their good works in moving beyond anti-Semitism, paying reparations, creating a peaceful country...

    But, even so, they couldn't go and raise the Nazi flag and say, "See? The Nazi flag NOW stands for all these good things we've been doing."

    Not with any credibility...

    And not without a Herculean effort.

    And it wouldn't matter one wit if those Germans were thinking good thoughts while they were hoisting the flag.

    And the same point may well apply to the American flag's reception in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever we've done bad.


    Modern communication puts us all closer and more complicit in drone lynching, for instance, than most Southerners were to a rope hanging one county away.

    So why are they clinging to the flag

    Still a great question after all these years.

    Ramona notes, correctly, that flags are emotional things for many people. They are meant to be. They are like "collectors" and "intensifiers" for all kinds of emotions.

    But given the great emotion around flags, and in this case the CSA flag, it's a little hard to buy the argument that folks are attached to them, well, just because it keeps them warm on a cool night, covers the window for a bong communion...

    ...or even something as amorphous as expressing "Southern pride." All flags evoke in a broad way, but this is REALLY broad.

    And "Southern pride" is about the only halfway reasonable response to the question, "What benign message does the Southern war flag send?" No one can really answer this question, and I've read almost all of this thread pretty closely.

    But even if we accept "Southern pride" as the answer, then I think we can all agree that, at this point in time and for the last 150 years, it's symbolized "White Southern pride," because it's hard to find a black person from the South who takes this kind of pride in where he's from.


    I also find the discussion about parsing the flags ridiculous. Which Confederate are do you find objectionable? Which Confederate flag ya got? 

    I meant to say that this is an amazing site.

    Went there and spent some time.

    Watched the movie which blows up the photos so you can really see them.

    Then went to the publishing site that published the guy's book.

    Well, I don't know about the other nine Dagbloggers, but I'm half Italian and half Finnish, so I believe I have the right to tell you you're absolutely right. 

    Except for that one remote section near Campobasso.  The Italians there are very quiet.  Nobody pays much attention to them.

    And then there are those rowdy Finns in Kristiinankaupunki.  They make it bad for everyone.

    The exception makes the rule cool

    The happy Blacks in South Carolina were not very happy when a White woman living in a historically Black neighborhood decided to put up a Confederate flag to demonstrate pride in her heritage. Her Black neighbors peacefully protested. She was unmoved. The neighbors put up fences so that they wouldn't have to gaze at the racist symbol. In response, the woman put the flag on a higher pole so her symbol of pride could be seen by all . 

    This looks like a great way to build harmony and gain support for the Confederate flag  among the Black community.

    For every  action there is a reaction!


    Hats off to Newton

    She was wrong.  It was hateful.  Her neighbors had a right to protest. 

    Oh by the by, Ramona, you manage to get a really heated argument going even when it was not your intent. 




    And I thought this was my forte.


    Although when I do it, I intend, as they say.


    Oh you are so much fun!

    Looks like it was a discussion waiting to happen.  Fine with me!

    One funny thing to me in these discussions is it seems people think "Southerners" are some different breed. But of course the Atlantic southern colonies were settled by Brits just like the northern colonies.

    Virginia of course was an early British colony with the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh.

    The Carolinas were settled by Brits from Barbados (plus a few French) who brought in slaves, and they made money selling furs plus captured Indians to the Caribbean. Georgia was famously settled with British debtors to keep the Spanish in Florida away, and originally *slavery was outlawed*. But the new colony complained they couldn't compete with other colonies, so slavery was permitted.

    During the French-Indian Wars, the colonists were all united as British, and the war had the effect of getting colonists out of their homes and mixing them as a single American culture - which allowed them to unify against Britain after the war.

    270,000 slaves were imported before 1770, i.e. as British. A total of 326,000 were imported up to 1790 - the invention of the cotton gin. 264,000 were imported after.

    Most of the population from the Deep South came from original Brits or new settlers from the Upper South (Tenn/Kentucky/Virginia). Alabama had a population of 1000 in 1800 and 10,000 in 1810, Arkansas had 1000 in 1810. Mississippi had a few more, 7600 in 1800 due to being on the waterway and closeness to the French/Spanish hub of New Orleans, as of course did Louisiana. Population significantly jumped in the deep south region after 1810, including slaveholding in the 55 years before the war.

    If there was much difference in white settlers from original Brits (or the French near New Orleans), and the new colonists, it might have been the greater percentage of Scotch Irish, whereas the mid-Atlantic up had a greater number of Germans. That's it. "Them" is us. (except Romana, whose Finnish-Italian forebears didn't have a dog in this fight)

    So how did 1 set of Brits become so different from another set of Brits in a trivial amount of time?

    So how did 1 set of Brits become so different from another set of Brits in a trivial amount of time?

    Not really surprising if you go back a little further in British history. The Glorious Revolution aka English Civil War in 1688 was nearer in time to the American Revolution than we are now to our own Civil War.

    English religious Dissenters initially settled New England and Pennsylvania while the Cavalier stock companies settled Virginia and Carolina. For the Scotch-Irish, the American colonies were their second emigration after first leaving Scotland for The Ulster Planation, also a commercial enterprise.

    Sounds kind of backwards that the South was settled for less religious reasons than the North until you realize just how sanctimonious political correctness really is.

    If you haven't already, check out David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed for some real history of our first European immigrants.


    Nice, thanks.

    DHF is a great historian as is this book.

    Complaints about "political correctness" are really just a desire to let one's racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic freak flag fly without any complaints from the peanut gallery.

    I would say that 9 times out of 10, your last paragraph is correct. Those most likely to complain about "political correctness" are really complaining about the expectation that they be polite. That said, there are times when political correctness can get sanctimonious, such as when one doesn't know the currently "correct" term to refer to a population of humans. As long as someone is being polite, any "incorrect" usage should be corrected politely in turn, which I do think is the norm, but I've definitely witnessed some unfortunate exceptions.

    It happened in even less time to Germans.

    In WWI, Jews were being awarded the Iron Cross for valor.

    Just a few years later, their fellow Germans were gassing them. And not just German Jews, but Russian and Polish and French Jews and any other Jew they could get their hands on.

    This isn't a metaphysical question or discussion about the nature of certain kinds of people. It's about culture and choices.

    Lets not forget my ancestors the Swedes, who were here as early as 1683.  They would have been part of the "North Midlands" in Delaware which was according to Albion's Seed part of the Friends' Migration and those whacky Quakers who gave us the likes of Nixon. 

    Yeah, but they would have been quoting Kierkegaard and Swedenborg and debating whether the flag even existed - we have to draw the line *somewhere*, no? cheeky


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