Sunday, July 12, 2015

Part II - That Fucking Flag

So a thing happened a couple nights ago that made me see the flip-side of my argument in the previous post.

I saw a photo on Flickr of someone wearing a confederate flag bikini, asking "Do you find this offensive? Should I take it off?" She was trying to be cute and sexy.

I do, in fact, find that flag offensive- because it fucking is- but even more so I was terribly offended by her cavalier ha-ha-isn't-this-funny attitude about it.

No, it isn't funny. Let's look at the history of this flag-

(Note: If you don't want to read about the flag, that's cool. I'm not here to force you into a history lesson. Please skip down to the video I've posted, though, before you disregard this entire post.)

There were actually three versions of the national flag of the Confederate States of America (CSA). The first version, the one known as "Stars and Bars" looked way too similar to the US flag for the CSA. They disliked Old Glory because, to them, it was a symbol of emancipation and abolitionism. They wanted something different to make sure no one would mistakenly think the southerners were anti-slavery.
Stars and Bars
This lead a fine gentleman by the name of William Tappan Thompson, writer and co-founder of the Savannah Morning News, to design the second version, the so-called "Stainless Banner". Here's a happy little quote from him regarding the flag (emphasis mine):

"As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as the white mans flag.… As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism."

By the way, the "stainless" part of the name referred to the nice solid white background- symbolizing the superiority of the white man. 

Are you still with me? 

There was some criticism to this flag, though. Soldiers feared the utter whiteness of it would be seen as a flag of truce. Many others praised it, however, as it embodied "the destiny of the Southern master and his African slave". 

How charming.
Stainless Banner
The third flag, the "Blood Stained Banner" was created the same as the "Stainless Banner" but with a big red stripe down the side of it so it couldn't be mistaken as a flag of truce. It wasn't used much as the Confederate States were falling apart by then and most liked the "Stainless Banner" better anyway.
Blood Stained Banner
Of course, the flag most people think of as the Confederate flag is none of those... it's the battle flag, originally rejected as one of the national flags but adopted by the Army of Northern Virginia, led by one Robert E. Lee.
Confederate Battle Flag
All of those differences don't matter, though. The Confederate flag, in any form, is absolutely a symbol of the Confederate States of America, the side that fucking lost the damn war- a war that was fought for many convoluted reasons but really boiled down to a bunch of white men wanted to own black people. 

End. Of. Story.
By the way... Jenny Horne? She's a republican. Conservative. An ancestor of Jefferson fucking Davis.

In my tiff with the person in the rebel flag bikini, she claimed it was just a fun, sexy picture... and that is was just a flag... oh, and that it has a bad connotation now because "a few people used it wrong". 

No... it's the willfully ignorant southerners who claim it's just a symbol showing pride in their heritage that are using it wrong. Dylann Roof used it exactly the way it was designed to be used- as a way to establish his "white superiority" and hatred of blacks.

Is the swastika just a shape? Of course not. And the fucking Confederate flag isn't just a flag. 

There was an incredibly moving ceremony yesterday where this flag was removed from its place flying over the capital of South Carolina. It had flown there since 1961 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The start, not the end.

What's significant about that? What was happening in America in 1961. 

Integration. Desegregation.

The Freedom Rides spread throughout the south. It was a beautiful time and an ugly time- and make no mistake, the South Carolina legislators flew that flag over their capital as a way to say "we don't want any of your civil rights bullshit". 

I could go on for thousands of more words here about how the Confederate flag is, in fact, a symbol of hatred for blacks but I won't change anyone's mind.

Those who are still supporting it and defending it and wearing mother-fucking bikinis and giggling about it are so deeply entrenched in their willful ignorance that nothing anyone can say or do will change their minds.

How sad is that?

It is so deeply ingrained in their beliefs that they cannot see how hurtful and hateful it is. There are so many folks here in the southern United States who are proud of their ignorance. Hard to fathom, isn't it? They're actually proud of stupidity. 

You know what? I was once ignorant about the history of the Confederate flag, too. The bikini-wearer most certainly pointed it out to me when she reminded me that I had once starred photos of her wearing the same (or similar) bikini and, gee, wasn't I being a hypocrite now?

Hypocrisy doesn't mean educating yourself and making an informed opinion, even if it is a sea change from from a previously held belief. 

According to the bikini-wearer, as I'm also not terribly fond of the US flag, I should leave the country. That sentiment, frequently tossed about by our so-called patriots, is about as un-American as it comes. It goes against pretty much everything our forefathers wanted in this country- freedom of expression, of thought, of religion, of speech. 

It's also ironic that in the same breath she was so fiercely defending the Confederate flag, the flag of the people who hated America so much they fought a losing war to remove themselves from it, she was also defending the flag of that much-hated country.
My Fake Patriotism - Taken for the 4th of July and mocking the "we're better than everyone" attitude of Americans that I despise.
Not to mention, she accused me of being discriminatory for unfollowing her on Flickr. That word- I do not think it means what she thinks it means. She asked me how I'd feel if someone unfollowed me if they found my photos offensive. Well, fuck, I should hope they'd unfollow me! Why the hell would I want anyone following me that is offended by my photos?

I've unfollowed tons of people because I don't like their photos. Rarely do I tell them why, but, hey, she asked.

But for christ's sake, if I offend  you, by all means, unfollow me. And yes, go right ahead and tell me about it, too. Perhaps you'll be able to educate me and change my wicked ways. 

I am always willing to learn. And I have no pride in digging in my heels and refusing to see other points of view. And it's even possible that my mind will be changed. 

But your argument better be a damn good one because I will argue right the fuck back, with sources, annotations, scientific studies, unscientific studies and just good old-fashioned research. I love that shit!

There is nothing I know everything about and I love to learn. Why are some people so damn scared of it?
Reading with Willie- He LOVES to learn!
When your argument can pretty much be summed up as "nuh uh, is not", well... you're just a fucking idiot. Give me something more than ad hominem and ad populum attacks, red herrings, straw men, post hoc ergo propter hoc or any other logical fallacies. Use your brains, people! Argue with facts and reason, not emotion.

I'm sure there are other things in our exchange that I've forgotten... I'll probably remember them late tonight as I'm lying in bed rehashing everything, as I do, but since she deleted my comments on the photo and I didn't screen-shot them, I have no evidence of them. So if you happen to stumble across that particular photo and notice that the comments are all 100% supportive of her stand, well... there you go. She removed anything disagreeing with her. 

That's the 'Murican way, y'all. 

...

The amazing Congressman John Lewis sums it all up much better than I can:

"50 years ago when we were beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge and attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, there were officers of the law wearing the Confederate battle flag on their helmets.

"When the Klan marched through our neighborhoods in Alabama, in Georgia, in South Carolina; when countless homes in Birmingham were bombed and burned; when they set fire to black churches throughout the South, the Confederate battle flags were a symbol of their cruelty and injustice.

"There is no way—no way the federal government should ever display this flag on any federal site or sell it on federal property. It is a symbol of division, a symbol of separation, it is a symbol of hate. It is a relic of our dark past."

People are free to wear the rebel flag as a bikini, fly it over their trailers, attach it to the back of their pickup trucks right along with their truck nuts, if they want. They look like jackasses for doing it, though, and their thinly veiled racism shines through quite clearly. Thankfully, they are being left behind as our country moves forward. 
And they deserve every bit of mocking derision they receive. Willful ignorance is the worst kind of ignorance. If a person truly doesn't know something, they can't be faulted, but if they won't know something, that's a very different thing. And I have no patience for that. Facts are facts and it is a fact that the Confederate flag is a hate symbol. Cloak it however you want while screaming about your pride and heritage, it is still, and always will be, a hate symbol.

Part III to come... Looking at the real issue.


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