Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quote of the day: For which it stands

(Updated below. That didn't take long, did it?)
I get the feeling that not only is the Confederate flag not going away, it's becoming the national flag of angry heartland white people.
- Steve M., putting in the veritable nutshell something I've suspected for some time.

I think part of the reason that things changed direction so quickly regarding the flying of the Confederate battle flag is that, even for the staunchest supporters of the flag, there was something motivating them that was at least as powerful as whether the flag by the statehouse in Charleston SC would be raised or lowered. That's the delicious, cool taste of victimage with a chaser of resentment.

(Update: Bartender -- better leave the bottle.)

I should point out, before we continue, that the occasional removal of the Confederate battle flag from public spaces, however symbolically interesting, amounts to nothing compared to the omnipresence of the image on hats, shirts, bumpers, school uniforms and mascots, tramp stamps, and underwear. And the fact that outlets like Walmart have pulled flags and flag-decorated merchandise from their shelves is hardly a sign that the lost cause is really lost. It just means that the chain has decided it no longer fits with their business model to carry them. Relax, ye Sons of the Confederacy: You've got a lot of company.

Although I doubt if the fliers of the flag will find that company much comfort. More comfort – more comfort by far – will be the opportunity for whining and pissing and moaning that they are martyrs to "political correctness" or "reverse discrimination" or whatever. (Opponents of the SCOTUS decision declaring gay marriage bans unconstitutional will have much the same thrill as they complain that they're being "oppressed" for their religious beliefs.)

My stance on flying the Confederate battle flag has been on the record many times. I used to think it's disgusting and pathetic, and should be stopped as both public and private practice. I still think it's disgusting and pathetic, but I believe it's entitled to First Amendment support (at least private display; I don't see any reason for it on public grounds). After all, it's the ugliest ideas that need First Amendment protection. And second, I consider that flag to have a public health value: It's like a hazmat warning: Danger! Toxic Environment Ahead! Or it's like the bell that lepers were once required to carry. I take the defenders of the flag – including the man who recently killed nine worshippers in a historically black church in Charleston – at their word. This is about heritage. A heritage of treason in defense of slavery, and of white supremacy. Congratulations.

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