Saturday, June 27, 2015
On the Cusp of the 4th of July
This piece by Mr. Coates should be read and probably printed out. Stick it on your Christmas cards too:
We are actually witnessing a bit of national progress this week, with two great Supreme Court decisions and Mr. Obama's Pinkney Eulogy to close out the work week. I watched the whole service when I got home from work, then Rachel Maddow ran the actual Obama speech as a part of her show. Later in the night, thunderstorms came through and although the power went off, it got cooler and we could let the little window airconditioner which has been toiling all week have a little Saturday respite. The, to make matters even nicer, the power came back on just in time to get up.
My old friend Ben Jones has decided to take a big stand against removing the Confederate Flag from public places, or at least so would seem the implication of his maintaining that he will "nevah" stop selling the flag at his various Cooter Stores. Why he's felt the need to take such a public position I'm not entirely sure of. Possibly he feels the hot breath of a business issue breathing down his neck. But he might have just said nothing. It seems unlikely that anyone is going to tell him to stop selling the flags. I think even the hoped for removal of the flag from the grounds of the Columbia, SC capitol is not a sure thing. There are quite a number of SC legislators who've been vocal in their support for the presence of the flag. Ms Haley's light touch of oblique criticism was countered in her usual sledge-hammer way by Ann Coulter: "she ain't from around here."
Meanwhile, the two Duke boys lived in a Hazzard in no state, and just down the road from Mayberry. There was, as Ben says, no racism in this Hazzard Never Never Land. Also, the boys never got killed in their Charger as they lept it around the countryside as though it was Traveler himself. These days the elderly dudes might lose their current car commercial, or maybe not. None of that has much to do with anything. We already knew Ben's show was a sit-com from a by-gone era. Nobody this side of Saturday Night Live ever thought to question the politics of the show. It had no politics at all. Which one could say is the magic of white privilege, but that magic is so much more in evidence every night on Fox News, where it is proclaimed to be the gawd's no spin truth ad nauseum to the angry and fearful rubes who keep up the ratings. (I should note, here, that the musical life of Jesse James, "Diamond Studs," that put the Red Clay Ramblers on the national map in 1975, suffered from the same privileged magic. Jesse James was a racist irregular who continued his depredations for fifteen years after the end of the Civil War until he was assassinated by a government agent. He wasn't a fun lovin' good-ole boy, never meanin' no harm. That's how he was played, to full houses.)
But as you can read in Mr. Coates' piece, the Confederate Flag was always about slavery and white supremacy. It stood for that American tragedy when the war was started by South Carolina. It stood for resistance when Bedford Forrest mounted the terrorist Klan after the war. And it stood for resistance yet again when it was rehung in 1962 from the Capitol flagpole in Columbia, by the old Southern Democratic politicians who fought the Civil Rights Movement tooth and nail and who, after the various Civil Rights laws were passed in the mid-'60s, switched pretty much en masse to the Republican Party as a measure of the success of Nixon's "Southern Strategy."
You can take your pick of eras with regard to ending at a minimum the publicly sanctioned display of the damned old rag. It's all of a piece. Here's an image that puts the lie to Mr. Jones:
And cudos to the Alabama Governor who, Thursday, decided on his own and with no particular pressure, to voluntarily remove the four rebel flags from the Montgomery State grounds. Equal cudos to Dale Earnhardt Junior, by the way. It certainly is necessary and sufficient reason enough that the flag offends millions of our fellow citizens. We ought to all be offended by that. But historical amnesia is never a good idea, and in the case of the Civil War, it's really embarassing. Yes, the foot soldiers on the Southern side in that conflict mostly had not even the "hope" of owning slaves, and were probably fighting for their friends in arms and their sense of place. Same as it ever was, in all wars. But Stonewall Jackson shot deserters, which will give a man impetus to charge up the hill.
Like our recent two-week scorcher, perhaps a fever has broken.
Wednesday Update: Ben Jones' has chosen to pursue a "southern strategy," expanding the shelves at his Cooter Stores to include a vast new array of confederate flag gear. You can click over there for a look:
This is exactly Nixon's original southern strategy: you don't want the racist vote, well we'll take it. But as with the Republican Party, there are consequences. When you next drive past the lil country store that time forgot, expect to see a parking lot full of choppers and gun racked pickups. As I suggested elsewhere, Ben could expand his merchandise to include replicas of Lester Maddox axe handles, which can no doubt be produced for next to nothing in any third world sweatshop. As for the flag flip flops, you'd think there's a modicum of disrespect in there somewheres or other. One of my wife's ancestors walked home from Appomattox, and ate a dog along the way to survive. He didn't wear no confederate flag flip flops I don't think.