Fightin' Fire with Fire
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" on a rainy afternoon! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Today we're gonna talk about flag-burning, specifically the Confederate battle flag better known as the "Stars and Bars."
Depending upon where you went to school, you learned this about the Civil War:
1. It was a war aiming to keep the United States together rather than allowing it to break into two nations. The issue that caused the division was human slavery and a state's right to decide whether or not to allow said slavery. When the North perceived it was winning the war, President Lincoln freed the slaves. The North won the war, and the United States remained united, thus beginning an international superpower state that today is one of the dominant nations in the world.
2. It was a war of aggression foisted upon a peace-loving group of states whose economy was influenced by the gentle use of agreeable domestic servants. Though a vast majority of its soldiers fought not because of slavery but because of states' rights, the cause was in vain. This brave attempt to create a nation was brutally crushed, in some cases by slash-and-burn methods. Nevertheless, almost a century and a half since the end of the conflict, a nationalist pride still burns in the breasts of the people so brutally treated, especially but not exclusively those who can trace ancestry to soldiers who participated in the failed attempt at nationhood.
I'm gonna let you figure out which history lesson you're likely to get in New Jersey, and which you'll get in Mississippi.
However you feel about the good ol' Confederate States of America, you can't deny that its battle flag (which was never the national flag) still has a mighty potency as a symbol. Many of the people who wear it, fly it, display it, or revere it, are racists. A few are nationalists who've never accepted Lee's surrender. There's also another core group of people who use this flag as a symbol not because they're racist, or want the South to rise again, but just to look like badass rebels.
You'll see the Stars and Bars all over the place in West Virginia, even though that state exists because the people living there in 1860 did not want to secede. Just recently, I saw a teenager in the Eastern Panhandle with the Stars and Bars on the back of his t-shirt. The caption read: "This shouldn't piss you off, but if it does, oh well." The kid knows he's gonna piss people off by wearing that shirt ... and most of the people he'll piss off aren't black people, because there aren't very many black people in that area. This kid is probably racist, but more probably he's rebellious. If he can fight you one-on-one and win, what does it matter why he's fighting? He's a big badass, a tough guy, someone who ought to get laid by pretty girls.
I'm a big fan of Jesus' General, one of the blogosphere's premiere commanders in the War on Morons. JG has begun a Facebook group called "Burn the Confederate Flag Day" and has named September 12, 2010 for the first conflagration. Why 9/12? Because it's a big Tea Party rally day. What better way to expose the racism in the Tea Party than to set the Stars and Bars ablaze at counter protests?
I joined the "Burn the Confederate Flag Day" not because I intend to burn a Confederate flag. (I'll get to that in a minute.) Principally I just want to see the level of vitriol that Jesus' General is going to incur by suggesting such an affront. So far the spectacle has been interesting, to say the least -- and the concept hasn't gone viral yet.
Yes, I am a little afraid that "belonging" to such a group will get me hacked. But I love a good debate.
Here's why I'm occasionally in favor of burning Old Glory but not in favor of burning the Stars and Bars.
Burning Old Glory generally happens when a portion of the populace is disgruntled by the decisions being made by the national government. It is therefore a protest against a national policy.
Burning the Stars and Bars is different. It sends a message of contempt to a certain segment of the population, not to the government. And whenever you heap contempt on certain segments of the population, you reflect badly in the glare of the fire.
And yet the glorious Jesus' General has had to take this step because no one with a reasonable agenda has risen to oppose the Tea Party. Where are the organizers of "Wear a Red Cross If You're Uninsured Day?" How about a nostalgic, "Make Love Not War" protest (considering that the Tea Party's aim is to cut government spending, but they don't ever say a word about the defense budget)? As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, I would personally be thrilled with a "Go Back Home If Your Ancestors Weren't Here in 1776" Day. Quick! Someone tell me how that would affect the population of the USA? If you said there would be a much higher percentage of African Americans, BING! You're right.
We at "The Gods Are Bored" heartily endorse counter-protests on Tea Party Day. It's just the whole Stars and Bars flag-burning thing we don't like. They lost the war like egg-sucking dogs, and they're still waving that flag. Isn't that pathetic enough? They used it to frighten black people, and now our president is black. Isn't that statement enough about the power of that loser flag? Gosh, if you burn it, how will we know which ones are the moron rebel racists?
My solution for Jesus' General? Let's collect the Social Security and Medicare cards of the Tea Partiers and burn those instead! Assuming, of course, that the Tea Partiers aren't going to resort to such effective statements themselves.