Following the awful tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME last week in Charleston, South Carolina, it seems the whole country has turned on the so-called Rebel Flag (often erroneously referred to as the Stars and Bars) of the Northern Virginia Confederate Army. Perhaps because it was raised so often by those misguided fellows in bad ghost costumes, The Ku Klux Klan, perhaps because it represents solidarity in fighting for the institution of slavery in the War of Northern Aggression (in which the South fired the first shots at Fort Sumter, ironically just outside of Charleston), perhaps because it is a symbol of failed treason against the United States of America. Perhaps, there are a lot of reasons to turn on the Rebel Flag and this recent event of racial driven, craven and cowardly murder was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Suffice it to say, the time has come–South Carolina took down theirs, and as of Wednesday, Alabama showed up at the party too.
The climate around the flag has changed so much in the past week that many conservatives, even prominent ones like Sean Hannity, are jumping ship on the Rebel Flag–albeit Hannity is claiming to see the merits of both sides of the argument, somehow. Some are rallying behind this notion that it’s a state’s right issue to have the flag fly–which it very well may be. However,this issue in regards to license plates in Texas bearing the flag is before the Supreme Court and the ruling may at this point be moot. Any rational thinking person would have seen that allowing a state to emblazon a symbol of treason, oppression, and racism on any state issued materials is preposterous. The fact that it reached the Supreme Court at all is an indicator of just how many people actually support treason, oppression, and racism.
Regardless of that, the people in South Carolina have spoken, the government listened and the flag came down–and the Republican Party has withdrawn its support of the flag in kind, taking its cue from Governor Nikki Haley. As a dodge on the issue of this banner of oppression, rape, murder, and slavery is that campaign pins bearing Clinton 2008 and Clinton/Gore over the flag are turning up. I’ll call this a dodge because it doesn’t change the fact that the banner is flying and needs to come down. In fact, its more illustrative of the prevalent deep roots of the symbols of inequity, inequality, and inhumanity in the American political climate. Pointing the finger and saying “Democrats too!” doesn’t make it better. Bill Clinton’s late 1980’s Arkansas legislation protecting the flag doesn’t change the flag still flying in 2015–it’s a talking point meant to obfuscate from the here and now of bringing down the flag on public lands. The political fall out on the Clintons and any other major or minor party candidate can be dealt with appropriately in the polls and on the stumps (and it should–ask those questions folks, demand answers).
Mind you, the fight is over the flag on public lands and public issued materials; not about the flag’s existence. We can’t abolish the flag or any other symbol, but we can take responsible positions about what to display on our public lands and on our official Government facilities. The Dixie-proud should have no fear about hanging their flag on the back of their pick up trucks, the sides of their trailer, or as drapery on their porches. They should not fear legal recourse for wearing their Rebel regalia on their belt buckles, emblazoned on their boots, or adorning their skull painted t-shirts. Certainly, a willing tattoo artist will permanently ink that horrid symbol of hate on your limbs, torso, forehead, or rear if you’ve got the money. That doesn’t keep, however, big vendor venues like Amazon, Ebay, or Walmart from carrying them, either. That’s a choice that private companies can make privately, just as you can make yours privately. After all, aren’t corporations people too?
Come on y’all, you’ve got to see that your symbol of treason has become politically toxic–and considering 150 years of shelf-life after declaring war on the Union, you can whistle Dixie straight from your blackened hearts that your venom was potently and officially displayed in plain sight for so long. It was a good run for a bad thing.
Now, for those bigots, traitors, and supposedly proud ‘Muricans crying that this is the start of socialism and that your freedom of speech is trampled upon I have to correct you. Amazon, Ebay, and Walmart have decided that the political zeitgeist affecting many or most of their customers might turn against them carrying such distasteful merchandise is actually captialism and a free choice. People rallying in public for recourse from their elected officials (and receiving it!) is actually the First Amendment in successful utilization. Hurrah! American ideals abound. Win some lose some, right Dixieland? But, there’s an upside for those of you looking to brazenly bandy your brand of unabashed abhorrence–capitalism again! Yes, your dollars shall set you free.
See, y’all have got a cottage industry on the rise–or should that be a cabin industry? Just get your business loans together, call up GoDaddy and get your domains names, because now you can open your very own Rebel Flag friendly stores and websites. This works out for everyone. You can still label yourself as the worst kind of bigot and you don’t even have to mix with all those inferior Dark Folks, Mohammedian Terrorists, “Mexicans,” Jews, Gays or anyone unlike you. Only true aryans will walk the halls of Rebels R’ Us. You can all make a lot of money off of each other stitchin’ and knittin’ all you want and silk screening your vile symbol on anything. Hell, you can even combine it with a Swastika. Nobody will judge you at the check out–they’ve got a discount card and coupon for you.
Yes indeed, the First Amendment is a two way street, so go ahead and keep on making your bumper stickers, and painting the hood of your 1969 Dodge Charger. Do all of that. Use your Freedom of Speech and our system of capitalism hand-in-hand. Its very American of you, or Confederate, or however you want it to be. The rest of America is likely glad to see you do it–wear your beliefs on your sleeve so we can see you coming and act accordingly.
I will ask one favor though. Stop acting like your rights have been trampled upon. This isn’t the time to raise “Don’t Tread On Me” under your Confederate symbols. It’s not like people are seceding from the Union, chaining you together, making you toil in the fields, whip your own people, work until you die, live in poorly built shelters, stolen from your homeland, sold live stock, wearing scraps of sewn together rags, raping your daughters and wives without a second thought, and killing you without repercussions like mad dogs as a method of economic stability over the Rebel Flag. That’s something your forebears did under the symbol you’re fighting for. And that’s the only thing it represents.
So go on. Wear it, fly it, paint it. We’ll all know why.