Confederate battle flag has no place in government or polite society, period. Looks like we’re (nearly) all about to stop pretending it does.

Confederate flag rants roundup post! Yay!

Oh South Carolina state flag, looks like you are finally going to lose your status as “most bullshit official government banner in America” — and that honor will pass to Mississippi, forever the butt of all backwards-Southerner jokes. I  mean once Amazon, Sears AND Wal-Mart decide to stop selling flag merch, doesn’t that pretty much eliminate the marketplace?  (Fuck you, yeehawing cretins who drove up Confederate flag purchases by 1,000-2,000% or more this week. You are garbage humans, and you are losing this war. AGAIN.  Annnnyyywaaaay…. )

As a liberal person born in Atlanta, and who lived there 30 full years, I have had many opportunities to consider Southern states’ choice to include representations of the Confederate battle flag on their modern state banners. Obviously, I’ve never been in favor. Just in case you’re curious, numerous exposures to the “it’s about heritage, not hate” argument is actually inversely effective. Not very persuasive, and in fact more hollow with each repetition. I watched Georgia go back and forth on it, as did Arkansas and a bunch of others.

But now, finally, Southerners AND non-Southerners are finally starting to come around to thinking that maaaaaybe the American equivalent of the swastika shouldn’t fly over state Capitols, schools, and the DMV (and be printed on its license plates for convenient drive-by racism).

Here is definitely the first time I’ve ever supported a statement by S.C. senior Sen. Lindsey Graham. Of course I suspect his motives — and don’t think I didn’t notice that he says remove it from the grounds, not abolish it, not change the official South Carolina state flag, no no, but to “remove it from the State House grounds” — but today I’m willing to take this on its face. Wary credit where it is due. (Don’t read the comments though, unless, … well c’mon, you know what’s going to be in the comments, now don’t you?)

Then came words from the state’s junior senator: “Sen. Tim Scott releases statement on Confederate flag.” Another odd moment, sharing a Fox report, but this is a funny week.  Mr. Scott is not only a politician, he is an African-American South Carolina state politician with a working brain. So this is the gentlest, most conciliatory possible version of this statement. (But yet again I encourage you not to read the comments.) Note that Fox doesn’t call it it the state flag, and neither does Scott. That is a little weird, but more pointedly, see that Scott refers to it repeatedly as the “Confederate battle flag.” There is a reason for that: Because it’s not even one of the official flags of the Confederated States. See, that would-be nation first used a few Stars and Bars configurations; then, leaders tinkered with a few other banners — which incorporated the Cross but was not only the Cross. The famous one is a *battle flag,* so it truly represents treason and actual bloodshed by any intelligent measure.

Its use as a state flag today is a symbol to me of nothing so much as ignorance, then a healthy amount of anger and stubbornness. The associated hate is just the glaze tying it all together. Nasty sticky glaze. So even if its fans feel they are not themselves being hateful, their dismissiveness and devaluation of the pain it inflicts is so negligent as to be thisclose to intentional cruelty. GTFO already!!

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, in her “call for removal” is craven and transparent. Her real opinions were made clear months ago (the “CEOs” quote in October) — and all the time before that, frankly, when she did and said nothing about it. (Also in that story: “we fixed all that” hahahahahahah Ugh. Idiot.) I like this report very much, it puts it into context.

Also if I’m going to believe someone reversing position on this matter, I’m going to believe someone like Norman Brannon, who is quoted in the article. His language implies real remorse: “What lit the fire under this was the tragic death of my friend and his eight parishioners…. It took my buddy’s death to get me to do this. I should feel ashamed of myself.”  Yup. Someone in that building should.

And here’s where the rubber of rhetoric is meeting the road of accountability: I love these journos holding legislators’ feet to the fire. Simple question, y’all: “Should the Confederate Flag be taken down?” … where do they each stand?

And of course, there are shitty Republican supporters (not all Republicans are shitty; I’m talking about those who are) who are posting up photos and comments about how Democrats of the 1950s are the ones who revived the flag as a symbol of the South, to rally segregationists, and how Jimmy Carter Governor of Georgia this and Bill Clinton Governor of Arkansas that for their state flags, and Party of Lincoln blah blah revisionist history blah.

One asked me, in all apparent wide-eyed innocent seriousness, “Why is this ONLY a Republican issue?

Hoo boy. Look, any responsible argument recognizes the historic Democratic party & the historic Southern leadership is not faultless on this issue, too say the absolute least. Obviously. But citing Jimmy Carter’s stance (you are showing a photo from his Georgia governorship? or his Presidency? either way, it’s at least 35 years old, and I don’t think there’s a single person on earth who thinks that Carter would stand for/next to that Georgia state flag today) and former Gov. Clinton’s strategic support for the revised Arkansas state flag (at least 20 years ago) are not what is being discussed right now. TODAY it IS a Republican issue because there is not a single national Democrat that supports the use of the Confederate battle flag as representation of any state… but especially using *only* the battle flag as the state banner. (Other Southern state flags reference the Confederacy, but only SC and Mississippi use a recognizable battle flag.)

Look at that SC state legislature roll call I cited above. Although there are some GOP state legislators voting YES to removal (and hurray for them!!) there are zero Dems voting no. Only Repubs are voting NO, or “undecided” or refusing to answer. Not everyone has responded… but I think that trend will continue. I look forward to the actual vote.

Please. We can reasonably disagree on so many things among the two parties — and among the factions in those coalitions (I’m a lefty but I don’t agree with all Democrats nor with the Democratic Party on several issues) — but as American citizens who honor equality, opportunity and freedom, we should be united in making this flag as socially unacceptable among Americans as the swastika or the hammer and sickle, and likewise reviled as a symbol of a past regime whose philosophy is incompatible with our ideals and way of life. It will still be anyone’s First Amendment right to display it — but anyone doing so will be revealing true personal feelings of White supremacy, just like anyone displaying a swastika supports Aryan supremacy. It should no longer be any official part of any part of American government, which is meant to offer equal protection under the law and representation for all Americans — including ALL South Carolinians.


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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