Of Confederate Flags And Other Bullshit
“A rally on the National Mall, led by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, was intended to show that Tea Party activists — supporters of the House Republicans who forced the shutdown over their opposition to the new health care law — were in no mood to give in. Some waved Confederate flags and called for President Obama to be impeached.“
“Senate Leaders Talk but Fail to Reach Deal on Shutdown,” Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times, October 14, 2013
Is it OK for Southerners to carry a Confederate flag at a rally of like-minded people, the same way it’s OK for African-Americans (but only African-Americans) to call each “nigger”? I don’t think I approve of either of these things.
Oh, sure. The presence of the Confederate flag at this rally on the National Mall? Just a sign of “states’ rights.” No doubt! The linkage between the Confederate flags and calls for impeachment proceedings against President Obama? Surely just a reflection of these people’s anger that the Affordable Care Act imposes actual healthcare on millions of people without it.
If you believe all this, I have a bridge to sell you; please do get in touch.
The Affordable Care Act was deemed Constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. Note that no one is calling for five Justices to be impeached. After all, this is the same court that has loosened gun regulations, loosened rules on money in politics, and transmogrified incorporated businesses into individuals for the purposes of Constitutional rights. Was their decision about “Obamacare” just an aberration?
I digress. Here’s the thing: that flag–the Confederate flag–has connotations as clear as a swastika. Just like the symbol of the Nazis also embodied the German’s desire to get out from under the thumb of repressive post-World War I sanctions, and to re-arm and re-establish themselves as a true, powerful, independent European country … the connection to virulent anti-Semitism and the holocaust is hard to escape. In the same way yes, sure, the Confederate flag represents an era of very specific politics. And that flag also represents a war fought over the enslavement of millions of people and (following the Civil War) a century long, multi-generational period of sustained and often violent discrimination.
It is pathetic that people like Senator Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin do not denounce such activities. To do so would actually elevate the Tea Party and make clear that theirs is a movement not driven by racism–by a deep-seated racist hatred of an African-American president. But alas they cannot and do not repudiate such things, either because they, too, share those sentiments, or because they value too much the support of such people. Equally pathetic is our national news media which reports such details in passing, but fails–out of fear?–to delve too deeply into the underlying issues.
I’m no fan of President Obama. I admire his oratory, but frown on much of his politics, from the vast limitations of the Affordable Care Act to the vast increases he has sustained in our national “security” infrastructure. Still, I am not afraid to call out racism when I see it. And these people–people marching on the National Mall, demanding the president’s impeachment and waving the Confederate flag? These people are racists, and their motivations are of the most base variety. We must resist this behavior and the intellectually impoverished faux-ideology behind it.