Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Post of '07: Why I Hope African-American Culture Takes Back the Confederate Flag

So, since no one invited us to any kind of party, we've spent the evening watching SNL in the 90's. And so, with Mickelle snoozing on the sofa, here's one last thing. I just wanted to go on record in 2007 as saying that I hope that African-American culture takes back the Confederate Flag.

If you don't know what I mean by taking back or reclaiming, let me explain. In Nazi Germany, people who were at odds with the National Socialist agenda, were made to wear different insignia to represent their putative offense against decent society. We all know that Jews were made to wear yellow Stars of David. Homosexuals were made to wear pink triangles.

The homosexual communities in San Francisco, California and Edinburgh, Scotland have reclaimed the pink triangle from its formerly offensive and hateful connotation by wearing it with pride. I would like for some designer to do the same thing with the Confederate Flag.

I never used to consider the Confederate Flag to be a symbol of hatred. My ancestors fought and died for that flag against what they deemed an unlawful invasion--against the Constitution. 2nd Lt. Nineveh Taylor Buckner, Confederate States Army, my great-great-grandfather, was not a slave owner. He volunteered.

My parents are not racist. I certainly am not. When I see the flag it reminds me of my ancestors' sacrifices and my heritage (like it or not). At least it used to.

So, it pains me when I see how the racist asshat skinheads, rednecks, 1950's Southern state legislatures, and KKK members have appropriated it and made it into something that it never represented. Therefore, I hate what it has become, a symbol of hatred. I fully understand why African-Americans have moved to have it removed from state flags, etc. I think they are justified, and the Georgia flag now looks better without it.

Nothing infuriates the unrighteous like casting aside their best efforts to antagonize. That's why I want the Confederate Flag to be reclaimed. I would love it if hiphop artists (the clean ones at least) would start sporting the emblems of the CSA, at first ironically, and then in a positive statement of reconcilliation and national healing. Maybe then we could get people singing "Dixie" again without it seeming racist, maybe the AJC would put "Covers Dixie Like the Dew" back on its masthead, and maybe, just maybe, we could stop worrying about stuff that happened before any of our grandparents were born.


13 comments:

JC said...

Happy New Year to the Williams family! We too watched SNL in the 90s. Fun stuff. I still can't get enough cowbell.

We're still w/ family in Texas. Will head home tomorrow. Oh, and Mac, we had some Yummy cake for my birthday. :)

brent said...

"My ancestors fought and died for that flag against what they deemed an unlawful invasion--against the Constitution."

Mac, I love you, but I'm going to have to call B.S. on this one. Understanding the Constitution enough to know what provisions and logic allow for a right to secede, if one actually exists at all, is difficult even for constitutional scholars. So my guess is that your ancestors never really formed cogent arguments as to why this war was unconstitutional, but instead fought for the same reason most individual southerners fought: the assumption when Lincoln was elected he would abolish slavery. (And I think any of the other justifications by the South for the war other than slavery should be viewed as little more than a way to avoid the obvious.)

Mac said...

Brent, I love you too. Those strong bonds aside, I'm going to have to maintain my opinion here. My mom's ancestors didn't own slaves. They lived in Appalachia, an area mostly devoid of slaves, and they had nothing to gain by volunteering to go off to war. Also, having read the journals of my paternal great-great aunts who lived around Jackson, TN, I can tell you that their rhetoric was more about being invaded by a "damned lying Yankee" (Lincoln), than worrying about losing their slave(s).

Perhaps I'm too close an adherent to the Lost Cause theory, but I like to think that my ancestors were decent folks. I like the image put forth in Gods and Generals. If indeed it wasn't like that, well, I don't know what.

brent said...

"My mom's ancestors didn't own slaves. They lived in Appalachia, an area mostly devoid of slaves, and they had nothing to gain by volunteering to go off to war."

I'm willing to stipulate that the vast majority of those fighting for the South didn't have the means to own slaves. But that doesn't change the fact that they were willing to fight for states who were fighting like hell to hang on to the right to own slaves. And the fact that they were a level separated from that rationale doesn't change much for me. When you fight, you fight for your cause's side, even if you don't believe in it.

"but I like to think that my ancestors were decent folks."

This I don't understand. Most of my true heroes were slave-holders (Washington, e.g.). I don't subscribe to the theory that if you owned a slave you were a bad person, or that if you fought for slavery you were a bad person. You don't examine someone's morality in a vacuum--it has to be assessed in the circumstances s/he lived in. I think you and I would agree that nearly everybody leading and fighting in the Civil War--North and South--was a racist by our time's standards. Does that make everyone of that era a horrible person? I sure hope not and I certainly don't believe so.

Mac said...

Brent,

What I meant by the decent folks thing is that I like to think they wouldn't risk their lives based on purely economic reasons. Decent folk agree to live by the law. They were suddenly on the opposite side of the law according to a complicated political machine. I'll assume that they reacted to the invasion the way anyone would if their home were invaded; you rally to defend. It's far more complex than what we're saying, and I fully understand judging morals througout history (My masters thesis was on pastiche morality). I'll finish this by saying that my reasons for writing the original post was to voice my hope that what has become a symbol of hatred can be reclaimed.

LuchinG said...

The problem is this: the pink triangle was impose to gays, the svastica was the simbol of the nazi. Gays would never adopt the svastica. ¿Wich was the simbol por black people in the south? It certainly wasnt the CSA flag. That flag, even defended by your great-great-grandfather, was the symbol of a sclavist state. Black people would never take it for them as a simbol.

thewmes said...

"I'll assume that they reacted to the invasion the way anyone would if their home were invaded; you rally to defend."

I think this could easily describe a great deal of the people we describe as terrorists in todays current war. And I am in no implying the Southerners were terrorsits if they fought for the South. I am just saying.

Mac said...

thewmes,

I understand your point of view, and you understand why the people we've invaded are so pissed off about it. Again, you'll notice that I never claim that my ancestors were right to rebel (although I did call the invasion illegal), only why they did it.

dookie said...

i have to say that i have enjoyed reading everyones post on this topic. you all make valid reasoning. but the fact of the matter is that taking back the flag will never happen. i myself look at the flag as a heritage symbol, i am not racist nor is my family. yet, i sport the flag hanging on my bedroom wall. it is something that i will never change my mind about, and most likely none others will, including african americans.

Conway said...

I recently stumbled across this blog string while writing lesson plans. I am always excited to see civil discourse on this topic. I grew up in the Pee Dee in the heat of the Confederate Flag debate in the 1990s.
-Also in the late 1990's two former military sailors stationed in Charleston, SC created a clothing line called NuSouth. The men (one black one Cuban) used the Confederate flag, but in the black nationalist colors of Red, Black, and Green. The company was based in Charleston, and for awhile generated some buzz. I found an old interview with the founders here: http://www.va-interactive.com/inbusiness/editorial/bizdev/articles/nusouth.html

Recently, I have had little success casually looking for the company on the web. I have not found any live links after 2000. It was a good idea then, and I would love to use the products as teaching tools in my classroom today.

Mac said...

Conway,

Thanks for the link. That's a good start; I think it'll have to get picked up by a major hiphop artist in order for it to truly happen.

I have been very blessed in life to know some brilliant people, capable of making reasoned arguments. I welcome all such comments here, especially ones that disagree with me--that way I can see flaws in my own argument, and maybe even my beliefs.

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mac said...

jake,

Uncivil dialogue is unwelcome here. Racist comments such as yours make things worse.