I’m going to go off topic for just a bit…
Still sitting back, watching all that’s taking place…
Anyway, I drove down a long country back road in the Shenandoah Valley yesterday. It’s not unusual to see an occasional Confederate flag… not at all. Before mid-June, you’d zip past it in a car and might not think anything of it. Maybe it would raise a grin, a nod, or… whatever. I guess it depends on where you came from and how you had identified with it up to that point. Yet, yesterday, I saw a lot more Confederate flags than usual.
No, what I found on the drive, alone, didn’t convince me of something… it reinforced it.
There seem to be a lot of people wanting to tell others what the Confederate flag means. There’s a lot of back and forth on “perspective”. I roll my eyes often when I hear the extremists from both sides. Understand, it’s not at all lost on me that the flag really does have many layers. In fact, I blogged about this years ago. Yet, while all seem to be focused a limited view of what is the “Heritage not hate” crowd, I think a lot of folks don’t quite understand some things. I mean, if you study Southern culture enough… come on.
I said it earlier today… what some don’t understand is how the Southerner who doesn’t give a hoot in Hades about the Civil War (and, yes, there are a good number of folks like this) or how the flag was used in segregation, identify with the flag as a simple symbol of regional identity (and, to be honest, I wonder if that isn’t the majority of those who fly it).
I mean, pardon me, but we are, in fact, in the age of repurposing. So, have many of these folks not repurposed the flag? I’ve got several ways to argue that they have. I know that gets really complicated with the Confederate flag, but still… despite how it may have been used in the past, I can muster a sizeable number who don’t care less what others think it means… at ground level to them, they believe it’s a symbol of their heritage… in that heritage is defined by the area in which they were born and raised… nothing more.
I don’t know if it’s fair for me to say this, but in Appalachia, I suspect this also has come to mean a form of self-sufficiency… a hands-off sensibility. They plant, grow… raise their own (dare I say that ranges from crops to mulberry-smeared faced kids who enjoy walking barefoot more than pounding pavement), despite hardships that come from that self-imposed isolation. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know people like this, in this region, who embrace that flag, not for racial inequality and hate, but for that other sense of pride… as weird as it may seem to those who can’t grasp it. In fact, I know descendants of Southern Unionists who embrace the Confederate flag because, simply, the symbol as a form of identification with the region in which they live and love. It’s just a fact of life and to think we can wrangle that in is just… stupid.
Now, try to take away what they identify with, and you’ve got a problem.
Much like a statue standing near the local county court house, this is something with which they’ve long been familiar. They may not care what it means to you or anybody else; they only know it’s a part of their world… what they know… and what people know in those cultural corners on a country back road… and they don’t easily part company with those things. That statue of a “gray man”, for example, has been there as long as they’ve lived. Trying to take that sense of identity away stirs up a hornet’s nest that the “enlightened” don’t seem to understand.
The “dig” has gone far from the removal of Confederate flags from atop government buildings. The argument which was used to remove those flags is cutting into another layer of people, who before June 17 may not have even bothered to put up a Confederate flag, or even care about those monuments to people long gone. It’s no longer necessarily about the Confederacy or the history of the flag in the segregation and like periods. The “push” has gone deeper, and with it raises a different ring of people that had no dog in the fight until they got pushed. Their space is now, officially, invaded by other people… sometimes insiders, mostly outsiders… who think they know better.
Let’s be clear… things are going to change in some places… but in others, it’s going to stand firm, if not grow a feeling of resentment just because people are all of the sudden pushing on the idea that “you shouldn’t be doing that”… or “that’s wrong for you to do that now.” Forget states rights… it begins to grind down into personal rights. Sometimes it’s as simple as “Don’t mess with my Moon Pie and RC Cola”… and don’t tell me I can’t put peanuts in my Co-Coler” (Coke)… (and I can use the stereotypes, because I am a Southerner… and despite the years of education can easily slip into the dialect when in some of my social circles… I’m not ashamed, nor do I need to be) the flag, despite all its layers is sometimes as simple as one, to some folks.
Just remember, one man’s source of hate can also be another man’s sense of pride… without the hate… even if it’s a red flag with nothing other than the color of red thereon. People identify with items in different ways. You may not like to hear that, but that’s just a solid truth, and until we can all take a deep breath and accept that, the rifts only stand to get deeper. If we want to come together, this isn’t the way.
Back to the program, then…