Thursday, June 16, 2005

The American Swastika

from the Grand Moff Texan via The News Blog:

This is not the Confederate Flag.

This is the Confederate Flag.

If you google "Confederate Flag," you will not find a single, real Confederate Flag on the first page, and few examples after that.

Not only has"Confederate Flag" changed to mean something it should not, the phony "Confederate Flag" has changed in significance over time, too. It began as a battle flag, a way to tell Confederate from Union forces on the field, since their two flags weren't that different, and units' uniforms and individual banners were anything but standardized. The phony Confederate Flag seems to have borrowed the Cross of St. Andrew, seen on the Scottish flag, or maybe St.Patrick's cross, incorporated into the Union Jack, but that's just me guessing.

For longer than the Confederacy lasted, and for more than a century after the American Civil War, the phony Confederate Flag has stood for the defiance of the South, for America's own, premodern apartheid. It has become, simply, The American Swastika.

The comparison isn't inflammatory, it's deliberate and appropriate. This wouldn't be the first time an old symbol changed meaning due to its abuse by the sick and twisted.

One Bad Apple From Germany Killed Millions. Hitler didn't just leave behind a mnemonic for all students of astronomy in the English language. He took an ancient good luck symbol, a nearly universal one, and turned it into a universally recognized symbol of evil.

It can happen. And it did happen here. Don't give me that bullshit about slavery not being relevant to most of Southern society, or not being a factor in the Civil War, or not being the monopoly of the South. This is a Southerner you're talking to, and I've heard it all before and I know better. I know my region's history, and it is unique within my country. Something different happened here. The South cannibalized their entire culture, even their supposed religion, to justify the racism that justified first slavery and later (and for much longer) the political subjection of African Americans. The truly sad thing is that even those who never owned slaves (and ante-bellum middle class Southerners were more likely to buy a slave and rent him out than they were to buy their own land) were part of this conspiracy of justification. After the American Civil War an even wider portion of Southern society was directly involved in the subjection of African Americans. The Civil War didn't sweep away a civilization based on slavery, it merely displaced its ruling class and began the South's long, slow march away from its top-heavy, agrarian, aristocratic society. American apartheid had been democratized, and with it, the Confederate Flag became its egalitarian symbol against the Civil Rights movement and all other aspects of integration for generations.

The Confederate Flag resonates, as a symbol, throughout Southern culture.

People all over the world know what they're looking at when they see the Confederate Flag. Regardless of what those who display the Confederate Flag may say it means, the Confederate Flag is never far from the Klan and like groups, and the Confederate Flag is never displayed by their historical victims. Showing the Confederate Flag doesn't just leave the displayer with a burden of proof, to show that for them it's something other than what the Confederate Flag has stood for, now, for generations. Rather, the Confederate Flag's history, both long and recent in this country, are such that the Confederate Flag cannot be displayed in good faith. The meaning of the Confederate Flag is utterly unambiguous. At best, venerators of the Confederate Flag can plead ignorance, not innocence.

I grew up with the Confederate Flagand there was never any question what it meant. The South would rise again, that's what the Confederate Flag meant. We flew the Confederate Flag at my high school. The Confederate Flag appeared on bumpers, T-shirts, and other paraphernalia. "Dixie gonna do it again!" and similar slogans accompanied the Confederate Flag.

There was simply no question. The Confederate Flag is not a symbol of heritage. That should have been obvious enough in Mississippi, where more people fought for the Union than the Confederacy, and yet the Confederate Flag's defenders insist it is part of that state's "heritage." No. It's part of the "heritage" of that minority of Mississippians whose "heritage" involved the subjection of the rest. That's their "heritage." Hey, if the pointy hat fits, wear it.

So, if you're going to attack a people, demonize and destroy their language and religion, hold them up as a threat to civilization and "your" womanhood, destroy their families, rape, murder, mutilate, crush them in labor camps and then, when someone justifiably smacks your racist ass, take that whole murderous shame underground, don't be surprised when your precious symbol, the sign of all you hold holy but that all the world recognizes as the sigil of your sickness, becomes, quite simply, your Swastika. That's all the Confederate Flag which is not the real Confederate Flag will ever be, now.

It's The American Swastika.

Pay particular attention to the discussion in the comments on The News Blog. Most interesting.

The arguments placing the cause of the Civil War at the door of so-called 'states' rights' hold no water if you take the time to read the secession documents. The right to own slaves is at the forefront of all of those declarations. 'State's rights' as a justification was first used by the founders of the 'Lost Cause' movement during Reconstruction. And to our great national sorrow, these fools still cling to this shabby cloak today.

Claims that the use of the flag is just meant to preserve 'Southern culture' cut no ice with me. Supposedly heroic death in perpetuation or protection of a way of life founded on the enslavement of other humans is not worthy of fond remembrance. Sorrow, yes. Celebration, no.

I find a display of this intolerable symbol of racism and treason repulsive. In many ways it is more disgusting than the Nazi Swastika because it holds power over so many more minds today than the vile Nazi swill does.


Anonymous said...

Can a brother get an Amen? Amen!

Mitch H. said...

OK, I really hate it when Northerners fly the CBF, and I'm generally hostile to neoconfederate bullwalla, but this is just nonsense.

The Confederate Battle Flag is not a postwar invention. Just as the young United States went through a lot of different banners and flags during the Revolution, the CSA went through a number of different flags. The national flag went through three iterations, and the later iterations prominently featured the Saint Andrew's Cross in some fashion or another - the "Stainless Banner" being both the most striking, and least practical, of the three - it was basically a white flag with the familiar blue-red-gold in the upper left corner, where the field of stars would be in the US flag.

As noted in the article, the first national flag, the "Stars and Bars", was visually difficult to distinguish at a distance from the Union national flag at the time, and thus made for a poor battle-flag. The various regiments went through a lot of different patterns, including the "Bonnie Blue Flag" of the song of the same name, and some pretty but cryptic banners found in regiments of Hardee's Corps, featuring various versions of white moons on blue backgrounds. I think they were derived from South Carolina's palmetto-and-crescent moon.

But the vast majority of the rebel regiments flew Confederate Battle Flags with the St. Andrews Cross throughout the majority of the war. Since the CSA was effectively a creature of its armed forces, and had placed the overwhelming majority of its white male population under arms, under flags which were usually some version of the CBF St. Andrews Cross, it makes perfect sense to use that symbol for the traditions of southern heritage, insomuch as almost every secessionist family in the south had men which fought under it.

The ugliness comes in when the CBF got appropriated by the racial groups in the Fifties. The CBF gets flown by people whose ancestors never fought for the Confederacy, and often by idiots whose ancestors fought for the Union. Of course, if racist idiots flying the CBF ought to be banned, then that sends us off the flagburning constitutional cliff, so I find myself stuck in Voltaire country with a stomach full of bile.

BTW, "States Rights" most certainly was a Southern rallying cry during and before the War. Of course it *meant* slavery and human property rights, but they definitely used that terminology. Hell, there's a general from South Carolina named States Rights Gist. Since I doubt he changed it, that means that his crazy-ass parents cared enough about the slogan to hang it on their kid, at least thirty years before the war.

handdrummer said...

The CBF was adopted by racist groups long before the 1950's. It was used frequently by N. B. Forrest and others of his ilk when they formed the Klan during Reconstruction. The flag appears throughout that masterpiece of racism The Birth Of A Nation and is frequently iconified in the racist novels of the post Civil war era. It is a constant backdrop in photographs of lynchings. And it has flown over the government buildings of the segregationalist south since the end of Reconstruction. No one is claiming that the CBF is a postwar invention. It is however a symbol of slavery and treason. I am offended by its continued use and I am offended by the attitude of the great "Lost Cause" pretenders.

There is nothing honorable or heroic about this symbol of hatred and repression. It is the symbol of a group of people who found nothing wrong with the enslavement of their fellow men and were prepared to kill in order to maintain that foul privilege. It is a thing of great sorrow that so many from the North and South had to die to end this horror. But to insist that somehow southern whites are the victims here is a travesty of the truth and a dishonor to those who died to end this scourge.