It’s February 2014, and Georgia has a new license plate available that displays the Confederate Flag. It’s not really new, it’s just updated. Aside from an article I read on jalopnik.com, I haven’t researched why this is allowed. This is because I’m lazy, but I can also claim that it’s to maintain a moderate level of awareness as I contemplate non-racist reasons for displaying the Confederate Flag. I want to be a typical American, just contemplating why this might be allowed 150 years after our country’s bloody Civil War, half a century after Martin Luther King Jr died for equality and after Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a bag of skittles. I am a moderately informed American who has a preconceived opinion on the matter.
Okay, so here’s where I contemplate non-racist reasons to display a Confederate Flag, whether it be a full-on flag or a little one on your license plate:
1) You long for the “Old South.” You hate the hustle & bustle of the city you live in. The honking horns, the traffic, the sirens. Your 9-5 job. You want to trash your phone and computer and just eat some southern food and fish along a hot, lazy river with a crude pole that is simply a stick with a piece of yarn attached to it. You want a piece of straw in your mouth. The X that is displayed in the back of your truck doesn’t mean that you’re a racist, it just means you long for simpler, quieter times. The South. You want the drawl and the hospitality.
2) Political issues other than SLAVERY.
3) You like the design. You like the abundance of red, and you like that X, with all the stars in it. You like it for no other reason than you think it looks cooler that the ol’ Stars and Stripes.
4) You know that the Confederate States were wrong, but you believe we should constantly be reminded of our ugly past so that we don’t repeat it. You love that the South has moved past slavery and you are proud of that fact. It’s like the 9/11 never forget t-shirts and stuff.
The above reasons aren’t very convincing because of SLAVERY. This country shipped over humans from Africa and sold them as if they were dogs, or worse yet- machines, or appliances. I can hardly contemplate Benjamin Franklin or George Washington’s greatness without feeling a ping in my heart that reminds me that despite the founding fathers’ greatness, they all had slaves. It’s ugly.
I’ve heard the why-we-went-to-war-other-than-slavery explanations before. History majors like to explain these sorts of details. I’m sure there were plenty of issues other than slavery, it’s just hard to get past the whole SLAVERY thing, so I forget these issues. If you display the Confederate Flag for political reasons beyond slavery, why do you cling to a political ideal from 150 years ago? Haven’t we advanced beyond that in terms of policy? What Confederate ideal, outside of slavery could we possibly implement that would make modern America a better place?
When I think of the Confederate flag, I think SLAVERY. I think of how the South Was for SLAVERY and the North was opposed. This is after hearing arguments about how there were many reasons the nation was divided- it wasn’t simply black and white. There were political complexities that go beyond the buying and selling of humans. I know that the North was still racist. I’ve heard from a history major that the reason the North could abandon slavery was that it had industrialized. It simply didn’t need that huge, free, work force. I recently read that Lincoln once said he didn’t think blacks would ever be equal to whites. I’ve heard all these things and I assume that SFSF readers have more or less heard the same.
I moved from San Diego, California to San Antonio, Texas when I was nearing the end of 7th grade. I was startled by the racism in Texas. My first friend was a kicker named Jeremy. Kicker was short for Shit Kicker. Shit Kickers got the name from the cowboy boots they wore. They kicked shit in the fields. From my perspective as a San Diegan, Kickers dressed like toned-down cowboys. Kickers wore boots to school, and Wranglers. I’d seen Wranglers before. They had the tag on the belt line like all the other mainstream jeans. Kickers wore a kind of Wranglers I’d never seen before, with the leather tag on the butt pocket. Wranglers were worn TIGHT. Everyone else wore baggy jeans. Clara Driscoll Middle School was represented by many cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were Preppies, Kickers and Jocks. And there were Hispanics, Whites and Blacks.
Jeremy was only my friend for a month or so because he was racist. He told racist jokes at lunch. He repeated the slogan “You wear your X, I’ll wear mine.” Your X was a reference to Malcom X. By mine, Jeremy meant the Confederate Flag. In addition to repeating his Your X/Mine refrain, Jeremy spent his free time doodling Xs and telling racist jokes. Jeremy was my friend for, like I said, a month or so. 7th grade ended, and Jeremy was gone. In 8th grade I got to know more people and made friends with some non-racists.
If you display the Confederate flag and claim to not be a racist, why would you submit yourself to being mistaken as a racist? When your truck passes a car on the highway, and the child in the car asks his mom what that flag represents, what do you imagine is said? The flag is reduced to a simple symbol. It is only an image and no words. It passes by. There is no benefit of explanation from the bearer. The mother can explain to the child that there’s a chance that the bearer of the flag is not racist, but she can’t be certain. Why open yourself up to that ambiguity in a subject so sensitive? The flag is a loaded statement, and loaded statements are frustrating and annoying. If the bearer claims to endorse human equality, why would they open themselves up to dispute on the matter? The bearer of the flag is at best a lazy idiot and at worst a racist who longs for the days of slavery. Who wants to bear the Confederate Flag?
Displaying the Confederate Flag is equal to that under-breath utterance that one is afraid to make louder and more direct. People who make such utterances are weak. One utters when one is afraid to state boldly and clearly. People who long for the Confederate South are the moral bottom 1% in this country. They are weak, racist cowards who are afraid to look a black man in the eyes and tell him he belongs on a plantation under someone else’s ownership.