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They Don't Call It South Jersey for Nothing
July 14, 2006 6:18 AM   Subscribe

A Confederacy of Dunces. Wildwood, New Jersey, is the go-to place for Rebel-flag merchandise, from beach towels to hermit crab shells.
posted by kirkaracha (173 comments total)

 
Yeah, Wildwood sucks if you want a nice, peaceful holiday away from the sweaty, greasy hoi polloi. Cape May is where the upper crust congregate.
posted by Mr. Six at 6:33 AM on July 14, 2006


I'm going there for the week. I try to avoid stepping foot on the boardwalk as little as possible (and that's as someone who spent his formative years as well as adult drinking years in North Wildwood and Angelsea). Since many of the "googie-style" hotels are gone, as well as some local legacy institutions, I wonder how well "Southern Culture" will mix with the new "upper class" Wildwood?

Side note - do "Red Staters" realize that when they celebrate the stars and bars and Dixie that they really are celebrating treason? Maybe Lincoln shouldn't have provided the South amnesty and caused that insurgency to go into "last throes"? Seems like we're still fighting the Civil Way sometimes.
posted by rzklkng at 6:37 AM on July 14, 2006


Being a Northener, I've always felt the same as the blogger. Living (temporarily) in a state that is technically in the South, I have met someone who is very much into the history of the South. He has a lot of knowledge about the minor aristocracies and plantations in the area.

He's a total history buff and has respect for the Confederate flag. He is not a racist and definitely not a "redneck". Discussions with him have helped me understand why the flag remains an important symbol to some people outside of all the associations with slavery and racism that it bears now.

Most of those shirts are pretty irritating, though.
posted by rex dart, eskimo spy at 6:38 AM on July 14, 2006


Jersey has a very large blue-collar roughneck contingent, and over the years has been the butt of a lot of jokes, which leads to a weird inferiority complex and chip on the shoulder. But I've also known a lot of great people from the Garden State and am actually spending the weekend on the shore.
posted by jonmc at 6:42 AM on July 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


watch the tram car please!

inside joke
those south jersey people are weird

posted by Mach5 at 6:43 AM on July 14, 2006


Interesting. I just saw a piece on a similar topic last night on Current TV (You can view it online).

Confederate Pennsylvania -- An investigation into why Confederate flags are flown north of the Mason-Dixon line.
posted by Otis at 6:47 AM on July 14, 2006


If these idjits wanted to commemorate the actual Confederacy, then you would think they would display the actual flag of the C.S.A.

The ubiquitous crossed flag is the battle flag of the C.S.A. Kinda confrontational, huh? And they wonder why people are offended.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:50 AM on July 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


I actually think the "I have a dream" shirt is a little funny. Does that make me a bad person?

Of course it does. I don't care.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:51 AM on July 14, 2006


When I visit my mom's hometown in central Vermont, it's not uncommon to see the occasional stars-and-bars up there either. To many, the associations with racism and slavery are missed or ignored in favor of the generic 'rebel' association and adopted in many small city/rural working class areas as a symbol of alienation. (That's a theory at least. I kind of wish there was a less problematic symbol for that alienation).
posted by jonmc at 6:52 AM on July 14, 2006


While I can appreciate the befuddlement, the blogger comes across as kind of an asshole.
posted by lyam at 6:58 AM on July 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


"If this flag offends you its made my day"

And that's all you really need to know.
posted by ColdChef at 7:01 AM on July 14, 2006


yeah, it seems more about disdain for hoi polloi than about actual political anger far as his tone goes.
posted by jonmc at 7:01 AM on July 14, 2006


South Jersey hates North Jersey with a passion they even make tshirts
posted by matimer at 7:02 AM on July 14, 2006


What jonmc said. I don't think most ppl adopting the Confederate flag as a symbol associate it with slavery (and therefore must be racist). For many it may represent an 'average joe vs the man' sort of stance.
posted by poppo at 7:03 AM on July 14, 2006


For many it may represent an 'average joe vs the man' sort of stance.

Yeah, but there in lies the rub. That flag irritates and offends more proper types (which is probably one reason they display it), but it also has associations with a lot of ugly things that I know (from experience) that many of these people don't support, so it perpetuates an image of these people as racist galoots. Like I said before, a new symbol is needed.
posted by jonmc at 7:05 AM on July 14, 2006


do "Red Staters" realize that when they celebrate the stars and bars and Dixie that they really are celebrating treason?

do "Americans" realize that when they celebrate the stars and stripes and the founding fathers that they really are celebrating treason?
posted by oaf at 7:10 AM on July 14, 2006


You can even get the stars and bars on a license plate in some states.

posted by peeedro at 7:11 AM on July 14, 2006


You see a lot of crap down the shore, like baby doll T-shirts sized for pre-teens which read: "Future MILF."
posted by caddis at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2006


(Not that it's not for the best that the states remain united. But both parties decided to separate from what they saw as repressive governments that did not represent them or their interests.)
posted by oaf at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2006


It's no longer treason when you win.
posted by caddis at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2006


In the past few years, LSU has had problems coming from the very popular purple and gold version of the "Stars and Bars" seen here.

To me, this is the appropriate response to this debate:
Brandon Smith, a Black Student Union activist who is speaker of the Student Senate, said he is trying to build a coalition that opposes use of the Confederate flag by LSU fans and is working with administrators to explore ideas -- such as promoting a different sort of LSU flag -- that may curb use of the Civil War image. But Smith said he wants to guard First Amendment rights and wouldn't support any push for an outright ban on display of the flag at the sprawling campus. "I'm understanding the social and cultural implications for this campus," said Smith, a senior from Baker. "Let's not make this another screaming match about do you like the flag or not."
posted by ColdChef at 7:14 AM on July 14, 2006


If these idjits wanted to commemorate the actual Confederacy, then you would think they would display the actual flag of the C.S.A.


Actually, this was the last official flag of the Confederacy. The one shown earlier was the first national flag, which was replaced by two other version. Pardon my lack of proper flag terms, but its the Confederate battle flag in the upper left corner on a field of white with a red bar running vertical down the right side of the flag.

The second version was essentially the same as the third, but minus the red bar on the right side of the flag. The red bar was added to the flag, as when the flag hung limp it was confused for a flag of surrender.
posted by Atreides at 7:22 AM on July 14, 2006


When I visit my mom's hometown in central Vermont, it's not uncommon to see the occasional stars-and-bars up there either. To many, the associations with racism and slavery are missed or ignored in favor of the generic 'rebel' association and adopted in many small city/rural working class areas as a symbol of alienation. (That's a theory at least. I kind of wish there was a less problematic symbol for that alienation).

I saw the same thing growing up in small-town Connecticut. There is, of course, a less problematic (and just plain cooler) symbol which is often used to express similar sentiments, the Gadsden flag.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:38 AM on July 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


I agree, Ishmael. Plus it's associated with a pretty cool Metallica song.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 AM on July 14, 2006


A question for those older than me:

When the Dukes of Hazzard was on, I was still in Elementary School. Were many people offended by the appearance of the flag on the General Lee? Is the irritation with those who adopt the Confederate Flag as a symbol of one kind or another a more recent, more visible development?

A second question:

I didn't see the movie remake of it that came out last year, but did the General Lee in that movie have the flag on it? Just curious.
posted by poppo at 7:43 AM on July 14, 2006


"MILF."
Sorry, what's that?

posted by etaoin at 7:44 AM on July 14, 2006


Ever listen to New Order or Joy Division? Are you a Nazi?

People can appropriate symbols for a variety of reasons. I've lived in the south and in my experience it has nothing to do with black vs. white, more of a little guy vs. big government thing. Personally I find the "Future MILF" or "Pimp" t-shirts way more disturbing.
posted by vronsky at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2006


Or the short shorts with handprints or 'daddy's girl' on the ass cheeks.

cute.

MILF:Mom I'd Like to .. you get the idea..
posted by lyam at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2006


Personally I find the "Future MILF" or "Pimp" t-shirts way more disturbing.

Stuff like that (and Howard Stern, South Park, Beavis & Butthead) comes from an admittedly juvenile, yet sometimes really fun place. Remember how in grade school if you and your friends made armpit farts and some girl would say 'ewww! gross!' and you'd start doing it louder? Same idea. People who get constantly offended come across as prissy and uptight and somebody has to take the piss out of them.
posted by jonmc at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2006


Ugh, I just know I'm going to feel stupid for this, but I'm just not "getting" the "you wear your x and I'll wear my x" thing. I mean I understand the "my x" = confederate flag part, but what is the "your x"?
posted by Stauf at 7:49 AM on July 14, 2006


Stauf: the "X" for Malcolm X ballcaps that were popular in the early 90's.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 AM on July 14, 2006


IshmaelGraves: I love the Gadsden flag. (I actually never knew what it was really called; thanks for clueing me in.) Back in 2001, I was in college, and after the World Trade Center came down, in those first few days when nobody really knew what was going on, someone hung a Gadsden flag on the front porch of our campus house. I saluted it every time I walked past-- it was exactly the symbol of defiance that we needed.

Some time later, the Gadsden flag was taken down and replaced with the stars and stripes. I stopped saluting.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:56 AM on July 14, 2006


Ever listen to New Order or Joy Division? Are you a Nazi? No. Nor am I a Nazi because I use Adolph's Season Salt. But if I were to walk around with a swastika on my t-shirt, it would be fair to assume that I felt an affinity for nazi ideals. The confederate flag has very real negative connotations. It will never be perceived as harmless.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:57 AM on July 14, 2006


Jersey has a very large blue-collar roughneck contingent

Read: Bikers. Go to a (Harley-oriented) motorcycle rally in New Jersey or even New England and there'll be more Confederate and generally right-wing merch than you can shake a stick at. (In other news, President McKinley still dead.)

Regarding Pennsylvania, on a road trip throughout PA a few years ago I was rather surprised to get a strong rednecky vibe from most of the state: huntin', fishin', Bud-drinkin', NASCARin', Confederate-flag-flyin' and the whole ball of wax. Which proves nothing except that I'm a provincial New Yorker--but perhaps no more provincial than the Jersey blogger.
posted by scratch at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2006


...the generic 'rebel' association and adopted in many small city/rural working class areas as a symbol of alienation.
...more of a little guy vs. big government thing
...For many it may represent an 'average joe vs the man' sort of stance.

Huh, that's something I'll never really understand. I wouldn't consider the display or employment of the flag as an "appropriation" especially when there is no conceptual divergence inherent in its rather standard presentation. I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but the only thing I can relate that sentiment to is really any other bigoted group that manages to exist today... you see a lot of that reasoning in indoctrination materials from Neo-Nazis, which simply blows my mind. When I envision independent thinkers the last images I'd imagine streaking through my mind would be those of jackbooted thugs and plantation owners...

Thanks to Benny Andajetz and Atreides for the flag information, I had not considered that facet of this complex situation.
posted by prostyle at 8:03 AM on July 14, 2006


I'm just dissapointed that the writer chose the title of a great Pulitzer Prize winning novel by John Kennedy Toole.

Quite possibly one of my favorite novels ever.

I have no idea what Igatius J. Reilly would say about this little, um, pit stop.
posted by willmize at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2006


huntin', fishin', Bud-drinkin', NASCARin', Confederate-flag-flyin'

I think we need to find a way to separate the huntin'-fishin', NASCARin', Bud drinkin', (all of which except hunting I've enjoyed on occasion) which are harmless and fun, from more problematic things like the Stars-and-Bars. Not a good idea to roll it all up together. And I have a few friends from rural PA, they've described it as 'Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Kentucky in between.' But you could say something similar about upstate NY.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2006


(oddly, in my iPod I have a tribute song to this locale called 'Everything's Wild In Wildwood' by legendary R&B group The Treniers. Good tune, I can defitely see it blasted on the beach.)
posted by jonmc at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2006


I grew up in Wildwood. Even graduated from Wildwood High School. This must be a new thing since I moved away...

Wildwood used to be the quietest place in th world in the winter. You could pretty much walk down the middle of Pacific avenue and only have to watch out for the bus! Summer was overwhelming with tourists from everywhere, even loads and loads of them from Canada (Quebec). You could always tell the Canadians by their Speedos. Self respecting South Philly tourists would only let their beer guts hang out from their guinea T's, but always wore trunks. (The women all wore bikinis, so there was no way to tell by them...)

There were one big racial fight when I was in high school but things died down quickly afterwards. The confederate flag thing seems to be happening in high schools all over now. There were a few weeks of problems in my son's high school this year. There were kids hanging confederate flags from there back pockets, just to cause trouble... I think it is just a fad that will pass.

Ah, me. I'm homesick now...

"Watch the tram car, please" is only annoying after the first 2 hours or so.
posted by the_barbarian at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2006


Yeah, that "You wear your X, I'll wear my X" pretty much kills any sort of case the usual, "It's not about racism", shitheads might have.
posted by Decani at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2006


I don't buy the argument that these guys are just working-class folk who display the flag as an uninflected act of rebellion, without any overtones of racism. First off, it sells the working class short, because it implies that the people who display the flag represent a segment of the population that's too stupid to see complexity or shades of meaning. It paints too many people with the same brush.

And any claims that the flag's "rebel" meaning can be separated from its racist associations should be met with skepticism, if not outright laughter. If you're wearing a shirt with a Confederate flag on it, you may not be a proponent of slavery per se, but you're clearly diminutizing any legitimate feelings of uneasiness held by minorities (or non-minorities) at its display. I wouldn't expect someone who wears a Confederate flag to be David Duke, but nor would I be surprised in the least when I found that they regularly pepper their conversations with n-bombs.

An illustrative example for my fellow honkies: Would you wear a Confederate flag shirt to a bar or a block party in a predominantly black neighborhood? Would you wear it to the home of a black friend? Would you expect to see a black guy wearing one?
posted by hifiparasol at 8:17 AM on July 14, 2006


Armpit farts the same as sexualizing our pre-teens? Hmmm...
posted by vronsky at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2006


And I have a few friends from rural PA, they've described it as 'Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Kentucky in between.'

Before or after James Carvelle described it as Alabama in between? :)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2006


Side note - do "Red Staters" realize that when they celebrate the stars and bars and Dixie that they really are celebrating treason?
posted by rzklkng


I think, and I've been told, that it's more about the states' rights thing, which is still very much a cornerstone of conservative politics.
posted by padraigin at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2006


Buying a confederate flag to show what a rebel you are is roughly equivalent to buying a Che Guevara tee to show what a communist you are... it's just silly, and it shows that you might like to label yourself something, but you clearly haven't thought things through.

Reminds me of the time me and a few buddies went to a now-closed punk bar in Montreal. We all really like punk music, but we were wearing normal everyday clothes. We ended up being so loud and rowdy that the mohawk-and-torn-jeans crowd were keeping their distances from us and trying not to make eye contact. Who was the real punk there?..
posted by clevershark at 8:25 AM on July 14, 2006


"The confederate flag has very real negative connotations. It will never be perceived as harmless."

And the terms New Order and Joy Division don't? What planet are you from? Or do you just consider yourself smart enough to play around with cultural signifiers and these poor dumb rednecks aren't?
posted by vronsky at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2006


hifiparasol: I'm not defending it, just theroizing about the why's and wherefors.

vronsky: no, but it comes from a similar juvenile 'how nasty/offensive can we be?' impulse.
posted by jonmc at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2006


My wife and I saw a guy with the tag SPK ENGL on his pickup the other day. Wow.

(Northern VA btw)
posted by itchylick at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2006


The General Lee did have a Confederate flag on it in the Dukes remake. The Duke boys didn't know about it and spent an entire scene wondering why people on the highway were flipping them off.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2006


itchylick: the Korean counterlady at the deli across from wear I work wears a "Welcome To America, Now Speak English!" t-shirt occasionally. and this is in lower Manhattan. It's a complicated world.
posted by jonmc at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2006


And any claims that the flag's "rebel" meaning can be separated from its racist associations should be met with skepticism, if not outright laughter

People can differentiate different meaning(s) for the swastika (although granted, it has a longer history).
posted by stifford at 8:38 AM on July 14, 2006


Lots of bikers and metal bands use Iron Crosses, too. That has it's orgins in the fact that the original outlaw bikers were WWII vets who wore them as war trophies. (I'm sure some displayed them for racist connotations as well, but many didn't).
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on July 14, 2006


Buying a confederate flag to show what a rebel you are is roughly equivalent to buying a Che Guevara tee to show what a communist you are... it's just silly, and it shows that you might like to label yourself something, but you clearly haven't thought things through.

i think this is worth repeating, although the "omg, non-liberals/conservatives/southerners/reg'lar folks must never be criticized for anything they do while everything liberals/people on the left do should be held up for ridicule and derision!" crowd -- which runs thick here on mefi -- will deny the parallels.


building on something hifiparasol said, growing up in the south, i had white friends from all walks of life, and i don't recall any of them wearing confederate flag clothing or having confederate flags in or around their houses. yet they were all extremely proud of their southern heritage.

on the other hand, many -- though by no means all, and probably not even most-- of the cars with people who would shout "nigger!" as they drove past me had confederate flags on them somewhere. as did the houses of people who would yell "what are you doing in this neighborhood, nigger?" (or something similar and even more threatening) as i walked by.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2006


What planet are you from?

I dunno, one where an infamous band with a controversial name culled from historical context != displaying a confederate flag? How do you see those as absolutely analogous? Do you really imagine people rolling around pounding out Unknown Pleasures is bound to be as offensive as the General Lee?
posted by prostyle at 8:42 AM on July 14, 2006


i think this is worth repeating, although the "omg, non-liberals/conservatives/southerners/reg'lar folks must never be criticized for anything they do while everything liberals/people on the left do should be held up for ridicule and derision!" crowd -- which runs thick here on mefi -- will deny the parallels.

lord_wolf, I don't know if you were including me among this bunch, but when I do these little self-criticism/devil's advocate exercises, I'm not trying to apologize for any of those groups, merely make investigations into things and do some self-examination of our own views in the process, and I try to keep things based on my own observations, FWIW, YMMV, etc. etc.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2006


lord_wolf writes "i think this is worth repeating, although the 'omg, non-liberals/conservatives/southerners/reg'lar folks must never be criticized for anything they do while everything liberals/people on the left do should be held up for ridicule and derision!' crowd -- which runs thick here on mefi -- will deny the parallels. "

huh? Have you been visiting some sort of bizarro MeFi? this isn't Fark, you know :-)
posted by clevershark at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2006


"Regarding Pennsylvania, on a road trip throughout PA a few years ago I was rather surprised to get a strong rednecky vibe from most of the state: huntin', fishin', Bud-drinkin', NASCARin', Confederate-flag-flyin' and the whole ball of wax. Which proves nothing except that I'm a provincial New Yorker--but perhaps no more provincial than the Jersey blogger."

I grew up in Jersey but went to school at Penn State. A lot of my friends from Pensylvania often described it as Pittsburgh on one side, Philly on the other, and Alabama in the middle.
posted by m@L at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2006


re: Joy Division vs. Confederate Flag, totally false equivalence.

The Joy Divisions (groups of Jewish women foreced to prostitute themselves for German soldiers) were horrible, horrible things, obviously. For a band with a tendency towards the gloomy and droney (and who's lead singer suffered from depression and killed himself), I agree that there's a play with (negative) cultural signifiers going on here, but it's of a different type than a kid who hoists a rebel flag on his truck knowing nothing about the wholesale slaughter of Africans over multiple centuries, culminating in the slave system in the south.

My own sense has already been presented--want to wear a rebel flag T-shirt? Fine, that's your right, and it's my right to consider you to be either a racist prick or someone too dumb to realize that they look like a racist prick. Have fun at the beach, troglogdyte.

See, vicious circle and all that.
posted by bardic at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2006


Meh. Prostyle pretty much beat me to it. Methinks Ian Curtis was far from celebratory and "rebellious" in naming his band as he did.
posted by bardic at 8:50 AM on July 14, 2006


I didn't think you were defending the flag, jonmc. Sorry if my post was a little... emphatic. Mostly the shirts just cheese me off, particularly the "you need a history lesson" one.

And speaking as a soon-to-be-former denizen of central PA: The place is rife with Confederate flags. It's also rife with latent racism. Often, when friends and co-workers would hear that I'm from Philly, they would talk at length about what a "dangerous" place Philadelphia is, and how there are "some neighborhoods you just don't go into." (I never was sure where those neighborhoods are.) I remember an editor of mine telling me abou the incredibly hard time he had finding "clothes for white people" during a trip to Center City.

I'm moving to Los Angeles soon, and the looks on the locals' faces upon hearing the news are priceless. "But... aren't you worried? Isn't it dangerous there?" And it's rough, because generally these are people I like. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world who thinks lots of diversity is a good thing.
posted by hifiparasol at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2006


And it's rough, because generally these are people I like.

I know what you mean. I've heard ignorant things like that from otherwise decent, likable people (of all races) and that's kind of why I feel obliged to think hard on the origins of these things, rather than just make a facile 'racism is bad!' statement and think that changes anything.
posted by jonmc at 8:58 AM on July 14, 2006


"I agree that there's a play with (negative) cultural signifiers going on here, but it's of a different type than a kid who hoists a rebel flag on his truck knowing nothing about the wholesale slaughter of Africans"

What about the kid who buys a rebel flag hermit crab? Or beach towel, or boogie board? Or did you skip the article.
posted by vronsky at 8:58 AM on July 14, 2006


If his parents were like mine, they'd remind the kid that it's a symbol that's interpreted as hateful by a large number of your fellow citizens. Want to set yourself apart as someone who doesn't give a fuck about what others think? Fine, but don't whine when people call you on your racist (intentional or unintentional) bullshit.
posted by bardic at 9:03 AM on July 14, 2006


What about the kid who buys a rebel flag hermit crab? Or beach towel, or boogie board? Or did you skip the article-vronsky

Probably the same. I'd like to add that he's probably broke, too. What, with souvenir prices being so high and all.
posted by rex dart, eskimo spy at 9:08 AM on July 14, 2006


lord_wolf, I don't know if you were including me among this bunch,

naw, i wasn't including you. yours is frequently one of the more honest, multiple-viewpoint-encompassing opinions on subjects like this. :-)

this isn't Fark, you know :-)

no, but sometimes we're a lot closer to it than we'd like to admit. ;-)

/needs to stop with emoticons
//and the slashies b/c that's reinforcing my above point
///quits while he's ahead
posted by lord_wolf at 9:08 AM on July 14, 2006


"He or she" is probably broke is what I should have said. Sorry!
posted by rex dart, eskimo spy at 9:09 AM on July 14, 2006


(thanks, I usually don't care about ruffling feathers but you're a reasonable non-reflexively indignant guy, so I'd place some weight on your opinion).
posted by jonmc at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2006


Free speech is free speech, but it's still a symbol that's interpreted as hateful by a large number of your fellow citizens.
posted by j-urb at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2006


hifiparasol writes "Often, when friends and co-workers would hear that I'm from Philly, they would talk at length about what a 'dangerous' place Philadelphia is, and how there are 'some neighborhoods you just don't go into.'"

You don't even need to go as far as PA for that. In Fairview NJ (a stone's throw from NYC) one of my neighbors was the most racist, cantankerous old man I've met in my life. He probably rejoiced to see me move in just because I'm caucasian (it's an increasingly hispanic neighborhood). Once I saw him and told him I was going to New York and he asked me why on earth I'd want to go there as it was "full of n****rs and s**cs." Mind you he had a similar attitude to the Italian landlord -- maybe he's just an equal opportunity curmudgeon.

I thought it was immensely funny to see someone so xenophobic living in such a diverse area.
posted by clevershark at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2006


Symbols mean different things to different people, and I refuse to believe that every person with a confederate flag on their t-shirt hates black people.

By the same token, I refuse to believe that every person wearing a cross hates homosexual people.

Are symbols adopted to affect such stances? Yes. Does every adopter of a symbol take the same stance as other adopters of the symbol? No.
posted by poppo at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2006


clevershark, I've met plenty of bigoted people in diverse NYC. Bigotry is a different beast in different places. In someplaces it's fear of the unknown, in others a bizarre territorialism.
posted by jonmc at 9:15 AM on July 14, 2006


j-urb, not sure if you're being facetious or not, but yeah--free speech is a privilege as well as a right. People are free to "speak" (SCOTUS has held that a T-shirt, among other things, is a form of speech) as they wish. The remaining members of the polis are free to speak back, perhaps in the form of derision. I'm not so politically correct as to think that rebel-flag wearin' folks should be defended and applauded for their edginess. Nope, they're troglodytes. Troglodytes who do the rest of us a favor by outing themselves as such.
posted by bardic at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2006


Are there any historical precedents for a society that proudly wears its ignorance on its sleeve? I mean, I'm aware of cases like Easter Island, wherein the population caused their own exinction, but I can't think of any culture - let alone "superpower" - that revels in its lack of knowledge like the USA.

/not trying to start anything here, I am sincerely curious
posted by stinkycheese at 9:23 AM on July 14, 2006


Wearing swastikas is a crime in Germany. Actually, I'm pretty sure any public display of them is illegal.
posted by bardic at 9:24 AM on July 14, 2006


(believe it or not, I think that's one way the law managed to bust a few biker gangs in Berlin. No kidding)
posted by jonmc at 9:26 AM on July 14, 2006


I'm for a national policy of getting all General Sherman on anyone caught displaying the confederate flag.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:27 AM on July 14, 2006


I very proud of my southern heritage and the confederate flag means anything but racism to me. I would never wear or display one because I realize it does, understandably, mean exactly that to others. I also don't like seeing it appropriated by groups/individuals who display it because they know it has that effect. It makes me sad but I think displaying it, even simply out of a sense of southern pride, is just damned insensitive.
posted by Carbolic at 9:27 AM on July 14, 2006


It makes me sad but I think displaying it, even simply out of a sense of southern pride, is just damned insensitive.

That's about right. And I've met plenty of black people who will proudly proclaim their origins in Georgia or Alabama (witness the whole 'Dirty South,' hip-hop phenomenon) so regional pride isn't limited to racists, obviously. Too bad there's not a less fraught symbol.
posted by jonmc at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2006


Wow, just the other day I was driving through an orthodox Jewish neighborhood and "Bizarre Love Triangle" came on the radio. I didn't even think about how thoughtless and offensive it must have seemed. Should've rolled the windows up.

Anyway, I liked the blog commentary. But I'm kind of a liberal elitist, so there you go. The rebel flag displays were just so hilariously absurd. I mean, the hermit crab? Seriously, that's just fucked up.
posted by 912 Greens at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2006


Surely we can agree that the manner in which the Confederate flag is displayed in these knick-knacks is deliberately inflammatory? That seems glaringly obvious to me.

If this sort of 'misinterpretation' of the flag is so problematic for proud Southerners, perhaps a new symbol is in order? The Christian fish, for example, versus the cross...even the "Don't Tread On Me" flag smacks of victimhood and/or aggression.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:36 AM on July 14, 2006


The "Bonnie Blue" has often been suggested as a replacement for the purpose of celebrating southern pride. (As a decendent of citizens of the Republic of West Florida I kind of like the idea).
posted by Carbolic at 9:38 AM on July 14, 2006


Stinkycheese,

The US does not have a unified culture, what people in some regions choose to wear or do does not represent anything more than what those people choose to wear or do. I will be the first to admit that politically and in many cases across its various cultures the USA is deeply ill, but no country of 300 million people acts and thinks as one body.

I've noticed that people who are marginalized, isolated and threatened by change tend to act in an insular and narrow-minded way in every place in the world that I have been. My question would be "What is it about the human condition that causes such psychic damage that people wish to revel in bigotry, nationalism and ignorance instead of sitting around drinking ice-cold beers, eating tangy potato salads, swimming in placid lakes and humping in the beds of pickup trucks as God so clearly intended us to do?"
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:38 AM on July 14, 2006


Surely we can agree that the manner in which the Confederate flag is displayed in these knick-knacks is deliberately inflammatory?

This is important and may be driving some of the comments in this thread. Certainly the "X vs X" is deliberately inflammatory and racist.

What about the boogie board? Is the girl with the boogie board a racist?
posted by poppo at 9:40 AM on July 14, 2006


so regional pride isn't limited to racists, obviously.

Unless you live in New England, where expressing regional pride is, according to multiple discussions on Metafilter, a tacit "thumbs up" for the 1972 South Boston bussing riots.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:45 AM on July 14, 2006


Oh for Pete's sake, Divine Wino, I know that. Sometimes I think every mention of the US or Americans on Metafilter should come with a pop-up that says, "oh, not everyone of course, no, people are individuals here".

Please - the whole world is individuals. "No country of 300 million people acts and thinks as one body"? Guess what? You can say that about any group, the whole world over. Why is it that only the US & Americans get this defensive response every single time someone is critical? Stop being so glaringly insecure, egotistical, and overly senstive. If there's one country on Earth that can take it, it ought to be the US.

poppo: What about the boogie board? Is the girl with the boogie board a racist?

Maybe not, but she is almost certainly ignorant.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:47 AM on July 14, 2006


She certainly lacks judgement.
posted by dame at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2006


Funny that people get all het up about the confederate flag, when there are american flags displayed all around, always in our face. America--you know, the country that all but finished off the genocide of the natives? The nation that wrote slavery into their constitution? The empire that right up until this very day is killing someone innocent somewhere in the world. And what's on every soldier, every bomber, and every lapel of the leaders behind the killing?

Confederate flag on redneck beachgoers? Get over it.
posted by king walnut at 9:49 AM on July 14, 2006


To me, it just seems like a major assumption to consider anyone sporting the rebel flag logo as a racist (not that people don't make similar assumptions about people with less info on a daily basis). Now, if its a rebel flag on a t-shirt, and it also says "That's right, Darkie...", that's a different case. But imo, just a rebel flag isn't giving enough information about the person to make any assumption besides "I like the South and/or just the rebel flag". I wouldn't assume that someone in a rainbow shirt was gay, or some kid with an "evil" looking metal band tshirt was a practicing devil worshipper.
posted by stifford at 9:50 AM on July 14, 2006


Unless you live in New England, where expressing regional pride is, according to multiple discussions on Metafilter, a tacit "thumbs up" for the 1972 South Boston bussing riots.

Oh, come on, Mayor, that was merely presented as an example to show that no locale is free of racist history. Don't be so sensitive.
posted by jonmc at 9:51 AM on July 14, 2006



posted by Mayor Curley at 9:52 AM on July 14, 2006


I do not represent the US Stinkycheese, so how the fuck can I take it for the US? You really don't get it.

You asked a meaningless, unanswerable question and then when I try to question it's validity without being insulting you spazz and accuse my mild correction of being insecure, chief? Fucking beam in your own eye and that.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:56 AM on July 14, 2006


I don't even understand this longing for the antediluvian south. It seems to me the folks who proudly display Confederate flags would probably not have been wealthy landowners back then, but instead would have lived hardscrabble lives in the shadow of enormous wealth enjoyed by very few and made possible by slavery. The south is going to rise again? Brother, I've lived in the south, and it didn't rise until after the Civil War. I mean, honestly, the South's greatest artistic contributions to the world -- jazz, blues, rock and roll, Tennessee Williams, Faulkner, Flannery O'Conner, Alice Walker, etc. -- didn't occur until after the war.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 AM on July 14, 2006


Funny that people get all het up about the confederate flag, when there are american flags displayed all around, always in our face. America--you know, the country that all but finished off the genocide of the natives? The nation that wrote slavery into their constitution? The empire that right up until this very day is killing someone innocent somewhere in the world. And what's on every soldier, every bomber, and every lapel of the leaders behind the killing?

That's why I love the American flag. We've won! The South, they're sore losers.
posted by rex dart, eskimo spy at 10:01 AM on July 14, 2006


Maybe not, but she is almost certainly ignorant.
posted by stinkycheese 6 minutes ago


Maybe. Or maybe she is extremely proud of her southern heritage and is decided to say "i will damn these bastards who have taken my flag and associated it with racism. i am taking it back". or perhaps "this is my friend's boogie board. i am aware of the subtle stigma of racism that this carries, but dammit i am at the beach and want to have some fun today".

My point is, who are we to judge, from a photograph?

She certainly lacks judgement.
posted by dame 3 minutes ago


You may have too much.
posted by poppo at 10:01 AM on July 14, 2006


It seems to me the folks who proudly display Confederate flags would probably not have been wealthy landowners back then, but instead would have lived hardscrabble lives in the shadow of enormous wealth enjoyed by very few and made possible by slavery.

That's kind of what makes the whole phenomenon a mystery worth plumbing.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2006


I'm honestly surprised that so many of you grew up in neighborhoods where wearing a Rebel flag T-shirt wouldn't ensure that you got your ass kicked.

Which isn't a defense of violence, but general exasperation at the fact that people can be so ignorant both of US history of what that symbol means to African Americans.

Wear it all you want. But it amuses me when pro-Rebel flag people play the very same victim card that they generally seem to despise. "Get over it you librul American dweebs, it's just a flag!" OK then, well, get over it you race-baiting twits when the rest of society calls you a racist twit or you can't get hired for a job either because you know damn well what that flag represents and don't care, or you're dumb enough not to know, in which case you should educate yourself.
posted by bardic at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2006


antediluvian

I think you meant antebellum.
posted by bardic at 10:03 AM on July 14, 2006


Unless you're talking about New Orleans.
posted by bardic at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2006


No. Before the flood.

Whoops.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2006


Or maybe she is extremely proud of her southern heritage and is decided to say "i will damn these bastards who have taken my flag and associated it with racism. i am taking it back".

"Damn these bastards who associated this flag, a flag that owes its very existence to the struggle to own black people, with racism."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Oh, New Orleans, my lost drowned home. How I mourned when I had to leave you in the hands of magician and former television star Harry Anderson.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:06 AM on July 14, 2006


"The confederate flag has very real negative connotations. It will never be perceived as harmless."

And the terms New Order and Joy Division don't? What planet are you from? Or do you just consider yourself smart enough to play around with cultural signifiers and these poor dumb rednecks aren't?
posted by vronsky



right, it is what is call post-modern. i hear you vronsky, even if others don't.
this reminds me of the ugly bigoted way in which friends i've made up north will talk about people they have never met down south. they feel no shame in their prejudice. but change a noun here or there and they would call you a racist pig. funny. take a good look in that mirror.
posted by nola at 10:09 AM on July 14, 2006


The girl with the boogie board may not be a racist, but she is committing a pretty racist act. I stand by my example: Would she use that boogie board at a predominantly black beach? I suspect not.

Ignorance is no excuse, simply because it's nearly impossible to remain ignorant. Mainstream pop culture may have its flaws, but by and large, it's a pretty good indicator of how to behave in polite society. And for the most part, mainstream pop culture disdains racist symbols. If boogie board girl has ever seen a movie or a television show produced in the US, or indeed walks around with her eyes open and without cotton stuffed in her ears, she's probably been exposed to the rudiments of American race relations. It's like the guy whose cell phone rings in the movie theater -- did he somehow not just see all the same "turn off your cell phone" ads that I did?

And king walnut, nice observation on the American flag.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2006


Mayor Curley, that is awesome.

Poppo, I think it's been covered aboev, but anyone who carries that and then is suprised that people think her racist, lacks judgement. On the other hand, yes, I am judgemental, especially since half my ancestors were slaves once. I feel okay about that.
posted by dame at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2006


This is why I only fly the black flag of anarchy or the jolly roger of piracy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2006


Of course I agree with you all on the idea that she should know what stigma that symbol carries.

But her being aware that others will think she is a racist because of it does not make her a racist.
posted by poppo at 10:16 AM on July 14, 2006


don't even understand this longing for the antediluvian south. It seems to me the folks who proudly display Confederate flags would probably not have been wealthy landowners back then, but instead would have lived hardscrabble lives in the shadow of enormous wealth enjoyed by very few and made possible by slavery. . . .

exactly, making the point even more clear that the flag is not, now for the most part, about slavery, or even racist motives.
posted by nola at 10:16 AM on July 14, 2006


. . . the flag no longer means what it meant, and this change will continue as long as new people are added to the mix over time.
posted by nola at 10:18 AM on July 14, 2006


I do not represent the US Stinkycheese, so how the fuck can I take it for the US? You really don't get it.

Oh boy. First, I never said, nor even implied that you represent the US. Second, I wasn't suggesting that you take it for the US; I was suggesting that, of all the countries in the world, the US can take some criticism - esp. when, as King Walnut suggests, the present kind of makes the past look appealing. That doesn't mean you can take some criticism Divine Wino, heaven forbid.

You asked a meaningless, unanswerable question and then when I try to question it's validity without being insulting you spazz and accuse my mild correction of being insecure, chief? Fucking beam in your own eye and that.

Wrong again. It's not an unanswerable question, and (as I said when I asked it) it was sincere. Perhaps the monarchs of the Ming Dynasty were all about eating certain kinds of food, and revelled in their lack of knowledge about worldly matters? Perhaps Romans chanted "we're unus!" all the time, even as their empire disintegrated around them? I really don't think so, but those are (completely made up of the spot) hypotheticals. The point being that such a precedent may exist, and if so, may be helpful or instructive.

As for spazzing? Well, find a reflective surface man, cuz you're the one getting all angry here.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:18 AM on July 14, 2006


Except, nola, you don't get to decide that. The people who perceive it do. And seeing that most black people and plenty of whites find it really offensive, it's offensive. If you get off on that idea, fine, but if you aren't a racist and do things people perceive as racist, then you have some funny priorities.
posted by dame at 10:24 AM on July 14, 2006


"Damn these bastards who associated this flag, a flag that owes its very existence to the struggle to own black people, with racism."

My point was: Here we have one group of people who certainly consider the flag racist. There may be another group who does not consider it racist. Is the second group racist?
posted by poppo at 10:26 AM on July 14, 2006


Are there any historical precedents for a society that proudly wears its ignorance on its sleeve? I mean, I'm aware of cases like Easter Island, wherein the population caused their own exinction, but I can't think of any culture - let alone "superpower" - that revels in its lack of knowledge like the USA.

Dammit, now I AM pissed, so I'm going to answer your question. Yes:

China (superpower in waiting or certainly the only other country that could claim the status):

The government directly controls and censors the media and the internet for its own purposes, going so far as to conceal outbreaks of potentially deadly diseases to avoid disorder and embarassment.

Soviet Russia: Fucking Duh.

The British Empire: "White mans burden", wogs, the Irish question, blah blah blah.

Germany: Double duh.

In general every Empire uses tools of social control, nationalism and bigotry to justify its adventurism if it doesn't just cut to the chase and use secret police and gulags, that's how it works, that is how you edge from free society to empire. So what I was objecting to was not that the US should be exempt from contempt, anger and oppobrium but that once again someone seems to think that culture = actions of the ruling powers and is homogenous, that they themselves are somehow exempt from questions about the effect their own countries, cultures and governments have had on the plight of others and that making woodenheaded generalizations without the barest hint of an understanding of history or politics allows them to don a splendid multicolored vest of righteousness. The history of humanity is the strong standing on the necks of the weak, but we don't all have to like it or give in to it.

The fucking confederate flag is a symbol of racism among other things, people who wear it with that in mind are being racist among other things.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:29 AM on July 14, 2006


The confederate flag has very real negative connotations. It will never be perceived as harmless."

And the terms New Order and Joy Division don't? What planet are you from?


Yeesh. I don't know for sure but I'd take a stab at which irony-challenged part of the world you're from.

Learn to make crucial distinctions, dude. If you seriously can't spot the difference between the direct racial challenge of "You wear your X, I'll wear mine", and a bunch of depressive, Mancunian purveyors of self-loathing glum-rock naming themselves after Nazi-abused Jewish sex slaves well.. that's depressingly dimwitted of you, frankly.
posted by Decani at 10:35 AM on July 14, 2006


And seeing that most black people and plenty of whites find it really offensive, it's offensive.

To those people, it's offensive. That doesn't automatically make the rebel flag = offensive. You could get a large number of people together that feel that homosexuality or abortion is "offensive" (and it would be offensive to those people). It doesn't mean they are "right", or that if x amount of people feel that something is (blank), than it is (blank)...necessarily.
posted by stifford at 10:36 AM on July 14, 2006


In other words, bigotry and pride in ignorance are tools of social control the world over.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:37 AM on July 14, 2006


Huh. The confederate flag isn't a symbol of racism. Well, thank you metafilter for one of the dumbest things I've read in awhile. How can one look at a graphic of a confederate flag flying from the White House with the caption "I have a dream" and not understand the connotation? It's a coincidence? 'Rednecks' are too dumb to know better?

What Mayor Curley said.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:37 AM on July 14, 2006


Well put
posted by poppo at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2006


eh, well put, stifford
posted by poppo at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2006


what I was objecting to was not that the US should be exempt from contempt, anger and oppobrium but that once again someone seems to think that culture = actions of the ruling powers and is homogenous, that they themselves are somehow exempt from questions about the effect their own countries, cultures and governments have had on the plight of others and that making woodenheaded generalizations without the barest hint of an understanding of history or politics allows them to don a splendid multicolored vest of righteousness.

Thanks for the laugh.

And, for the record, I believe that what we think of as "American culture" (blues, baseball, apple pie, kitsch, etc.) has taken a huge noisedive thanks in large part to the infusion (takeover?) of corporate culture. Of course corporate culture has its thumb in the pie of American government too, but it's not a A = B situation.

Oh, and "actions of the ruling powers" is a cop-out BTW. The President works for the people, right?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:40 AM on July 14, 2006


You really haven't seen Dixie until you've seen her sunbathing, wearing her Confederate bikini, glistening on the trailer's deck.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:45 AM on July 14, 2006


Would you expect to see a black guy wearing one?

No, but if I ever do, damnit, I'm buying him a beer!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:50 AM on July 14, 2006


No, the president doesn't work for the people in America, it never was and is especially not now that simple, making it that simple is where we are butting heads.

I believe that what we think of as "American culture" (blues, baseball, apple pie, kitsch, etc.) has taken a huge noisedive thanks in large part to the infusion (takeover?) of corporate culture.


if that is what you see American culture as, that is the problem. It is a wild generalization and basically comes from corporate culture.

Look stinkycheese, I believe that trying to understand the complexity of things is very important, I meant to broaden your question and got called insecure and egotistical (when I said right in my response that I feel the US is sick in its soul in many ways), now I'm fighting with you, a Canadian. I love Canadians generally :). Let's extend an olive branch of peace across our common border, ok?
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:51 AM on July 14, 2006


OK. No problem. Have a great weekend.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2006


Poppo, if the second group is aware of the first group's feeling that x is racist, and the second group is in the more privileged position in society, then I'd feel safe saying that the second group is racist. In other words, white people don't get to decide what is and ain't racist.

Stifford, I agree with you, but I think that this avenue of the discussion is getting a little too abstract for the matter at hand. My answer to the question "Is the Confederate Flag racist?" is "It's racist enough."
posted by hifiparasol at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2006


Re: Pennsylvania

The appropriate term (grew up in Bucks county, keep a small farm in Susquehanna county) for everything between Philly and Pittsburgh is "Pennsyltucky". You people (from the coasts, or the PA cities) are "flatlanders" (pejorative). They (Pennysltuckians), are "ridge runners", again also pejoratively.
posted by jivadravya at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2006


Actually, I can think of a place where it would be apropriate to display a Confederate flag. Mostly it would involve wearing gray and firing blanks at guys wearing blue.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2006


To those people, it's offensive. That doesn't automatically make the rebel flag = offensive. You could get a large number of people together that feel that homosexuality or abortion is "offensive" (and it would be offensive to those people). It doesn't mean they are "right", or that if x amount of people feel that something is (blank), than it is (blank)...necessarily.

Oooookaaaay, so what makes something offensive? Or is nothing really offensive after all? You seem to imply that the confederate flag is not intrinsically offensive and so is not really offensive. Which is total nonsense. We are not debating equivalence here, but connotation. The confederate flag strongly connotes racism. This is especially highlight with the "I have a dream" example. Why (just THINK for a moment) would the graphic design team in question juxtapose that particular quote with that particular image?
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:54 AM on July 14, 2006


a huge noisedive

Isn't that what happens at the end of The Beatles "A Day In The Life"?
posted by liam at 10:55 AM on July 14, 2006


Divine_Wino: By the way, that's not what I personally see the culture as. Music and cinema is probably the best encapsulation of my own tastes; the 20th century saw amazing contributions on both these fronts by American culture.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:57 AM on July 14, 2006


To those people, it's offensive. That doesn't automatically make the rebel flag = offensive. You could get a large number of people together that feel that homosexuality or abortion is "offensive" (and it would be offensive to those people). It doesn't mean they are "right", or that if x amount of people feel that something is (blank), than it is (blank)...necessarily.

Well, no, it is offensive. It may not be intended to be racist (though that argument is totally specious), but it is offensive. Now, you can not care that some people find it offensive. You can find it a hilarious instance of what uptight psychos those people are (see: homosexuality). But you can't claim that people don't find it offensive when they do.
posted by dame at 10:58 AM on July 14, 2006


South Jersey hates North Jersey with a passion
That's because they are jealous of our inherent superiority.
And I have a few friends from rural PA, they've described it as 'Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Kentucky in between.'
The term is "Pennsyltucky".
posted by Karmakaze at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2006


Oooookaaaay, so what makes something offensive? Or is nothing really offensive after all? You seem to imply that the confederate flag is not intrinsically offensive and so is not really offensive. Which is total nonsense.

If I see someone with a t-shirt, that has an italian flag (or any country), I see it as "They like that country", not "They like this country, and they stand by every decision this country has made throughout history". Being Offensive is relative, to a person, a group, etc. If something is offensive to you, but no one else cares about it, that doesn't make you wrong. If something offends 29 out of 30 people, that doesn't make the 30th person "wrong".

We are not debating equivalence here, but connotation. The confederate flag strongly connotes racism. This is especially highlight with the "I have a dream" example. Why (just THINK for a moment) would the graphic design team in question juxtapose that particular quote with that particular image?

Because that graphic design team is trying to suggest something else with the addition of that quote. Something that is not said by the flag itself. Just like someone with a tshirt that says "Hang Ten" and a image of black people being lynched, is probably not just a surfiing enthusiast.
posted by stifford at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2006


elwoodwiles said: Oooookaaaay, so what makes something offensive? Or is nothing really offensive after all? You seem to imply that the confederate flag is not intrinsically offensive and so is not really offensive. Which is total nonsense. We are not debating equivalence here, but connotation. The confederate flag strongly connotes racism. This is especially highlight with the "I have a dream" example. Why (just THINK for a moment) would the graphic design team in question juxtapose that particular quote with that particular image?

Just for the sake of argument, perhaps it represents the ultimate results of "The South Will Rise Again". Having risen, one assumes, they've taken over DC, and have placed the battle flag atop the building to show that they are indeed, risen.

That said, I agree that the rebel battle flag is an inherently weighted emotive cultural item. One cannot pretend that it doesn't carry the connotations that have been heaped up on it.
posted by dejah420 at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2006


It's not that I hate Jews, it's just that I want to show how much I support the ideal of a strong Germany! Deutschland will rise again! Sure, it used to have racist connotations, but meanings change dude. You wear your star, I'll wear mine!
posted by rafter at 11:14 AM on July 14, 2006


But you can't claim that people don't find it offensive when they do.

I never claimed that. I'm saying what is deemed "offensive" is a relative concept.
posted by stifford at 11:14 AM on July 14, 2006


Oh wow. You are so smart. I never thought of that. I totally see the light. I take it all back. Poor boogie-board girl, so misunderstood. Poor south, all picked on by the Yankees. WE SHALL RISE AGAIN AND RELIVE THE DAYS WHEN THOSE PEOPLE KNEW THEIR PLACE.
posted by dame at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2006


As a lifelong Virginian I've had my encounters with the battle flag. While I do think there are a lot of sincere people who really do have pride that their relatives fought and died for the CSA, I do have a hard time with the average dope who has it on a bumper sticker or t-shirt.

The Civil War is obviously extremely complicated as our the feelings of Southerns regarding it, but it's hard to see how a rational person can't understand that it has become a racist symbol.

OT: Maybe next time you come down South, you should wear a Sherman (or Sheridan in my neck of the woods) t-shirt and see how worked up people get. And you can say, "Now you understand how it feels for most people to see the Confederate flag".
posted by monkeymcgee at 11:27 AM on July 14, 2006


Sorry for the terrible grammar--don't talk on a cell phone and post at the same time

That should be:

The Civil War is obviously extremely complicated, as are the feelings of Southerns regarding it, but it's hard to see how a rational person can't understand that it has become a racist symbol.
posted by monkeymcgee at 11:29 AM on July 14, 2006


"i had white friends from all walks of life, and i don't recall any of them wearing confederate flag clothing or having confederate flags"

That reflects my experience as well. The only people I ever encountered growing up in the south who sported confederate flags were the lowest ignorant redneck scum I've ever encountered. Fuck each and every one of them and anybody else who thinks it's cute to wear that garbage.
posted by 2sheets at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2006


Oh wow. You are so smart. I never thought of that. I totally see the light.

Congrats on coming around! Send me your address, and I'll reward you with a "Southern By the Grace of God" t-shirt. ; )

Chances are, we are just arguing over semantics. If someone is offended by something, to them that thing is offensive. But what is "offensive" is relative, from a dixie flag, to a Mappelthorpe exhibit, to Howard Stern, or whatever.


Would you wear a Confederate flag shirt to a bar or a block party in a predominantly black neighborhood?

I wouldn't wear a Rangers jersey to an Islander home game...

; )
posted by stifford at 11:57 AM on July 14, 2006


Again, I'm always amused by the Rebel flag defense that goes "Oh, history is complicated, the Civil War was complicated, it wasn't just about slavery." Because back when I was a kid in the 80's and there was this wacky idea about actually having a Martin Luther King holiday, lots of (usually white, often southern) people derided those who wanted to establish the holiday as overly sensitive, uptight, and for lack of a better word, "uppity."

I happen to know American history, and I happen to agree that the slavery was a complicated thing, in addition to being comparable to a holocaust for Africans, that deserves lots of attention, even today.

But ya know, deep down in my intolerant librul heart, I have the feeling that people wearing Rebel flags don't really want to have a conversation and heighten the discourse around the history of race in America. No, in my limited experience, they just want to fuck with me and show how hard they are.

So I'm supposed to be all senstive to "Southern Pride" just because someone wears a battle flag? Please.
posted by bardic at 12:06 PM on July 14, 2006


*the slave trade
posted by bardic at 12:07 PM on July 14, 2006


Chances are, we are just arguing over semantics. If someone is offended by something, to them that thing is offensive. But what is "offensive" is relative, from a dixie flag, to a Mappelthorpe exhibit, to Howard Stern, or whatever.

Indeed. And to me, to carry around a Confederate flag boogie board, if you aren't racist, is a case of poor judgement because many people will think it means you are. That's it.
posted by dame at 12:16 PM on July 14, 2006


But ya know, deep down in my intolerant librul heart, I have the feeling that people wearing Rebel flags don't really want to have a conversation and heighten the discourse around the history of race in America. No, in my limited experience, they just want to fuck with me and show how hard they are.

Boogie Board Girl wants to fight you...
posted by stifford at 12:25 PM on July 14, 2006


It's been said before and it can't be said too many times: yes, it's well within someone's freedom of expression to choose to wear certain specific things. However it's also well within others' freedom of opinion to think less of people who decide to wear those things.
posted by clevershark at 12:25 PM on July 14, 2006


I can't believe nobody commented on the fact that both Confederate flags and Bob Marley "One love" t-shirts are visible in this picture.
posted by Brainy at 12:33 PM on July 14, 2006


i don't wear , or display the confederate flag, for reasons which have been mentioned here by others, concerning it's connotation.

how ever, i do understand, and even support , albeit selectively, the desire of some to wear/ display said artifact, without you or anyone else telling them what they mean , by displaying it proudly.

. . .they just want to fuck with me and show how hard they are.

or put another way, they are calming their outsider statues, and embracing their home.
but i do not speak for all those who choose such an emblem anymore than you do. how ever my interpretation does have ever bit as much basis in fact as your's. some that wave the american flag do so with hate in their heart. some with pride in things american.

i know for those of you who did not grow up in the south it may be hard to see anything good in the southern cross (and even for many southern brethren) but the symbol holds many meaning for many people.

i feel a very mixed collection of feelings when i see the flag. i will always enjoy the many meanings that it evokes for me, as long as it remains at bottom , a symbol of defeat. were it to once again become a symbol of power, i would join with my fellow metafites against it's display.

anyway just my 2 cents worth. the fraise that sums it up for me would be " i guess you had to be there"
posted by nola at 12:35 PM on July 14, 2006


I can't believe nobody commented on the fact that both Confederate flags and Bob Marley "One love" t-shirts are visible in this picture.

Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.


/full metal jacket
posted by stifford at 12:39 PM on July 14, 2006


One difference that seperates the United States flag and the Confederate Flag(s) is that while the former did enshrine slavery into its Constitution, it was only the latter that fought to preserve it. Slavery did not begin under the American flag, but it did end under it. For as much as some want to demonize America, the country has a whole, over the course of history, done many great things.

For those who do not grow up in the South, it is tough problem to convey the odd relationship between its people and their embattled past as a defeated nation. As is, the bare boned explanation might simply be, "It just is." I think the South does need to put its blood soaked banners into the attics and museums where they rightfully belong and leave the dreams of Dixie to fade away.

I for one have no desire to return to that antebellum period, nor bend a knee to the gentlemen who convinced the poor man to fight the war to preserve their economic existence.
posted by Atreides at 12:41 PM on July 14, 2006


Atreides. is that a dune reference?
posted by nola at 12:45 PM on July 14, 2006


So, I've writen up a few posts and deleted them all, mainly because I'm not sure how to explain something so basic, so obvious, without saying something insulting to other posters.

That said:

I have a dream.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:46 PM on July 14, 2006


Nola. Yes, but a SN that I've carried since I read the books as a 12 year old many, many, years ago...
posted by Atreides at 12:59 PM on July 14, 2006


Nola, I'm not telling you what it means to you. I'm telling you what it makes me think about you. Do you understand the difference or do I need to say it slower?
posted by dame at 1:00 PM on July 14, 2006


It's kind of pathetic that an individual ever feels the need to wear or display a nationalistic flag of any kind, except maybe during the World Cup and it's going to be awhile before the Confederacists master the offside trap.
posted by liam at 1:03 PM on July 14, 2006


I'm not sure why its "pathetic" to want to wear or display a nationalistic flag. Feeling pride in one's country is not a sin, absolving it of its own misdeeds out of pride is.
posted by Atreides at 1:08 PM on July 14, 2006


It's a hard thing to explain. As a southerner seeing the Confederate battle flag flown in certain settings/situations can bring a tear to my eye but so can hearing MLK delivering the I Have a Dream speech. The flag doesn't symbolize racism to me but I fully understand why it would to others so I don't display it or, as far as I know, even possess anything that does.
posted by Carbolic at 1:11 PM on July 14, 2006


I am a rather new member here here, but have enjoyed and been enlightened by the many and varied posts and commentaries, both as an official mefite, and a lurker.

That being said, as one who grew up in the South, I'd very cordially like to tell MayorCurley to kiss my ass.

Every topic that even vaguely goes below the M/D line sees him bring out his vitriol and hatred for anything and everything associated with it.

I am no ignorant apologist or defender of all things Southern, and can be quite aggravated by some attitudes and actions there; however, it raises my ire to hear some Bostonian asshole continually tar an entire region with the same shitty brush.

Seriously, go fuck yourself.
posted by erskelyne at 1:14 PM on July 14, 2006


Keep fighting the good fight in a nasty way, dame! That't the way. It is important to win and be right!

it raises my ire to hear some Bostonian asshole continually tar an entire region with the same shitty brush.

He's from Maine, the South of the Northeast. Hope that helps!
posted by yerfatma at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2006


Dude, yerfatma, I said the same thing nicely like eight times. And I came to a good end with the person who could read. So, uh, go fuck yourself.
posted by dame at 1:56 PM on July 14, 2006


erskelyne: I am no ignorant apologist or defender of all things Southern, and can be quite aggravated by some attitudes and actions there;

There are some denizens of MeFi-land who believe we are all card carrying members of the KKK. They knows us all without out ever having met us. Your choice is either to grow a thick skin or avoid all discussions even vaguely related to the south or racism. It sucks but it is so.
posted by Carbolic at 2:19 PM on July 14, 2006


As someone born and raised in Virginia (and in Richmond, no less), I have had to deal with issues of what it means to be a Southerner and displaying images of the Civil War all my life. Generally, I support anyone's right to display any symbol they want, though I may not like it. (I do find strange the idea that displaying the Nazi swastika is unforgivable while the Communist hammer and sickle is no big deal, but I suppose that's just one of life's ironies.)

Honestly, though, if I really wanted to display my Southern pride, I'd just put up a Virginia flag. If the argument is about "states' rights" and "sticking it to the man", displaying a state flag would seem to be the logical response.
posted by armage at 4:12 PM on July 14, 2006


Nola, I'm not telling you what it means to you. I'm telling you what it makes me think about you. Do you understand the difference or do I need to say it slower?
posted by dame


great response , i like it when a person is willing to admit they think less of another person based on nothing more than appearance.

no need to understand regional differences, no need to explore the world out side of the circles you run in. indeed you sir have found the enemy/bigot and he is . . . well , whats the point.
posted by nola at 4:35 PM on July 14, 2006


one other thing dame. i think you miss the point. the point is simply this, your opinion does not make it so.

i know this is a hard pill for some to swallow , but america is a big place, full of tangled reasons.
don't be so quick to dish out judgement on people you will never know. try imaging a world outside of your own for a minute. show some respect for the unknown.
posted by nola at 4:49 PM on July 14, 2006


Carboli, you make a very good point. Noted, and thanks.
posted by erskelyne at 5:03 PM on July 14, 2006


Carbolic, that is. I had a plate of Carboli in Bay Ridge the other night, I do believe.
posted by erskelyne at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2006


And I came to a good end with the person who could read. So, uh, go fuck yourself.

It's really not the point. The larger point is what you provided doesn't resemble reasonable discourse. What did you add to the discussion here? There's a whole troop of people who jump in to parrot one side or the other and the only difference in their position is that they are saying it. So you all turn up the amps a bit and leave off just making a point to personally insult people. I'd like to know why. I'd like to know what unique bit of wisdom you imparted to us all that counterbalances the flying spittle we have to scroll by.
posted by yerfatma at 5:11 PM on July 14, 2006


My little contribution is that my friend Bob and I torched a rebel flag hanging on a house (actually our next door neighbors) with kerosene in an empty Windex bottle one night when I was in high school. Now I was never much of a vandal or troublemaker, but these assholes were straight-up, unapologetic bigots. We felt totally justified in doing it, like we were doing a service for the community. Mind you we were in Plymouth, Mass. a couple miles up the road from the rock.

Additionally, their redneck 12yo. daughter-a friend of my sister- got a Lee Press-On nail stuck in the finger of my Reggie Jackson-signed baseball glove. I had to shove it all the way into the tip of the glove since I could not remove it.

Totally justified.
posted by glycolized at 5:23 PM on July 14, 2006


One of the graphics shows Jesus in his thorny crown proclaiming that he can only help one person per day, and today is not your day. I have seen faith healers on television heal many folks at a time of the kidney problems, paralysis, and the sugar diabeedees, in His name. Would any sort of "loving" deity mock the prayers of a member of his humble flock?

It just seems unchristian to sell or wear such tee shirts. BTJM.
posted by longsleeves at 6:16 PM on July 14, 2006


got a Lee Press-On nail stuck in the finger of my Reggie Jackson-signed baseball glove. . . Totally justified.

I'd like to add this to Tales o' 80s New England Youth, but you're complaining about the loss of a Reggie Jackson autographed glove. Die.
posted by yerfatma at 9:15 PM on July 14, 2006


jrossi4r : "But if I were to walk around with a swastika on my t-shirt, it would be fair to assume that I felt an affinity for nazi ideals."

Well, see, that's kinda the rub. If you wore a swastika on your t-shirt in Japan, it would be fair to assume that you just like punk music (for some reason the swastika is a generic punk symbol in Japan, not really associated with nazis. And, no, I'm not talking about the symbol for a Buddhist temple, which is a reversed swastika). But if you wore a swastika on your t-shirt in America, Europe, etc., it would be fair to assume that you had an affinity for nazi ideals.

In the same way, if you wore the rebel flag in the north of America, it would be fair to assume you felt an affinity for the ideals of the Confederacy. If you wore it in the south of America, it would be fair to assume that you liked the South in general, and perhaps the general concept of rebellion, and perhaps pride in being non-snooty. It would be really likely that you are a racist, but not nearly as likely as the assumption that you just liked the South in general. That is, I think it's right around the cusp where it falls from "Fair to assume that A" to "Fair to assume that probably A".

Divine_Wino : "The fucking confederate flag is a symbol of racism among other things, people who wear it with that in mind are being racist among other things."

To "be racist" is to think that other races are inferior. Wearing something can not "make" you racist. Being racist can make you WAY more likely to wear a racist symbol. And not being racist can make you WAY less likely to wear it. But wearing does not MAKE you racist, unless you think that putting a symbol on your clothing automatically and instantaneously rewires your mind.

(And if that's the case, I'm gonna buy a t-shirt with some joke in Chinese on it, because I'd really like to be able to speak Chinese, and a t-shirt with a Chinese joke is something that a Chinese-speaking person is really likely to wear, and a non-Chinese speaker is far less likely to wear, and by that logic just wearing the shirt will make me a Chinese-speaker.)
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 PM on July 14, 2006


Wouldn't the littoral Yankee equivalent of a nostalgic Johnny Reb be an "oyster cracker"?
posted by rob511 at 10:41 PM on July 14, 2006


My ol' East Tennessee High School
posted by pwedza at 9:44 PM on July 16, 2006


There are as many reasons for displaying the Confederate flag as there are people who do so.

It runs the gamut from hard-core racists to Ole Miss fans to people who just think it is pretty, to hipsters trying to be ironic, and every possibility between.

I've seen a Confederate flag on a dilapidated trailer. I've seen one on an immaculate mansion. I've seen it on a small gold pin on the collar of an old woman's blouse, and I've seen it on a ripped t-shirt of a punk kid with a blue mohawk.

Some really do wish we could return to slavery. Some wish for a simpler time, a pre-industrial time. Some do it simply for decoration. Others use it as a signifier for the rural Southern lifestyle, as opposed to the urban. Still others see it as an interesting design and an iconic symbol. Some are just big Hank Williams Jr or Charlie Daniels fans. Some would participate in modern day lynchings if the opportunity presented itself.

I think if you had to assign a reason the hypothetical average Southerner might display the Confederate flag... it would have to be pride in their Southern heritage, despite the ugly blights of racism and slavery. It is possible to both love the South and hate the racism it wallowed in for so long.

Can a German still be proud of their German heritage, or did the Holocaust ruin their entire history forever? Can Egyptians be proud of their Egyptian heritage, or did keeping the Chosen People as slaves ruin their entire history forever?

It is complicated.

And dame, you are simply ignorant of the situation. There is a whole other world outside of Brooklyn. Can people in your neighborhood display the Irish or Italian flags without fear of reprisal? Or is there likely to be a protestant vs catholic war in the street?

I mean, I can't imagine a reason someone would display one of those unless they supported the IRA or secretly pined for Mussolini to be back in power. Can you? Or, could there POSSIBLY be other reasons?

Sometimes symbols are just that, symbols. Not necessarily ideologies.

Note that virtually all of the people who display the Confederate flag are also *FIERCELY* patriotic. They absolutely do not see loyalty to the US and to the South as competing interests.

Reminds me of a ball cap I have seen at least 100 times in my life: USA and Confederate flags crossed with the saying American by birth, Southern by the grace of God".

That kind of explains it for those capable of understanding. I love the South. I will always be a proud Southerner, even if I move away from this region. I regret that people completely equate the South with slavery. Some of my neighbors are racist assholes. Some of my neighbors are the most generous and selfless people you could ever hope to meet.

I wish I was in Dixie, hooray! Hooray! In Dixieland I'll take my stand, to live and die in Dixie.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:12 PM on July 17, 2006


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