Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, July 10, 2015

Moral Hazzard

I guess the most strange argument in favor of the Stars and Bars comes from Miss Tamara Scott, who believes that most young people associate the Confederate Battle Flag with the Dukes of Hazzard tv show, anyway, but still somehow thinks we need to preserve the history of what it meant, if we can kind of not allow that it meant slavery in the Civil War sense and segregation and Jim Crow in the 1960's anti-civil rights sense.

Now, I am middle-aged, so I actually watched Dukes of Hazzard  as a kid, and I never thought anything wrongheaded about the show. But I also know that no person in their right mind sees that flag over a statehouse in any state and thinks "That state must really enjoy that show, Dukes of Hazzard. I wonder what South Carolina's favorite Duke boy is--Bo? Luke? Or is it David?"  (Actually, this show was all about car chases and those Duke boys in really tight jeans for pre-teen me.)

If the flying of this flag means history, then I seriously wonder why, in states where this would matter, there is an objection to so many of the particulars being taught. But I know for certain if it meant no more right now than that show I watched when I was a kid, no, okay, you can take that down now. And if it meant a flag where it symbolized black people were "less than", I'm thinking take it down like sixty years ago. Go back in time and do that.


Formerly Amhert said...

Vixen, I appreciate you taking an interest in our Southern sensibilities, although I am a little baffled by it.

You're looking in all the wrong places for the answers you seek. Thousands of books have been written about that period of history, the events and motives, and you'll do a lot better reading what the scholars have to say. I will say I doubt that you will ever understand it, perceptive though you are.

Let me try this.

Once a friend married an Italian girl, and I went to the wedding. It was a big to-do. Oddly, the band kept playing the theme from The Godfather over and over. There were some delays, and so part of it was the band stretching it out.

I went to the reception, and once again the band was playing the theme from The Godfather. To the best of my knowledge, no one at this wedding was involved with the mafia. Someone might have some distant connection, but it really had no other context than that it was something the Italian people in the US had identified with in a kind of romantic way.

You know, when Sammy the Bull Gravano, the underboss of the Gambino crime family, saw The Godfather, he said that he walked out in kind a daze that lasted for hours. He was amazed because The Godfather, with all the food and singing and dancing, was the story of the Italian people, or at least that's how he felt.

Naturally, the mafia is in no way a virtuous operation. Although occasionally people can point to some virtuous act that a mafioso bestowed on them. There is really nothing about the mafia that really adds up to Italian people embracing it and seeing the movie theme as a keynote in their lives' nostalgia.

The old South is dead and gone and has been replaced by the new South. The racism is gone; US hatred is gone; Confederate soldiers are dead, buried, and gone. The families of those soldiers, the old plantations, all gone. It's all gone.

The only things remaining are the old songs, the old flags, the memorials, the old bittersweet memories, the old stories of valor, and a whole people consecrated to a cause now lost. You know, down here we have organizations that put Confederate flags on the graves of our ancestors who fought in the War Between the States.

No one alive today, except historians, is concerned with issues that motivated the War Between the States. If you listen to the song Dixie you will hear the line, “I wish I were in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten...”

We don't forget. All that's left is heritage.

mikey said...

Ok. I suppose that means that in ten years or so, when none of the Nazis from WWII are alive, when it's all just Hogans Heroes and Liederhosen, then it will be perfectly ok to fly a swastika?

The flag is a symbol of slavery, white supremacy, treason, and racial violence. It's not even the flag of the CSA - it's the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was adopted by the KKK, and used to represent the resistance to federal civil rights legislation and enforcement since the late '50s.

Maybe it's YOU, being from down there, that cannot see nor understand the horror of that ongoing oppression. But there are some fresh graves in Charleston you can go see for a little guidance on the issue...

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, our friend Mikey presents me with some challenges that I will respond to in an idle moment.

Mikey, please do not be shocked. I was not in the War between the States, Furthermore, I don't think anyone alive was in the Ware Between the States,

I did spend a number of years in the civil rights movement, and I have black friendships to this day. I also have friends in the Daughters of the Confederacy. Believe it or not, a lot of us Southerners were part of the civil rights movement.

The entire Confederacy was made up of Democrats. I am a conservative. Governor Wallace was a segregationist we fought against at some danger to ourselves. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Democrat. The South did not turn Republican until the 1970s. Robert Byrd was a Grand Kleagle in the KKK. Before me, working with other Southerners and Northerners who entered the struggle, blacks could not drink out of the same fountains as whites, could not eat at the same restaurants, could not use the same restrooms, and were generally made second class citizens.

In the CR struggle we changed all that. And all this process was one of the factors that caused the South to leave the Democratic Party. Right now the only politician sympathizing with the South is Sen. James Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy. Here's what you don't understand: this is not a matter of politics. It's a matter of culture.

Your argument is with people all now long since dead. In the south we have adjusted to the paradoxes inherent in the world we grew up in, and we know that does not sit well with some people. Still it's our history and the racial factor was just a part of it.

Incidentally, PM Merkel visits German memorials from World War II. It would be inappropriate for an American president to visit those memorials, but Merkel's visits are in context of those families who lost soldiers. The atrocities were secret to most of the German military.

All I can recommend to you is to get hold of your senators and your congressman/woman and tell them what you think. You could argue with Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, but they are long since dead.

mikey said...

That's ludicrous and dishonest on so many levels. Yes, the Democratic party was the dominant party of the south 150 years ago. You are pretending that nothing has happened, nothing has evolved, and nothing has changed in the interveing centuries. I'll say this: I thought Amherst was an honest debater, but this just tells me she's a lying thug.

Amherst, have you even fucking NOTICED that the makeup of the parties has changed, driven ENTIRELY by racial animus? Have you noticed that those southern Democrats are now, and have been for decades, racist Republicans? Have you noticed that it's the Republican politicians that are supporting the racist base?

Or more importantly, have you noticed that WE have noticed? You have in the past appeared to be smart, but here you just sound like a wingnut idiot. Seriously, if this is the best you've got, it's time to give it up and drop the racist hate. You're on the wrong side of history...

mikey said...

One more thing needs to be said.

Amherst actually had the bile to say this: "The old South is dead and gone and has been replaced by the new South. The racism is gone...

I can't believe the grotesque hatred behind such a statement. Amherst, I would point you to a funeral in South Carolina just a week ago, unarmed African Americans murdered for no other reason than the color of their skin by a White Supremacist proudly wearing a Rhodesian flag patch on his shirt. For anyone, let alone a white southerner, to proclaim that racism is over is offensive on SO many levels. You need to spend some time looking in a mirror and understanding the huge number of societal inequities you don't have a single fucking clue about....

Vixen Strangely said...

Wow, the comments here got deep for a post that was mostly a vehicle for the "Bo, Luke, David" quip--but the paradoxes of the South and the reconciliation of past prejudice with today's realities is a large part of why I've been following the #blacklivesmatter movement. Racism isn't a southern thing alone, but the southern culture was, out of a kind of hierarchical "necessity" (or expedience) due to a greater reliance on the slave trade, at one time more reliant on white supremacist mythology, which largely influenced the secessionist debates leading up to the Civil War--here we have a white culture convinced of two horrifying things--they were superior, and if they for a moment weren't, the black race in bondage would turn around and treat them as they had been treated in kind. These were saved Christian men who, having a honor culture, absolutely believed in the certainty of retribution, if not from God, then from men who considered themselves men with all the dignity and responsibilities to which men are heir.

For me, looking back is a necessity and looking away is a sin. No part of history is really dead if somebody somewhere remembers it. But what fascinates me is the degree to which the paradox of supremacist thought and earnest struggle to move on have existed side by side. There's the League of the South, but there is the Southern Policy Research Center. There is the Klan, born in Tennessee; but then the great man MLK came from the Deep South, Atlanta, Georgia. There was Huey Long an man of no prejudice at all who stuck up for the common man. And those 9 martyred bodies of Mother Emanuel AME are alongside the 9 bodies that sat at a lunch counter and made history in the determination of when a symbol represents an ideal, and when that ideal has to go.

Racism isn't dead anywhere--there will be a Klan rally down in SC in a week's time to memorialize that flag. But I don't doubt but that they will be met with a strong anti-klan crowd, as they often are when they protest. We got the Klan up here in PA and other racialist militia fuckwits by the score. I don't assume that means Pennsylvania is necessarily dominated by racists--but I have to recognize they exist. Kind of the way someone with cancer has to address that even if the word "cancer" is really scary, the diagnosis is what it is and you treat it with whatever caustic treatment is needed.

The only remedy I know of for the lying culture of racism is sunlight. You call them out when you see them. I try to talk about economic and social justice inequalities because it feels like my job. I am not going to put down the whole southlands because of their mixed heritage and the ways in which the attempts to remedy the sins of the past seem late to people who, being black and from there, too, like Bree Newsome, have their own personal experiences of that too-lateness and too-shortness of the anti-racist timeline. I need to include their POV for completeness and because I recognize that the perception of when we all, North and South, have evolved enough in our perception of race, should come from the ones who were originally injured by it. I am too freaking white to feel very personal about race, but too freaking human to let the damn question of how it still affects us alone because it does produce nonsense hate-filled white thugs like Dylan Root. But I want to kind of drop away from blame to solutions. To me the flag thing is a symbol that came to mean a sympathetic thing to non-injured whites, but always remained a scary oppressive thing to many blacks. Taking it down doesn't suddenly give out housing equality or education equality or a lot of other things, but it influences how people think on those things--

And how people think and see is meaningful and powerful.

Vixen Strangely said...

That should have been "Southern Poverty Law Center".

mikey said...

VS, sorry to come into your comments and throw bombs, but I like reading your stuff and that comment left me with something poison wedged in my throat and I had to cough it up somewhere.

Forgive me, and keep on with your good works...

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, I appreciate your measured and thoughtful assessment of the situation, and I believe you are largely correct. As you pointed out in your last paragraph, I should have said that today the South is no more or less racist than any other part of the country. Naturally, there are some fringe elements as one finds everywhere, and regrettably today the situation is not helped by a society prone to hysteria.

I'd like to make a few points.

I do not live in South Carolina, you live in Pennsylvania, and Mikey lives in California. We don't get a vote in this matter, nor should we. This is for the voters of South Carolina to determine. As it happens, a Republican governor is taking down a flag put up by a Democrat. Theoretically, this should suggest that everyone should be happy and relieved. As a consequence, it is a bit hard for me to understand all of the pejorative rhetoric.

I don't know what psychopathology Dylann Roof has. He is a twisted whackjob. There are very few people in the United States who regard his opinion as anything but some kind of psychosis. It is remarkable and a demonstration of our adolescence that the actions an insane person could provide the motivation for changes across a region of the country. It would be like California rearranging laws and rules because of Charles Manson. As you can see from the Christian family that forgave Roof, Charleston is a civilized city.

I inadequately tried to explain that the feelings of Southerners today have to do with a culture, not a specific set of misdeeds that a few members of that culture participated in. It has been said that during the time of slavery only 6% of the population actually owned slaves. But the culture was formed by the entire South, not simply of those guilty of slave ownership. Today Southerners relate and identify with that culture, not to specific flaws that existed in the past. Many of us enjoy Southwest style of decor, and it's not because we're happy that the US government killed Indians. (In fact, I have Cherokee blood.)

In places like Natchez and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and other cities with histories anchored in the old South, they have annual antebellum balls. Everyone is masked, the women show up in flowing gowns, most are in period costume. None of the participants approve in any way, shape, or form, of slavery. For them the ball is sort of like the feeling surrounding a cotillion where girls from well-to-do families are presented to society.

We have a lot of customs in the US that borrow from various historic periods, but do not have any reference to misdeeds that occurred.

In closing I would like to make one rather uncomfortable point. Things have changed since my days in the civil rights movement. Today there are people who avoid blacks, not because they are racist, but because they have been affected or frightened by the rise of a black criminal class -- the Bloods, the Crips, the Gangster disciples. Additionally we now have conspicuous black racists like Loius Farrakhan. And the New Black Panther Party has actually threatened completely innocent non-black people with death. I know people who no longer want to be in a neighborhood with people that have connections with any of these groups. In fact some of them used to be liberals before spokesmen began to threaten them.