Flying Their True ColoursD

I saw an interesting sight the other afternoon.  While driving along US-1 in an urban area of very South Florida I noticed a large white pickup truck with large tires (the type of vehicle that, with or without a gun rack, would be attributed around here as being owned and operated by rednecks, or should I say white males with plenty of Southern Pride).  Waving proudly in the back was a very large American flag.

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By “American” I specifically mean The United States Of America, not any of those other North American countries who’s inhabitants, if you’ve been listening intently to Donald Trump lately, are almost all scumbagsA.  (But don’t worry, scumbags, if you are willing to work for the Donald for next-to-nothing, I’m sure he will still like you – unless you are capturedA (by immigration perhaps).

Although I’ve recently expressed my view on the display of the Confederate flag, the flag that one is most likely to see in these parts would be the flag of our nearest Latin American neighbors (you’d better check the map; around here that wouldn’t be Mexico).  As it turns out, when you are as far south as you can possibly get inside the continental limits of the United States, the traditional southern white folk no longer represent the Majority.  That title was seized several decades ago by Cubans displaced by a communist regime at home.

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I realize the term “communist” or its significance in this instance may cause confusion.  When I was young (which is probably long before your time), we were taught that communism was very, very bad.  Many Cubans came here during that era.  But as we’ve learned from the Chinese experience, one’s political circumstances aren’t really all that important as long as one is willing to work for next-to-nothing.  Just ask the Donald.  Then you can be our buddy (sorry, I mean BFF).  In fact, to avoid offending our BFFs, we don’t even use the word “communist” anymore unless we are talking about our political opponents (of just about any flavor) or the PopeA.  So apparently, their government still won’t allow the people in Cuba to work for Americans for next-to-nothing, and those that moved here wouldn’t think of doing that either.  So there is a lot of hostility between the Cuban residents of the two countries, even now as our President tries to restore relations, just as his (Republican) predecessors have done with milder, less oppressive or objectionable countries like Russia and China.
What really pissed off the locals as this power shift was taking place was that the newcomers weren’t assimilating the local culture.  They weren’t bothering to learn English, they weren’t renouncing the corruption or other values of a third-world country, and maybe most important, they kept waving that damn Cuban flag.  This has been going on for over fifty years now.  If the local Cubans had assimilated, then they would have known that the flag they should have been waving was from a group that actually attacked and declared war on the United States to preserve their enlightened principles, and only after a long, devastating struggle was the group soundly defeated and erased from existence over 150 years ago.

Anyway, when I saw the American flag in the back of the pickup truck, I know it wasn’t that big a deal, but I found it refreshing.  Maybe that guy finally found something he could be proud of.  Lately the only ones you see flying the American flag, the largest they can possibly find, are used car dealerships.  And how many times have you heard on the news about the veteran who tried flying his flag, but was denied or thrown out by his condominium association, which was exercising the same rights to protect their residents from offensive material that he had fought so hard for (and that some of his friends no doubt died for).  But this is America, after all.  It almost brought tears to my eyes.

DIn the time several centuries ago when the British Navy ruled the seas, “colours” meant “flag”.

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The (Southern) Emperor’s New Clothes

I had always thought this story written by Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark in the early nineteenth century was mere fiction created for small children.  Yet they seem to be reenacting this tale in the state of South Carolina as I speak.

The Plot

The original story is about a vain Emperor who had been duped by a pair of swindling weavers into thinking he was getting an extravagant new outfit and was later climactically called out by a child as being completely naked when the emperor paraded his new clothes down the streets of the capital.  The swindlers depended on observers’ pride and ego to make them unwitting accomplices to the crime by claiming that the Emperor’s new clothing would be invisible to anyone that was unusually stupid.  But this summary doesn’t do the tale justice. The story is short, so check it out yourself at The Hans Christian Andersen Center website.

How It Applies

In this month’s reenactment, the swindlers are played by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SOCV), who have considered it their job to convince us that the Confederate flag is not being used as a symbol of racism and hatred, even though it was resurrected throughout the South in the 1960’s (one hundred years after the Civil War) specifically as a protest against federal laws giving blacks some of the rights they thought they had won a century earlier.  No, according to the SOCV, that’s not the case at all.  In fact this flag is THE ONLY true symbol of Southern Pride.  The Governor of the state is not playing the Emperor, as some might think (or hope).  That’s not because the Governor is a female, I’m sure, but because the legislature somehow made her powerless in this instance.  The star role is played by the state lawmakers, who have been solidly Republican, and solidly white, and solidly male since about the time the flag returned to prominence.  The child is aptly played by 21-year-old Dylann Roof.  Some might consider him too old for the part, but because of the culture he grew up in and the current state of our education system (which he dropped out of in the ninth grade), I would argue that he is every bit as qualified as that young child in Denmark from a time just a little bit before the South’s finest hour.  In a dramatic and tragic fashion, Dylann demonstrated that he knew the true meaning of that flag based on the context in which it was used.  He was not buying any of this Southern Pride crap.  And neither should you. 

 

Where I Fit In

I’m not originally from the South, but have lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else and like to consider this home.  I’m really saddened by these recent developments.  While I’ve always been puzzled by all of this Confederate pride stuff, now I’m starting to question my own actions, or lack thereof.  There is no telling how many lives could have been saved if I had the heart, or is it the balls, to break it to y’all many years ago that the Confederacy actually lost that war (go ahead and Google it), which means there are a lot of losers down here worshiping bigger losers.  But that has always been their right, and I’m a big believer in personal rights and freedoms, brushing their obsession off as harmless fun.  I may even owe my neighbors and all true followers of the Lord an apology for misjudging the harm in this ruse and for my inaction. But then again, my voice may not have made a difference. In Andersen’s original story, only a child would have been able to expose the Emperor (no pun intended). Any adult making the claim the child did would have been dismissed as a simpleton and subjected to ridicule (OK, now maybe I’m just making excuses for myself again).

So What’s The Point?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the good guys win every war.  This isn’t Hollywood.  But in this case, if it’s not bigotry and hatred, exactly what ARE the principles (which are lacking in those “damn Yankees”) that we are really trying so hard to defend here?  And although pride is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”, there are many who consider it a virtue A.  Either way, it has to be acknowledged as a basic human characteristic.  But it is just so very sad that in the last 150 years (and probably the 150 years before that), we have found absolutely nothing else around here beside the Confederate flag that we could possibly take any pride in.  That certainly didn’t change this week. (Or did it?  Could it be possible you just don’t know where to look?)

So What Happens Next?

Hans Christian Andersen was no Walt Disney; his story ends long before they reached “Happily Ever After”.  In fact as the curtain dropped, the Emperor, after being outed as an idiot, was determined to continue on, “so he walked more proudly than ever”.  What that means for the Confederate flag, or human decency, or the citizens of the Great State of South Carolina I have no idea.  That is all up to you.