Read Amanda and then come back here and bear with me a second while I kick this around:

Anyway, a reader of Digby’swrote a great email
explaining that to white Southern racists and their allies who hang the
Confederate flag in non-Confederate states, the flag has always
represented Christian values, honor, freedom, hating commies, puppies
and kittens. As someone who lives in one of the Confederate states, I
can also attest to the fact that some morons still call it The Rebel
Flag, as if it’s some symbol of a strike for justice and freedom,
instead of the reality, that it was a strike against freedom for
enslaved people.* The reason that puppies and kittens have been
attached to the Confederate flag is for the same reason that homobigots
have to paint their opposition to gay marriage as “protecting
traditional marriage” and their ancestors who protested interracial
marriage claimed that god separated the races for a reason—because no
one wants to admit they’re a straight-up bigot. It’salways something else.

I’ve thought for a while that to ascribe to racism the urge to hoist a patently offensive symbol and wave it around is to overcomplicate the situation. It’s not so much about race (or in the case of Christmas about Christmas, or in the case of marriage about marriage) as it is about yelling FUCK YOU in a crowded theater, and this maddening cutesy-bigotry happens at the moment to be the most effective way to piss off everybody in a 50-mile radius.

Bullies are racists and bullies are sexists and bullies are homophobes and bullies are smug self-satisfied semi-pro pseudo-Christians but what they are at heart are bullies, first and last and always, and until you get at that you won’t change anybody’s outlook on anything. The racism and sexism and religious bigotry are all ugly clothes they put on over their ugly selves, which is why they cloak their racism in the kinds of weasel words Amanda notes above.

The doctrinaire racists are off shaving their heads and building compounds in the woods and putting out pamphlets about the way race-mixing is evil as if that ship hasn’t sailed; the leaders of the more mainstream CCC-type movements are out there talking about people who don’t want to work and law and order being restored in the inner cities. Your rebel-flag-flying bemulleted dickweasel talking about his Southern heritage and the gloriousness of the Lost Cause, on the other hand, is trying to be a badass in the most pathetic fashion offered by our society: He’s saying something offensive, and then sitting back, waiting for your respect that he “said it” and “put it out there” and “if you have a problem with how much of an asshole I am it’s YOUR PROBLEM, heh” and such.

And the madder you get the more right you prove he is, in his mind, which is why argument is impossible. At some point in like grade school a large percentage of the population of this country became convinced that pissing everybody off was not only a personal imperative, it was an actualvirtue. This is a cousin to “keeping it real,” as the kids 10 years ago would say.

Until you get at the need to shove somebody else down to make the
shover feel like a big man you can teach all you want about the words
that are offensive and the words that aren’t, about what flag it’s okay
to fly and what flag it’s not, and eventually they’ll just find new words to cover their neediness and desperation. It’s not about bigotry, it’s about the power of the bully to smash someone else’s face in the dirt and make all his friends laugh. I really don’t believe it’s any more complicated than that.


5 thoughts on “Bullying

  1. There is another part of this bullying game that the more “sophisticated” bullies enjoy. Getting the victims to defend them. They LOVE that.
    It’s like Dick Cheney shooting you in the face and then YOU apologizing to him. “I’m sorry if this shooting got you in any trouble.”
    Right before the bully says something offensive they will say, “I suppose this isn’t political correct, but…”
    So the bully says something to excuse his offensiveness to put you on the defensive right off the bat. I JUST figured out how this is working in a brand new way by listening to crappy third tier radio.
    Now they are saying, “I’ll probably be censored for this, but…” or “After the censorship doctrine I probably will not be able to say something like this…” They are baiting us! They want us to defend them to come out and say, “I am not going to censor you!” Or “I will not be politically correct so I will forgive you for your sick comment because I believe in your free speech and your right to be a jack ass.”
    Another game? After you do protest it’s all, “Hey lighten up, it’s a joke!” or “Ha. Ha. I made you made that was my point all along. You got sucked into my trap.”

  2. Whenever the rightards throw a hissy-fit about flag-burning…
    For which they seem to have a regular schedule, I think we’re due for one in the next year…
    …I think it’s time to start up the CONFEDERATE flag burnings. Hey, they were traitors to America, their flag *deserves* burning.
    And in a “hippy protest against everything wrong in America”, burning a Confederate flag is much, much, more on target.
    Perhaps the Confederate flag burnings should be scheduled for July 4th, that would be really *festive*, no?

  3. Thanks so much for being so sensitive, everyone.
    Oh, and for buying into the propaganda from the North that the South is eeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvvuuuullll and all about slavery and oppression.
    Again. Some more. Ad fucking nauseam.
    Everytime this crap comes up I want to have frightened turkey buzzards visit the ‘writers’ perpetuating this crap.
    Being Southern is not the same thing as being racist.
    Being Northern is not the same thing as being free of racism.
    Unless and until that becomes a universally acknowledged truth — and one taught in the media and the public schools — there can never be peace, and without peace how do we achieve progress?
    Oh, we don’t need progress, we can just blame the South.

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