Oklahoma Protesters Greet President Obama With Confederate Flags

Barack Obama

Protesters waving Confederate flags greeted President Obama when he arrived in Oklahoma last night:

Supporters of the Confederate flag rallied Wednesday in Oklahoma as President Barack Obama arrived in the state for a series of events, including the first ever visit to a federal prison by a sitting President.

About 10 people waving Confederate battle flags were among the crowd that gathered Wednesday night outside the Oklahoma City hotel where Obama was expected to stay, according to a White House pool report. One person waved an American flag and another held up a pro-Obama sign, the report noted.

Protesters also gathered earlier in the day near Durant, Oklahoma before Obama arrived at a local high school to deliver remarks on a program expanding high-speed Internet access, according to local TV station KFOR.

“We’re not gonna stand down from our heritage. You know, this flag’s not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it’s really not,” one protester who said he drove up from Texas, Trey Johnson, told the news station. “It’s just a southern thing, that’s it.”

Yea sure, it’s all about heritage.

Oklahoma, of course, was not even a member of the Confederacy during the Civil War and in fact wasn’t even a state at the time, when it was known as “Indian Territory.” However, Native Americans were recruited by both sides to serve in the war, and there were a number of minor battles in the territory although that essentially ended just a few months after the fall of the Confederate fort at Vicksburg, Mississippi, which essentially cut Texas and the rest of the Confederacy off from what was going on in the east. Given all that, I’m not even sure what “heritage” these Oklahomans are talking about, especially since many of their ancestors likely didn’t even arrive in the state until after the Civil War.

 

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Quick Takes, Race and Politics, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Of course, Oklahoma (the Sooner state) makes a virtue out of their cheating, criminal “heritage”.

  2. James Pearce says:

    Embarassing.

  3. Franklin says:

    Stay classy, OK?

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    My great grandparents and grandparents on my father’s side ended up in Oklahoma from Georgia via Missouri in the late 1800s. During the dust bowl they left and ended up in Oregon. Before the civil war they had been slave owning plantation owners in Georgia. My father had shed most of his Confederate mythology. He had also shed most of his prejudices but not all but they did not involve blacks but the Eastern European Jews that used to have no problem robbing his grocery store blind because he was not part of the tribe.

  5. Tyrell says:

    From the looks of things around here for the last few weeks, the Confederate flag business has been booming.

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    As a friend of mine, himself a native and current Oklahoman, once told me, it’s important to remember that Oklahoma is populated by the descendants of those who couldn’t quite hack it in the competitive, fast-paced worlds of Mississippi and Arkansas….

  7. Pete S says:

    The flag has one use. Protesting is a right, even waving the Confederate battle flag. But it sure makes it easy for the rest of us to identify the biggest idiots in that picture without needing to even meet them.

  8. There are, of course, no racial undertones whatsoever of flying that flag to protest the visit of the first African-American President. Nope, none at all.

  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There are, of course, no racial undertones whatsoever of flying that flag to protest the visit of the first African-American President. Nope, none at all.

    This was my thought as well.

    Now, if they greeted every vising politician with the confused message of the Battle Flag AND the American flag… well, then I may buy off on the heritage thing.

    But this? Not so much.

  10. mantis says:

    Treasonous, slaveowner heritage. What’s not to be proud of?

  11. Franklin says:

    I guess they’re right that the flag is not racist. It’s the person *holding* the flag that’s racist.

    /brought to you by the people who argue that guns don’t kill people

  12. Hal_10000 says:

    OK, but … ten people? I think the WBC gets out more twerps out than that. This is more of a sign of how quickly the issue is dying than anything else. The flag defenders can barely troll anymore.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: That. Ten protesters is just feeble.

    Is this going to be like when the supposedly liberal MSM ignored tens of thousands of people protesting the Iraq war and later breathlessly reported every early Tea Party rally with 50 people? Rhetorical question. Of course it is.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    Must be just a lovely town you inhabit.

  15. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: It is quiet. Sidewalks are rolled up at 7:00 pm, 6:00 on Sundays. And no alcohol sales anytime.

  16. ernieyeball says:

    …including the first ever visit to a federal prison by a sitting President.

    The first President to visit the Federal hoosegow should have been
    Richard Milhous Nixon.

  17. bill says:

    he asked for it, he made it a “cause” for rednex all over now. just like when the gun grabbers start trying to ban guns….they sell more just out of spite.
    and as always, “flags don’t kill people”…..

  18. stonetools says:

    Remember, when Justice Roberts gutted the Voting Rights act on the theory that racism had subsided? He should look in the mirror every morning and say , “Boy, were you wrong!” Hopefully, he’ll think of this when he makes his affirmative action ruling.
    With these flags, Okahoma surely must be celebrating it’s rich history of white supremacy. Oklahoma was settled mostly by people from the Confederacy after it was opened up for white settlement , so it is in a sense a Confederate state. Oklahoma was the scene of one of the most infamous examples of racial cleansing in history, when whites attacked and destroyed one of the wealthiest black communities in the USA.

    On the morning of May 30, 1921, a young black man named Dick Rowland was riding in the elevator in the Drexel Building at Third and Main with a woman named Sarah Page. The details of what followed vary from person to person, and accounts of the incident circulated among the city’s white community during the day and became more exaggerated with each telling.

    Tulsa police arrested Rowland the following day and began an investigation. An inflammatory report in the May 31 edition of the Tulsa Tribune spurred a confrontation between black and white armed mobs around the courthouse where the sheriff and his men had barricaded the top floor to protect Rowland. Shots were fired and the outnumbered blacks began retreating to the Greenwood Avenue business district.

    In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

    Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries and estimated reports of deaths began at 36*.
    * Recently, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot.

    Oklahoma was the most anti Obama state in both presidential elections, with every county voting against Obama twice.

    Oklahoma doesn’t like President Obama very much.
    It was hardly the first time the state thumbed its nose at Obama. In the 2008 presidential campaign, no state gave him a smaller percentage of the vote than the Sooner State, which voted 66 percent to 34 percent for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

    Which begs the question: Why?

    Why indeed, eh? What a mystery!

    So yes, I guess Oklahomans are entitled to fly this symbol of racial hatred. They’ve earned it.

  19. ernieyeball says:

    What country are these bums from anyway? That is not the Flag of the United States of America?
    I wonder if they are here in violation of US immigration laws?
    Those cops should check to see if they all have Green Cards and then turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation if they don’t.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    he asked for it, he made it a “cause” for rednex all over now.

    Using that argument, he shouldn’t speak out against racists and terrorists, unless he wants to make “causes” for them too…

  21. ernieyeball says:

    @bill:..just out of spite.

    spite: a desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone.

    Pretty much what motivates how you live your life by everything you post here.

  22. Pinky says:

    I didn’t used to understand this either, being a northeasterner, but a person really can wave a Confederate flag in front of an African-American president without racial animus. It’s still not something I’d ever think of doing, but it makes sense.

  23. ernieyeball says:

    …a person really can wave a Confederate flag in front of an African-American president without racial animus.

    You lost your grip on reality a long time ago didn’t ya’ Pink.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    a person really can wave a Confederate flag in front of an African-American president without racial animus

    Sure. And a person really can wave a Nazi flag in front of a Jew without any anti-semitic animus. It requires Olympian levels of cluelessness — but Americans are good at clueless.

    Frankly, I’m not sure I would consider the required level of cluelessness to be less contemptible than the required level of racism. Beyond a certain point, ignorance becomes a conscious statement, not an accident.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    …a person really can wave a Confederate flag in front of an African-American president without racial animus.

    Would you care to unpack that one? To do such a thing is either a sign of racism or an ignorance of history so profound that such a person should be required to go back to school–elementary school…

  26. J-Dub says:

    @Tyrell:

    And no alcohol sales anytime

    So they can’t even blame their crass behavior on being drunk.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: A number of people of my acquaintance, personally and on line, demonstrate that they are racist to one degree or another. Not a one of them believe themselves to be racist. Don’t you find that self awareness is generally not a front line skill on the right?

  28. @Pinky:

    a person really can wave a Confederate flag in front of an African-American president without racial animus.

    I will actually allow that it can be done without racial animus, but as I noted above, one cannot deny that there are racial undertones to the action whether the waver intends them or not. As many have noted, it does take a heapin’ helpin’ of ignorance not to see the connections.

    But also if one does think that there is no racial animus to be associated with the flag one has to be one of those persons who honestly (and, again, ignorantly) believes that the CSA wasn’t, essentially about protecting, maintaining, and expanding slavery and white supremacy.

    Indeed, this gets to the entire nature of the debate over that flag–to tolerate it (let alone wave it around in public) requires one to be have one of three positions accepting/endorsing of its true past, being in denial of its true past, or being ignorant of its true past.

    I do think a lot of people in denial do think it is possible to display it without racial undertones (if not animus). Their denial does not make them right, however.

  29. The ultimate problem is that too many have convinced themselves that the flag is just a generic symbol of the south and either through ignorance or denial set aside its real history.

    As I wrote on Facebook the other day:

    Back home from a quick trip to Dallas to belatedly celebrate my grandmother’s 90th. It occurred to me that for work, fun, and family this summer I have visited or passed through a huge chunk of the South: TX, LA, MS, AL (obviously), GA, NC, and VA. Further, I was just over the river from SC and was in TN back in the spring. Guess what: lots of cool people, places, food, and culture that can be celebrated without making The South=The Confederacy.

    It is really a weird thing for Southerners (of which I am one, so I am not speaking from afar) to pick a symbol that represents such a terrible slice of our history as a symbol of pride.

  30. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: That place must be hell compared to Mayberry.

    Remember, in Mayberry the drunks knew to lock themselves up and the cops didn’t carry guns. Look it up. You wouldn’t trust Barney with a gun, and Andy had a Penitentiary Gaze and manner about him that just made you confess all your wrongdoings.

    @Pinky: I had to give you an upvote because you are, in the strictest sense, correct.

    It is entirely possible a dude can wave the Confederate battle–flag in front of the first black president of the United States without any racial animus, entirely intoxicated on a vague “culture or heritage” symbol. It’s entirely possible the environment around that dude, and the intake of culture from outside the environment, never once suggested the battle-flag as an insidious symbol of division and racial supremacy.

    It’s just not probable. I’ve only met two people who’d even consider it, and they’re culturally-aware enough to believe the Secret Service would shoot them for it.

  31. Tillman says:

    @gVOR08: The MSM actually didn’t ignore that one, as I only learned about it from the MSM back in ’03 or so. I recall specifically when a bunch broke out all over the globe on the same day engineered by this anti-war group.

  32. Pinky says:

    According to your paradigm, this can only be racism or cluelessness. Now, it’s very possible that there are 10 racists in Oklahoma, or 10 clueless people. But if you approach the whole flag issue from the perspective that the flag supporters are taking, you can understand them better. The first step is to allow the possibility that there are people who see the world differently than you do, and who aren’t awful or stupid. That’s not always the case – for example, the anti-vax crowd is wrong. That’s science. The pro-Confederate flag crowd is interpreting a symbol differently than you are. That’s not science, and it’s not even necessarily a sinister or stupid reading of history. It’s different.

  33. Pinky says:

    @gVOR08: Jonathan Haidt has done studies where he’s tried to have people of various political leanings answer questions the way their political opponents would. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it’s something like 60% of conservatives are able to, and 30% of liberals. This isn’t a matter of the right’s lack of self-understanding; it’s a matter of the left’s lack of understanding of others.

  34. @Pinky:

    The pro-Confederate flag crowd is interpreting a symbol differently than you are.

    In some cases yes, in some cases no.

    The problem is denial and/or lack of understanding of history.

    And yes, not all supporters are racists. I know some personally and even have close family members who don’t quite get it.

  35. My main problem is that those who hold a different view than mine seem unwilling to directly address the documents of secession, the use of the flag as a political statement against desegregation, and so forth.

    I have never had a defender of the flag directly address those issues–they always deflect to some other topic.

  36. This conversation is not, ultimately, about the flag, but about true acknowledgment of our history and the implications thereof.

    The stuff we see in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, McKinney, etc. are all profoundly linked to this conversation.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    So basically @Pinky and other defenders of the confederate flag are down to making the argument that the flag-wavers aren’t all racists, some are morons. Okay, I’ll buy that. Of course it’s never been easy to separate the racists from the morons given the tremendous overlap.

  38. @michael reynolds: To be fair, I do think that there are people who simply don’t acknowledge the past and see the flag as a generic symbol. I think they are wrong and hope that enough evidence can persuade them, but it is a difficult road.

    One has to realize how deeply the symbol has been normalized in the South to get why this is such a difficult argument to win even when it looks like a slam-dunk to those of us who see the inherent problems with that flag.

  39. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: Funny, I don’t remember saying that, or defending the Confederate flag. In fact, I said the opposite, and didn’t defend the Confederate flag. I also didn’t call anyone an idiot.

  40. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: well no, the model has to account for some middle ground between clueless and racist especially when the president’s involved, and aside from eulogizing at the funeral of one of the slain the events that led to recent flag-talk and flag-lowering were very much separate from the president. So, I mean, that’s where we have to start. That’s our foundation. We’re already talking about people who are perceiving reality through a glass darkly here.

    We don’t have a lot of ways to speculate from there, rationally, aside from towards either of the two established poles. “Different” usually comes off as benign. If they were red flag enthusiasts who just happened to be parading by at the time of all this presidential kerfluffle, I could buy that as seriously different people.

    I don’t contest the base thought — these people are different, exercise some empathy — but it seems a waste of time to bring it up here. Look around! They’re looking through a glass darkly.

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    According to your paradigm, this can only be racism or cluelessness.

    As Sherlock Holmes said, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains — however improbable — must be the truth.

    The first step is to allow the possibility that there are people who see the world differently than you do, and who aren’t awful or stupid.

    I considered that possibility, but rejected it on the evidence. Such people would not wave a Nazi flag in the face of a Jewish president. To do that, you either have to be awful (in that you know what it symbolizes but do it anyway) or ignorant (in that you don’t).

    for example, the anti-vax crowd is wrong. That’s science.

    More importantly, the criteria are objective. Reasonable people cannot reasonably disagree about whether there is credible evidence that (say) vaccines cause autism. The objectivity of the standard is the important part here; we’ll come back to it in a moment because you say:

    The pro-Confederate flag crowd is interpreting a symbol differently than you are. That’s not science, and it’s not even necessarily a sinister or stupid reading of history. It’s different.

    …and this is where you completely fail to get it.

    Symbolism, like all communication, is a collective and conventual thing. Words and symbols mean what they mean because everyone agrees that this is what they mean. These things morph over time, but in general it works. If you use the word ‘cow’ to mean what everyone else calls a ‘horse’, that’s not interpreting a word differently; it’s just wrong. Similarly, if you use a Nazi flag to symbolize My Little Pony, you are not “interpreting a symbol differently”. You’re just wrong. YOU DON’T GET TO CHOOSE what well-established symbols do or don’t mean; that meaning is determined outside of you, by the history of use. It is every bit as objective as the science behind vaccinations.

    The battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is, by well-established convention and habitual use over the past 50+ years, a symbol of white resistance to black equality. Prior to its use as a symbol of white racism, it was not widely used as a symbol of anything. You can’t undo that history, and at this point in the conversation it is impossible to be unaware of that history without the intellectual equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and chanting “La la la I can’t hear you”. Accidental ignorance was still possible 10 or 20 years ago, especially in the South, but not any more. Any attempt to claim a different interpretation for that symbol at this point in time is an explicit lie about the history of its use as a symbol.

  42. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: You’ve painted yourself into a corner. If the individual doesn’t get to choose the meaning of a cultural symbol, then you’ve lost the right to complain that a large segment of American culture sees the symbol of the Confederate flag in a way that you don’t. You can wish that everyone saw it your way, you can point to history books and say that they should see it your way, but you can’t dictate the way people see it.

    It’s back to that Haidt thing. There are two segments of the population which see the symbol differently. One group says “you’re doing something wrong”, and the other group says “you don’t understand what we mean”.

  43. @Pinky:

    the other group says “you don’t understand what we mean”.

    But when they say that they are in denial about the flag’s history or as dismissing it because they are white and don’t want to acknowledge that history (or are inherently just saying: that doesn’t have anything to do with me–which is either a kind of racism or, again, utter denial).

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    Jonathan Haidt has done studies where he’s tried to have people of various political leanings answer questions the way their political opponents would. […] This isn’t a matter of the right’s lack of self-understanding; it’s a matter of the left’s lack of understanding of others.

    There are, of course, competing explanations here.

    The obvious one to a Liberal is that it is far easier to emulate a coherent and consistent set of beliefs (even if they aren’t yours) than it is to emulate an incoherent and inconsistent set of beliefs. Conservatives attempting to emulate Liberal positions have a much easier task.

    Less prejudicial, in Haidt’s own analysis he finds that Liberal belief systems have fewer atomic dimensions than Conservative belief systems. Liberals don’t have to weigh fairness against tradition against orthodoxy, because fairness dominates the others. It’s harder for a Liberal to predict how a Conservative would resolve those competing impulses than it is for a Conservative to guess what a Liberal would think is fair/unfair.

    There’s also a problem of censored self-reporting. Conservatives are better at predicting what Liberals will say (on a given issue) than Liberals are at predicting what Conservatives will say. This doesn’t necessarily indicate who is better at guessing what the other group actually believes.

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    If the individual doesn’t get to choose the meaning of a cultural symbol, then you’ve lost the right to complain that a large segment of American culture sees the symbol of the Confederate flag in a way that you don’t.

    Sorry, you’re arguing in circles now. The burden is on you to provide evidence that “a large segment of American culture” (as opposed to a few innocents who don’t realize quite how racist their neighbors are) have been using “cow” to mean “horse” for a long time now.

  46. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT: There is no need to prove that different cultures view symbols differently. There’s no need to prove that much of the Southern and rural US has different cultural signals as much of the Northern and urban US. I can’t imagine anyone would argue against those points. Really, this is all one big Wittginstein argument, with two sides disagreeing because the conditions they impose on the conversation force them to regard the other side as morally or factually wrong. The fact that the North and the cities have always seen the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism doesn’t change what contemporary Southern and rural culture sees the flag as. It’s stupid to argue that one side’s presumption gives them the moral high ground over the other.

    As for Steven, I’ve been in enough conversations with him to hazard a good guess about how the other guys see the conversation. They can’t figure out why he’s arguing A, B, and C to conclude D when they don’t see the connection between B and D, they think that A is wrong, and C is just an assumption, and they feel like he’s ignoring E, F, and G that point to something else. Different paradigms.

  47. @Pinky: And I have been in enough conversations with you to know that you have a very hard time acknowledging what your interlocutor is saying.

    I understand your position–I have even acknowledged it in two ways above. You, however, refuse to at least see what else is being said.

    Yes, there are people who see the flag as innocent. Maybe it is because they watched “The Dukes of Hazzard” as a child or where never told its background and when confronted as an adult have a hard time seeing the issue. Maybe they were raised in the Lost Cause POV. As such, they have a hard time acknowledging the history. However, their innocence/ignorance/denial does not change the basic history. Like I said: I have yet to encounter anyone who defends the flag who also directly deals with the flag’s clear history.

    And yes: when you give them a pass (which is how you started this thread) you are defending them and their flag.

  48. @Pinky:

    They can’t figure out why he’s arguing A, B, and C to conclude D when they don’t see the connection between B and D, they think that A is wrong, and C is just an assumption, and they feel like he’s ignoring E, F, and G that point to something else. Different paradigms.

    I will confess: you lost me here.

  49. Pinky says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I was trying to avoid talking to you – not to be snotty, but because we both know how unproductive our conversations are. I used us an example of two people talking past each other because we can’t agree on a starting point. I didn’t do that to bait you. You did acknowledge the other side of the argument on this thread, twice, as I have acknowledged from the beginning that I’m biased toward the anti-flag position myself and can understand their arguments.

  50. Grewgills says:

    Pinky, how many times and how many ways does it have to be said? The history of that flag is crystal clear for anyone who cares to read about it. When and why it went up on state houses in the South is historical fact. No one who is not a moron or willfully ignorant can look at that history and not understand that that flag carries racial baggage. Some choose to either deny or celebrate that racial baggage and fly it anyway others are ignorant or morons.
    You keep saying there are additional unspecified factors we don’t understand, but half the people you are arguing this with were born and raised in the deep South. What is it we don’t understand about the people we grew up with? Please be specific.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: Yeah, and you can wave a swastika flag around Tel Aviv. Just don’t then try to claim that you didn’t know what ELSE it means…

  52. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    Would we be even having this discussion over a person waving a Nazi swastika flag? Would we even be saying, “Hey, he’s just celebrating the wonderful German culture that gave us Bach and Beethoven and Goethe and Kant? Or maybe he’s celebrating the valor and military brilliance of Erwin Rommel and Adolf Galland?” Or would we be giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying he just somehow overlooked the connection between that flag and Bergen-Belsen?

    Of course we wouldn’t. We would assume he knew the connection and was just fine with all that the flag represented-and that if he was clueless enough not to know the connection, we would tell him to crack a d@mned history book. Either way we would tell him, often and loudly, that flying that flag was not cool.
    Now I will say that since 1865 there has been a virtual conspiracy on the part of Southerners-with the help of some racist Northerners-to obscure the connection between the Confederate flag and slavery and to beautify slavery and the white supremacist regime that followed it. Fortunately, in the last half century or so that Lost Cause mythology has been debunked and the history books have been corrected. Now we can tell those supposedly clueless flag wavers to take down the flag and crack a book. And we should.

  53. @stonetools:

    Fortunately, in the last half century or so that Lost Cause mythology has been debunked and the history books have been corrected.

    No entirely, or else we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.

  54. @stonetools:

    I was trying to avoid talking to you

    Fair enough.

  55. stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’m assuming the last post was aimed at Pinky.

    No entirely, or else we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.

    I would say it has been debunked in the history books. It still does live on in films like Gone With The Wind, which gets broadcast every couple of years, and to a certain extent in the Dukes of Hazzard. And of course it lives on the heads of people who grew up when the Lost Cause mythology was presented as the undisputed truth.

  56. @stonetools:

    I’m assuming the last post was aimed at Pinky.

    Oops—yes, it was.

    I would say it has been debunked in the history books.

    I think that it is still not adequately addressed in K-12.

  57. Dave Schuler says:

    Well, basically, I think it’s hateful. The protestors have a right to be hateful but I have a right to think they’re being hateful.

  58. @Dave Schuler: Indeed.

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    The fact that the North and the cities have always seen the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism doesn’t change what contemporary Southern and rural culture sees the flag as.

    You are relentless in your ability to somehow think that this is about Northern perceptions. What you don’t seem to get is that the South created this symbol during the Civil Rights movement, and has maintained it since then. They were quite explicit in their statements of what it represented. Nobody alive at that time could have had any confusion or misunderstanding about any of that.

    What you want us to believe is that large numbers of southerners today are too ignorant to be aware of what that symbol in their own backyards was invented for, perpetuated for, protected for — and that when it was pointed out to them, they were also too stupid (but not bigoted! No sir!) to accept the documented history, and instead chose to believe that it had somehow been (at some unspecified time in the past) an innocent token of a cherished heritage that could be cleanly separated from the hateful legacy that, factually, lies behind its current ubiquity.

    It just won’t wash. Southerners aren’t that stupid, as a group, and if they were that ignorant before this year then they no longer have that excuse either.

    It all comes back to that Nazi flag analogy that you have ducked thus far. As I understand your argument, the difference between the battle flag and the Nazi flag is that there is no large population of people who are both ignorant of what the Nazi flag stands for and have adopted it as an emblem of their own proud German (but not Nazi) heritage — but if there were, those people should not be called anti-semitic for waving a Nazi flag at a Jew. Even after the history of that flag is pointed out to them. Do I have that right?

  60. An example of why this conversation is necessary and far from over, a member of the TN State Senate wrote an op/ed defending Nathan Beford Forrest as a “civil rights leader”: click.

  61. stonetools says:

    @DrDaveT:

    It just won’t wash. Southerners aren’t that stupid, as a group, and if they were that ignorant before this year then they no longer have that excuse either.

    I guess to Pinky, all Southerners are just “good ole boys, never meaning no harm.”Confederate flag? What’s the problem? The only thing it stands for are hush puppies, gumbo, good manners, slow talkin’, huntin’, fishin’, girls in short-shorts, and NASCAR.
    I think the Southerners on the thread have to check in here. Are those Oklahomans waving those flags really as clueless and innocent as that?

  62. The mental gymnastics that many white southerners go through to whitewash the past are pretty amazing.

  63. stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In other news, Adolf Eichmann was really a “righteous Gentile”. That’s as as realistic as Nathan B Forrest being a civil rights leader and protector of blacks.
    But then, didn’t Sarah Palin or some Republican say the founding fathers opposed slavery? The denialism goes deep.

  64. Pinky says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Do I have that right?

    Not even close. The better analogy would be wanting to destroy a Hindu temple for having a Nazi flag. The issue isn’t that you haven’t shown enough disrespect to the flag supporters, or that you haven’t argued the history often enough to them. It’s that they see the symbol differently than you do, and, as it’s a symbol, no one interpretation of it is superior.

    I’m a Northerner. I’m also a hard-and-fast bedrock-principles kind of guy. You don’t have to make arguments to me about the Confederate flag’s history. I see it the same way you do. But I also see that a sizable population say that they see it differently, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that they’re telling the truth about it. I don’t think I’ve bothered to comment on this issue on previous threads, because it means nothing to me. But there’s getting to be a self-righteousness about the comments that made me think I should say something.

  65. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    For that analogy to work, the Confederate battle flag would need thousands of years of use prior to the Confederacy with a completely different meaning. The thing is, the Confederate battle flag has a very short history with a very concrete usage and only after that (racist) usage are people trying to rehabilitate it. The Nazi analogy with Germany is the appropriate parallel.

  66. PT says:

    @Pinky:

    So what is it that you imagine those waving the flag at Obama think it stands for?

  67. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Indeed! And thank you for saying so.

  68. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: I don’t think that it would be a Hindu temple, it would be a Buddhist one, and the distinction between a Buddhist flag and a Nazi one is pretty clear (I can say this with some security because I lived in a Buddhist country for 8 years). But thank you for playing.

  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    It’s that they see the symbol differently than you do, and, as it’s a symbol, no one interpretation of it is superior.

    I have no idea what you mean by “superior” here, unless you intend it to mean “accurate” — in which case this is totally false.

    You can’t simply decide one day that the symbol doesn’t mean what everyone already knows it means. If you assert that the symbol $/pi is going to refer to the base of the natural logarithm, while the symbol $/e refers to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, everyone will ignore you — and rightly so. If you assert that the stars-and-stripes actually symbolizes the people and history of Lesotho, everyone will ignore you (and probably laugh at you) — and rightly so.

    People who want to assert that, when they wave the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia these days, they mean something totally different from what was meant by the people who resurrected that forgotten emblem in the 1960s to symbolize white opposition to federally-imposed desegregation… They’re in the same boat. They’re trying to claim that when they use the symbol it means something totally different from what the symbol was designed to mean, and has meant for decades. That when they wave the Nazi flag, they mean support for My Little Pony.

    This is not impossible, but it is indefensible. If they “see the symbol differently than” the rest of the world, they are not merely different. They are wrong. Willfully wrong. Disingenuously wrong. Wrong with an attitude. Smugly refusing to be corrected wrong. Passively aggressively wrong, with sprinkles.

  70. Steve V says:

    @DrDaveT: It’s funny how conservatives become all morally relativistic and full of empathy towards people when they want to.

  71. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Well I have – in all the parts of Texas I have lived in – never seen that flag flown by someone who didn’t intend to send a message to their black neighbors.

    The only exception to that is when it is included in a “six flags” setup.

    If anyone ever tried to pull that “heritage not hate” BS around me, I would be obliged to point out that if they really want to celebrate the heritage of Texas, they should be flying the Lone Star Flag. Heck, I’d even buy one for them.

  72. de stijl says:

    @Grewgills:

    The thing is, the Confederate battle flag has a very short history with a very concrete usage and only after that (racist) usage are people trying to rehabilitate it. The Nazi analogy with Germany is the appropriate parallel.

    Even more so, it would be truly analogous if some Germans had been advocating that Jews should have equal rights and equal access to the voting booth, and then some other folks decided that resurrecting the Swastika and flying it from the townhall and such as a defiant political response was the appropriate response to these proposed reforms to the way that the larger society decided to treat all German people, including its Jewish citizens.

    Since 1955 or there-bouts, the Confederate flag is a symbol of white resistance to black equality. It was never flown or revered from 1865 until then – until black Americans were being considered to be people worthy of protection under the law and worthy of equal treatment under the law.

    It was not heritage.

    It was not reverence for past heroes.

    It was in direct response to black kids being admitted to previously uniformly white schools.

    It was racial intimidation.

    It was hate.

    In a way, the American Swastika is much worse than the Nazi one. At least the current-day Germans have had the sense to keep their abhorrent past in the past and not resurrect its symbols for cheap political theater.

  73. de stijl says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Passively aggressively wrong, with sprinkles.

    Which is galling because everyone knows that sprinkles are for winners. Flo said so.

  74. michael reynolds says:

    Let me ask this @Pinky: why are they waving these flags at Mr. Obama? Obama didn’t take down their flag, Nikki Haley did. So why are they waving a confederate flag at the president? What do you suppose they’re trying to express? No one’s ever felt the need to do this in the past, it’s obviously not a coincidence that they should suddenly start doing it in the wake of the controversy. So what possible explanation can there be for that venue, this timing, with that flag?

    It can only be an expression of racism. As I said way, way up thread, and as many have also pointed out with incredible patience given your dogged obtuseness, what we have here are either racists or morons. There’s no longer any middle ground. There’s no reasonable alternative explanation. It’s either an open expression of racism, or we’ve just located the stupidest people on earth.

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    The better analogy would be wanting to destroy a Hindu temple for having a Nazi flag.

    I’ve been trying to grok this reply, but I’ve failed. Why would a Hindu temple fly a Nazi flag? By accident, like the use of (backwards) swastikas in traditional Navajo art?

    More to the point, how does this analogy then work? Are you saying that current non-racist Southern chose this symbol at random, by accident, not knowing it had been used before? I doubt that, but feel free to correct me if that’s really what you’re saying.

    What I thought you were saying before is that non-racist Southern whites picked up the symbol innocently, thinking that the racists flying it were simply expressing some kind of race-neutral regional cultural identification with which they agreed. It would require amazing obliviousness, to be sure, but I suppose it’s possible. What is not possible it that such people could still innocently believe that their symbol means what they think it does, and could be used in a race-neutral way in these United States, given the discussion following recent events.

    They cannot plausibly claim that “their” symbol is being perverted by racists, because they got it from the racists in the first place. They cannot plausibly claim that there is a long history of widespread non-racist use of the symbol, because there isn’t a long history of ANY use of this symbol — it’s recent. They cannot plausibly claim ignorance any more. They cannot plausibly claim that they are not racists, but that they are OK with continuing to use a symbol that is to blacks as a Nazi flag is to Jews. There’s nowhere left to go for the non-racist flag fans except “Holy crap, that’s what it means? Take it down. Burn it.”

    …which is exactly what we ARE seeing from some people. The others, who want to hang onto it… what options is left besides “really a racist” and “too stupid to see the problem”?

  76. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky: One, Haidt strikes me as having axes to grind. Two, conservatives are constantly complaining that the MSM is liberal. To the extent that anyone who believes in, say, evolution, is liberal, that’s true. My point being that they’re complaining that they’re surrounded by “liberal” culture. So yes, they have some familiarity. Most of the rest of us don’t spend much time in the RW media fever swamps. Three, there’s mostly one kind of rational, there are a hundred kinds of crazy. Hard to know which is current. As an example, I have an archetypically conservative friend. On any given day he either disses the cops or respects them. As best I can tell it’s a question of when he last got a traffic ticket and whether the cops have shot any black people lately. How am I supposed to know which state he’s in this week?

  77. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    Haidt strikes me as having axes to grind.

    I don’t know anything about Haidt’s politics, but it shouldn’t matter. If the study is well-designed, then we can learn from it.

    I thought that, methodologically, it wasn’t too bad. There are things in the questionnaire that I would have phrased differently, and some additional control variables that might have been interesting. Most of my concern is with the interpretation of the outcomes. Haidt has a prior commitment to an explanatory theory involving primary value axes, and I think that inclines him to interpret his results as saying more than they do. But the results are interesting, to be sure.

  78. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Achievement Unlocked.

    Leftist Trolling Level: God.

  79. @Jenos Idanian #13: Yes, he’s black. I knew that. So?

  80. (It was in press coverage of the event).

  81. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I find it rather amusing to poke through all the OUTRAGE!!!! and condemnation of the racists and white supremacists who must be behind this horrific thing, and then find out that the person behind the event being denounced as so racist and white-supremacist is… a black man.

    That indicates to me that the intent behind it was to troll Obama and the left. And closeted, self-denying leftists who prefer to pretend they’re moderates or old-school conservatives.

    Don’t you find it amusing?

  82. Pinky says:

    @Steve V: Conservatives are always full of empathy.

  83. Steve V says:

    Conservatives mock liberal invocations of empathy though. Weird.

  84. Pinky says:

    @Steve V: That’s because a lot of liberals hide behind their claims of compassion to do hateful things, and to disregard the consequences of their actions. I’m not sure which has a bigger effect. The former is the mark of a bully, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a bully who thinks he’s got the moral high ground. The latter is more of a holdover from the 1960’s liberal/establishment split.

  85. DrDaveT says:

    @Pinky:

    That’s because a lot of liberals hide behind their claims of compassion to do hateful things

    Got an example you care to cite? Something actually hateful? You’ve got us all on tenterhooks…

  86. An Interested Party says:

    …the person behind the event being denounced as so racist and white-supremacist is… a black man.

    Yes, let us praise someone who is so clueless as to say the following…

    We don’t believe it’s a symbol of racism…

    Meanwhile, if this person had lived in the South during the Civil War, he very well may have been held as someone else’s property under this flag that he doesn’t think is a symbol of racism…it would be the same thing if an Israeli Jew thought it was appropriate to wave a Nazi flag at Bibi Netanyahu…

  87. bill says:
  88. DrDaveT says:

    @bill: So score one for “stupid” over “racist”. Why is this news?

  89. Grewgills says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Seconded.
    So, Pinky, what are these hateful things liberals do under cover of “claims of compassion”? Do you have any actual examples or will this be another of your killing police is a present to liberals moments?

  90. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: I’d say you should look over the average thread. The name-calling, the lies, the groundless accusations. Then go to the campus – the hate, the speech codes, the ruining of careers and barring of speakers. Ask a conservative if his car or house have ever been vandalized because of signs. Ask anyone who’s ever disagreed with a union. Then go bigger-picture back to the protest movements, the violence against capitalism, the violence under the guise of peace protests. Look at Jim Jones and Charles Manson, and yes, at Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. Look at the third-world thugs the left has allied itself with, and the populations that they’ve abandoned. Look at the stories they don’t talk about – Muslim violence, black market sales of fetal parts – because they put their cause before anything else. And since you brought it up, which side wears “Free Mumia” t-shirts?

  91. JKB says:

    I find the “terror” on the faces of the Black individuals at the front of the crowd displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, or novelty versions, trying to get a glimpse of the first Black American President to be most revealing of how most people feel regarding the CBF.

    The photo is worth more than the thousands words by everyone with their artificial outrage over the CBF.

  92. @JKB: No one claimed anyone was terrorized

  93. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Peter Lawler did recently lament the lack of those at the universities to read ironically, but he only mentioned the students.

  94. @JKB: I understand your sarcasm. Nevertheless, you are trying to make an invalid point regardless of whatever stylistics you think you are trying to deploy.

  95. Grewgills says:

    Pinky
    So intemperate comments on internet forums distinguish liberals from conservatives? Seriously? That you typed that in the same comment you accuse liberals of lies and baseless accusations is particularly rich.
    I have worked on campuses of one sort of another for years and haven’t encountered hate. Speech codes at some schools may go too far in trying to shield people from being offended, but calling them hateful is ridiculous. Protesting (not barring) speakers is not hateful either. I lay odds you can’t name a speaker that has actually been barred. As for ruined careers I’d also lay odds that you can’t name a single career that has actually been ruined by campus liberals because of lies or baseless accusations.
    I’m guessing you have similarly poor back up for your assertion that liberals are more prone to vandalizing houses for political reasons.
    That you are actually trying to include Jim Jones and Manson as part of the left that uses empathy as a cover for hate has put you squarely into James P territory as does your nonsense about liberals somehow approving of Muslim violence or black market sales of fetal parts. I feel dirty even responding to this crap. You really should be ashamed and I think I need a shower.

  96. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: Huh? I never said that hate distinguished liberals from conservatives.* The left and right both act hatefully on message boards, for example. I do think that the left is unique in acting hatefully while claiming to be empathetic, though, which was how this tangent got started. There’s a sense of denial on the left about its hatred. You and Dave both asked if I could name an example of left-wing hatred. That’s hilarious. Did you think I couldn’t? That the left is as pure as, well, as only a left-winger could believe of himself? And as for Jim Jones – was he not a true enough Scotsman for you?

    And I didn’t say that liberals approve of Muslim violence or fetal parts. I said that they’ll ignore evil if it interferes with their message. And come to think of it, you just ignored evil when you challenged me about left-wing hatred. You also just hatefully lied on a message board. I think I know why you feel like you need a shower.

    * (Or if I did say that, I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have said that conservatives are always full of empathy, because there are some that aren’t.)

  97. @Pinky:
    He was responding to your statement above:

    That’s because a lot of liberals hide behind their claims of compassion to do hateful things, and to disregard the consequences of their actions.

    And the conjuring of Jim Jones and Charles Manson in response is, well, a dog’s breakfast at best.

    And, I would note, that no one is trying to say that there haven’t been ideological abuses on the far left (as there have been on the far right). The context was discussion of the CBF and contemporary American politics–not serial killer and cult leaders.

  98. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    As Steven mentioned, the context was your previous comment. The broader context was your conversation with Steve V where you were explaining why conservatives mocked liberals invocations of empathy.
    Your ‘clarification’ still falls flat. That liberals are “unique in acting hatefully while claiming to be empathetic” requires ideological blinders a mile wide. Have you ever been to an abortion protest and seen how the women entering the clinics are treated. I know you have commented on threads here on that subject. The horrible things yelled at those poor women are indeed hateful and are absolutely done under cover of empathy. This is actually a much better example of hatred under cover of empathy than any concrete example you have made.
    Additionally, as Steven noted, this thread is about conservatives displaying a symbol of hatred while claiming empathy. Your lack of ability to detect irony is mind boggling.

    You and Dave both asked if I could name an example of left-wing hatred.

    No, we both asked if you could name examples of left wing hatred masked as empathy. I don’t think that task is impossible, but I do think it is impossible to do in a way that distinguishes liberals as worse actors than conservatives. Your flailing response is making my case there. That you felt the need to toss in Jim Jones and Manson as supposed liberals using empathy to hide their hatred is about as big a give away that you have nothing as anything.

    And I didn’t say that liberals approve of Muslim violence or fetal parts. I said that they’ll ignore evil if it interferes with their message.

    So you just said they tacitly approve of Muslim violence and a black market for fetal body parts? Your comment is still dishonest and hateful.

  99. Tony W says:

    Just for fun I will stipulate the absurd arguments our conservative friends make – it’s just Southern heritage, chill out and have some more sweet tea.

    Now explain why these nice people would be willing to intimidate and frighten a huge portion of the population with their heritage-laden flag. Clearly it means something different to their black brothers and sisters than it means to the nice white gentleman sitting on his porch in Tuscaloosa.

    Wouldn’t a general sense of morality preclude waving symbols that might be misconstrued?

  100. @Tony W: Indeed. At a minimum you’d think that that the supposedly cherished southern quality of politeness would kick in.

  101. Steve V says:

    @Pinky: Holy crap dude, I gave you a softball pitch and you start throwing around Charles Manson and Jim Jones? You’re just asking people to counter with Tim McVeigh and whoever led the weird revolts of the 1990s.

    You try to come across as a thinking man’s conservative but you can’t help falling back to this position of weird, intense hatred for the other side. I prefer to try to find where both sides agree, and I tend to think the divisions are mainly produced by partisan marketing and tribal judgments we should be trying to get past. But when this site’s resident thoughtful conservative commenter goes all talk-radio whenever the mask slips a bit, why should I take you seriously?

    Also, the “left” redefined itself a bit during the 1990s. You should consider that the next time you go all Manson on people. Really, that’s disgusting.