Flags, Tattered Banners, ‘Erasures,’ and ‘Hate’
Remaining Super Power Confronts Last Remaining ‘Rebel’ Flag
Mississippi flag excitement has ended, for the moment, with the
defeat of the forces of Progress, Hope, Enlightenment, Truth, Brotherhood,
and anything else officially good which I may have negligently left
out. It is a welcome break from the craven retreats we have seen
over the last two years. It will probably not last. The Forces of
Progress will not gladly be denied; that is why they are called
forces, after all, and soon enough other kinds of force will
occur to them. I suppose it will start out mildly enough, with denunciations,
candlelight vigils, calls for boycotts, investigations, and a whole
series of new elections until the Mississippians get it right.
Hines Page, himself a Southerner, had the unenviable job of trying
to explain the Mexican policy of Woodrow Wilson, a sort of lapsed
Southerner, to the British. To the amused astonishment of his British
counterpart, Page seriously stated that the United States fully
intended to teach Mexicans, by force, "to elect good men"
– if it should take two hundred years of military intervention.
Wilson’s mindset is alive and well today. We can expect one, two,
many Vietnams – oh, I’m sorry, I mean, one, two, many elections
to eradicate the last offensive, hateful, et cetera, Southern state
flag and remove it forever from the sensitive (if colonizing) gaze
of good persons of all left-of-center persuasions. That, or the
Left will temporarily drop its covering rhetoric about "democracy"
and take up Deep Thinking about how democratic elections aren’t
everything because, sometimes, the people are just plain bad.
Good can do no less. Creation of the New American Person – better
even than New Soviet Man – depends on such advances. People who
cling to their history and decline to hate their ancestors, despite
all the "new" evidence lately aired in open court by axe-grinding,
Marxoid historians, are surely lacking in some fundamental quality
required for life in the brave new 21st-century world.
You don’t want HITLER to come back, do you?
we may savor the moment. As Murray Rothbard once wrote, the Left
hates nothing so much as any reversal, however temporary, of the
historical clock-which-can’t-be-turned-back. It upsets their whole
equation of their personal preferences with the Will of History,
the Forces and Relations of Production, or the eschatology of the
religious Left. The one-flag-fits-all telescopic philanthropists
and their carpet-bagging and scalawagging allies will not give up
indeed, who could complain of their efforts? The GNP of Georgia
has shot through the roof since the adoption of that state’s new
cluttered banner. Georgians now live in peace and brotherhood seldom
breached by crime or unhappiness, in a paradise undreamed-of by
the most utopian 19th-century thinkers. Truth and beauty
reign; the Governor is universally loved.
can only applaud the achievement, on Southern soil and by Southern
politicians, of the high ideals of Thaddeus Stevens and Charles
Sumner. But wait! I’m only kidding. The present campaign for "erasure"
of the South actually exceeds and surpasses the maximum program
which those worthy gents spearheaded in their time. Thad and Charlie
seem almost reasonable in the present context.
allusion to Page and Wilson, supra, demonstrates an important
truth, namely, that there are Southerners whom other Southerners
have every reason to dislike; that there are Southerners who have
no concern at all for the South except as a place to stand, until
they can find a better one. Somehow this brings us to the Buckleys.
Have not the very Buckleys informed us of their well-bred disdain
for overwrought crackers and blue collars who still care about the
maintenance of Southern symbols? Have not the Buckleys, with their
Homerically open-handed South Carolinian connections, allowed as
how it just ain’t aristocratic and well-mannered to insist on such
things? It’s not like the flag-changers are demanding the nationalization
of oil-producing properties. That would be bad manners. Seen
through oily glasses, flags, heritage, and culture amount to so
much pathetic folklore.
Moments in Flag History
are any number of difficulties to be dealt with, if we really must
right all the wrongs of the last five centuries through communist-style
"thought reform" and the imposition of new symbols in
place of the ones we had. A case in point involves the checkered
career of General Narciso López, who schemed for Cuba somehow
to throw off Spanish rule and then petition for entry into the United
States as a slave state. This began around 1848, with various
donations and subscriptions raised in Southern states and with the
plotting centered in New Orleans. López got in contact with
Governor John Quitman of Mississippi and a half-vast conspiracy
got going. At one point, the conspirators offered military command
to Jefferson Davis, who recommended Robert E. Lee. Lee had the good
sense to refuse.
the Feds decided it would look bad in terms of international law
to allow "filibustering" expeditions to set out from US
territory – especially while they were trying to buy Cuba
- and cracked down. López’s further proceedings, on his own,
got him killed, when his revolts fizzled. What is striking is the
flag designed by this pro-slavery Cuban independence movement: red,
white, and blue, with the lone star of Texas (Texas was López’s
working model) inside a Masonic triangle, and some blue stripes.
Now strike me dead, if that ain’t the flag under which our pal Fidel
Castro, a communist despot universally loved by the Left, presently
reigns. Poor Fidel, flying a flag intended to "fly over
slavery" as well as over annexation to the Yanqui republic.
Must he take it down? Will you break it to him gently?
and Iron Age Flag Atrocities
may be one of those "ironies" of history – to use Professor
Eric Foner’s favorite word – that sometimes thrust themselves upon
us. But, alas, things get even muddier, as Sherman sets the Way
Back Machine for 2000 B.C. I fear that all flags with a red-white-and-blue
color scheme will have to go. Those colors reproduce a wicked, patriarchal
Indo-European ideology reflecting the overall unity of ordered societies
having priests (white), warriors (red), and economic producers (blue).
All societies speaking Indo-European languages are tainted by this
sinister, inegalitarian vision.
will be hard on France, Britain, and some other countries, but if
flags which incorporate a flag which "flew over slavery"
for a whole four and a half years must go, what can be said for
flags which "flew over" feudalism, patriarchy, established
churches, monarchs, and European white folks for hundreds of
years? Not much, I’d expect.
a number of European flags "flew over slavery" - not all
of them red, white, and blue. These flags flew over slavery rather
longer than the Southern Cross. The English flag (incorporating
the Scottish Cross of St. Andrew from 1707) so flew from about 1620
to 1834. Spain had slave plantations in its Atlantic island possessions
seventy years before Columbus sailed west and did not get around
to abolishing slavery in Cuba until 1888. Subtracting 1420 from
1886, we get more than four and a half years in any system of counting.
to home is the stripy US banner, with the changing number of stars
(depending on what’s been conquered lately), which in some form
or another "flew over slavery" from 1776 down to 1865,
or 89 years. That is the flag to which public bureaucrats make innocent
children mumble a civic prayer every morning - a misleading and
constitutionally absurd prayer written by a Northern nationalist
that flag doesn’t remind anyone of slavery, I guess.
Maybe it’s the additional stars down the years, which obscure its
continuity. Striped clothing is said to make people look taller.
Horizontal stripes, I guess, make the empire look wider.
I grant the point. I only note that if history, peoples, flags,
and symbols must now be viewed through the simple-minded morality
play imposed by PC wankers, and reconstructed accordingly, many
embarrassments and "ironies" will necessarily arise. It
won’t be pretty, but on the other hand, it won’t be my fault.
there is more "targeting" to be done. Is the problem with
the Mississippi flag and the real Georgia flag their three colors,
or is it that terrible cross? If the latter, there are at least
two more state flags which will have to go. Just my luck – I am
a native of one of those states and now live in the other. What
about the Hawaiian flag with that offensive Union Jack in the corner?
For that matter, can Scotland long be allowed to cling to that same
cross, or "X," as the media so delicately term it?
matter, a whiff of the old depleted uranium grapeshot across their
bow, and the Scots and the English will certainly give up their
crosses and hexes. Can we do less?
note, in passing, that the press is incapable of discussing the
Southern Cross without giving ritualistic notice that in the 20th
century it was adopted by or tainted by its association with certain
groups wearing funny costumes and pointy hats. I have been keeping
track of political news for thirty-five or more years, and I have
never seen a picture of such a meeting in which the stripy banner
of the US Empire was not prominently displayed. Does such adoption
and tainting of the US flag by hate groups make it imperative to
take down the stripy banner?
Care of ‘Bidness’
hasten to assure readers that I never make fun of Southern speech.
I justify the above heading on the ground that "bidness"
is an established synonym for "business" in these intramural
Southern discussions. Anyway, many of us are sick to death of the
eternally youthful New South boosters who can only see Southern
distinctiveness of any kind as an impediment to their own immediate
economic prospects. Personally, I have nothing at all against business
or the prospects of these individuals. For all I care, they can
answer "how high?" every last time that Northern politicians,
opinion leaders, and outside-and-inside agitators yell "jump!"
provided always that they don’t complain when their
fellow Southerners fail to jump as quickly or as high. They are
so afraid of threatened boycotts. Maybe someone should tell them
that Southerners, too, can boycott. But there I go again falling
short of that South Carolina standard of good manners. Just whisper
it to them, then.
really think these bidness fellows should adopt that light-hearted
Caribbean song, "Working for the Yanqui Dollar" as their
campaign theme. Can’t you just imagine these high-powered corporate
characters coming home to Jackson or Columbia and yelling, "LUCY!
I’m home from DeKalb"? I grant we always did need a Southern
business class, but must the one we finally get adopt the psychology
of Third World compradores just to do some fairly ordinary
business? Is regional cringing really a necessary management
skill just to produce and sell plywood? At this rate, we might as
well dress up in 19th-century Yankee peddler costumes
and cheat ourselves with our own wooden nutmegs
Don’t Let Friends Fly Hurtful Symbols
conservative anthropologist John Greenway once introduced a discussion
of Australian cowboy songs by writing that there was something about
the cattle-herding business that turned men into sentimental idiots.
I guess the oil business is like that, too. How else to explain
the common front of the aristocratic South Carolina Buckleys and
the non-aristocratic Cato Institute on the Confederate flag question?
Of course it could rest on their common espousal of high-toned
David Boaz lately came down from Cato’s ivory tower of marginal
adjustments to bad policies long enough to lecture his fellow Southerners
on the Mississippi flag problem. Others have answered Boaz’s ruminations
and I only wish to address one small point. He suggests that Southerners
should privatize their flags and symbols, so to speak. Well and
good. Can Mr. Boaz really believe that the ideal neutral state of
Cato’s "civil society" will protect Southerners in their
private display of Confederate symbols – in the present PC climate?
I think he should put his guarantees in writing – the Buckleys can
co-sign with him - before the negotiations go further.
Erasures: From Breslau to Wroclaw and Beyond
there is any hate involved in all of this, it is a hatred
of the South, as such, on the part of an imperial ruling class of
therapeutic bureaucrats, state-sponsored big capitalists, public/private
educational charlatans, the media’s chattering classes, and sundry
organizations of civil rights fame, who achieved their major programmatic
goals forty years and won’t shut up because they need to justify
their continued existence.
is being attempted is what the trendy postmodernists call an "erasure."
Back in November, at a conference in Pittsburgh, I heard a young
German historian give a paper on the Polonization of Breslau. Now
- hold your horses - he didn’t demand it back; he merely described
in rather neutral language the hardships faced by the communist
Polish authorities in creating a new "history" for Wroclaw
(the former Breslau) grounded on the pretense that Breslau had always
(sort of) been Polish. For various reasons of their own, the US
Establishment has decided to give the South a new history.
states always feel a need to rewrite people’s history and change
their symbols for them. The Left loves to go on about the "social
construction" of reality. They say very little about political
constructions of reality, because they generally support those.
in a long while, resistance arises against state-sponsored homogenization.
Mississippians seem intransigent to some people. They are carrying
the burden just now. But where’s the band of brothers, native to
the soil, to support them in this? They’re probably off somewhere
selling plywood to a flagless world.
Joseph R. Stromberg is the JoAnn B. Rothbard Historian in Residence
at the Ludwig von Mises Institute
and a columnist for Antiwar.com.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com