Republicans And Their Confederate Flag: Republican World 2015 In Review-- Chapter Four
The Confederacy of Racists
There’s been a lot said in the media about the Confederate flag this year. The topic boiled to the surface as soon as Dylann Roof went into Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel A.M.E. church and sat down to pray with the parishioners before killing 9 of them and wounding others on June 17th. A picture of Roof, a white supremacist, waving his confederate flag, was worth millions of words.
Republican Party National Chairman Reince Preibus has a problem and he knows it. In the case of the Charleston massacre, he was smart enough to know that his own party had been fanning the flames of racial hate even more than they usually do since Senator Barack Obama won election to the presidency.
Now, a mass-murdering racist was posing with the number one symbol of racism. As evidenced by his attempts to get Donald Trump to tone down his racism, Preibus is concerned that the perception of his party is one of a party that offers a big tent for bigots of every kind. There can’t be any doubt that that perception is reality.
I also have no doubt that Preibus doesn’t give a damn about the reality, only the perception. To Preibus, it is a marketing issue. He is wily enough to know that his party will have a nearly impossible time ever winning the White House, if that perception persists in the minds of the majority of voters. He and his party can try to throw roadblocks in the way of voting, but as much as his fascist troops in red states around the country want to, they can’t stop everyone. He and his party are losing a battle of changing demographics and they have deliberately cut themselves off from keeping pace with changing demographics.
It went unremarked upon by the media but Reince Preibus got himself to Charleston almost as soon as the June 17th massacre, but, in pictures of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the stat’s capitol building, there is Reince Preibus, standing right behind her. Coincidence? Not likely. He was smart enough to see the killings as damaging to his party via association through the flag that, up until that point, his party had supported in spirit and in policy for a very long time.
Since the massacre, the majority of Republican politicians, their FOX "News" propagandists, and, presumably, most Republican voters, have been going out of the way, in a very loud, thou doth protest too much, manner to attempt to convince normal, sane people that the so-called Confederate battle flag is not really a symbol of their inherent racism but a flag of heritage or states rights. They leave it at that, conveniently forgetting to admit just what that heritage is: The heritage of slavery and a fight for white supremacy.
What do Republicans mean when they say the confederate flag is a symbol of "southern heritage?" They can’t truthfully say it’s about the Civil War. The flag was never carried in the war and didn’t really become popular until the late 1940s.
To today’s non-Republicans it was "southern heritage" and the quest to preserve it that lead to the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed 4 little girls and injured 4 others shortly before services on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963. It was "southern heritage" that lead to the deaths of 3 civil rights workers who went to Mississippi to aid in getting African-Americans the right to vote and ended up shot and buried in an earthen dam. Today, republicans continue the fight to prevent African-Americans from voting.
Not so long ago, back in 2002, Senate Majority Leader Senator Trent Lott, from Mississippi had this to say about avowed segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond who ran for president in 1948 as a Dixiecrat:
"I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran forIt’s worth noting that the Dixiecrats were not just campaigning on a policy of being pro-segregation. They were also campaigning against a federal anti-lynching law! Judging by his words, Lott is, presumably, proud of this. What happened to the Dixiecrats? They joined the Republican Party when President Lyndon Johnson signed the mid-1960s civil rights and voting rights bills into law. They became one with the Republicans and have remained so ever since.
president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the
country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these
problems over all these years either."
Lott was as unrepentant in 2002, as he said what he said to a room full of his Republican brethren, as he was when he proudly voted for segregation and against anti-lynching in 1948. Lott wasn’t some sort of fringe member of the Republican Party. He was the Senate Majority Leader. Not only that, but when Hurricane Katrina grabbed his house and took it out to sea, unfortunately without him in it, it was Lott who was the first person that the leader of his party, (so-called) President George W. Bush went south to visit with words of hope, sympathy, and encouragement, certainly not the devastated 9th Ward of New Orleans.
Those who question Republicans about their support of such "heritage" are often met with the retort of "states rights," a phrase they often use in the service of subjugating groups of people. They talk about the Civil War as being not about slavery but about "states rights." They want you to forget what states right the Civil War was fought over; the right to own people and treat them however you damn well please. Does anything better define what it is to be a Republican?
So, it could not have been any surprise that, even though the confederate flag on the grounds of South Carolina’s capitol building came down with the support of the state’s Republican governor Nikki Haley and enough of her party’s legislators to sway the vote in the direction of human decency, the same grounds were the scene of more ugliness just a few days later as hundreds of white supremacists, KKK members and their supporters protested the removal of their flag; all the while waving it along with its sister swastika flag.
Among the right wing extremist groups in attendance were the North Carolina-based Loyal White Nights of the KKK and the Detroit-based Nazi Socialist Movement. Plenty of stiffed-arm Nazi salutes were seen. Yep, that old Confederate flag is a flag of heritage. It surely is. Just don’t mention that heritage’s name.
One Confederate flag supporter was heard to shout:
"This is my country. My ancestors founded this country!"Yeah. Yeah. We’ve heard it before. It’s the old "I want my country back" crowd. Tea Party anyone?
William Bader, a Kentucky resident who identified himself as the Imperial Wizard of The Trinity White Knights Of The Ku Klux Klan, said:
"Peace is over with. There is no peace…. What do I want to see happen? White revolution is the only solution."Baden is clearly a man of limited vision. Might he or someone very like him end up being an advisor to a President Trump, Cruz, or Rubio? Take my country back indeed. What these people mean is take our country backward, not just to 1950 but 1850. News flash to righties: It’s nearly 2016. 2050 is closer than 1950.
To add to the circus, local African-American activists and the Black Educators For Justice, a Florida group founded by the former director of the New Black Panther Party were there to counter the righties. Not surprisingly, righty news outlets such as CNN, The Blaze, and Breitbart played up the Black Panther angle, as did the laughably-called "liberal" New York Times. I guess playing up the "Black Panther angle" makes for eye-catching and more inflammatory headlines, although it does nothing to help the national discourse.
Fox News, the "Let me tell you about the negro" channel of Cliven Bundy fame, was strangely pretty silent over the weekend of the KKK/Nazi protests but we knew we could always count on them offering plenty to inflame their audience every day as the week progressed. Master Race Baiter-In-Chief Bill O’Reilly did his best to lead the way saying that the confederate flag symbolizes the bravery of confederate soldiers as they fought for their "heritage"; never mind the fact that the flag was, as I said earlier, never carried in battle and didn’t really gain popularity until the late 1940s, when Thurmond made his run for the White House.
One other surprise was that none of the 89 or so current republican candidates for President participated in the pro-flag protests. Perhaps, Reince Preibus was able to get through to them about toning it down after his visit with the SC governor, or, perhaps his standing on stage with her as she called for the flag to come down was enough to get his ass-covering message across.
Police did what seems to be a reasonable job of protecting the two sides from eachother, even escorting the KKK and Nazi groups off the capitol grounds a little early, before things boiled over in the 95-degree heat. Only five arrests were reported.
But, wait, there’s more: The KKK rally was only the beginning. Pro-confederate flag rallies erupted over and over again.
How about even disrupting a little girls birthday party with racial slurs? Now that’s what I call southern heritage!
How emboldened will these people become if a Republican gets elected to the presidency?
There’s seemingly no end to this. The Republican Party is little but a confederacy of racists. They are still so into the racist "southern heritage" thing that they are now even selling "I Stand With Trump" T-shirts and other merchandise to raise money for their U.S. Senate candidates. Like I said, racism and bigotry are the foundation of the Republican Party.