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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Stars and Bars on Cars

It's a cold Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, and I'm pushing a cart back to my 1998 blue/green Plymouth Voyager minivan at Wegmans. As my head cranes around to avoid looking another human in the eye and engaging them in some sort of social exchange, I view an unusual sight. At least, I later thought it unusual.

Peeling out of a parking spot was a silver pickup with one of those Confederate flag bumper stickers. I think it had some worthless comment, something like "the south will rise again," but I was temporarily irony-blind.

Well, this particular sticker was actually a Confederate Navy Jack, the rectangular kind. The national flag of the Confederate States of America was pretty close to early U.S. flags, except for the CSA flag had three horizontal bars instead of 13 stripes, presumably because the average Confederate had a hard time counting past 10 without taking off his boots.

After what seemed like an eon leaving the parking lot and several drivers who looked like they found Methuselah's secret to extreme age, my blind fury needed to latch onto something.

Didn't those assholes lose the Civil War?

Once I arrived home, my suspicions were affirmed via Google. In fact the Confederacy did lose.

So why do people still fly this flag? Don't these redneck jerkoffs want to be the winners? It's very emasculating to lose, especially a whole war. Maybe there's some redeeming quality about their loss. What if it was all a big misunderstanding and the Confederates weren't that bad after all?

After a rudimentary read on what this whole Civil War thing was about, I discovered some shocking information. Apparently, the Confederates went to war because the North didn't want slavery to expand. See, the South really liked slavery because cotton farming was insanely labor intensive.

On one side you have the CSA. Their ideology is that only white, Christian men are covered by the Constitution and that all the Blacks and other "inferior races" are not fit to be truly part of the American experiment. Therefore, they can be enslaved and treated as property.

Abraham Lincoln is on the other side, arguing that everyone is entitled to be part of this country.

Which would still be tolerable in today's world? I'll give you a hint: Abe Lincoln is right.

Now I know that every guy that puts a bumper sticker with the Confederate Battle flag on it isn't for slavery, but don't they give a shit that the symbol they've tacked on to their car is a direct descendent of a symbol for the enslavement of an entire race?

I imagine sometimes what it would be like if that silver truck had a Nazi flag on it. The symbolism is quite similar: Nazis believe that some races aren't fit to survive and are only kept around as long as they are useful. Not too far off from the Confederate ideal, really.

Most defenders of Dixie fall back on the old argument that the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of rebellion. Ignoring the fact that the U.S. flag is already a grand symbol for revolution, let's look at some alternatives.

Why not fly a Soviet flag? That's a great symbol of rebelling against a powerful government. What about the French flag? Nothing says rebellion more than overthrowing a king.

No? Still choosing the whole slavery image? That's odd; unless you consider that the symbol still fits for the modern conservative.

I'm not trying to say that the average guy who flies a confederate flag thinks slavery is OK. Although it is sometimes downplayed, most everyone agrees that raping an entire race is wrong.

The core notion of the Confederacy, however, still rings true for the modern Republican. To conservatives, this nation is for the white, straight, Christians and anyone else is damned. They get to have the rights and the privilege of first class citizenship and everyone else gets to go second.

Too bad for gays, who want to be treated like straight people and given the right to marry and be viewed by their government as equal, they have to be happy with being less than straight. Sucks to be a Muslim – because a few people of your religion did some bad things you're now under the watchful eye of big brother.

Don't like it? Well apparently this is a Christian nation, and the Constitution is for the Christians, not you.

Worst of all, if you're one of the millions of poor in this nation, you're simply leeching scum that conservatives like Mitt Romney "don't care about" because you already have a safety net.

No, the Confederate flag still flies in this nation whether we see it or not. It flies proudly when Rick Santorum tells us that Don't Ask Don't Tell should be reinstated, meaning that gays who serve this nation proudly should be ashamed of who they are. It flies triumphantly when the NYPD decides to stomp on the civil rights of American Muslims and conservatives flock in support, or when a Muslim wants to buy a building near Ground Zero and meets extreme opposition from the Fox News crowd only because of his religion.

It flies in Mississippi still, where they apparently haven't received the memo that the South lost and the Confederate battle flag is still a part of their state flag.

And for every vote, or veto, against gay marriage, another little salute goes out to that red white and blue symbol of inequality and hate.

Email: jbbowe@buffalo.edu


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