Saturday, July 04, 2015

Old Times There Are Selectively Remembered

I'm trying to figure out what sort of person would want to tour a preserved plantation. Having lived all my life in California, with its historically preserved Spanish missions, one could argue that there is something of a corollary, if separated by an order of magnitude. And certainly the mission tours tend to gloss over the worst abuses of the natives by the invading Spanish.

But I suppose one anecdotal difference is that in touring at least half of the missions in this state, it seems to be universally understood just what went on there, that abuse and indentured servitude were the norms. Only children would ask something like "were the priests kind to the Indians" or "were the Indians loyal to their keepers". Even then, most children (I visited at least four of the missions on school field trips over the years) had a balanced understanding of things, that while the Spanish may have brought medicine and order, they also brought disease and violence and plunder.

While common sense at least implies that the vocal contingent one usually hears defending the Traitor Loser Flag is the typical loudmouth minority, it's still clearly a substantial one that carries up to the state and federal legislative representatives of those states. And they refuse to brook any compromise on the subject, fail to consider the cognitive dissonance of slavishly supporting the emblem of a failed, awful cause.

Just as it is impossible to get someone to understand something when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it, the same principle applies to "tradition," as that term is generally conveyed -- which is far too uncritically, in most cases. You cannot repurpose a symbol with the horrendous baggage that the confederate battle flag carries, and completely ignore that baggage. You cannot pretend that just because the American Civil War was signed into armistice 150 years ago, that its effects haven't lasted into the modern era.

The only way someone can consistently maintain such a toxic level of cognitive dissonance is to actively avoid all viewpoints to the contrary, to not read the founding documents and statements of the confederacy (I refuse to capitalize it, because fuck them and everything they stood for), to not watch 12 Years a Slave or Selma -- or even Django Unchained or 42. If one is intellectually honest, it is inescapable that slavery was and is a permanent stain on this nation's soul, and the confederacy fought to preserve that vile, violent way of life, a way of life made possible only by institutionalized kidnapping, theft, and murder.

Flying that thing requires a highly selective, squinted view of history. Again, just reading the founding documents -- something that should take even a moron under an hour to do -- should clarify things. There's no mystery here, nothing up for multiple interpretations. Jeff Davis and Alexander Stephens and the rest of them were quite upfront about their causes and intentions. If they had had their way, if their despicable cause had succeeded, they would expanded slavery through the Caribbean and down to the Darien Gap, or further. Plenty of uncivilized wogs along the way whose lives the massas could enrich with the virtue of honest, plundered labor imposed by brute violence.

The idea that anything was in store for the victims of this vicious regime is just wishful thinking by descendants who, rather than have the common decency to be ashamed and embarrassed by their ancestors' actions, weirdly decide to double down and pretend that "pride" is built into it all, like an imaginary diamond waiting to be mined from a turd pile.

So now they're going to whine about the "political correctness" of the cancellation of an ancient teevee show on a network most people probably don't even know they have. As if we're not surrounded by political correctness to begin with. All the dumb things you're practically required to do at public events, those are political correctness. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance (with "under god" intact, of course) at various public situations, is political correctness. Having to stand for the national anthem or God Bless America when you just wanted to see a stupid baseball game, that's political correctness. The president having to end every speech with "God Bless America" is as PC as having a vegan option at your native-themed Thanksgiving with an opening secular benediction by a cis-questioning intersectional Wiccan.

Self-styled conservatives refuse to see that there are at least as many daily conservative political correctness examples as there are liberal ones. They're just things that set off unreasonable reactions when certain people feel you're not acting or reacting appropriately to them.

I hate the confederate flag and everything it stands for, but that has fuck-all to do with the Dukes of Hazzard. No one asked for the reruns to be pulled from TV Land; the show had only been on for a week or so when Bowl-Cut Supremacist decided to light up a black church, and in the wake of that tragedy, Warner Bros. decided to withhold licensing for all merchandise featuring that bloody rag. That includes the good ol' General Lee toys (assuming someone out there is still buying shit from a show that ended thirty years ago, and only ran for six years to begin with).

There's something wrong with a person continuing to self-actualize over a show like that, as harmless and ephemeral and unmemorable as most others. They mistake a simple (if perhaps somewhat reactionary) business decision for some sort of overweening SJW pressure. Maybe the hardcore SJWs want the thing completely eradicated, as if that were possible. I think most of us would settle for it not being hoisted over public, taxpayer-subsidized institutions. Wear it as a speedo if you must, just don't ask everyone else to pay for it.

Having even an atom of empathy for other people might be a start. Most of us can only imagine what it must be like to grow up with and work with people whose great-grandparents owned -- like literally owned, like bought and sold and beat, raped, stole from, tortured, kidnapped, murdered at will -- your great-grandparents. What it's like to have to attend schools, drive on streets and highways, and live in towns named after the men who fought valorously for that aforementioned property right, to have to deal with this woofing ofay bullshit from sweaty, obese, bitter enders day after day, year after fucking year.

And what is it like for the southern whites on the other end of that equation? The vocal contingent have no empathy, because they clearly do not think that anything wrong happened, other than that asshole Lincoln over-stepping his bounds and imposing his will on gawd-fearing bidnessmen. This smackdown has been a long time coming.

Goddammit, I'm just old enough to remember that it was illegal within my forty-eight-year (so far) lifetime for black people and white people to get married in many states. Fucking Mississippi has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into repudiating the lost cause within the most recent decade. These idjits insisting that the past is past, and the flag no longer represents what it most certainly stood for, they're either unspeakably stupid or shamelessly lying.

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