The yahoos in the red states, horrified at the prospect of having a black president for another four years, are starting a national movement to secede from the union, to punish Obama for being really really black, or something. And a number of their sites on the internet are posting pictures of the Confederate flag.
Or rather, the flag that they think is the Confederate flag.
You know, the red rectangular field, blue Saint Andrew’s cross, thirteen stars on the cross? The one you can buy at the mall?
That flag, which for convenience we will call the “mall flag”, isn’t the Confederate flag. And it’s not the Stars And Bars.
The Confederacy had three “national” flags, and the mall flag wasn’t any of those three. The first of those three national flags was the real Stars And Bars. It looked a lot like the American flag: three big red and white horizontal stripes, and a blue bit in the corner with stars on it.
The flag that rednecks buy at your local mall and hang off their trailers and their F150s is not any of the three “national” Confederate flags. It is the flag of the Army of Tennessee, the army that was spanked by the Union in their aborted invasion of Kentucky, and then spanked in Tennessee, and again in Georgia, and in Tennessee again, and in Carolina, until finally they had to surrender. While Robert E. Lee was dazzling the military historians of the world leading the Confederate forces in the eastern theater, the men marching under that mall flag further to the west were being pounded to jelly. It was because of that army with the mall flag that Georgia was devastated; that was the flag that was being torn down in Atlanta, just before the fires started. It was the incompetence of the mall-flag army that made Grant and Sherman into national rock stars. Except for the chaotic mess at Chickamauga, that mall-flag army never won a major battle, and the only reason they even won at Chickamauga is that Lee sent a big chunk of his own army to help them out.
Today’s rednecks think that the flag they’re flying represents the bravery and the gallantry of the southern spirit. But in reality, the mall flag represents one subsection of the southern army, that got their butts kicked over and over for almost three years. That flag represents repeated, embarrassing defeat – it’s like flying the flag of the Detroit Lions, or that fake team that gets beat by the Harlem Globetrotters every time.
And the mall flag represents something else, and I don’t just mean, you know, the whole thing about glorifying slavery, and wrecking the whole country when you don’t get your way on a political issue. For a solid century, these people openly and bitterly resisted any attempt to deprive them of their favorite Saturday night entertainment: finding an innocent black man, beating him and hanging him from a tree. And then making it all a big party so the kids could watch and learn too. They even laughed and took pictures. These same people regularly go on the internet today and express the wish that they could do the same to our Commander In Chief. In other words, it represents the American Taliban: these guys would be perfectly at home with the Afghans who throw acid in the faces of uppity girls who want to learn to read. And that's why southerners fly the wrong flag: they know it's the flag that terrifies blacks and aggravates anyone with an IQ above room temperature. It's the flag that proclaims the one right no one can take from them: the Constitutional right to be a public asshole.
And in its current context, the mall flag represents a region which is dragging the Republican party down the slippery slope into oblivion. A region which lags behind the rest of the nation, and indeed the rest of the civilized world, in education, health, teen pregnancy, life expectancy, infant mortality, workers’ rights, violent crime, poverty, unemployment, dependence on government welfare, and contribution to the national tax base. Once again, that mall flag represents embarrassing defeat, due to native pigheadedness, ignorance, fear and hate. Just like 1861.