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November 7, 2003

Rebel yell

Posted by Phil on November 7, 2003 1:26 PM

Tardy and vis-a-vis last weekend's "Dean gaffe": Maybe I've completely misunderstood the reasons for the hubbub, but since when is the South all sensitive about being pegged with the Stars'n'Bars?

There are still states that can't muster the popular will to lower it from their courthouse flagpoles, and yet it's apparently bad form for a candidate to use it as shorthand to refer to citizens whose support he is seeking--a context in which one could reasonably assume it is, if a bit clumsy, meant to be complimentary?

Who made the leap--which must have been made, since offense was taken--that Rebel flag = Klansman's hood, or at least "chaw-spittin' redneck"? Mind you, I'm not saying it does. Sometimes it strikes me as having a certain historical charm, as long as it's fluttering over the gray-woolen ranks of some would-be Johnny Rebs at a summertime reenactment and not bedecking the pickup truck of a chaw-spittin' redneck.

But Dean's opponents jumped down Dean's collar, thinking either, "DON'T MAKE THE SOUTH THINK WE THINK THEY'RE A BUNCH OF CHAW-SPITTIN' REDNECKS!" or "DON'T PANDER TO THE WORST INSTINCTS OF OUR NATION'S RACIST BACKWATERS!" (I couldn't tell--anyone else know which it was?)

Then Zell Miller of Georgia (very busy lately hawking a book to undermine the party he represents) popped up, twanging either, "DON'T YOU YANKS DARE CALL US A BUNCH OF CHAW-SPITTIN' REDNECKS!" or "DON'T PANDER TO THE WORST INSTINCTS OF MY STATE'S RACIST BACKWATERS!" (Again, other interpretations welcome.)

Me, I don't get it. There are people who fly the Confederate flag on their pickup trucks (and not just in the South). If you're not one of them, you can't deny that you have neighbors who are, and if you think that's bad, is there something wrong with Dean trying to bring them into the fold? And, of course, if you're flying a Rebel flag, and you're offended by having it pointed out, then why are you flying it?

And, of course, apologies in advance if my less-than-perfect character has again caused anyone pain. Really, I don't mean to.


Yeah, I don't get the whole Dean-hubub, either. I've lived in NC for 10 years, and yeah, THERE ARE plenty of pickup trucks with confederate flags on 'em, and I hate it... ugh... but anyway, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Seems like they're looking for something to rival Trent Lott's remarks last year, and failing. HA. Anyway, Howard Dean is cool. He probably won't win NC, but I'll do my part to help anyway. :-)

-Andrea trying to move to the Pac NW

Posted by: Andrea in NC at November 8, 2003 4:06 PM

Dean's explanation that his phrasing was clumsy is pretty much the real point, because his intention was entirely sound: To point out that Southern whites who have been backing Republicans are, as much as anyone else, losing out on jobs, health care, and any number of other bread and butter issues by doing so. Underlying all of this, of course, and something which no one (as far as I know) is bothering to address, the one other implication: That the GOP consciously appeals to prejudices in the South in order to get their votes.

If someone in the election would have the balls to do so, they need to take that on directly, and say to that particular subset of GOP voters in the South: We can't change the prejudices you might have in your hearts, but we can damn well point out to you that voting those prejudices is leading you to lose your jobs, your family to have no health care, and your children to be saddled with debt.

Posted by: The One True b!X at November 9, 2003 1:07 PM