Lynyrd Skynyrd: Confederate Flag is Racist (But We’ll Still Use it)

Picture: G.8.S. (CC)

When even the last surviving member of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is calling the confederate flag racist, it may be that it’s long past time to redesign your state flag. I’m looking at you, Mississippi.

During an interview on CNN, surviving original member Gary Rossington said:

“Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that’s what it was about,” Rossington said. “We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things.”

Following a near-immediate fan backlash, Rossington backpedaled from his stance, stating that the band would still be flying the rebel flag at its shows.

Does the confederate flag have any place in popular music? More than a few bands have incorporated disturbing iconography into their image for both shock value and as a symbol of their rebellious personae, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister’s obsession with Nazi symbolism being just one example. Are there some symbols absolutely beyond the pale even in nominally transgressive art forms like heavy metal or punk? Does their usage depend on the intention and context?

Read more at AL.com.

 

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  • Ugly Guy

    I met a real nice country boy who had a big fat confederate flag on his truck.  He was married to a super sweet Mexican woman.  I never detected an ounce of hate in his body.  Being born a yankee, the flag gives me the creeps, but there are people who display it for cultural reasons that have nothing to do with racism – at least in their own minds.  Just don’t be to quick to hate.

  • Ugly Guy

    I met a real nice country boy who had a big fat confederate flag on his truck.  He was married to a super sweet Mexican woman.  I never detected an ounce of hate in his body.  Being born a yankee, the flag gives me the creeps, but there are people who display it for cultural reasons that have nothing to do with racism – at least in their own minds.  Just don’t be to quick to hate.

    • Calypso_1

      I’ve got black friends down here in the Dirty South who’ve adopted it as their personal colors.
      I love to see the reception from the Rednecks….usually everybody shares a few drinks and has a real good time.  It doesn’t have to be something that only represents a strain of hatred.   It can be reclaimed to represent something else.  History is rewritten all the time.  Would it not be a greater victory to change what it means than to bury it in infamy leaving only smoldering hatred among the petty-minded.
       The South is in so many ways more complicated than can be reduced to mere symbols – as much as those symbols may be loved or hated by those still living in memories that today should be nothing more than shared pain, just recompence and love for land and the joy of shared culture and community.
       

      • Crazy Irish Dan .

        The Confederate issue army cap is popular down south, too, amongst a lot of hip hoppers and the like.

        I was in NOLA for awhile after living on Venice Beach. Had a Swedish army jacket that looked almost exactly like a Confederate army jacket – old school cut, gray wool, etc – until you noticed the crown emblems on the buttons.

        Well, one September day just like this I was sick as a dog and went down to the corner store for some OJ. Wrapped my only warm jacket around me (which by now was a tour keepsake) and noticed by the time I’d made my purchase, I was getting a lot of strange looks.

        Always imagined the beating: “[thump thump] OW!! [thump] What the fuck man? IT’S SWEDISH, you TARDS! [thump]“

      • Crazy Irish Dan .

        The Confederate issue army cap is popular down south, too, amongst a lot of hip hoppers and the like.

        I was in NOLA for awhile after living on Venice Beach. Had a Swedish army jacket that looked almost exactly like a Confederate army jacket – old school cut, gray wool, etc – until you noticed the crown emblems on the buttons.

        Well, one September day just like this I was sick as a dog and went down to the corner store for some OJ. Wrapped my only warm jacket around me (which by now was a tour keepsake) and noticed by the time I’d made my purchase, I was getting a lot of strange looks.

        Always imagined the beating: “[thump thump] OW!! [thump] What the fuck man? IT’S SWEDISH, you TARDS! [thump]“

        • Calypso_1

          You point out an interesting distinction (in the similarity with Swedish regalia) that should be taken as cautionary regarding the isolation of symbols surrounding historical events.  Affixing meaning to any one interpretation, circumstance or groups sense of self-import allows the perpetuation of psychological manipulation of and through said symbols.
           
          Outside of the application of the stars on the Confederate flag as a symbol of the original colonies resisting Federal domination, the Saltire is one the longest standing emblem in heraldry.  It was used throughout Spanish America under the flag of the Burgundy Cross as is still represented by the flags of Florida and Alabama today.  The connections between this flag, the Carlists in Spain and Confederate pretensions for extension into Cuba and Mexico open up a much richer historical exploration.
           
          This should at the very least suggest the need to deal with real ongoing issues of racial inequality instead of faux historical gallantry and cruelly misdirected pleadings for social justice. 

        • Calypso_1

          You point out an interesting distinction (in the similarity with Swedish regalia) that should be taken as cautionary regarding the isolation of symbols surrounding historical events.  Affixing meaning to any one interpretation, circumstance or groups sense of self-import allows the perpetuation of psychological manipulation of and through said symbols.
           
          Outside of the application of the stars on the Confederate flag as a symbol of the original colonies resisting Federal domination, the Saltire is one the longest standing emblem in heraldry.  It was used throughout Spanish America under the flag of the Burgundy Cross as is still represented by the flags of Florida and Alabama today.  The connections between this flag, the Carlists in Spain and Confederate pretensions for extension into Cuba and Mexico open up a much richer historical exploration.
           
          This should at the very least suggest the need to deal with real ongoing issues of racial inequality instead of faux historical gallantry and cruelly misdirected pleadings for social justice. 

  • Calypso_1

    Matt, I fear any effort to redesign Mississippi’s flag might yield something just as unpalatable.

  • Calypso_1

    Matt, I fear any effort to redesign Mississippi’s flag might yield something just as unpalatable.

    • Matt Staggs

      Nice work!

    • Matt Staggs

      Nice work!

      • Calypso_1

        I’ll bet we could make some $$$ selling them at personhood rallies.  Hell, Stuckey’s might even pick em up!

      • Calypso_1

        I’ll bet we could make some $$$ selling them at personhood rallies.  Hell, Stuckey’s might even pick em up!

  • saint_al

    Gary, you’re talking from both sides of your mouth with an inserted foot. 
    /still wouldn’t give 10 cents to see one of their shows

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Not too far from where I live in Tampa, someone has erected a small monument and a huge “Confederate Flag”.

    I mean, huge.

    It’s actually big enough that you can see it on Google Maps.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=tampa,+fl&hl=en&ll=27.997525,-82.327455&spn=0.000819,0.001171&sll=30.46714,-84.256856&sspn=0.289406,0.599442&hnear=Tampa,+Hillsborough,+Florida&t=h&z=20

    For fun I like to point out to the local rednecks, who are awfully proud of that flag, that the flag was never an official national flag of the Confederacy. In fact, it’s not even the Confederate Battle Flag.

    It’s especially fun if I can get them to say that it’s about “Heritage, not hate”. Because then I can subtly mock them about not even knowing their avowed heritage.

    Though I must admit that I was surprised one day when I drove past and they were flying the actual Stars and Bars while the “Confederate Flag” was being repaired or replaced because of storm damage.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      That flag has been there for years, I always thought it was funny that it was within a mile of Martin Luther King Blvd.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        Yep, the very next exit South is MLK.

        And the same rednecks I’m talking about still bitch about how the name of that road was tragically changed from Buffalo Ave to MLK.

  • Crazy Irish Dan .

    A lot of the ‘imagery’ in music is also posturing. As said in the article, basically after the fans pissed and moaned enough, they put it back – money talks, bullshit walks. “Racist” or not, whatever pays off the Ferrari. But, to further the discussion a bit, concerning Lemmy…now, I like Lemmy/Motorhead and all, but I’m far from obsessed (I own one ‘best of’ that I inherited), especially to the point of playing the fanboy and making excuses for someone’s supposed bigotry. However, unlike a lot of commenters (I’m assuming) I happen to have been raised in a biker household. My dad was an independant operator, no gang affiliation, but still, you do rub elbows with some of those folks. Lemmy hangs out a lot with, is considered by many to be, and his fanbase certainly has it’s fair share of bikers.The SS/Nazi symbology boils down to this – gangs compete for turf and business. Most gangs are racially organized by the societal pressure that formed them in the first place. While there are black biker gangs, black ‘honoraries’ in groups like the Hells Angels, and even the ‘Pit Boss’ guy was a blood, though he’s Italian and not black, most gangs in this country aren’t very inclusive.The message to a random opponent – “come at me for the color of my skin if you want, but I ain’t exactly shy about returning the favor.” Not to mention, as concerns the flag, well, the Confederacy lost. Badly. The losing side tends to be more butt-hurt about such things.

    Just ask any Mexican about the ‘Reconquista’ if you want a cultural parallel. Though many, probably most, who subscribe to such tripe derive their genes from areas/tribes that had zero claim to the southwestern US, many Mexis feels it’s their duty to their Raza to ‘reconquer’ America. Wonder what the Hopis, Navajo, Sioux, etc think about that…

    At the end of the day, remember, people are stupid.

  • Crazy Irish Dan .

    A lot of the ‘imagery’ in music is also posturing. As said in the article, basically after the fans pissed and moaned enough, they put it back – money talks, bullshit walks. “Racist” or not, whatever pays off the Ferrari. But, to further the discussion a bit, concerning Lemmy…now, I like Lemmy/Motorhead and all, but I’m far from obsessed (I own one ‘best of’ that I inherited), especially to the point of playing the fanboy and making excuses for someone’s supposed bigotry. However, unlike a lot of commenters (I’m assuming) I happen to have been raised in a biker household. My dad was an independant operator, no gang affiliation, but still, you do rub elbows with some of those folks. Lemmy hangs out a lot with, is considered by many to be, and his fanbase certainly has it’s fair share of bikers.The SS/Nazi symbology boils down to this – gangs compete for turf and business. Most gangs are racially organized by the societal pressure that formed them in the first place. While there are black biker gangs, black ‘honoraries’ in groups like the Hells Angels, and even the ‘Pit Boss’ guy was a blood, though he’s Italian and not black, most gangs in this country aren’t very inclusive.The message to a random opponent – “come at me for the color of my skin if you want, but I ain’t exactly shy about returning the favor.” Not to mention, as concerns the flag, well, the Confederacy lost. Badly. The losing side tends to be more butt-hurt about such things.

    Just ask any Mexican about the ‘Reconquista’ if you want a cultural parallel. Though many, probably most, who subscribe to such tripe derive their genes from areas/tribes that had zero claim to the southwestern US, many Mexis feels it’s their duty to their Raza to ‘reconquer’ America. Wonder what the Hopis, Navajo, Sioux, etc think about that…

    At the end of the day, remember, people are stupid.

    • Calypso_1

      A lot of the imagery of nation-states, militaries, all social groups in general is posturing.  : ) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.leonard.3538 Kevin Leonard

    I always think, when this topic comes up, to ask whether people really think the Civil War was about freeing the slaves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-R-Lewis/1355680785 Charles R. Lewis

      Kevin, you aren’t one of those revisionists trying to convince people that slavery was not the main reason for the war, are you? Lincoln bent over backwards to try and get the southern states to give up slave labor, but they would not, and thus the war began. To argue otherwise is to split hairs in an attempt to spin the root cause.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-R-Lewis/1355680785 Charles R. Lewis

      Kevin, you aren’t one of those revisionists trying to convince people that slavery was not the main reason for the war, are you? Lincoln bent over backwards to try and get the southern states to give up slave labor, but they would not, and thus the war began. To argue otherwise is to split hairs in an attempt to spin the root cause.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    like the flag of Der Homeland
    it’s just a piece of cloth with a design
    nothing more than that
    the meaning is a story or hallucination about the piece of cloth

    despite the racism often attached that that particular design
    it mainly represents the FU attitude towards overbearing authority

    In Birmingham, they love the governor (boo boo boo)
    Now we all did what we could do
    Now Watergate does not bother me
    Does your conscience bother you?
    Tell the truth

  • Oh god

    With a flag one can conquer anything and everything.

  • Oh god

    With a flag one can conquer anything and everything.

  • http://twitter.com/Wyrdmaven Gregory Lannom

    The Confederate Flag is a fascination to me, because anyone (or any state) that still displays it, in their front lawn, on their vehicle, on their oil-soiled baseball cap…is pronouncing that they are in open rebellion against the USA.  And yet, they’re not in Gitmo.

    America.  OMG.

    Fiat lux.

    • Calypso_1

      Don’t forget belt buckles.

  • http://twitter.com/dogsmycopilot Jenni

    That’s not the Confederate Flag. The Confederate Flag as you will find on it’s Wiki page, is a flag with two red stripes with a white in the middle and a blue field in the upper left corner with stars in a circle. The second flag had what you are picturing here in it’s corner and the third added a red stripe. The Bonnie Blue was also popular. It was an entirely blue field with a large white star in the middle. Frankly, I could care less what that horrible sounding band uses but let’s show a little knowledge with our labels shall we? What you picture up there was used as the second Navy Jack, and as a flag for various battle units like the Army of Tennessee but it was never used to represent the CSA. 

    As for those who use the flag it’s meant as what it is, a rebel flag and the more people dislike it the more it will be used because that’s the point. That’s what rebels do. 

  • http://twitter.com/dogsmycopilot Jenni

    That’s not the Confederate Flag. The Confederate Flag as you will find on it’s Wiki page, is a flag with two red stripes with a white in the middle and a blue field in the upper left corner with stars in a circle. The second flag had what you are picturing here in it’s corner and the third added a red stripe. The Bonnie Blue was also popular. It was an entirely blue field with a large white star in the middle. Frankly, I could care less what that horrible sounding band uses but let’s show a little knowledge with our labels shall we? What you picture up there was used as the second Navy Jack, and as a flag for various battle units like the Army of Tennessee but it was never used to represent the CSA. 

    As for those who use the flag it’s meant as what it is, a rebel flag and the more people dislike it the more it will be used because that’s the point. That’s what rebels do. 

  • Ly

    we’re all white.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

     Yeah, there’s nothing like making people keep history straight to get you called a traitor and defiler, that’s for sure.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

     Yeah, there’s nothing like making people keep history straight to get you called a traitor and defiler, that’s for sure.

  • Calypso_1

    It only seems rare because any number greater than the quantity of teeth left in your seeping head echoes with the haint of juju drums against your fretful and myopic whimpering for mammy to sup you upon her bosom while you shiver against the cold steel of the waiting night.

  • Calypso_1

    It only seems rare because any number greater than the quantity of teeth left in your seeping head echoes with the haint of juju drums against your fretful and myopic whimpering for mammy to sup you upon her bosom while you shiver against the cold steel of the waiting night.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Wow.

    I’m not sure whether a Mod deleted that comment or your response caused the guy to try to remove the evidence of his shame and slink away before too many people could see what happened.

  • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

    Wow.

    I’m not sure whether a Mod deleted that comment or your response caused the guy to try to remove the evidence of his shame and slink away before too many people could see what happened.

  • Calypso_1

    He gave me the exact same reply you got but it disappeared into the comment hole real quick so I posted on that one. 

    I love me some yahoos.
     I used to have the really freaky (perhaps insanely stupid) hobby of practicing my creep during hunting season.  Counting coup in a way…usually while shrooming.  It’s amazing what the land will teach you amidst a bunch of so called hunters. 
    It hones the predatory senses with what goes bump in the night. 
    A little twist of briar on a trail here, a little strategic placement of coyote urine there.  The critters start to realize just whose side you’re on. 
     
    For some reason the boss can’t hold your gaze quite as well when you come back to the ‘real world’ –  Pheromones perhaps, that or the gleam of primal awareness no longer expected to be seen in the eyes of a human .