Confederate flags are proliferating in the Southeast. Having spent the last two years in Portland, Oregon, the scene is pretty jarring. Ever since the Corporate Cleansing of Twenty-Fifteen, the Southern Crosses have spread like chiggers in a hay farmer’s underwear. Once again, our overlords imposed a prohibition and now the bootleggers are making a fortune.
The real stunner came last week when I drove through Pigeon Forge on my way to the Smokies. You thought this cartoonish tumor was tacky before? Every other storefront is now covered in big blue Xs. Fuzzy dudes in roaring pickup trucks parade up and down the main drag with double battle flags flapping in the breeze.
For the low, low price of $19.95, the South will rise again!
Growing up in the Appalachian foothills, the Confederate flag never meant much to me. I always associated it with loud-mouthed meat heads, fuel inefficient vehicles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It didn’t bother me any more than the other redneck shit surrounding me. I was an “elitist” who ran with outcasts in the wrinkled crevices of America’s beer-swollen underbelly. The battle flag was just another social signal to warn us away, like football jerseys or church clothes.
You knew not to take black friends where the Southern Cross was flying, just like you wouldn’t take a metalhead near a Cross of Calvary. By comparison, consider the battle lines drawn by blue and red bandanas in progressive urban environments.
To my caustic adolescent mind, the flag didn’t represent the historical Confederacy so much as it represented brainless conformity. The “Rebel” flag on some holler-crawler’s t-shirt told you all you needed to know:
He is tribal by nature and will defend his totem to the death. His people are the best, and in a perfect world, they’d be the only people.
He’s one bigoted S.O.B. In his misshapen universe, all blacks are “niggers,” all Hispanics are “wetbacks,” and then there’s “them ragheads from Sand Land.” He don’t trust none of ’em.
He’s intensely Christian, the irony of which escapes him. He thrives on the desire to whip somebody’s ass, yet he prays to a battered rabbi who preached “turn the other cheek.” One foul word about his personal Lord and Savior, and this gun-toting goober might send you straight to Hell.
He’s as dense as a sack of rocks. That’s just a given.
He’s easily manipulated by the powers that be. Just flash a few buzzwords in his face:
GUNS. GOD. WALMART.
Now this guy will follow you to the ends of the earth—or at least to the county line. Then flash:
TERRORIST. LIBERAL. HOMOSEXUAL.
Oh hell, he’s ready to fight. Just point him in the right direction.
If everyone in your neck of the woods yells the same thing, my reasoning went, can you really call it a “rebel yell”?
I was living in Portlandia last July when the flag came down in Charleston. To be honest, I never knew it was still flying in front of South Carolina’s capitol until this summer. As usual, Portland’s beer-swilling intelligentsia pissed an endless stream of insults onto the “hate-filled hillbilly bigots” of the South. What could I say, right? Stereotypes exist for a reason.
The corporate media concurred. CNN even ran a “Confederate Flag Countdown.”
11:23:46… 45… 44… 43…
Two weeks earlier, the Rainbow flags were flying high from one end of Rose City to the other. I mean even more than usual. On June 26, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergfell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Lesbians could finally marry as God intended, and gay men would have the Devil to pay. Sorry, fellas. Now it’s your turn!
The next day I walked out my front door to find the park across the street filled with an estimated 10,000 naked bicyclists. Four thousand pairs of breasts beamed to the heavens (well… a few towards Mother Earth) and six thousand dicks were swinging in the wind alongside numerous Rainbow flags. Skinny and fat, young and old, big and small, let me tell you, the smell was overpowering.
This fleshly spectacle was a total hoot, but there was one kink in the love chain. A couple of Christians with bullhorns came out to bark at the masses. They informed these heathens that the Lord made fig leaves for a reason. Soon the holy rollers were surrounded by pantless hecklers who taunted and jeered en mass. In an act of defiant blasphemy, one preacher took out a sacred Rainbow Flag and began stomping and spitting on it. Gasp! The birthday suit mob turned hostile. Suddenly a naked rollerblader swooped in and tackled the Bible-thumper from behind. He rescued the defiled flag, then skated into the safety of the crowd.
In my androgynous youth, I’d do anything to antagonize the rednecks around me. Goth chicks dig a rebel, and I played the part. I put on old lady dresses and wore chipped nail polish. I sported satanic symbols and scoffed at their podunk gods. It was me against the world. And wouldn’t you know it, those freak-bashing baboons called me a “faggot” for my efforts. Half of the fights I’ve been in could be prosecuted as hate crimes today. Which is why that fruit-boot warrior and his collectivist enablers irritate me so much.
Call me naive, but I expect more from the self-proclaimed champions of tolerance and freedom. I guess they are only human. All too human.
In many locales, what was once progressive rebellion has become mundane convention. The dismal predictability of the average Rainbozo should alarm any freethinker:
She has transcended tribalism—along with millions of other MultiCult crusaders who stand ready to squash the outlander who defies the Gods of Inclusion.
She sees traditional Christians as “ignorant fanatics,” Southerners as “inbred mouth-breathers,” and every cisgendered white male as an “oppressive racist,” because, well, you know, bigotry and privilege.
She’s not religious, but more like, spiritual or whatever?
She is smarter than everyone in the room and quite possibly the entire world. Fortunately, she’s so beyond ego, no one would ever suspect she thought so.
Ever see a cat chase a laser pointer?
DIVERSITY. SOCIAL JUSTICE. EQUALITY.
Look at her go! Now watch this:
CAPITALIST. CONSERVATIVE. OPPRESSION.
Pssst! Hisss! Yowl!
Somebody get this kitten a picket sign!
Every Portlandian I know viewed the falling battle flags as a victory over the powers that be. Although fewer progressives took notice, Saint Obama had just spoken at the Nike campus near Portland earlier that spring. The President was there to push the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade deal which promises to decimate more American jobs and relinquish domestic power to international businesses. A handful of union activists protested Obama’s fast-tracking efforts but—wait, look over here, the forces of Good are winning on TV! The countdown is over!
The Confederate flags are coming down! The White House is lit up like a rainbow!
On the same day Portland shed its clothes to ride bicycles for freedom, I saw an article in the New York Times entitled “Straddling Old and New, a South Where ‘a Flag is Not Worth a Job’”:
To many, it became abruptly clear how out of place the iconography of the Old South had become in this, the nation’s fastest-growing region. It is a place of Japanese and German auto plants and polyglot international communities. …
Google was coming to Alabama, building a $600 million data center to be powered completely by renewable energy. …
“I want this progress to continue,” [Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley] said in an interview. “I don’t want anything to be a distraction to my ability to recruit jobs.” …
And so the Old South gives way to the New, one economic development announcement at a time. Lured by the South’s call of cheap land and labor and limited regulations, businesses have flocked here from around the world. …Workers in rural east Mississippi build unmanned aerial systems for an Israeli aerospace company. …
Small businesses that have exploded into major corporations, most notably Walmart, are now throwing their corporate weight around, pressuring the South that produced them to change on issues like gay rights.
Good thing Google is not evil.
Portland is typical of many magnet cities. Rebels gather there to fit in. You find freaks of all sorts, but amid the ubiquitous thick-framed glasses, skin-tight jeans, sleeve tattoos, and oiled lumberjack beards, only one fashion statement actually blew my mind. It was a completely non-ironic hoodie, obtained at a local corporate convention, which had a Nike swoosh emblazoned on one side of the zipper and a Communist red star on the other.
Deng Xiaoping, the Communist revolutionary, once said of his pro-capitalist policies: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”
Enjoy the cheese while it lasts. Velveeta or Organic Valley—the choice is yours! And don’t mind the fat cats in the corner. They’re just here to keep you safe.
© Joseph Allen
Daily interjections: @EvoPsychosis