Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Behold, the man room
(Sunroom, but more recently a junk room -- and now ER's lair.
And the Sons of Confederate Veterans throw is a personal artifact; I quit the SCV because they went from supporting the memory of the history of the War Between the States to latter-day support for its cause.
I just asked for this for Christmas:
Obviously if I don't get it, it won't be because I haven't been good enough this year, but because someone doesn't love me enough. Just sayin'.
Anyway, like the slogan says, Guinness is good for you!
Posters of women in bikinis, that kind of thing.
What kind of "man" are you?
The confederate throw needs to go.
History in a book is one thing. Memorabilia carries much different freight and will communicate unconscious remainders that wear away at trust and realtionship.
The throw gives me an opportunity to say that the Sons of Confederate Veterans has lost me, among other history-minded descendants, by becoming a defender of Confederate values, not a defender of the memory of Confederate fighting men who fought honorably, but in retrospect, wrongly.
Oh, it's not memorabilia; it's an artifact of my life. I'd no sooner get rid of it than the Scofield Reference Bible I thumped as a teen.
The stars and bars are different. To post it in a public place like a blog is exactly the point Teresa is making but who misses her own point about its applicability here.
If I have my Jewish friends over I am not taking the crucifix down. Nor do I expect them to take down the Mezuzah or Menorah or Torah scroll. The crucifix was not instituted in a context of hate -- though hate is part of Christian history. We expect our friends to not suspend their identity when we arrive to eat together.
If, however, I own shackles from the middle passage and I were white, I would feel a compunction to hide them from my friends of any culture. The rudeness of the thing itself and what it communicates should not be on display for anyone despite the spiritual or moral discipline it may aid for me.
And the meaning of the confederate flag is decidedly not "imposed from the outside." Its use today, its display, cannot be divorced from the meaning it communicates. And that meaning is not the same as its function for ER. It is entirely different and undeniable.
I have a book of pictures of lynching postcards. It remains on my shelf at the end of row in a hallway. It would not do to put it on the coffee table. But it is there to witness for as long as it survives and that witness is reachable if needed. Say for my children when they are of age - they will need to know in order to be Americans and world citizens. I have already shown my fifth grade daughter the pictures from Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost" for exactly that reason and because her school beat around the bush. I will not have her being glib about "the triangle trade" as if a body were rather a boll.
But it would not do to display the books. The Confederate flag speaks the same horrors, but under a guise, a misdirection, and it does not educate in the same way for others.
Too pooped to engage tonight. But I will eventually. Haven't had a good honest row over this in awhile.
But I must point out two things before I retire:
1., What you see is a photo of a private place.
2., What any blog is, in my opinion, is an open door into a private place. By clicking in, one has walked through the door. A blog is not a public place in the way you mean.
More anon, on matters more to the point. :-)
Son, I got a hundred pounds on you any day of the week:)
(More when you're on that chemical stuff)
Do you really think Bubba the Georgian would know the difference?
That image is the Confederate Battle Flag NOT the Stars and Bars, an entirely different flag.
My best friend is an African American, and he does not view my Confederate flags as anything but what they are, historical artifacts of my life and history.
ps an image of the Stars and Bars is located here:
That's just like one of the Redneck Clan to go paradin' your hi-falutin fancy book learnin' livin' style over the webbernet, with your factor made couches and non-dirt floorin.
But since its for smokin, I guess that's alright. I'm partial myself to the wild celery bushes growin by the creek. It's kinda odory, but its sure good for any ailing you got particularizing on insomniaitis and peckish eatin habituals.
I'd send you some, but every time I try to mail some to anyone through the postals, their crazy dogs tear up the boxes.
My family tree growed out of the Confederacy too. They bred a line of ill-tempered oversized goats that they used for ambush gorin's on the union. But somehow them northerners got'em to go tame and ended up stealin all of 'em.
That's where the phrase 'get your goat' came from. We's kinda hopin that the big-eared fellar that got president will finally give us Loneys our goat reparations.
William T. Loney, MD
1. Is a blog public or private? For me, if an unknown guy, uninvited, googles "tater wagon" and comes right to an archived page of your blog, that's pretty public. If CNN, uninvited, can quote from your blog on air without liability, that's pretty public.
It seems to me a blog is rather like a curated exhibit filling a small street front gallery with audience participation. Open to the public during hours of operation and, like art, may be extremely personal, intimate, vulnerable. Such is the life world of an artist. I took my daughter to the museum and on one floor quickly steered her away from a Kara Walker paper cutout before she could see it: the erect male phallus is way too early for her. A crucifix in piss or Mary framed in elephant dung would not bother me nor my gently guiding my daughter in viewing such things.
We see lots of things in the public square, especially in large cities, that are challenging and many times age inappropriate strictly speaking. No doubt, in many public places one must be wary of what children may see. A public place is not necessarily pristine by definition. But a swastika would not stand.
A posted photo of a private place is not the same as the private place. Now if you were to sidle up next to me and hand me a photo of your private place, well that would be a private invitation explicit to me and judgment of the contents of the photo would have to exist under the conditions of private overture and self-offered vulnerability.
2. Can confederate flags (displayed publicly or privately) signify meaning exclusive of or morally overriding to the defense of enslavement and mass killing?
Can the semiotics of these signs be reshaped by one's desire to connect with ancestry? Is this a legitimate way to seek connection to one's ancestry?
Or is this not the intention? Is the display, rather, to keep in the forefront of one's mind the terrible sin of country and family, a reminder that I, too, have the same feet of clay of humanity, and if I am not careful my feet could end up trampling a Wal-Mart employee to death?
Or is it both? Can a swastika denote both? I have no doubt that veterans live today with their uniform's swastika in a drawer to remind them they are German, Germany went murderously wrong, all can go such a way, measures need to be taken to avoid such a way so being German can be a proud thing. But will they put the swasika on a throw? Will they put that throw on their lounging furniture in their den of reflection?
Can the following be said (of course it can be said) and then followed through with (I don't think it should)?:
"We proffer the view that the [Nazi] dead did what they thought was right, we respect their courage, manhood and military valor, but we do not want to "apply their ideas to modern politics or culture." Grave tending and re-enactments, y'all."
On my maternal grandmother's side, a lot of effort has been put into family reunions and preserving family history. I have the sixty page history detailing the migration of a largely Scotch-Irish farming family made their slow way from South Carolina with generational stops in Alabama and Mississippi before mostly gathering in central Texas. It is noted that at the conclusion of the Civil War the family owned two slaves, man and woman. The last thing said is that this man and this woman were treated so kindly that they decided to stay with the family.
This, I guess, is one of my personal artifacts.
Despite my claim, or rather nuanced by it, that this blog is a public space (of performance or exhibit), I feel personally connected to you, ER, in the context of journey and general ideology. So I write with trembling brazenness this long comment.
And one more suggestion. When relating to a large history of horrors, it is often seductive for the inheritors of privilege (whether that privilege is felt or not) to trade in sentimental memories ("they were treated so kindly"... "they did what they thought was right" [whether they were so treated or thought so blamelessly is a judgment of history but an inappropriate worry stone to descendants]).
But I fear we would be trading in a crazily cherished sentimental inhumanity.
Submitted with unflagging faith and trust that the way of an erudite redneck is a moral way, and the Grafted Yankee walks it with feet of clay.
William T. Loney, MD
In a nutshell, we disagree mightily on several layers. Details anon. :-)
Dr. Loney and I are in full commmunion, however, in the Hazzard diaspora!
I own a WWII Japanese Katana. To me, it is a cool historical artifact that is part of a defining historical event in our nationa past...AND a sword of a type that I have had some training in, and which can be useful to me.
To my father-in-law, I was glorifying an object that probably had the blood of U.S. soldiers on it, and I was bringing it into my home to give it a place of honor, celebrate their deaths, and spit on their memory (never mind that my own grandfather left bits of his own flesh on the ground in the European theater of that war, and I would never do anything to denigrate that sort of sacrifice).
No amount of reaasoned discourse could change his mind.
*shrug* It will be interesting to see how the conversation unfolds...but for my part:
1) There is a HUGE difference between an emblem that honors millitary service in good faith and a flag that symbolizes insurrection. ER doesn't like it when members of the Sons of the Confederacy conflate the two, so agruing that he has to throw out one because of the other is not going to be productive.
Just as monuments and ceremonies that honor the dead German soldiers in WWII are not promoting Nazism...so to the Sons of Confederacy emblem does not necessarily promote slavery and secession.
two-o: the public/private blog thing. It's not a settled question by any means, but I do think that if someone is operating the blog as a private person and not as public interest, it should be treated as private sphere.
Grey area? sure...but there are plenty of ambigous grey-area things like that. My kids' like to operate lemonaid stands. Even thought they are set up on a public easement, and serve the general public, and serve as a public establishment in a lot of ways, most people would think a visit from the State Health Department and the Tax man to be rediculous.
Likewise, if a concerted effort has been made to divorce the person's identity from any public entanglements (psudonym) but the nature of those entanglements have been disclosed, and no specific public agenda can be said to motivate the blog...well, it seems it could be viewed as private. It will be interesting to see the arguments about this...'cause I 'm sure there are plenty both ways, and no one person can be expected to think of all of 'em. It will be edifying.
In presenting your discussion with your father-in-law I may have missed your side of the reasoned discourse... unless the "cool factor" is one, which I don't discount but that may be a generational thing. Besides "cool," what other reasoned arguments did you present? Your father-in-law has a powerful experience-based argument to make. But there are responses. Largely having to do with purpose of collecting (using it is not one).
In time, a diffused IED from Iraq may be "cool" to buy on eBay. At one time it what was cool to display skulls of Native Americans at home and in glass at the museum. Or a foot, a hand, etc. Native Americans have, after decades of trying, beaten back the "cool" factor argument because of their beliefs regarding the afterlife which cannot allow for public display of bones.
To many it now seems grisly business to display the human remains of anyone. People found in ice or bogs are now viewed only rarely and for short periods of time. The notion of respect has joined that of scientific knowledge so display for display sake over years will not likely be seen again.
This change in the notion of respect is an interesting one and its sources are complex and new. So maybe your sword gutted an American G.I. A boy maybe 19 years old. From Connecticut, say, whose father worked in the brass metal factories of Waterbury trying to feed his son and daughters. One of those daughters just recently retired from teaching public high school for forty years in nearby Danbury. Now 78, she dreams at night of her brother, young, pimpled who wanted to be a doctor. Your sword is terror in her dreams. Or somebody's.
But private ownership of the sword can be honored if such possibilities are kept in mind. It was two armies met on the filed of battle and that history is interminable.
You also say, "There is a HUGE difference between an emblem that honors millitary service in good faith and a flag that symbolizes insurrection."
I'll leave aside insurrection which is a morally ambivalent category until one delineates the reasons for the insurrection (slavery comes back in at this point).
But, as I asked before, can any confederate flag signify meaning that is exclusive of or morally overriding to the defense of enslavement and mass killing? Millions of slave did not reach the battle field of their own freedom. They were not armed when they died. The confederate flag is an emblem of slavery among other things like a young Virginian, thinking he could be a lawyer, dying in his screams in Manassas. But how do you separate the meanings? How do you do it, not with rhetoric, but do it in a way that our national sin is not present in the observance of the flag. The stars and stripes, too, is covered in unjust blood, in slavery. But blood has also been sacrificed for it to uphold the good, the right, the just, and to preserve life for other people not governed by that flag. The American flag is in a constant state of being redeemed.
But i ask whether you can cull out the difference you think can exists in a confederate emblem that means the following to 12% of Americans (paying particular attention to photo #27 where the towns' youth are smiling at the day off from school):
Now, of course, these pictures were taken long after the Civil War. But compared to slavery, these pictures document a cooling off of terror.
A cooling off.
The bodies you see are brothers, uncles, grandparents of people living today... possibly of Monk-in-Training's good friend... possibly of my wife's father.
Now look at the flag and find the honor, the principles.
I can't. It would be sentimental inhumanity.
We say a flag does not necessarily represent slavery.
When one focuses on what one word means in terms of pounds of flesh - maybe 720 million pounds of human flesh - the weight in blood alone (say 5 million gallons) should keep the tongue in place for a long time before anyone could say that a battle flag used in defense of land cultivated by these human bodies of flesh and blood can be seen without an accounting for a sawn off hand, foot, breast, an impaled youth thrown into the bayou for the alligators to eat.
The internet is public domain and users generally give up the right to privacy in its use. Unless a password is required or encryption used (tools necessary for privacy while using a public domain, a web site is open to the public and has to make some effort to warn of inappropriate material for users not of age.
Yahoo and Google collect data on you an me because we are operating in a public domain.
A posted photo of a private place is not a private place.
''The stars and stripes, too, is covered in unjust blood, in slavery. But blood has also been sacrificed for it to uphold the good, the right, the just, and to preserve life for other people not governed by that flag. The American flag is in a constant state of being redeemed."
and btw, even a mountain dweller like doc Loney knows they was a heap more to the civical war and the south's involvement than jus' slavery...but that aside, I'm still hopin' on gettin' me some goat reparations.
This blog is not a public space or place. It belongs to Google, and Google is letting me use it. Not that that matters.
The man room is on the back of the house. If it were on the front of the house, the flag might be visible, say, through a bay window, by people walking or driving by. Are you saying that I should be expected to remove it from potential public view? If so, why? Are you telling me I have some responsibility for the emotional reactions people have to that, or any other, symbol, quietly held within my own home? No way.
I choose not to fly the flag on a pole in my front yard. I choose not to. I could as easily chosse to do so. I don't understand why anyone should ever be browbeaten into hiding any symbol that represents a point of view. I mean, I don't give a damn whether a neighbor decides to fly a fricking swastika -- BTW, *that* symbol is seeing some redemption; I know some buildings in downtown Fort Smith, Ark., with pre-Nazi swastikas in plain view now since some 1960s-era facades have been removed.
Re, "Its use today, its display, cannot be divorced from the meaning it communicates. And that meaning is not the same as its function for ER. It is entirely different and undeniable."
It is deniable. I deny it.
Re, "If, however, I own shackles from the middle passage and I were white, I would feel a compunction to hide them from my friends of any culture."
Wow. I'd probably put them in a shadow box and display them on a wall. Not kidding. I actually do own an authentic KKK medallion, in a plastic display thing. It lives on a book shelf in my office near books of Southern history. I would not own anything I would feel compelled to "hide" from anyone else! Geez! Ashamed to be seen with it? Get rid of it.
As far as my Christian responsibility to foster, as much as I am able, love among humanity and peace on earth -- yes. But any love or peace based on "hiding" things, not saying things,k tiptoeing around feelings and so on -- is false.
I am to love people and individuals whether I like them or not, and I am to love them as they are, not because they have taken some action, or ceased taking some action, or because they fly or do not fly this or that rhetorical or literal flag.
Several symbols in the man room pix are offensive to someone: the martini glass, the cigar ash tray, the Dale Earnhardt Jr. pillow I(Budweiser) -- hell's bells, even the Route 66 theme of the futon is potentially offensive as a symbol of the dependency this country has on foreign oil and the wastefulness of the American lifestyle. The logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which incorporates the Confederate naval jack, isn't the only thing in there to mortify, offend and piss off.
My first cell phone played "Dixie" when it rang. I changed it after it rang on a Metro car in D.C., and I was about the only white person on there. I changed it to avoid unexpected conflict.
I used to have a "Southern by the Grace of God" bumpersticker, compete with Rebel battle flag image, on my truck. I took it off to avoid unexpected conflict.
I will not give another inch. I'm a journalist by day, historian by night. I will not let "presentitis" -- neither that of the skinhead shitheads flying the flag in hate, not the over-reactors who would have me furl it even in my own home, or any of my personal spaces, blog or otherwise -- claim the symbol and dare to decide, and lock down, its meaning.
My Rebel ancestor was a poor denizen of the Ozarks of Arkansas. He died in 1930 at 90-something. My mama, who was born in 1922, was hnis grandaughter, and she remembered him. He was not a slave owner as far as anyone knows, although by definition he, like all antebellum Southerners, "benefited" from the Peculiar Institution. I thinke he probabloy fought to defend Arkansas from invasion, and to fight the federal assault on Arkansas sovereignty from within. But then, he coulda been dog ignorant and fit for pay. I don't know. But the record reflects that he served honorably.
That's my ancestry, and part of my personal history. Because of an ancester on Mama's side, I also could be a member of the Sons of Union Veterans -- and the Descendants of Mexican War Veterans.
If I ever were to decide to rejoin the Sons of Confederate Veterans -- not likely -- I'd probably join the other organizations, too.
In the meantime: Confederate flags? Cold dead fingers and all that.
It always does, DrLoboJo. :-)
This thread demonstrates the very damn reason I keep these kinds of things around: to provoke!
To provoke discussion, thought, consideration, reconsideration.
Man room does kick ass, although I need to get a window replaced. Do you smoke ceegars ever? If so, you can come over and smoke with me.
As a doc, I couldn't officially condone the usage of tobacco products....
(La Flor Dominicana, and H. Upmann No.2 Cubanos--if you can get them.)
As to the flag, tough decision, I do always wish to respect the feelings of others, yet there is always going to be a potential for someone to be offended by almost anything. Given that many of the southern states current flags are "confederate flags," I'm surprised that there hasn't been a call to change more of them.
I was driving Mrs. Doc's new car around with a proper, very small, swastika on it (not the backwards "nazi" emblem), because it had been taken it to the Hindu Center to receive blessings (they run over some limes, put a small swastika on it,for the day, and pray for the safety of the driver-- this is a good idea if you have ever driven in India). I had a friend notice it and stated that, as a Jewish person, he was quite offended. I explained the reasoning, of the auspicious symbol, and then wiped off the mark.
I'm not sure there's any happy solution on these cases.
The law has yet to be prescriptive regarding the hybrid public/private environment of the internet except that, theoretically, we do give up privacy rights to utilize it – but so far civil suits like libel, etc. have not gotten much success due to the solely interpretive basis of judging privacy v public speech.
2. Regarding “artifacts,” I would hide the shackles because I know that I cannot control what it means to another person by any abstracted rationale on my part. The immediacy of the semiotics with which “shackles” communicates cannot be avoided or interrupted by any abstraction important to me. Some extended conversation would be necessary to communicate that abstraction to others, far after the “fact” of the artifact has already imprinted itself on their mind.
This phenomenon, I think, raises a few issues.
a) You are currently choosing to engage in just such an extended discussion to explain yourself. For some reason, this situation does not fit your experience of unexpected conflict. Rather, it appears that part of the message of you blog is a challenge to some of those you indeed expect to walk across your storefront and experience a jolt at the southern risqué. There seems to be a meta-message opposed to the northern dominance of our national Yankee/pc/eastern cultural hierarchy. And I think you want that opposition understood as healthy, culturally specific identity making.
Here’s my question: can you post the picture with greater comfort because you do not pay the personal cost that you do in the Metro car? Is this virtual courage of your convictions? Is “unexpected conflict” a cop out?
These could be the subconscious worries that might move someone to defend their blog as a private sphere only.
Here’s a paradox: in many ways the environment of a Metro car is far more intimately private than a blog on the internet though composed from warm environs of a man room. I will not catch your cold, sit on your coat, hear a private conversation, know what books you read of what you choose to read in the newspaper, know the scar on your cheek, the quality of your breath or the control of your own body.
b) A museum, on the other hand, establishes the context of abstraction even from the outside of the building. It clearly will be a collective of something not functioning in its genius. The building is also not a private place of private meaning; it clearly intends to display “artifacts” for some purpose. Inside, that purpose gets a say, but well curated exhibits also invite alternative interpretations. Down through the years of the history or art criticism in the context of publically displayed art(ifacts), the moral understanding of display has followed behind the aesthetic and educational understanding. Respect for the meaning of bodies, death, violence has taken a much fuller place in the methods and means of curating artifacts.
Context is all important in setting the ethical terrain of display. The ethical context of displaying your “artifact” must control the competition of abstractions which your artifact carries within itself. Your undeclared declamations will not protect the ethical context after the fact of display. That is why I would hide mine unless conversation precedes display in order to set the right ethical anticipation with guests invited into my home out of love, friendship, simple mutuality. Shackles can be of enormous spiritual help. But being white, deference must be paid to the work of time and declaration – vs. declamation – in order to make understood my sure intentions to move from a liturgy of bloody sorrow to steely hope.
c) This is the really important thing to me: the personal meanings you abstract from the artifact, constructed from personal motivations and inherently spiritual (either upwardly so or downwardly so depending on the motivations), do not and cannot bracket out the history that the flag abstracts. The meanings the flag abstracts – the “fact” represented by the “artifact” – twists the gut with fear when seen by millions of people.
The banner of Mehmet the Conqueror cannot do the same thing and a posted photo of his banner is inconsequential except to the poster.
But in this case, ER, living people feel terror. Living people have seen this flag used as a sign of allegiance to “principles” justifying the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and the threat and use of a noose to deprive themselves and family members of the right to vote, the right to make a living in full public society, and to deprive them of life itself. And by depriving, I am “politely” referring to dragging while alive, hacking while alive, dismembering while alive, immolating, drowning, raping, scalping, flaying, and then, when spent, parceling out parts and rags as memorabilia.
No private abstraction can deny that terror. And the flag has not had a life outside of the allegiance to those principles as has the US flag. The confederate flag abstracts a faith just like a cross around the neck. And no “secularization” of either abstraction is ultimately possible without being disingenuous, though we see it all around us.
To try to make a case that one can personally deny the terror represented in that flag, using the very word “deny,” is a slippery slope leading to the pit of Haider of Austria, Ahmadinejad of Iraq, or David Duke of Louisiana. It sounds like Eric, Mark, Marshall, and others who are stubbornly on that decline when they say, “I deny… and that makes it so.”
d) Finally, for me, regarding my family of white southerners who owned slaves for a time and rebelled for a while, is some senses still. My grandmother was one of twelve children born to an alcoholic father and depressed, mute mother. Being the eldest, she raised the other eleven. She married a tenant farmer and raised two girls who did not have indoor plumbing until adolescence. Her husband dying early, as men do my family, she went to become a seamstress and made drapes, pillows, and bedspread for me when I was a child, along with black eyed peas, cornbread, and cabbage which were my favorites. I have her sofa table and dining chairs. I have in plastic display box a cotton boll. My mother picked cotton and cut her fingers on the hardened, sharp peeled back sections of the boll. My father’s father worked for the railroad as did my father and uncle. They all died early.
I am proud of being a descendant of this kind of iron-willed faith in the possibility that life and family will be made more sure sometime in the future if faith is kept. It is the American transfiguration of the Christian hope.
And so there is no need to prevaricate. They were all racists, prisoners to the inhumanities of their cultural principles. Not that anyone would notice directly. It was not a fully conscious allegiance. My mother still lives and is still a racist. She is also an iron willed, southern kind of Texan, who raised me with populist and spiritual values that got out of her control and experience. She and dad made me hardy enough to launch much further out into the world than they had hoped or, in some ways, wanted. She is also mother-in-law to an African American daughter and grandmother to a mixed race child.
I must give her dispensation, though, for she is of an age that it is unreasonable to expect a rethinking of “presentitis,” whatever that may comprehend, in light of who comprises her family now. I wonder if you would rethink things if you had a biracial child. Would you worry more about the domestic messages? Would you “give an inch” now that unwanted meanings are incarnated inside your home?
When the time comes, I will tend her grave and my father’s; children tending their parent’s grave is love. Honoring a person’s life is respect for the dead.
Confederate soldiers contributed kindnesses and love to their families and to towns and villages and cities even when they were soldiers. To tend their grave is love for them as family, as persons. To treat them as individuals is respect for life, for their life. And that is one thing.
3. Regarding a cigar, it can be just a cigar. It needn’t be the phallus; but if it is, the oppression of male gaze and hegemony needn’t be signified in it necessarily. A martini glass has never been sworn to corporately as a way to bury the bodies. An ash tray, a beer brand, a dead race car driver, a highway, a phone, a bumper sticker.
Your list in a conversation on slavery begins to resemble, again, the slipping away of moral focus so redolent of the conversation partners from “American Descent.” This is so far from being a "potential for someone to be offended by almost anything," as Doc just said.
That flag cannot be just that flag. It communicates terror within the life world
of all of us and signifies with continuity efforts by millions to deprive other millions of fellow citizens of liberty and life itself. Denials are unreal.
To display the emblem of allegiance calling defense to socially sanctioned terrorism and think that one can more convincingly call it memory of the dead, memory of MY dead, is a whole kind of sentimental inhumanity thing.
His credibility lies in the bottom of his popcorn bowl burnt and unpopped.
One thing, re: unexpected conflict. The key there was unexpected. I'm ready for conflict in what I consider my own place and space.
One more thing: Even if I were to grant you that this palce-space is "public," so what? I reject any responsibility for the way people interpret symbols. People bring their own experiences to symbols; I am a people, too.
The bottom line is I really don't care if people are offendedl I go about being offended by things I see and hear every day. I do not insist that others change their ways or their words to soothe my feelings. I reject anyone else's insistence that I do so to soothe theirs.
More, perhaps, anon. I ran out of time, right now, to read all of your latest, Feodor. Sorry.
Oh: I'd say Alan's creditability on the gay issue is his gayness.
I do not question Alan's sexuality. Sexuality does not inoculate anyone from being a child of their culture and its problems.
To me, Alan has now cast doubt that he responsibly understands what it means to make an argument for homosexual rights from civil rights.
Like Hillary Clinton supporters who do not think to ask why NOW supporters are shockingly short of black women, many gay rights supporters have gloss over the very heritage they claim for themselves and want to change America at a price of blood paid by others.
It's a race problem, a class problem, and sometimes very, very sexist.
A wealthy white woman is still a white woman.
And insofar as we are Americans, we incarnate America. Reason enough to spend a lot of time asking questions of others not like ourselves, and reading them, too.
You yourself I understand to be a white man for all intents and purposes and regardless of what other DNA you carry.
The notion of "a white man" is a symbol in this way, the "despite DNA" way. In certain contexts the whiteness of the symbol of a white man symbolizes things that you may not carry to it. And you have no choice. Your denials are not real. Only your behavior and discourse will tell a story with evidence only clustering to one side or the other. And that only in the course of time. Sequoyah could tell you that.
Feodor: Well smell you, Nancy Drew.
First, Feodor, let me say I generally enjoy your comments and your contributions here and elsewhere. But your comment on my comment missed the mark in several respects.
First of all, my comment was a joke. I knew it. I'm sure ER knew it, and anyone else who isn't at times, shall we say, a tad oversensitive and over-earnest probably knew it too.
Second of all, I've already read ER's discussion of the whole flag thing at least twice, and whether or not I agree with him is beside the point, since I really have bigger fish to fry than grouse about a damn throw on the back of a couch. Yes, that flag makes me uncomfortable, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to change his mind on it. He's a big boy and can decorate his house however he pleases. Anyway, I have absolutely no doubt that the reasons that flag makes me uncomfortable have absolutely no part in the reasons he keeps the throw. I know bigots. ER isn't one. When ER stops by my house and decides to get offended by something I have hanging in my house, I'll bitch at him about his flag.
I frankly have a bigger problem with the pattern on that couch itself, but I assume it's some Southwestern style thing I don't get. ;) Any problem I have with ER's taste in decorating is my problem not his, and any problem you have with the fact that some complete stranger whom you've never met has, hanging over a couch you'll never sit on, a throw you don't like, in a room you've never entered, located in a house you've never been to is clearly your problem not his.
Third of all, I've been working for "homosexual" rights on any number of fronts hard enough and long enough that I don't really believe you have any right to question that work or my motivations, particularly based on a one sentence, off-hand comment I made on a damn blog. At the very least, for example, I certainly know enough about the struggle for "homosexual" rights that I know that I'd never call them "homosexual" rights, unless somehow I'd suddenly been teleported to the 1980's and we've somehow all been cast as characters in "Torchsong Trilogy". (BTW, if anyone asks, I'm the pretty one.)
And fourthly, as ER correctly observes, even if I hadn't done all that for the last 15 or so years, the fact that I am, in fact, a known, self-affirming, practicing, unrepentant bone-smoker myself who is denied the right to get married, the right to job protection, and the right to protection against hate crimes (just to name a few) is pretty much all the credibility I need when it comes to calling for "homosexual" rights.
So now that you've got that image burned on your retinas, any thing else you'd like to chastise me for, kitten? ;)
Otherwise, if you prefer, this fag can just go sit in the back of the blog while you straight people talk about me in front of my back. ;)
A straight white guy is still straight, Feodor. (I mean, as long as we're making silly comments that do nothing but state the obvious, I thought I'd get in on the fun.)
Perhaps you're not actually trying to be offensive and heterosexist, Feodor, but you are getting very, very close. So, Mr. Pot, I'd watch exactly which kettle you were calling black.
BTW, I am curious as to what personal experiences cause you to see what you see in the symbol of the Rebel flag and to feel it so deeply. No way is it from something you merely read. Although I could be wrong.
Or you are making a glib and altogether veiled argument for privacy and decided not to show much respect for my arguments and present your own.
If you have read my comments here and in other places, you have seen my humor and my being glib. You will not have seen me being pointlessly glib in the context of extended argument.
The relativism apparent in your use for yourself here is the mirror image of the relativism we both judge in "American Descent." The empty humor of heartlessness in Al-Ozark. The glib discounting of Mark.
While their comments seem more natural to them, yours was beneath you. No doubt your gayness is more precious than your whiteness. One comes with hard fought pride, the other an unclaimed privilege.
And in regard to this thread, you quote Prior but you've acted like Louis.
Thank you for finally walking up from the back of the bus where you had sat yourself.
Thank you for dictating to me what I must take earnestly and what I may make jokes about. Please do me the favor of making a list for me, so that I won't make the same mistake in the future, won't you? You know, because I do so like being told what I can and cannot say in a public forum like this one.
And while there's nothing quite like being lectured on the sin of whiteness from another white guy, I do find being lectured by a straight guy about my gayness and what it means to me is even more fun.
Truly, straight privilege is not lost on you, Feodor! ;)
(BTW, ER, if it's any consolation, I have a pink triangle on a refrigerator magnet at home and on a button on my backpack. Apparently that makes me a Nazi, or at the very least means I have forgotten or rejected the sacrifices of those who burned in the furnaces. Because that symbol couldn't possibly mean anything else to anyone else ever. Oh, and I also confess to haveing several crosses hanging around my house, which clearly means I'm in favor of the Roman means of capital punishment for enemies of the state.
But anyway, Feodor, if you'd like to continue to psychoanalyze me, a complete stranger, via the intertubes, based on a few sentences in a blog comment thread, please feel free. I find that knee-jerk, unfounded armchair psychobabble wrapped in a coating of liberal white guilt never fails to satisfy. ;)
My bad. ;)
I will call a movement for civil rights a civil rights movement when there is within it a cherished vision of John L Lewis that will not fade in weariness with talking about the scars on his head... when the scars on his head are being talked about at such length. So is gay rights for me a civil rights movement. King's vision is not for blackness alone. The struggle put blacks and whites in touch with theological experience. But not all of us. Civil rights regardless of sexual orientation is an extension of that theological experience. But not for all of us.
From many, I am not confident that their call for civil rights for themselves is morally crystallized. They will not defend me and my family if it comes to that. I worry about marriage being sought by some who cheaply nod to the carpet of blood laid down on the soon to be legal path to their altar. From my gay friends we are agreed: we see such things in the news, particularly with respect to Prop 8.
I have your back. The reverse, I'm not so sure now.
And I am not calling anyone a bigot here. Bias is at question. The enormity of the difference may be intuitive to you or can be read about in at least one place, pages 173 to 241 of Bernard Lonergan's Insight: A Study of Human Understanding.
We all have biases. This is not meant as an acceptance. It is meant as a gradation of evaluation and an agenda setter for personal action.
The throw is not just a throw, especially when posted. Otherwise, this bus would not be running. It may not be bus destined for a long or significant ride. But the bus is important to me and ER has staid this long. That is why I am here. Why are you here?
Tell me, Alan, how is the confederate flag identified WITH those who were persecuted?
Oh, believe me, after the passage of Prop 8 in California, and years ago the passage of Prop 2 in Michigan, I know exactly how you feel.
"Why are you here?"
I assumed that commenting here entered me in an internet sweepstakes to win a free iPod.
And yet, none of those are the original meanings.
Tell me, which symbols must always and forever be interpreted in only one way and which can be interpreted in different ways by different people over time?
ER has succinctly explained what that flag means to him: "The throw gives me an opportunity to say that the Sons of Confederate Veterans has lost me, among other history-minded descendants, by becoming a defender of Confederate values, not a defender of the memory of Confederate fighting men who fought honorably, but in retrospect, wrongly."
This is what it means to me. I don't care what it means to others. They have their right to their meanings. It's too important for me.
IMHO, Humor would be oh-so more welcome than sniping.
There seems to be a line differentiating educating one's fellow man regarding their choices, and looking to be offended. Is it not possible to identify an action as offensive, without being personally offended?
1. He's racist.
2. He's racist.
3. He's gay.
4. He's gay.
Why? Are you really asking?
Ask the members of a group victimized under the aegis of a sign as to its political/moral usefulness today.
It's pretty simple.
And? Is that meant to be offensive, somehow?
I've done it many times, myself. I used to have a t-shirt with a giant pink triangle on the front, and as I said above, I walk around with a backpack with a pink triangle pin on it all the time.
So I'd say go for it.
I'm sure you intend to make a point there, but it escapes me.
Symbols come already laden with motivations and meaning, otherwise it would not be a symbol, would it?
Symbols can not be remade unless a community does so as a body - thus the pink triangle.
The majority community of Americans has rejected and continues to reject the Confederate flag as evidenced by successful protest to official state flags and even displaying historic ones. The tenuousness of the debate is due to the difficulty of communicating minority terror to white hegemony and apathy of the white majority.
I am not saying that an object, any object, cannot serve individual thoughtfulness. Display is at issue. Even private display I would add.
You have your answer for the pink triangle. Gays were not outraged, offended, not reminded of how Germans tore at their gay men and lesbian women and cut out the offending organ, stuffing it in their mouths post mortem or pre mortem.
Instead, I imagine you get pride from members of the community. And scorn from bigots.
Now. Walk down Ann Arbor with a Confederate flag on your chest as big as day. You'll get pride from bigots who were not even of Confederate heritage. And what else will you get?
How do you know if symbols have moral usefullness today? That's one way to find out, though there are simpler ways.
This is what makes your examples too simple for who you are as a thinking person.
And how do they do that in hiding?
The pink triangle was reclaimed not that long ago by an activism that invested in it constructive abstractions. The heart of that community had bonds with the community that was destroyed by that symbol. So they had a right to renew it.
Nope, you're just not getting that someone had to start it. Contrary to what you might think, we gays don't all know each other and just called each other up in the 1970s and just decided one day to reinterpret the pink triangle. Someone started it.
You also assume we gays all think alike. I have, in fact, been confronted several times by other LGBT people about the pink triangle, and they make basically your argument: that symbol cannot be redeemed and it must always and forever mean what it formerly meant, to everyone.
And finally you're also ignore the fact that it is still completely possible to utilize the pink triangle in a way that some LGBT folks would find offensive.
In other words, context matters.
Your argument really makes very little sense. Basically you're saying that, if you want to pull a symbol out of its context, you can make it mean whatever you want. Big surprise there. Yes, the flag on the back of ERs couch might mean something very different in another context, just as the pink triangle still can as well, or the cross.
Go ahead and take a cross from a sanctuary and put it in someone's yard, just to find out that context matters.
Really, my examples are far more complex than you realize. I'm afraid it isn't the symbols that are tripping you up, it's that semiotics is not the simple arithmetical equation-making exercise you think it is.
Go right ahead. And be ready for reactions both negative and positive. I am.
The pink triangle has become one of the symbols of the modern gay rights movement, but it originated in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In many camps, prisoners wore badges. These badges were colored based upon the reason for imprisonment. In one common system, men convicted for sexual deviance, including homosexuality wore a pink triangle. The icon has been reclaimed by many in the post-Stonewall gay rights movement as a symbol of empowerment, and, by some, a symbol of rememberance to the suffering of others during a tragic time in history.
"The Pink Triangle Trust is a UK charity (number 1015629) set up in 1992 to advance the education of the public, and particularly of lesbians and gay men, in the principles and practice of Humanism, and to advance the education of the public, and particularly of Humanists, about all aspects of homosexuality."
Gay folk, being American folk, will have the same combination of responses to overt symbols that protestantly cultured Americans have to symbols. Some will abhor the public display of commitments. Americans are supposed to be reserved, not outlandish.
You are the one lumping, Louis.
And "you" does not a community make. I started a movement to make coffee and chocolate the eighth and ninth sacraments of the church. It didn't take.
Why? Because there was no community for it. Find the individual who first thought of reviving the triangle. You wont. It was probably a few individuals. And you wont find them either. It took a community.
And for God's sakes, have you read above? Context is exactly what I have been arguing for. ER does not a community make, and neither is he of the right stripe to be a spokesperson for reclaiming that flag. And neither is he claiming to be. He says what it means for him and I believe that part.
It is its meaning in community (and therefore its display) that he cannot change. Even with visitors unless they know him really, really well.
This is inaccurate, or at least unsubstantiated. One, there is no one "community of Americans." Various communities *within* America have dealt with the flag issues in various ways.
Mississippi soundly defeated a flag redesign specifically intended to remove the Confederate symbol.
I seem to recall, but can not immediately substantiate, that even a majority of blacks voted to keep the flag as is.
You know, I just find this utterly detached from reality here, although it apparently fits the environment where you find yourself now, Feodor.
I promise you that the meaning you attach to that flag most certainly is *not* the meaning most people around me in my everyday life would attach to it, whether they knew me well or not. I promise.
The very reasons I stopped with the Dixie on the cell phone, and the bumpersticker on my truck, have to do with the fact that I was finding myself in communities where most people DID attach that kind of meaning to Confederate symbols. That kind of community simply does not describe the communities I'm part of now, here -- nor the dang state of Oklahoma, God love her, as a whole, especially in the east, where I'm from, where the Indian tribes, while torn, largely sided with, and formerly sided with, the dang Confederacy.
'Bout tired of this now. It's gone all over the place --and that's fine. It's the ER Roadhouse, after all. But, since I'm not out to convince anyone, or be convinced, forgive me if I do more watchin' than participatin' from hyear on out. :-)
If I were ready for negative reactions, it would mean that I could reason all this out and so anticipate. I would KNOW what the symbol means, both positive and negative.
Knowing these things and still doing it would mean that I would not care (as the comment goes on to say) about my differences with the negative reactors and would either by ambivalent about or welcoming of the positive reactors. That would say some things about me, wouldn't it?
It means that my estimate of who those people are who would have the negative reaction is pretty low. I don't really value them.
At least, I don't value them above the usefulness of the symbol to me.
I don't for a moment think that any of this is unexpected to you. You've been here before.
So have I. And I am saying the post of the photo will always bring you back right here and you know it. This is not like saying "I am a redneck" or "I am a fag" or anything self-possessed and reformed for my own use.
No one reads, no one who is experienced in the world, reads your blog and thinks that you must be one of the most self-hating persons in the world because you call yourself a redneck. Hell, it's a comedy routine.
But that irony does not exist in that flag. Rednecks have not been skewered by the millions. And, again, I write "skewered" with a wince and rhetorical nausea.
If you are claiming an irony for that throw and separately for the posted photo of that throw (two different things), then both is too redolent of a sentimental inhumanity for me.
If you are claiming a use for self-discipline of some kind, I can only say it will not communicate over the blog on the web without a lot of accompanying text. And that will be way too late to avoid terror in the gut for many, and so, again, the issue of caring comes up.
Really? That's where you're going now? Name-calling? Wow, the irony just gets more hilarious.
Again, as I stated in the beginning, I've generally enjoyed reading your comments and regardless of your continued hetersexist comments here, I don't feel even a tickle of ill will toward you, though I do enjoy goading you a bit. But I'm surprised to see so much continued heterosexism in your comments, without apparently any problem with it, even after you've been called on it.
"Louis" isn't even a particularly clever way of calling me a faggot racist. "Roy" would have been a far better reference, don't you think. I mean, if you're going to attempt to get some "gay cred" by knowing the characters of one gay play to show just how hip you are with teh gay, you could at least go balls-to-the-wall and call me Roy, right? (BTW, I suggest seeing the whole play, both parts, not just reading the Cliffs Notes version, you'd see why "Louis" doesn't even particularly make much sense.)
And now you're actually arguing the other side, and pretending that you're not. I can see the attraction, it is harder to argue against your position when you're now taking the exact opposite one. Or both at the same time. ;)
Anyway, I'm just making the same point over and over, which is lame. And what's been obvious from the beginning is that I really just don't care. You brought me into it because you have your rules about what I can and cannot say on a blog, so that's your problem not mine and I'll just let it go.
In the meantime, my continued commenting is just giving you more opportunity to be insulting, without apparently, your even being aware enough to realize it (or care.) So, I shall stop enabling such behavior, because clearly you're getting way too worked up.
Sorry about that. Here's just a little friendly advice: if you meant the things you've written here, I'd suggest thinking about that more extensively before trying to lecture someone else about being offensive -- particularly people you don't know nearly as well as you apparently think you do.
As Alan can attest, the conservative nature of the black community, especially the working poor, especially the working poor can sometimes betray their own interests.
As an example, you may want to ask Chad Smith how the Cherokee Nation would side now given a choice on slavery. The old ones understood times could get awfully worse for them with abolition. And that's just what happened.
Your community. Eastern Oklahoma. How about northeastern Oklahoma? No community of diversity there? Tulsa? Wonder why. I heard, once, a story of a "Black Wall Street." Whatever happened to it?
The flag is not just a flag. Tulsa is in that flag, ER.
You can pile up heads of the Khmer Rouge genocide and chances are you may not get much notice for an awfully long time. And what would it mean to you compared to Cambodians?
You can. No one is disputing that.
But should you? Can you hold on to the meaning after reading of Tulsa in May of 1921. And what does it mean if you can hold on? What does it mean that you wont change your mind?
If Tulsa and Stamps, AK, are in that flag then a different approach seems to me to be the way of red neck connected to erudition. Pierced and risen, ER.
Let's not put words in my mouth, OK, muffin? You really don't know me well enough to even try. So seriously, just leave me out of it from here on out.
Did I say you were a racist? An anti-Semite? I don't think so, but I think you're jumping to conclusions as an exit.
What I am suggesting is that you are avoiding the message of death as it applies to who gets to license the merchandise of that death.
And who is that, Alan? In the play?
You brought it up in your brief appearance from the back of the bus. Now you seek the exit and will want to say you were thrown off. Rosa you ain't. Which has been my suspicion, as stated, from the first.
No, sweetheart, again, don't put words in my mouth.
I'm leaving the conversation of my own accord and am more than happy to do so.