On Sunday, several-hundred pickup truck-driving, motorcycle-riding “not-racists” proudly gathered to support their favorite hate symbol. Long after South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation that finally removed the Confederate battle flag from in front of the Statehouse, True Believers gathered for one of the more than 200 rallies that have happened — including a spirited showing by the Ku Klux Klan — since the flag came down in South Carolina.
Sunday’s gathering in support of racial hatred was filled with the usual flimsy excuses about why Confederacy fetishists love their battle flag. “I understand that the flag may be seen as a symbol of oppression,” said Chris Nicolaus, who organized the rally. “But this is not about hatred. We are not the KKK. This is about southern heritage.”
While Nicolaus may insist on being either stupid or deluded, or both, “Vice President” of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens was very clear about the sort of “heritage” the terrorist splinter-state and its associated flags represent:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
Nicolaus’ rally was met with opposition from more rational individuals who peskily insist on living in this century. Protester St. James Valsin says that a reasonable debate between “heritage” claimants and more reasonable people almost erupted — but that was shot down (almost literally) when the totally not-racist, totally non-violent mob began pulling out weapons:
There were exchanges between the groups that began a conversation, albeit a short one, about heritage and racism,” said protester St. James Valsin. “It abruptly came to an end when the weapons were displayed,” he said.
“They converge here to parade their symbols of hate,” said Valsin, 31. “It’s not about screaming loud; it’s about killing institutionalized racism.
Police say there were no reports of weapons at the event, which attracted members of some hate groups, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “We do not condone racism or hate groups,” said Brian K. Turner, who is a member of the aforementioned hate group, ironically. “We believe there is no correlation between the massacre in South Carolina and symbolism. What needs to be discussed is mental illness [of the accused shooter].”
Dylann Roof, whose life seemed to revolved around the Confederacy, massacred nine African-Americans in a historic black church in South Carolina in an effort to spark a new Civil War. The shooting sparked a debate about our nation’s acceptance of the Confederate flag in polite society, which caused many companies to disassociate themselves with the hate symbol entirely.
Greg Grant, who sold Confederate banners at the event, says that he “can understand why someone may be offended” but “you have to understand the history and not be.” Of course, Grant seems unaware that support for the Confederate flag is rooted in two things: racism and a complete lack of knowledge about the South. A July poll analysis conducted by the Washington Post revealed:
This debate is not new, nor limited to South Carolina. Much of the discussion revolves around the question of whether the flag represents “heritage or hatred” (see, for example, here, here, and here). Drawing on rare survey data on this subject, we can shed light on this question. We find that white Southerners who support the Confederate flag are actually less knowledgeable about Southern history; no stronger in their attachments to fellow Southerners (after racial attitudes are taken into account); less tolerant of interracial dating; and more likely to deny that blacks are discriminated against in the labor market.
Regardless of facts, history, and data, neo-confederates just don’t get it. It’s our responsibility as Americans to make sure they do. Watch a news report on the rally, below:
Featured image via WSVN