Monday, June 12, 2006

Battle Flag

I was reading the Journal-Inquirer this weekend when I ran across this story about a mural painted at Stafford High School which drew fire, and is now being painted over, for being offensive. Most of the images cited as offensive were, in fact, pretty harmless. However, there was one that stuck in my mind: Someone had painted a Confederate battle flag. Underneath was some sort of inscription--I don't have the paper in front of me so I can't tell you exactly what it read--which said something like "This is my culture, respect it."

Stafford is a pretty white place, as are most of the little semi-rural towns in northern Tolland County. Imagine being one of the very, very few black kids at that school. Imagine walking down the hallway and seeing that painted there. What would you think?

And what if that wasn't the first time?

I was a high school teacher for a couple of years in a small town very like Stafford, and there was a certain group of kids who had all kinds of Confederate flag gear. This ranged from stickers on notebooks to decals on their cars to the real deal flying from the flagpole outside their homes. There were a few kids who were obsessed with that flag. They put it everywhere.

Why?

This is Connecticut. We not only have no historical connection to the society that produced that flag, our forerunners actually fought a bloody war to bring that rebellious society to heel. So what was this deep connection these kids felt for that flag? It made no sense to me.

I actually asked a few of them about it, and was told that "it's a redneck thing." That made a little sense. They defined themselves as country boys, and they tended to come from the families who had lived in these little towns forever. The families who moved into the new suburban-like developments from towns like South Windsor, Manchester and Enfield didn't have the same attitude. Still, I had to ask myself--was it a racist thing, too? There was obviously something secret, since the kids sometimes, when they remembered, went to great lengths to hide it, or, when displaying it, cocked a defiant attitude.

I also knew those kids. I heard some of the things they said, and saw through some of the code they put in their writings and speech. There was an undercurrent of defensive racism and homophobia, of Connecticut's answer to Good Old Boys feeling threatened by the encroaching suburbs and the modicum of diversity they brought, to their actions, words and deeds. Sometimes it became much more than an undercurrent. There were incidents. Some had to do with race. Many more had to do with sexuality.

Worse, it wasn't just the kids. Their fathers, brothers and uncles were just as bad. I met a few of them. Big guys. Intimidating. Their trucks sported Confederate flag decals, too.

On the whole, it was a pretty stupid thing of that principal to cover up the mural in Stafford. Kids need to express themselves, and they need exposure to art. That Confederate flag, though... that has to go. One way or another.

Source

Soper, Kym. "School officials whitewash murals on high school walls: Students, parents upset over decision; art teacher suspended over assignment." Journal-Inquirer 10 June, 2006.

19 comments:

disgruntled_republican said...

Just to offer up an opposing viewpoint:

Perhaps the flag should have been left up for a couple reasons.
First, like it or not, it is part of our nation's history. Sure it is a bad point but it is history none the less.

Next if we taught students about the evil that lays behind that flag they may appreciate where we have come in the year since then and would encourage them to embrass the things the flad stood against.

Again, just playing devil's advocate but I do feel that in our society we spend too much time sheilding our youth from things we don;t want them to see is the case here. I firmly beleive if we taught them about the evil and bigottry that that flag represents they would become disgusted by it all on their own. The fact is, they will see it one way or another so I think it is better they see it where it can be explained.

Genghis Conn said...

I do see what you're saying.

The thing is, they've been taught that since they were little kids. And they don't care.

disgruntled_republican said...

GC-

Fair enough...as I said, just playing devil's advocate.

Brock Townsend said...

The Battle Flag pales in comparison to the evil that has been done under the Stars and Stripes. Slavery was legal under the S&S for 80 years, and it flew proudly while Yankees massacred our American Indians using the expertise they learned so well in their rape of our Southerners of every color. But your biased remarks are expected, as New Englanders are well known for their hypocritical views. Don't forget y'all that your New England ships brought the slaves to these shores. Oh, that's right, you wouldn't admit that as it would show you in a bad light...... (Refer to hypocritical above)

Helaina Hinson said...

The Confederate battle flag is a soldier's flag. Less than 10% of Confederate soldiers ever owned a slave, and their ranks included Jews (such as Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin), Hispanics, Filipinos (an entire company of a Louisiana regiment), American Indians such as my great-great-grandfather, and yes, even blacks and women! Documentation proves that over 400 women disguised their gender and enlisted as soldiers.

True southerners fly the flag to honor the sacrifices made by their ancestors in 1861-1865. We do not fly the flag for racism.

I invite you to visit CNN's homepage and click on the news video about the Klan rally on the battlefield at Antietam on Saturday. I am the woman in the Confederate uniform. I stood with other reenactors and descendents of non-white Confederate soldiers to oppose the KKK and their racist views.

Bigotry and hatred are in people's hearts, not flags. The official flag of the KKK is the American flag, not the CSA battle flag. Visit their homepage for proof (if you have the stomach for it). The Aryan Nation flies the Christian flag. Should we ban those flags too?

Genghis Conn said...

That's nice. Our kids do fly it for racism, and so they can act like jerks. They want to be more like what they think you are. Thanks, by the way.

The fine hairs you're splitting here don't actually matter to the vast majority of people who aren't Southern whites, and you will not convince me that the actions and core beliefs of the government and society that flag represented (I remind you that it was an integral part of the second and third Confederate national flags) somehow don't matter.

I encourage you to take this fight elsewhere. You won't find any support here.

Helaina Hinson said...

"Fine hairs"??? I suggest that you read some real history, sir. While you're at it, re-read my post. I am not a "white southerner" and neither was my soldier ancestor.

I'm sure some of your kids misuse the CSA battle flag for racist purposes. The KKK abuses the American flag and the Christian flag for theirs. As you say, there are jerks everywhere, and they come in all shapes and sizes: white, purple, northern, southern.

True southerners are trying to take back our heritage and dispel the racists in it. We have a moral obligation to do so. Did you see the CNN video? Confederate reenactors of the 37th Texas Cavalry unit and Black CSA (which is exactly what it sounds like - a network of descendents of non-white Confederate soldiers) stood with their backs to the KKK at Antietam to show that they DO not represent southern heritage, Confederate heritage, or American heritage.

Painting everyone with the same brush is also acting like a jerk, sir.

Genghis Conn said...

Ah. I didn't read your post entirely, madam, and my anger was primarily directed at the post above yours. I apologize if I've caused offense.

But with all due respect, I don't believe you want that symbol back. I see why you're trying to claim it, but it stands for too much evil in the minds of too many Americans. You'll forgive me for feeling strongly about people who hide bigotry behind "culture," which is what I've seen done.

Still, it's an honorable goal, and I wish you the best of luck. Again, no offense intended, and I hope you'll forgive my misdirected anger.

Brock Townsend said...

"Our kids do fly it for racism......"

Amazing! So, you really know what other people think? You certainly fit Dr.Clyde Wilson's definition below:

"By Yankee I do not mean everybody from north of the Potomac and Ohio...... I am using the term historically to designate that peculiar ethnic group descended from New Englanders, who can be easily recognized by their arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, lack of congeniality, and penchant for ordering other people around."

Genghis Conn said...

I do indeed fit that description, Mr. Townsend. Perfectly. :)

Brendan said...

I see that the yankee jerk admits that he is exactly what he is....that peculiar ethnic group descended from New Englanders, who can be easily recognized by their arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, lack of congeniality, and penchant for ordering other people around."

Brendan said...

I see that the CT jerk admits taht he is exactly what he is....that peculiar ethnic group descended from New Englanders, who can be easily recognized by their arrogance, hypocrisy, greed, lack of congeniality, and penchant for ordering other people around."

Brendan said...

Perhaps the ignorant fellow calling himself genghis conn (I have no doubt he thinks he is clever) would like to admit that it was New England slavers and shippers who brought all those slaves to these shores. Not a single slave ever arrived on these shores under a Confederate flag, they did however arrive here under the stars and stripes. The self righteous yankee sees no moral problem whereever there is a dollar to be made. If we want to ban a flag perhaps we should start with the flag that flew over the genocide of the Native Americans or the flag that flew over the murder of POW's in WWII or the flag that flew over the massacres in Vietnam.

Eric said...

Perhaps Genghis Conn should get himself a real job before he tries to speak for others. His little job shows a lack of intelligence, a lack of education and a lack of accomplishment. Who cares what such a miserable little failure thinks about anything.

Helaina Hinson said...

Gentlemen.....you obviously need to be reminded to ACT LIKE gentlemen.

It's easy to see from reading these posts why some northerners consider southerners racist bigots...the namecalling certainly gives them plenty of cause.

There are many legitimate historical references that you could use to greater effect than personal attacks, which, gentlemen, do not win friends or influence people.

Well. Moving right along.

I realize many Americans identify the CSA battle flag with racism...and southerners are to blame for that because we did nothing to stop racist hate groups from appropriating our flags and symbols. We need to take back our flags and educate the public as to what REAL southern pride is...pride in our soldier veterans' achievements and the sacrifices that they made in the war of 1861-1865.

Southerners and Confederate descendents have a moral obligation to stand up and shout "NO!" to the racists who claim to represent us. They don't. The KKK, as I told the press this weekend, does NOT represent southern heritage, they do NOT represent Confederate heritage, and they do NOT represent American values. They're a terrorist group with a hate-filled agenda that has nothing to do with history.

To be silent is to condone.

Brock Townsend said...

Helaina, my good friend, you stated

"It's easy to see from reading these posts why some northerners consider southerners racist bigots...the name calling certainly gives them plenty of cause."

Why in the world would my quoting Dr. Wilson, and stating in my own words before that, the more or less same idea, be construed by someone that I am a "racist bigot?" In addition, I see nothing in any other "comments" that are racist. You should remember that these same "people" were the Cause of the WBTS, as they thought that they should tell us how to behave while in effect stealing our money through an unfair tariff. I would like to quote my great, great Grandfather, Joseph John Pippen when he spoke on the latter in 1837, but I am not at home, and therefore do not have access to my computer files. All we wanted to do was leave in peace, but "those people" in all their superiority, would not let us do so, resulting in the death of over 800,000 Americans. They still continue to come to our Southland, and tell us how to behave. My wish is that they would stay where they belong, and leave us alone. As my mother instructed, I am not concerned with what other "people" think about me, as I am quite confident that what I do is correct.

Eric said...

Dearest Helaina, the last time I looked this was a free country and the KKK or anyone else for that matter, had the right to display any flag they wanted INCLUDING the stars and stripes which they do at every event they hold. I do not hear you shouting no to their display of the US banner, so I can use your argument to state that you condone this, you support this, you approve of this, you are racist and your silence is your fault. The Sons of Confederate Veterans did take the KKK to court years ago to try to stop them from flying the Confederate flag, but the courts ruled the KKK could flag whatever they wanted. So just how do you propose that they be made to stop it. Until you take your own advice and do what you demend of others perhaps you should just do us all a huge favor shut your mouth altogether.

Helaina Hinson said...

Dear Mr. Eric,

You should read everyone's full postings before you attempt to take them to task for racism and inaction. Please re-read my post above. I AM doing what I can to stamp out the KKK and their racist message, and to educate others. As I told the international press on Saturday (you can replay the video for yourself on CNN's website), the KKK "does not represent southern heritage, they do not represent Confederate heritage, they do not represent American heritage." (quote)

What are YOU doing to help stop racism? What are YOU doing to show that the KKK does not represent Americans to those abroad? As I said, the international press was present. I spoke to reporters from Switzerland and Germany in addition to local and national press.

I am not a racist...in fact my family has been a victim of racism. As I will state again, one of my Confederate ancestors (I have four veteran grandfathers) was an American Indian. His grandparents died on the Trail of Tears, and his descendents were the victim of the Jim Crow laws. This is yet another reason why I despise the KKK and denounce their hatred at every opportunity.

The German reporter was astounded that the Nazi Party and KKK are allowed to openly assemble in America. I explained the first amendment to him, and the fact that it unfortunately covers everyone...but that it was also a good thing, because now everyone can hear the KKK's terrorist agenda for themselves. It's quite plain what they stand for "they convict themselves with every word they speak." (quote)

What disturbs me is that the SCV and other southern heritage groups remain silent against these terrorists (and they ARE terrorists; they endorse the actions of people like Eric Rudolph and Paul Hill). The SCV's response is that "we don't want to acknowledge them in any way and give them attention."

BUT! When Gordon Young says in his speech that he is there to "represent the spirit of the Confederates who fell at Antietam" and is met with no denial by the SCV, the UDC, reenactors, or heritage groups, what is the public at large to think? OF COURSE they will believe that these hateful people stand for southerners at large!

No, I will not shut my mouth, sir. My mouth is open and shouting against hatred, racism, and stupidity wherever I find it. I'm not afraid to take on the KKK by myself, or ignorant people like you. If you want to shut me up, then you'd better kill me, because that's what it will take.

When I stand in heaven before my Lord, who commanded me to "love my neighbor" and the spirits of my ancestors, who expect me to defend their honor, I want to be able to say that I obeyed their charge as best I could.

What are YOU doing to stop racism and hatred??? Your post, and vile attack on me speaks volumes about your character, sir, or rather the lack thereof.

vkk1_hypno said...

A typical dictionary definition of hypnosis states that it is: a state that resembles sleep but that is induced by suggestion. However, anyone who has tried hypnosis (and any self respecting hypnotist) will tell you that this is a very simplistic view of the subject!
A much better description comes from the Free Online Dictionary which states that hypnosis is: an artificially induced state of consciousness, characterised by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction. So what does this mean and how can it be used to your advantage?

Well, the subject of hypnosis has been discussed and pondered since the late 1700s. Many explanations and theories have come and gone though science, however, has yet to supply a valid and well-established definition of how it actually happens. It's fairly unlikely that the scientific community will arrive at a definitive explanation for hypnosis in the near future either, as the untapped resources of our 'mostly' uncharted mind still remain something of a mystery.
However, the general characteristics of hypnosis are well documented. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, deep relaxation and heightened imaginative functioning. It's not really like sleep at all, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling you get when you watch a movie or read a captivating book. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the outside world. Your focus is concentrated intensely on the mental processes you are experiencing - if movies didn't provide such disassociation with everyday life and put a person in a very receptive state then they would not be as popular (nor would TV advertising be as effective!). Have you ever stated that a film wasn't great because you just couldn't 'get into it'???
This works very simply; while daydream or watching a movie, an imaginary world becomes almost real to you because it fully engages your emotional responses. Such mental pursuits will on most occasions cause real emotional responses such as fear, sadness or happiness (have you ever cried at a sad movie, felt excited by a future event not yet taken place or shivered at the thought of your worst fear?).
It is widely accepted that these states are all forms of self-hypnosis. If you take this view you can easily see that you go into and out of mild hypnotic states on a daily basis - when driving home from work, washing the dishes, or even listening to a boring conversation. Although these situations produce a mental state that is very receptive to suggestion the most powerful time for self-change occurs in the trance state brought on by intentional relaxation and focusing exercises. This deep hypnosis is often compared to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep.
In this mental state, people feel uninhibited and relaxed and they release all worries and doubts that normally occupy their mind. A similar experience occurs while you are daydreaming or watching the TV. You become so involved in the onscreen antics