Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't Tread on Me: A Diatribe

Dear John,
 
Today they took down the Confederate flag at Fort Sumter. It's terribly painful. It feels like losing the war all over again. I have visions of federal troops marching into Atlanta again. And so I'm quoting the motto of South Carolina: Don't tread on me. Mama is proud, I'm sure. 
 
The latest manifestation of political correctness consists of removing every remaining symbol of Confederate history. Now, I do think the flag has no business flying over the South Carolina state house; that's bothered me for years. But Fort Sumter? It's a historical site; the flag belongs there. Groups of people are trying to get streets and parks renamed and monuments of Confederate war heroes destroyed. (Didn't ISIS just do that?) I remember how painful and shocking it was the first time I saw the statue of Sherman in Columbus. But it never occurred to me to ask anybody to take it down. I just avoided it when I could and put up with it when I couldn't. And I didn't die from it.
 
We lost the war - well and good. Rhett Butler was right about the South's chances; declaring war was foolish. But neither the war nor the flag was about slavery. For the first portion of the war, slavery was legal and practiced in the north. I've been irritated for years by the association of the flag with rednecks and racists. It's about our history. It's about the Southern attachment to land and peoplehood, and honors the valor and sacrifices offered to them. And, by golly, it's ours. That flag, like the Oxford comma, must be pried from my dead, cold hands.
 
NASCAR has banned it. Today TLC cancelled The Dukes of Hazard because of it. As an experiment, somebody went into a Walmart and tried to get a cake decorated with the flag, and was refused. They had no difficulty getting one with the ISIS flag on it. Amazon no longer sells Confederate memorabilia but still carries the Nazi flag. The world has officially gone mad. What's next? Outlawing fried chicken? Forcing Cracker Barrel to remove grits and turnip greens from their menu? Laws requiring the presence of sugar in coleslaw, heaven forbid? Fining people for saying "y'all"?
 
And the South isn't all that seems to be under attack. Last week the police told a lady she could no longer cook bacon in her own home because the odor offended her Muslim neighbors. Oregon jailed a man for collecting rain water off of his own roof. Florida has jailed a woman for being off the grid. Raw milk is illegal. I'm fed up with being micromanaged. The government continues to pressure the Redskins to change their name. The world has gone mad.
 
Tonight I'm angry. I'm certain you expected that after the first sentence. I feel like I'm being pushed on too many fronts at one time. So tonight as I mowed, I was fantasizing about what I'd like to do, both as protest and to see just how many people I can tick off at one time. Here we go:
  1. I want to build a rain barrel and paint the Confederate flag on it.
  2. I want to drink raw milk.  And yes, I'm willing to go to jail for buying it on the black market.
  3. I'd like to buy the complete box set of The Dukes of Hazard. And watch it. Even though I never liked the show.
  4. I want to dig a well and put up a windmill and go off the grid, just to annoy Florida.
  5. I'd like to put an icon over my front door so everybody has to see that I'm Christian. But this it Topeka, so that wouldn't annoy anybody at all.
  6. I might even be caught cheering for the Redskins.
  7. And tonight, I even want a bumper sticker endorsing secession. Again.
 
Well, that's about the end of the diatribe. If you were here, you'd agree with me but calm me down. I'm a Southern (hence, I have a temper) lady (hence, I don't use all the words that come to mind. My grandmother Keistler always said that swearing is a sign of an inadequate vocabulary.) So come by tonight and help me use this anger constructively. Or at least rub my feet so I can get to sleep. And how about taking me back with you when you go? If not, I may be reduced to constructing that rain barrel.
 
Love you so much for putting up with me,
Joan.


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