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Speaking from an entirely personal perspective -- I am neither black nor
white and I am not from the South (though I live there now) nor am I a fan
of NASCAR or country music, though I am a fan of classic rock which appears
to use the Confederate flag quite a bit until recently -- I am not sure it
proves anything. I am also thinking of films like Gone with the Wind. Not
only is the film a celebrated classic, the book is an international
best-seller. It was sold even in India where my dad and his college friends
read it and enjoyed it.

I am guessing it is different for Southerners, both black and white. For
people in other places I'm not sure the flag or other
Confederacy-sympathizing kitsch like GWTW hold any particular significance
at all. Maybe they should -- I mean, GWTW in retrospect is just 3 hours of
Confederate propaganda -- but I don't think my dad or anyone else in India
saw it that way. My dad took me to see it in a theater once when I was a
kid. I was confused that the slave characters were so friendly with their
former "owners," but beyond that I didn't really follow the plot and fell
asleep.

On the other hand, the author of GWTW has a house in Atlanta that now
functions as a museum to her works, that is driving distance from my
apartment. I was told by black activists in the community that in previous
decades, when the area had not been gentrified and laced with security
cameras, that activists had repeatedly attempted to burn it down.

To me the issue is that insofar as parts of American culture are indicative
of racism, it is not limited to the Confederacy. Indeed, I do detect some
degree of hypocrisy. We are expected to throw out the Confederate flag, but
we are told not to condemn the Union flag which was the flag of those who
colonized the Western parts of America where indigenous people were
brutally massacred (not to mention the wars on the rest of the world that
are ongoing). We are also not allowed to burn the Israeli flag -- in fact,
if we do so, then *we* are the racists. That is, of course, not a reason to
whitewash Confederate symbols but as someone who associates most of
American culture with racism and jingoism it is hard not to notice the
contradiction, particularly given that much of the Confederate kitsch is,
like many parts of American culture writ large, treated as banal and does
not have *apparently* racist connotations because it is mixed with so many
parts of American culture that have no apparent link to the Confederacy
(such as NASCAR or Lynnard Skynnard). I recall that when I visited Durham,
NC some time ago, the statue of a Confederate soldier had been toppled by
activists and there was simply an empty platform. But only a few feet away,
another statute for American soldiers commemorating the war on Vietnam was
left curiously untouched.

Amith R. Gupta


On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 2:04 PM Jeffrey Masko via Marxism <
marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> This  took me by surprise and I am interested how this will pan out as the
> fabric of social life is much more centered on sport and entertainment than
> on more formal institutions like police deps. Any meaningful change in
> policing must be accompanied by a win in the war of position, so to speak.
> Of course, there are virulent puritanical streaks in the U.S. left that
> dismiss sports in a opium of the masses type Frankfurt school idea of
> deluding the stupid working masses. As John pointed out, how the fan base
> reacts at large will be interesting and can be compared with how antiracist
> messaging has worked (and not worked) in world football. Also interesting
> is how dedicated the English Premier league is to honoring George Floyd,
> even having Black Lives Matter on the back of their kits.
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