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Very much appreciate Wythe's insight as a Southerner.

I do recall growing up the debates about the meaning of the flag,
particularly when it came up in the context of the VA Congressional
district race in 2006 between Jim Webb and that idiot who called Webb's
volunteer, an Indian-American like me, a slur. The other guy (not Webb) had
apparently been flying the Confederate flag in his office, etc.

But I think what I take the most from Wythe's comments is paradoxically not
about the flag itself -- what Wythe is describing is essentially an
unchanged historical lineage in which racism is still very much a part of
everyday life in the South (as in other parts of the country). What I take
from this is not so much that the flag, as a piece of cloth, is an
intrinsically racist symbol, but that it corresponds to a racist reality
which in turn determines the meaning of the symbol. Its meaning can only be
understood in the context in which it is used, and that context -- then and
now -- is thoroughly racialized. And I suppose the reason well-meaning
white Southerners do not see the issue or get defensive about it is because
that racist reality is one that they do not experience or only experience
as worthy of glorification, sanitized of the enslavement and subsequent
subjugation that was very clearly directed at people who are not them.

I did not know until recently that many of the Confederate monuments in the
South, including the Stone Mountain carving, are actually fairly
contemporary. Many of them were built and set up decades or even a century
after the Civil War and began popping up specifically at times that Black
people fought for their rights. I think that, more than anything, sheds
light on the purpose and meaning of these Confederate symbols.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we should not separate the meaning
of any symbol from the political reality in which it is being used
(including other symbols like the American flag, etc.). Indeed I can
imagine a world in which these symbols are removed while the racist
conditions that gave rise to them remain.

Amith R. Gupta

On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 8:11 AM Wythe Holt jr. <wh...@law.ua.edu> wrote:

> This is a strange submission, for one who, like myself, was born and
> reared a white racist in the American South, who has fought for decades to
> overcome his racism, and who has lived almost all of his life with people
> who still think the Confederacy is one of the most meaningful things in
> their lives.
> For my black friends, it (the Confederacy) is deeply negative -- it means
> thoroughgoing and tangible racism -- being "raced" every minute of every
> day, being subject to outlandish cruelty and, worse, dismissal as full
> human beings, being subjected to second class citizenship and overt haughty
> discrimination, a lesser level of imagined possible competence in many
> white minds and in much of the law and culture, in education, in
> government, in all walks of public and private life -- all offshoots and
> holdovers from the human slavery that most of their American ancestors
> suffered under.
> For a large number of my white friends, it often means unquestioning
> glorification of and identification with the white people who led the
> Confederacy in military defense of the institution of human slavery.  (NOT
> "states rights" -- the "state's right" that -- when I ask them -- these
> folks immediately first think about is the "right" to hold human beings in
> legal thralldom.)
> For all of these people the Confederate flag is centrally meaningful as a
> symbol of these wildly differing views and experiences of hundreds of years
> of the degradation and enslavement of dark-skinned people.
> This needs to be said again, and at length.  Anthema to the former
> (African-Americans), and a symbol of life and worth and deep if racist
> meaning to the latter (so-called Caucasians), is the Confederate flag.  It
> means "slavery" -- still -- to every Southerner born and bred there.  It
> means racism.  It means cruelty and overlordship.  It means defiance of the
> law, it means being a traitor to the original Constitution and government
> of the US, it means that equality is impossible and always nonexistent, it
> means that a whole group of people who are black are STILL TO THIS MINUTE
> thought to be inherently ignorant and uncivilized and inhuman by many white
> people, many of whom do not live in the South.  Look at the continuing
> murder of black men by white policemen, something which still seems to
> happen monthly or more frequently, 155 years after Appomattox.  For many
> black people it means constant struggle in their own minds and culture to
> assert and maintain a sense of humanity, a sense denied them by the racism
> which envelops them.  Amith, the Confederate flag MEANS racism.  Wherever
> you live in the South, look around and discover how many African-Americans
> fly this flag, or defend its use, much less glorify it.  How many of them
> speak well of it?
> Amith, you live in this world of the Old Confederacy now, though you were
> not born in it.  My own forebears, all born and reared in Virginia, owned
> human beings as slaves and fought -- my great-grandfather for all four
> years of the war -- to preserve the malign, ghastly, and deeply prejudicial
> institution of slavery.  All the wealth created by that society was due to
> enslaved people's work and deprivation but was claimed as theirs and as
> their own work-product by their non-laboring white owners.  His son, my
> grandfather, a successful politician from about 1895 through 1933, held
> black people in contempt and gloried in the supposed military exploits of
> his father (whom he could not remember, the man having drunk himself to
> death when my grandfather was four) and the other men and women who fought,
> often to the death, to preserve slavery and a regime using the labor of
> horribly treated black workers to build everything.  The worth of the slave
> South was embodied in, and produced by, the labor of people thought to be
> and treated as not really human.  This is what that flag means.  This is
> what it meant at NASCAR (which still has ONLY ONE nonwhite driver, the one
> who protested the use of the flag).  This is what it means to just about
> everyone in the US who sees it.
> Wythe
> ________________________________________
> From: Marxism <marxism-boun...@lists.csbs.utah.edu> on behalf of A.R. G
> via Marxism <marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2020 7:17 PM
> To: Wythe Holt jr.
> Cc: A.R. G; John A Imani; Jeffrey Masko
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] On the NASCAR's Banning of the Confederate Flag and
> its Social Implications
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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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