When I see Old Glory flying with Trump flags on lifted commuter pickups, it scares me. And that fear instantly translates to anger. F*ck these cowardly Bo, Luke, and David Dukebags of Boston for capturing my flag to stand in for the GeneralLee unacceptable stars and bars. Same thing with the sons of sons of sailors of the South of the North, running my Stars and Stripes up their masts all summer below their stupid triangle Trump pennants.
Unlike a lot of people, a feeling of apprehension at the sight of the American flag is new to me. Like a lot of people, expressions of scared or sad feelings are too vulnerable and awkward, so I default to anger.
I come by it honestly. Culturally. Fury is naturally absorbed, like racism, in the Irish Riviera suburban air. Some four score minus seven or so years ago, my OFD/KoC/Gahden usha/cop family white flighted out of the city. Around the same time, the Battle of the Bulge tank mechanic/factory seamstress/murdered by the Winter Hill gang side of my family left Southie.
Both sides got here by way of public and private affirmative action programs for white people. The GI bill, standard whites only mortgage lending and hiring practices, restrictive covenants, etc…
They populated a pocket of the South Shore so racially and culturally homogeneous, that I was probably 12 before I understood that Protestants were not considered “minorities.” A girl I know thought that “No Irish Need Apply” signs had existed because Irish people would just automatically get the job. We took over yacht and country clubs. Clubs like the ones on the North Shore, only drunker, with more public displays of aggression.
And for that opportunity, a social class promotion from destitute, detested refugees to regular old white people with all the attendant praise and get out of jail free cards, my people are fiercely loyal to America.
I love my country. I am grateful to my family and friends who are former and active military and law enforcement. I hang an American flag on my house and pledge allegiance to the Republic for which it stands.
Also, I know that if this country doesn’t start iterating much faster on those revolutionary promises of liberty and justice for all -making that idea real – it will die and it will deserve it.
Both things can be true.
I can honor fallen heroes and, simultaneously, when I see “America Backs the Blue” signs, I can think who the FUCK died and gave the blue team first pick to draft “America”? I am personally familiar with the power side of the blue line. In response to visible white support for the idea of abolishing multiple forms of state sanctioned anti-Black violence, the traditional blue stripe across a solid black banner morphed into the new white, black and blue travesty that desecrates my flag and is plastered all over facemasks and firetrucks. The thin blue line flag was proudly hailed all over the Capital steps while white people beat the shit out of police officers. With an American flag.
They beat the officers who defended democracy, that is. Not the off duty cops who broke and entered the Capital, and not the on duty Oath Keeper gatekeepers who let the stormfront in. Whether it’s just lots of coincidentally rotten apples or a poisoned orchard, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt (and 10 other countries) – it’s a core competency of white people.
In November, white gun-jumpers blocked highways, chased down BLM bumper stickers, kettled a campaign bus, and loudly, proudly announced their intentions to participate in a civil war.
Around here, there was a lot of smfh, and other expressions amounting to meh.
Those same B team troll troops stormed the capitol. The real organized armed insurrection still stands back and by, changing plans for tomorrow’s Million Militia March they’ve trained for all their lives.
The rest of us white people act like this is not our problem. Other racial groups need to take personal responsibility for their own, examine their values and cultural norms to solve their own problems, but not us. Black culture has too much of this or too little of that. But this? This is just Trump’s fault. Or the NRA. Or crazy Cliven and Ammon types we can distance ourselves from.
It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with our persistent dominant cultural white privilege to benefit from racism and misogyny, and still seethe fear and violent rage.
Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am not ashamed of who I am, and I am not guilty of sins I didn’t commit. AND I learn new things everyday about all kinds of things I did/do and don’t say that perpetuates systemic, structural racism and hurts people. The more I learn about it, the less I do that.
I hear a lot of bitching by the worlds loudest “silent majority” about “woke culture” shaming perfectly good white people. About kind people being made to feel bad. Conversations about race pivot to rising tides lifting boats. How far we’ve come. Agreement that things need to change but, ugh! The looting!
That’s all it takes. A simple shift away from addressing the obvious, visible failures of America’s promise, focusing on the damage to our stuff, to make sure that no real, necessary, drastic, lasting change happens. And to ensure more violence.
It’s not over.
There will be trials and verdicts and more murders and fewer indictments in a justice system that is not broken – it works the way it was built to work and needs to be rebuilt. There will be protests and marches. There will be violent responses. We, the white people, will want to skip truth and reconciliation and call for unity. Unite the white. Again.
On the morning of the white supremacist attack on the Capital, Reverend Warnock, the pastor at Dr. Martin Luther King’s Ebeneezer Baptist Church, became the 11th Black senator in the history of our country. Two of those 11 (out of approximately 2000) were elected in the 1870s, after emancipation of enslaved people and before white people went back to unfettered apoplectic violence and crushed all things Black and re-constructive they could get their hands on. And built the statues.
Statues go up and come down in revolutions. I believe that systemic oppression birthed this nation and powers it still. I believe that America is standing its stolen ground.
Also, I believe we can keep this Republic. I believe in its aspiration to be the home of the free. Rights to life, liberty, pursuing happiness; by the people for the people; equal protection and due process; free speech, religion, assembly – I love these ideas.
Both things can be true.
Loud white people are indoctrinating their children to believe that learning about racism = hating America, and that peacefully protesting is disrespecting the flag. The rest of us are trained to just let them do their thing, unanswered. We watch viral violent videos, riots, elections, and now insurrection, in stunned silence and then start asking each other “what is even happening right now?”
Talk to your people, including and especially your children, about racism, sexism, classism, homophobism, xenophobism, ablism, and all the other isms you can think of because it’s the right thing to do. Or, if you’ve had all the morality, empathy, and humanity bred out of you, you can do it in self-preservation. Because shit will continue to go down.
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It can get worse. It will get worse if we don’t re-imagine what it means to be a patriot. If we let one group of Americans define who and what our flag stands for, and who and what disrespects it. America as dreamed will never exist if we keep appeasing and enabling and excusing this white non-sense.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. . . It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.