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Dem Duke Boys, Semiotics and Good Ol’ Southern Pride…

tTheDukesSo for the last couple of days, Facebook has been full of people talking about the Confederate Flag. First the push to get it taken down from the South Carolina capitol. Then several retailers (Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Sears and a growing list of others) said they weren’t selling it any more. Then there was a call to redesign the Mississippi state flag from members of their own legislature (something that I didn’t expect in a million years), then Warner Brothers actually announced an end to all General Lee merchandise from the Dukes of Hazzard (that was a big surprise to me) and finally… after all that, I’ve started to see the push-back from some people saying that the flag is a mark of southern heritage, has nothing to do with racism, and this is all a bunch of liberal SJW hubba-balloo.

If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written about racism you may have a guess on where I’d fall on the controversy and whether it is racist or not. You’d probably guess that I do think it’s racist. But if you’ve read things I’ve written like my “defense” of the word nigger, you might assume that I’m ok with it. I even mentioned it last week when I wrote about the Charleston shootings. As I said then, I find it a very helpful designation that someone is racist. In fact, if every bigot in America would helpfully post a Confederate flag outside of their homes, and maybe wear a badge prominently displayed on their shirts at all times, it would really help me out. Of course, as I pointed out in the defense of “nigger” if you do so, I reserve the right to punch you in the dick. But if you were to self-identify, I think we could all streamline the process.

Is the flag offensive? Hell yes! But I don’t have that much of a problem with people having one (dick-punching aside). But I’m actually not 100% on board with the whole dropping them from Amazon et al thing! I know… hear me out.

Battle_flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America.svgThere’s a funny thing about symbols. Sure they’re powerful because they can sum up an ideology in one abstract image. But if you have a good strong symbol it can transcend the original meaning and embody that power on its own.  And this is what has really amused me these last few days about the whole Confederate flag controversy these last few days. There’s the two obvious ones. First you have southerners, who consider the flag to be a symbol of their heritage. It means pride in being southern, respect, yadda yadda yadda. Then you have all the reasonable people in the country who say it’s a symbol of slavery and oppression. Both are right. Yes, I’m giving you credit southern flag defenders. You can look at it and have great memories of whatever the fuck it means to be southern. But what you need to understand is that you’re in a minority now because whether you like it or not, your symbol has a far greater association with hateful bigotry.

Do you know who invented the swastika? That’s a trick question. no one does. What we do know is that it was NOT invented by the Nazis. Swastikas date back to like 10,000 BC. They’ve been used as a symbol by Rome, Ethiopia, Japan, China and maybe a dozen other cultures. But the Nazis own the swastika. And no matter what your intentions in its use are, if you’re walking around with a swastika the insinuation is that you’re looking to kill some Jews. The cross was not originally a symbol of Christianity either. In fact, the only real association between the cross and Jesus is that it was used to kill him, so he probably wasn’t actually all that fond of it. But right now, you wear a crucifix, people are going to assume you’re a Christian… or at the very least, maybe you’re afraid of vampires. Even the middle finger doesn’t mean “fuck you” in every country and in some versions of sign language. BUT swastikas, crosses and middle fingers have generally understood meanings. So does the Confederate flag. So if it’s that important to you, you need to understand that… and accept that a dick punch may be coming your way from time to time.

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1861-1863).svgThe funny thing is, as many people have pointed out recently, the Rebel Flag isn’t actually the Confederate flag. They never were. At least not by themselves. It’s actually the Battle Flag of the Army of North Virginia. The Confederacy had three different flags during its run. The problem was that the actual official Confederate flag looked too much like the US flag, and people were getting confused. So they started using the Battle Flag so that their soldiers wouldn’t get confused and accidentally go to the Union camps and get shot. Yes… that’s right. If you feel that you must honor your great-great-great grandfather through the Dixie flag, then remember, it was only used because his generals thought he was too fucking stupid to tell the difference between three stripes and thirteen.

Flag_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America_(1865).svgAnyway, I’ll grant that the Rebel Flag actually does look way cooler than the actual Confederate flag. So did the Confederacy. So they eventually tried to incorporate it INTO their official flag. The only problem is what they came up with is … well… fucking dumb looking. It actually looks a lot like the current state flag for Mississippi, except WAY WAY WAY stupider. And everyone knows it. And that’s why no one actually flies it. Because no matter how proud you are of your heritage or not matter how racist you are, no one wants to fly a flag that it looks like the seamstress ran out of fabric to make before she was finished.

I actually think even the Confederacy knew the flag was dumb looking. Because they actually were trying to redesign it. They initially did one without the red bar. Then they added the bar, because I guess it was a work in progress. Then they stopped. You know why? BECAUSE THEY LOST THE FUCKING WAR.

See, that’s the thing with Southern Pride. There really isn’t any. The Confederate States of America only existed as a country for four years. That’s it. And for most of it they were embroiled in a war that was pretty much financially struggling the entire time.

The Rebel Flag didn’t really become a symbol of Southern pride until 100 years AFTER the Civil War, during the midst of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Southern states started flying it in the 1960s as a reminder of Jim Crow laws. Why? Because even they knew that the actual Confederate flags were dumb looking, so they chose the next best thing. Even Mississippi didn’t adopt their version which incorporates the Dixie Cross until 1894. But for the rest of the South, it’s not an age-old Southern tradition. It never was. It’s a 50-year old one.

And really, it’s a 35 year old one… Because the reason the Confederate Flag is “cool” has nothing to do with slavery or racism. The reason it’s cool is because of the Dukes of Hazzard.

Daisy_Duke_in_episode_See, the Dukes were on the air from 1979-1985. Two years longer than the actual Confederacy lasted! And WAY more popular. And I get it. Seriously. I totally get it. The show was fucking awesome. Car chases, moonshine, car chases, flaming bow and arrows, Waylon Jennings, car chases, fucking Roscoe P. Coltrane, car chases and Catherine Bach was single-handedly responsible for me going through puberty at the age of four. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone there. Also… there were car chases. I knew very little in 1979. I loved Sesame Street. I loved car chases. And I wanted to fuck Catherine Bach. And any red-blooded American Male who tells you that they didn’t want to fuck Catherine Bach in 1979 is lying. I don’t even care if they’re gay. If you’re gay and it’s 1979, Daisy Duke gets a pass. That’s just science man. Her hotness and undeniable fuckability is totally a part of the show. Go back and watch it. Enos was gay. You might not have noticed, because it was the 70s and they didn’t say stuff like that on TV. But he was. And gay or not, he wanted to fuck Daisy.

Yes… I get that that doesn’t make any sense. That’s because Dukes of Hazzard didn’t really make any sense. It wasn’t a good show, Yep, I said it. I loved Dukes of Hazzard. I still love Dukes of Hazzard. If 61-year-old Catherine Bach wants to put on some short shorts and join me in a haystack right now, I’m in. But it’s not a “good” show. It never was. It was never supposed to be. And that is why the Confederate flag is painted on the top of the General Lee. Because the Dukes of Hazzard wasn’t about Southern Pride. The whole show is making fun of southerners. Bo and Luke were fucking idiots.

See, in 2015 all anyone remembers is that the car used to jump over stuff, Waylon Jennings would pause the action say something hokey that somehow sounded wise in his southern drawl, the action would resume with the Dukes landing on the other side of the ravine and then everything else is a blur except for a bunch of mental pictures of Daisy Duke that we all keep in our cerebral spank bank.

But if you actually watch the show. Bo and Luke are fucking morons. Here is a typical clip:

I’ve seen people on both sides of the flag controversy lament that Warner Brothers isn’t going to market it anymore. Some because they think the liberals are overreaching by destroying a cultural icon that had nothing to do with racism. Some because they lament the loss as a necessary victim of getting rid of the greater sin of the racist flag. People seem to think that wasn’t the intent. But it was. The flag was on the top of the car because the Duke boys were a couple of rednecks too dumb to know its meaning. It was supposed to make them seem like hicks. Just like the fact that they couldn’t be bothered to use the doors. Even the 2005 movie made fun of this:

The entire reason the flag is on the top of the car is to make them seem like redneck simpletons. Yes, they drive really fast. Yes, they’re the good guys and cute and all. And yes, everyone wants to fuck their cousin. But at the end of the day. They’re a couple of morons. Half the plots of the series are based on one of them making some dumbass mistake early on that they need to work their way out of. The only reason they survive is because the bad guys (Roscoe and Boss Hogg) are even dumber than they are. Daisy is probably the smartest person on the show, and mostly her intelligence is limited to bending over a lot and making Enos do stuff for her. That’s the show!

My grandfather was a big fan of Amos and Andy. I don’t know how many people have seen Amos and Andy before, but if you watch it in 2015, you’ll notice something. Amos and Andy is racist as fuck! The whole point of the show is that black people, while good, are basically idiots. The “revolutionary” part of Amos and Andy is that the show hired black actors to portray the characters which had been created and performed by white men for decades before on the radio (mostly because the stars were too old to play the characters by the time the TV show was on the air, not too white). But despite the actors being black guys, the show is still effectively a minstrel show. The Dukes are the same. They are the southern equivalent of black face.

So really, if you’re a true southerner you should probably hate the flag as much as black people do. It may be a symbol of slavery to us. But the actual heritage of it is far stronger. It’s a symbol of southern ignorance. It’s a symbol that you are not intelligent enough to open your own car door or not accidentally walk into an enemy camp and get shot. But if that doesn’t bother you. If that’s what you want to be proud of, then I say good! More power to you.

By the way, do you mind if I fuck your really hot cousin?

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