By Sabrina Hornung
Our opinion: When hate and heritage go hand in hand
Last week during a demolition derby at the Kandiyohi fair, a vehicle proudly displaying a confederate flag and sporting a sheriff’s badge on the side door was spotted and created a bit of controversy for both the Sheriff’s Department and the county fair. The sheriff quickly denounced the vehicle and upon closer inspection, the star on the side of this small vehicle had six points instead of five and read “Hazzard County Sheriff,” in reference to the popular 70s era TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
According to the Star Tribune, “the little car was a riding lawn mower built as a tribute to Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, the cartoonish cop on the popular 1980s TV show."
I was a fan of the show when I watched it as a kid. Who doesn’t love “two good ol' boys,
never meaning no harm” the iconic ‘69 Dodge Charger, and Daisy Duke’s hot pants? It’s a hotrodder’s dreamscape.
According to an article on tvline.com published on July 7, 2020, “Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke, acknowledges that ‘the situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years,’ adding that ‘I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past.’ But he stresses that ‘the car is innocent.’”
I mean, even what’s left of Lynyrd Skynyrd retired the stars and bars from the stage in 2012 -- and they defined the genre of Southern Rock.
I’d like to imagine the lap was an ill-timed yet innocent tribute to the show, but that’s a mighty big flag for such a small vehicle and thinking of the location of Kandiyohi County, my gut tells me the driver may not have been trying to put some fuel on the fire -- and that speaks volumes during a dry year. There are burn bans for a reason...
Unless that driver had been living under a rock for the past year he had to have known the flag would elicit a reaction. Viewing the Confederate flag as a symbol of carefree rebelliousness is no longer acceptable and further enables the lost-cause idealism of the Confederacy.
The lost cause myth is rooted in Post-Civil War era romanticism rooted in nostalgia, that aided in spreading the notion that the war was defending state’s rights instead of slavery. While the south tried to reclaim its identity during Reconstruction, white southerners were in a precarious situation over racial tension, social stature, and the economy. This was at the same time the Klan came into existence.
According to an article titled, “How the Confederate battle flag became an enduring symbol of racism” on nationalgeographic.com, the flag, also known as the “Southern Cross,” later made a post-WWII resurgence once the Dixiecrats adapted it as a party symbol, as they vehemently opposed integration. From here the flag was integrated into pop culture, making its way from college campuses to traveling with soldiers on the battlefield in Korea.
Was the Stars and Bars so deeply rooted in nostalgia that the original meaning had become forgotten in the 100 years up until that point? Or has it just been rooted in white supremacy for so long it just went without saying?
If you’re arguing that the flag symbolizes state’s rights, remember that right was to defend the rights of slave owners and to uphold white supremacy.
As far as flying confederate flags in Minnesota and North Dakota, what better way to show that you're terrible at geography. Remember, the Mason Dixon line separated Missouri from Missou-rah.
Plus including the Confederate flag on your flagpole makes about as much sense as hanging a Trump flag from your patio. Each lasted four years and lost. Sometimes you just need to let go.
I do think that it would be interesting to sit in on a Civil War lesson in the South. I’m not saying that all southerners are racist by any means. The union didn’t walk away from the war with clean hands and clean consciences either . In fact, the Indian Removal campaigns were considered Civil War-era service. That's why you may see an occasional Civil War era monument dotting the prairie -- if you look close enough.
The whitewashed U.S. history that we’ve been taught is about as effective as getting your facts from “Drunk History” on Comedy Central. Learning history as it happened provides us with context as to how things ended up in such a mess.
Moving monuments and altering the design of a state flag doesn’t mean you’re erasing history. If you don’t see it and fear you might forget about it, git-er-done and visit or support your local history museum.
Erasing history is replacing it with self-aggrandizing propaganda.
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