Fuck your Rebel Flag
While flying back from the Juggalo March on Washington this last Sunday, I finally had an opportunity to read “A Most American Terrorist”, the absolutely heartbreaking and massive article Rachel Kaadzi Ghan wrote about the radicalization of Dylan Roof, the dead-eyed monster who killed nine people in cold blood in a Church in Charleston. If you haven’t read it already, my God, do so now. This can wait.
I can’t remember the last time I was so deeply affected by an article. By the end I was on the verge of tears. Just thinking about it is making me emotional. Ghan does a brilliant job of analyzing what could have possibly motivated someone to commit a crime so shocking, so horrifying, so seemingly inconceivable.
Ghan writes about Roof’s fascination with an idealized, fictionalized pre-Civil War past he, and other deluded white supremacists see as an untainted Garden of Eden where the White Christian Man was King and everyone else was expected to prostrate themselves before them, as the Good Lord Himself had ordained. Though Roof was a high school dropout notorious for his laziness, he fancied himself something of an amateur historian and spent a fair amount of time in the months leading up to his horrific crime visiting historical sights associated with the Confederacy.
Roof was not a true historian, of course. As a hate-filled bigot, he was not searching for the actual truth of our collective past. No, he was looking for lies that would support his conception of the Confederacy as a paradise and the Civil War as that awful moment when White America was tossed out of the Garden of Eden and everything went to shit.
Roof didn’t visit these places as a tourist. No, he visited these tributes to a fabled pre-Civil War past as inspiration, as fuel for the awful crime his feverish brain convinced him he had to commit. Obviously not everyone goes to Confederate sights to pump themselves up for committing horrible crimes against black people, but the fact that they’ve served that role for anyone is horrifying.
After all, if you visit Germany, it’s not chockablock with public statues of Hitler and his high command. That’s because Germany knows damn well that a history of Nazidom is something to be ashamed of, and atone for, not a source of pride. They're not all, "Yes, the swastika represents genocide but what about Schnitzel and the Autobahn and those cute little wiener dogs? Can't throw out the baby with the bathwater! I'm flying that Nazi flag proudly, fuck political correctness!"
We don’t erect statues to people willy-nilly. It’s not something done casually. No, a statue is a high honor. Taking down a statue to a genocidal Confederate traitor isn’t tantamount to erasing history any more than taking down memorials to Hitler following World War II is tantamount to erasing history. It’s merely a way of establishing that ours is a society where fighting a Civil War for the sake of maintaining slavery and human genocide is not something to be honored.
In some ways Roof fit the loose description of a Juggalo: poor, uneducated, alienated, looking for something to devote his time and energy to. But if Roof had gotten into Insane Clown Posse he would have heard song after song attacking anti-black racism, the Confederacy, the Confederate Flag, the South, rednecks and racism.
If Roof had listened to ICP’s 1992 album Carnival of Carnage he would have heard songs like “Your Rebel Flag”, with a chorus that consists of yelling “Fuck your Rebel Flag” repeatedly. And if he continued to listen, he would have also heard “Confederate Flag” from 2015’s Marvelous Missing Link: Lost, which has an identical message as the similarly named earlier song.
When I first heard “Your Rebel Flag” early in my Insane Clown Posse journey, I remember thinking that the song’s intentions were noble, but that nobody really needs to be told that the Confederate flag represents racism and slavery in this day and age. It turns out a whole bunch of ignorant motherfuckers need to be told exactly that.
It turns out that “racism is bad” and “the Confederacy and the Confederate Flag are both wrong” don’t just still need to be said in 2017. Given the political climate, they need to be screamed at the top of our lungs so that the coward, white supremacist and Confederacy apologist in the White House can’t help but hear us even if his defining characteristic seems to be a tragic inability to listen.
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