So we’ve watched republican pundits and politicians support the confederate flag for a week now. The obvious motivation is that the republican party is home to the lion’s share of racists in America. But I think there’s actually a more dominant motivator here beyond racism.
Watch this Bill O’Reilly clip (via The Young Turks);
I love The Turks, but I think they missed an important part of that clip. At one point, O’Reilly says, “We don’t have a system where racism is acceptable at all. We don’t.” Then he goes on to say, “The world is being told by anti-American haters, that we are a rank racist society, and that is a lie”.
This is about exceptionalism and the glory days (in his mind), when America was the envy of the world.
Conservatives by definition, hate it when things change. It doesn’t matter what the change is. Change in and unto itself is viscerally abhorrent to conservatives. They like for things to stay the way they are, regardless of how they are. I think that people like Bill O’Reilly genuinely don’t see themselves as racist. I think O’Reilly sees himself as a “traditionalist” who has great regard for the traditions established in the glory days of the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Bill O’Reilly is a giant bigot, but that’s how he sees himself.
We’re in a time now when things are changing at lightning speed so conservatives are more frustrated than ever. No one was talking about marriage equality in 2000. In fact, that push didn’t really start until after the hate-the-gays platform of the 2004 elections. In ten short years, we have marriage equality in more states than not, and hateful bakers are chained to their kitchens and forced to bake gay wedding cakes for twelve hours a day, seven days a week. By next week, we will have equality in all fifty states (yes, I have confidence in how Kennedy is going to go on this one).
Conservative heads are exploding. They’re being left behind by the country whose traditions they so love.
And now the flag tornado. In one short week, that flag has come down in Alabama and been pulled from several retail outlets. Eight days. And it’s going to come down in several more statehouses. Yes, losing a symbol of racism is painful to republicans, but not as painful as so much change in so short a period of time.
That fucking flag didn’t start going up in statehouses in the south until one hundred years after the confederates surrendered to the United States and ended their quest for a treasonous exit from this country. Why one hundred years later? Because it was a racist middle finger to the civil rights movement, which was winning. This isn’t a time honored tradition. It’s a fifty year old tradition of resisting change.
To rub salt in the tradition-loving conservatives’ wounds, every single change they’ve resisted was a positive change for the country. From ending slavery, to labor laws to women’s suffrage, implementing social security and medicare, taxing the fuck out of the rich to end the depression, and marriage equality. Liberals have always won, and liberals have always been right. The one and only “idea” conservatives have ever had, beyond leaving things the way they are, is going down inflames because Americans largely understand that trickle down economics is complete bullshit. The being wrong part doesn’t much seem to bother conservatives, but the constant (and now rapid) change is causing them great consternation.
Bill Kristol, the wrongiest republican ever, is pissed off that retailers are kowtowing to liberals and removing their confederate hate merchandise. That’s the free market, baby. But he (and a lot of other republicans) can’t stand it. They despise a Pope who actually espouses Christian values, rather than the bastardized version they worked so hard to create. He’s breaking with right wing Pope tradition, and they can’t stand that he’s on the same page with Jesus when it comes to the rich and when it comes to consuming the resources on this planet. They hate their own ideals and institutions when those ideals and institutions help to bring about change.
This is just too much change for them to deal with, and it’s coming in rapid fire. We have cell phone cameras finally showing America what black people have been telling us for decades about the brutality that police have been inflicting on them. Republicans hate that. They like things the way they were, when they didn’t have to be confronted with the institutional racism that produces the privilege they enjoy, and used to be able to deny they had.
This is about more than racism. This is about losing the country they once had to an ideology they’ve always despised. They see the desire to force change by taking action and criticizing injustice as being unpatriotic to the country. If you don’t love the United States just the way it is, then you hate it and you’re unpatriotic. That’s why they hate liberals, and that’s why they get irrationally pissed off over something as trivial as “liberal light bulbs”.
Bill O’Reilly said it in the clip I shared above:
“The world is being told by anti-American haters, that we are a rank racist society, and that is a lie”.
Implying that the US is imperfect is unacceptable to republicans and to a lesser degree, conservatives. In my opinion, that’s what the heart of this hate flag controversy is about for them. No rational person honors losers, not even if they had enough courage in their unjust and fucked up convictions to die for them. The confederacy was on the wrong side of history but beyond that, they were losers, wholly undeserving of any respect. Republicans don’t like losers. But they like these losers. Why?
Yes, it’s about racism but I don’t think that’s the heart of the issue here. Al Franken nailed the heart of this issue twelve years ago in his book, “Lies And The Lying Liars That Tell Them” when he said the following;
“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world. That’s why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well.”
That’s the issue. And no matter how fucked up the wrongs liberals want to change are, conservatives will fight against us tooth and nail. And they will continue to lose 100% of the time.