I saw Jeff Stahler (AMS)‘s cartoon before I saw reports of the terrorist assault on the Biden campaign bus in Texas, which was cheered by Dear Leader.
Before I caught that context, I thought that, while it was a little strong, I agreed that I’m sick and tired of rightwingers conflating patriotism and the flag with hostility, jingoism and — far too often — racism.
And the cheerleading for these thugs.
It’s a bit breathtaking. I have long wished the flag stood for our stated values rather than our extremes, for our aspirations rather than our shortcomings.
But, however much the flag had quietly crept back into mainstream status in the latter part of the 20th century, it rocketed back with 9/11 to once more become a litmus test of a particular type of Americanism.
The most interesting discussion among journalists at the time was, if TV anchors put on flag lapel pins now, will they ever be able to take them off again?
Well, some of those pins quietly disappeared, but Fox and Sinclair and OANS have emerged as rallying points the jingoists didn’t have before, at least in the mainstream.
We’ve been here before, though.
In May, 1961, thugs stopped a Freedom Riders bus outside Anniston, Alabama, and, though a local law officer managed for a time to keep them from boarding the bus to assault the passengers, a firebomb through a window forced evacuation and then the violence commenced.
I was 11 years old and 1,000 miles away, so I knew it was happening but was unclear on its significance, though I knew it was wrong.
And before anyone points it out, no, nobody stopped the Biden bus, nobody threw a fire bomb at it, nobody beat up any of the people on board.
Still, that’s how it starts, not with a bang but a whimper.
And here’s where it leads. Here’s the Anniston Star’s Page One a week later.
The beatings on the Edmund Pettis Bridge were still nearly four years in the future. The murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were three years away, the murder of Viola Liuzzo four. Medgar Evers lived two more years.
In other words, we were just warming up.
If you think the Civil Rights Movement was all boycotts and sit-ins and speeches on the mall at Washington, well, at the risk of referencing an offensive Hollywood image, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
With luck, after January 20, we’ll have a president who no longer laughs and encourages the terror, but instead will respond as JFK did and move to oppose it.
That’s up to you.
Which brings us to this
Juxtaposition of the Day
Bennett hopes to repair the office, Wilkinson hopes to repair the nation, both may be expecting too much too soon.
This time around, we won’t have the comfort, either, of pretending it’s all down there somewhere, or, as Phil Ochs put it
The People of Old Mississippi,
Should all hang their heads in shame!
I don’t understand how their minds work;
What’s the matter, don’t they watch Les Crane?
But if you talk about busing my children,
I hope the cops take down your name.
The riots in Newark, in Watts, in Detroit, along with the racist demonstrations in South Boston, proved that our race problem was not confined to Dixie, though it’s also true that the concentration there formed a prodigious voting bloc: When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, it was the end of Democratic influence in the South.
There are encouraging signs. There are decent, patriotic conservatives working to reclaim their end of the spectrum, and much as I like Kal Kallaugher (Economist)‘s artwork here, he really should have had some Tie Fighters in the picture, because it’s not only the rebels who are mounting this attack.
Which, by the way, means those of us who oppose thuggery, racism and violence will have to make common cause with people who don’t sing our same song on other matters if we want this pushback to succeed.
If Churchill and FDR could join Stalin to restore order in the world, you can deal with someone from the other side of the aisle.
Let close enough be good enough for a while, and then, when normalcy is restored, we can go back to quarreling over our various agenda items.
We opened with Stahler and we’ll return to Stahler for this editor’s note: I’m thrilled to have an extra hour, because the dogs won’t have adjusted to the change by Tuesday and, as a poll worker, I need to be on the job at 6:30 am.
An extra hour will be just dandy, and it will give you a little extra time to get to the polls, too.
However, it does mean I won’t be able to do a blog that morning, but tune in anyway, because I’ll have some material on an election that I hope is not at all similar to what will be happening Tuesday.
Meanwhile, brace yourself, because that fracas in Texas wasn’t on the scale of Pearl Harbor, but it felt like the opening salvo of something or other, and it’s important to remember that a lot of bad things went down before that flag, echoed here by Chris Britt (Creators), went up.
There may not be so many muddy cells this time around, but we’ll certainly hear those dirty words again and perhaps take a beating or two, maybe worse, as we did before.
But the thugs really will be judged insane and forced back under their rocks, eventually.
Vote, and then hang in there.