The Truth about the Confederate Flag (ugh) IV 6/26/04

Hello.

Many of you likely haven't been wondering where I've been all these months, or why I don't write nearly as many Truths as I used to. But I've been wondering. I've been puzzling and pondering and trying to put my finger on it, all the while receiving the occasional 'Dear Mr. Steele' letter and filing it away for some future response. And I think I may have come up with something.

Mr. Steele has gone through a strange transformation, it seems.

It's not just being married--although that's a huge part of it, no doubt. It's also being step-father, and a step-grandfather, and watching what my grandkids are watching on TV and wondering what they're learning from it. It's also working in an office in my little cubicle, where the use of some of my favorite expressions is severely frowned upon. It's all had a powerful effect on me.

For example--today, in Corporate America, it's considered sexual harrassment if you tell a female co-worker, 'You look nice today.' Now bear in mind that these words don't ordinarily trip off my lips. Unless you wear a straw hat and overalls, it's unlikely I'll even notice what you're wearing. It's not so much that my eyes don't see it ... it's that my brain doesn't register it.

My point is that if 'You look nice today' is offensive, I'm screwed. Every single thing it might occur to me to say in any given circumstance is offensive under these standards. If you don't believe me, I have nearly eight years of Truths to back me up. And I'm not just offensive, either--I have a genuine talent for it.

So when I'm at work, I find myself speaking very little. Not that I've become a saint. At least once a week, I will loudly ask the room why I'm not allowed to fire people--because many of the sons-o'-bitches that I work with (and some of the bitches-o'-bitches as well) need to either pay more attention to what they're doing or work someplace where I'm not working.

Let's lay this out. Eight hours a day of work, where I endeavor to control myself in front of co-workers. Follow that by eight hours a day at home where I endeavor to control myself in front of grandchildren (at least until they moved out last year). Multiplied by three years.

Add in the General Contentment of marriage to a good woman, and the General Contentment of being a step-father to two very cool grown step-daughters and a step-grandfather to one very cool grandson. Multiply by four years.

And finally, add in the profound effect of a second, newborn grandson. Having a one year old bounce up and down in his seat when you enter the room because he's so excited his Papa is there. Having him fall asleep in your lap at a soccer game when he won't fall asleep on anyone else. Picking him up when he hurts himself or when he's frightened, and knowing that you're trusted and loved enough to actually make the hurt or fear less. And most importantly--knowing that every single pinhead, dumbass, bigot, and social misfit in the world started out this exact same way.

The impact that my grandsons have had on me cannot be expressed in words. If you're a parent, I don't have to express it. If you're not, you'll understand it when you are.

That old misanthropic Mr. Steele--the one who was always more than happy to point out the stupidity and hypocrisy of the World at Large--well, he's not quite dead. But he's taken a bad beating.

The real reason I don't write as many of these Truths as I used to is that I don't want to disappoint. The old Mr. Steele is acerbic. Vulgar. Harsh. The new Mr. Steele gets all weepy over his grandsons. And rather than change the title of the page to read 'Great Big Sappy Truths according to Colossal Pussy That Used To Be Mr. Steele,' (although that does sort of have a ring to it, doesn't it?) I just haven't typed anything at all.

However, I do have this backlog of letters to get to ...

Oddly enough, most of the letters I've received have been about the Confederate Flag. Admittedly, that's another reason I haven't written a Truth in a while ... this will make the fourth Truth I've written about the Confederate Flag. When I off-handedly mentioned the flag in a Truth about the 9/11 attacks (titled The Truth about Current Events), I never imagined that writing about the Confederate Flag would become a second career. Not since The Truth about the New Humanity have I had to revisit a topic so often. But what-the-hey--let's go with it.

I dont know so i can not say anything about you.

That's fair. Heh ... it's fairer than I was when I initially insulted Confederate Flag fliers.

I was looking up why black people hat the confederate flag so much and found your website with the article about you saying we are idiots or something like that and to tell you a diffrent meaning.

Good Christ ... I actually said that, didn't I? I guess I brought this on myself, then. No one to blame but good-ole Mr. Steele.

Knowing people and people who knew people that fought in the war it means the same to all of us who live in the south.

If this were true, I wouldn't be writing my fourth Truth about it. I'd be getting all weepy about babies, or something.

Oh yeah ... I did that already.

It stand for the south. 13 stars on the flag for all 13 states. Not so much a racist thing for all of us.

Buddy Miles explained this to me in The Truth about the Confederate Flag III--and I understand it a little better now.

Yes there are those who give it a bad name but does that mean it should be banned? What about us who take it for its true meaning. It was banned in my school and i ask why dont the teachers tell about its true meaning so that people of other races can learn.

--Motorcross Redneck

There's actually another letter that I received that addresses this final point of yours better than I could. Oh, and he didn't actually sign his name 'Motorcross Redneck'--but his email address was a variation on that theme, so I took the liberty. I'll do that with the other names on the other letters, too.

hi, my name is mitch and i live in wisconsin.

Hi, Mitch.

chippewa falls, wisconsin.

Chippewa Falls ... sounds like a pretty place.

and i go to chi-hi high school which where today i had some stickers made and the local window decal store and gave them to some of the rednecks at my school.

If only you'd written me before you did this, I could have told you this was a bad idea.

the school principle and the school cop came outside to give us a speech on the confederate flag.

And there's the reason why.

me and all the hicks outside in the parking lot were really pissed off about it.

Not for anything, but you just grouped yourself with the 'hicks,' Mitch.

but anyway the school principle and the cop told us today that we don't know the meaning of the flag and we may not have it in the school parking lot any more.

1) I wonder if Mitch goes to the same school as Motorcross Redneck.

2) My history's a little fuzzy ... but I don't remember Wisconsin being a Confederate state.

It seemed possible at this point in the letter that your principal and school cop may have been correct--until this next statement, when it was made absolutly clear that they were correct:

the whole argument is over a fight in between the hicks and some dope smoking dirt balls

I have to give Mitch credit here for not mentioning the race of the 'dope smoking dirt balls' in question. It leaves open the possibility that the reason for the fight between them and the hicks isn't entirely due to race. But I'd bet my left nut, my right nut, and the handy-dandy sack that carries them around that these dope-smoking dirtballs weren't white.

How do I know this? Because why else would the 'hicks' choose a Confederate Flag?

an the principle and the cop told us that the flag is a gang symbol and we shouldnot be able to fly it.

And they're right. Gangs and gang colors are bad. Ask any Los Angeles cop who's had to cart away a dead ten year old child because the guy in the red banadana tried to shoot a guy in a blue sweatshirt for wearing a blue sweatshirt and missed.

i think its bullshit.

That's natural. Kids don't like being told what to do. You won't outgrow this. I didn't.

we have the freedom of speech and no can take it away from us.

Freedom of Speech isn't Absolute Freedom of Speech. You can't yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theater. There are limits to Freedom of Speech, and there should be limits.

we will rise again and when we do well come up like a bullet.

thanks mitch

Yeah ... the 'bullet' reference makes me a little nervous. I think I'd keep my head down if I were a dope-smoking dirtball in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

But seriously, don't go shooting anyone over this. You have two choices, and they're fairly straight-forward. Ten years from now, you can be sitting in a nice house with a nice wife and a nice job and some nice kids, talking about those dope-smoking dirtballs you didn't like in high school and wondering whatever happened to them.

Or, you can be sitting in a jail cell wondering how the hell you could have disliked someone you didn't even really know so much that you threw your entire life away.

Hmm. I wonder which one I'd choose.

Onto the next letter about the Confederate Flag ...

Dear Mr. Steele:
Why do males have nipples?  Is there any function to them?
--HARPO

They serve as decoration only. Besides, if women had them and men didn't, we'd be jealous as hell.

You know it's true.

Next letter.

ive been wondering...what is the sudden out burst about the rebel flag....  Everyone is taking about it.  And if somenoe says itz not about racism, why did u get that response from someone.  My uncle fought for the confederates and im not racist.  Ive been down to the vist in the Carolina's and the flag is everywhere....i WOULD REALLY like to know...WHY is this being made such a big deal all of a sudden?
--SkyScrape

Good friggin' question. I'd like an answer to this one myself.

[edit] [edit] [edit] [edit] [edit] , who gives a shit. all these fuckin [edit] call us what ever the hell they want, we have one damn word for them and all hell breaks loose.  im not racist against all black ppl, just the fuckers who are racist against the white ppl.  i think it should be ok if the fuckin word [edit] is used...i mean, they use whatever the fuck they want....damnit.
--lazyboy

Ah, Lazyboy ... you definitely get the award for the most prolific use of the n-word. As I've mentioned, I won't be using that word here in any context because I can't begin to imagine the types of losers having it in a search engine would begin to attract.

Come to think of it, I think I can begin to imagine those types of losers.

First of all, we have way more than 'one damn word for them.' I won't be listing them here. Just trust me.

Second ... well ... if you're only 'racist against the racists' as you say, then that still makes you a racist, doesn't it? And being a racist, am I supposed to be moved or convinced by your defense of the n-word?

Let's move on, shall we?

This next one, you have to read very carefully. It is, after all, the reason we're all gathered here today.

i GOTTA ADMIT THAT I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO FLY WHATEVA FLAG THEY WANT ,..BUT WHEN I SEE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG..., IT SCARES ME .. IT SENDS A CHILL DOWN MY SPINE... I WOULDN'T STICK AROUND LONG ENOUGH FOR EXPLANATION OF WHAT IT MEANS TO U.... liKE I HAVE JEWISH FRIENDS.. I LEARNED VERY QUICKLY THAT IF I WANNA KEEP 'EM.... I GOTTA STOP DRAWING SWATISKA IN MY NOTEBOOKS EVEN IF I THINK ITS PRETTY... EVEN IF IT HAD A BETTER MEANING BEFORE HITLER B/C JUST THE LOOK ON jEWISH GURL FACE ,..TELLS ME I'M SCARING HER
--bLACK15GIRL

This is the reason I've felt compelled to argue this point for four Truths. I'm not sure how even Buddy Miles would answer this one.

Before I get to the last letter of the day, one quick note to anyone who wrote me for this Truth--I'm afraid I'm going to need the email addresses of all your English teachers. This is apparently a group of people who needs to work a little harder at your education.

I mean, you know you guys are young and all ... but Holy Crap.

Last letter. This is funny.

Hi,
 
I just got done reading your reply to a woman in 2000 about Keanu Reeves NOT being gay (
http://neverdream.com/ArchiveList/091500.html). 
 
I was just wondering what comment you have to make about his marriage to Alan Cumming?  (
http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=3952)
 
--Scott

Heh. Heh-heh-heh. Heh-heh.

Heh.

Well ... let's see ... if I were to comment on the article about his marriage to Alan Cumming, I'd probably have to comment on the date of the article. April 1. It seems to be that date is some kind of holiday, or something. Is it Groundhog's Day?

I'll have to check a calendar or something. April 1 ... April First ...

I feel like such a fool for not being able to remember.

Heh-heh-heh.