Let’s sum up the blog so far: For a state that wasn’t even a state during the Civil War, Washington has an unfortunate number of Confederates.
Back in 2017, every shell-shocked Democrat had their own theory to explain President Trump’s election. I came up with mine after a third-grade concert. A Chevy parked outside the school sported a Confederate battle flag sticker.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I was at first dumbfounded. What was it doing there? Then I thought, it all lines up: the nostalgia, the aggrievement, and under that, a white-supremacist bent. The Confederates are back.
After spending the last two years following the battles over Confederate monuments, reading those history books I ignored in college, and looking for the battle flag the way some look for rare birds, let me offer a few observations.
First, Confederate flags aren’t that rare in Washington. They made news spotted above a state trooper’s cruiser in Silverdale and in a school assembly in Tumwater. I’ve seen them on porches, t-shirts and most of all, the back windows of vehicles. One guy at Costco had the flag tattooed on his arm.
Confederate flags are not a “southern thang.” There are Illinoisans with Confederate tattoos and Michigan teenagers flying them from pickups. I saw more of them while visiting Boise than I did in Texas — where I saw none.
Mid- and northwestern white people seem attracted to the don’t-give-a-damn rural mystique of the South. Urban progressives make perfect foils. See the Seattle woman who reported her neighbor for flying the battle flag — or as it turned out, the Norwegian flag.
Anti-elite to its fans, to millions of Americans the Confederate flag stands only for violent, racist oppression.
Presuming Washington’s would-be rebels don’t prioritize race relations, however, they should know this: real Confederates want them poor.
Consider South Carolina, first to state secede and first to fire a shot in 1861. It wasn’t founded by English pilgrims, but slave lords from Barbados. These Caribbean aristocrats transplanted a society with roughly three kinds of humans: good gentlemen, who owned plantations; slaves, who were owned by plantations; and trash, who owned neither slaves nor plantations.
White supremacy is their lie, not ours. It made it OK to enslave black people and not OK for poor whites and blacks to unite against the rich. It has served elites for 350 years.
In 2015, then-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley won praise for removing the battle flag from the state Capitol.
She gave up the symbol, not the economics of the Confederates. Haley recruited northern and western businesses on the condition they not bring their unions.
Unions are a Yankee thing.
“You’ve heard me say many times I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because we’re kicking them every day, and we’ll continue to kick them,” Haley said.
Aerospace machinists in her state make $20,000 a year less than they do in Washington.
Trump promoted her to US ambassador to the United Nations.
My advice for Cascadian Confederates: lose the flag. It makes you look trashy.