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Howard Dean is taking a lot of flak for his statement that he wanted to be the candidate for people who have the Confederate flag on their pickup trucks. What resulted was a discussion of whether or not Dean should be courting the votes of racists.

The Confederate flag is not, in any absolute sense, a racist symbol. The Confederate flag has many meanings, to many people. To some people it is a racist symbol. To others it is a symbol of secession. To others, a symbol of the South, just as a state flag is a symbol of a given state. To others, it is a combination.

What is often lost in discussions like this is that symbols have no inherent meaning. Meaning does not exist in symbols, it exists in people. YOU have a meaning for the Confederate flag, but IT has no meaning in itself. And your meaning for the flag might be different than mine.

So fine, you may be offended by the Confederate flag, either because to you it is racist, or because it is a symbol of secession. Both are fine reasons to be offended. But do not assume that everyone who flies that flag has those meanings. The Dukes of Hazard had neither meaning to the flag, and most people I've met who display the Confederate flag have neither meaning for it, as well. And when you tell them "that flag is bad" you are simply incorrect, unless you qualify it with "to me."

In this sense, I will defend Dean (*gasp!*): he was not talking about racist people, he was not talking about secessionists, he was talking about people with Southern pride, who are often poor, who often do display the Confederate flag, and who often vote Republican. And Al Sharpton and John Edwards took offense, because they say that is stereotyping poor whites in the South, because it is calling poor whites in the south racist, because they either cannot understand that to them race and the Confederate flag are not tied together, or they do understand that, and are merely pandering.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on November 5, 2003 11:55 PM.

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