Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Confederate flag and Guyland

Fellow blogger, Pawpaw wrote in the comments of a recent post "...As for the battle flag, it should rightfully go on the dust-heap of history."

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Pawpaw.  Here is why.

Young Knuckleheads
Redundant, no?

Mark Twain once quipped that
Teenagers should be stuffed into a barrel and fed through the bunghole.  Upon turning eighteen the decision should be made whether to let them out or to drive in the bung plug.

More recently, author Michael Kimmel makes the case that young men enter a no-mans-land between ages 14 and 26.  He contends that young men's physical (and reproductive) abilities, mental and emotional capabilities and society's expectations are grossly mismatched during that age span.  Many young men go into a state of suspended animation, a parallel reality of video games, trucks, pot, beer, porn and misogyny.  Kimmel calls this parallel reality "Guyland".

So, who is most likely to fall into "Guyland"?  Who is most likely to see the Confederate flag as a cultural icon that represents them?

Probably the 14-to-26 year olds whose ability to verbally process and argue their case is not up to full, adult standards.  They are verbally overwhelmed.

Driven and on the defensive, they dig in and become oppositional.  They refuse to play the enemy's game on the enemy's home turf.

Like a toddler clamping his mouth shut and refusing to eat whirled peas, the Guylandians exercise the only power they have.

Eliminating the flag will not erase the demographic (or their issues)

So my question is, what will they use to replace the Confederate flag?  The demographic will not go away.  There will always be a bottom 33% of the verbal ability population.  There will always be young knuckleheads acting like, well, knuckleheads.

Eric Hoffer wrote about The True Believer in the book of the same name.  He contends that young men are driven to thuggish organizations by their feelings of alienation and powerlessness.  Alone, they are easy prey for lawyers, fast talkers, used car salesmen and other sharpers.  In the dark of night, within a mob of like-minded thugs they are powerful and cause fear.  They crave this respect.

It matters little to the True Believer whether they are busting heads for Communism or NAZI ideals or Nationalism or whatever.  They crave respect.

If you deprive the knuckleheads of the Confederate flag, what will they run to?  You just pissed all over their respect.

At least the Confederate ideals honor individuality and minimize collective actions like the wholesale busting the shop windows of all the people you do not like (Kristallnacht).  The violence you see on the evening news is rarely perpetrated by folks wearing Confederate flags.

I contend that the Confederate flag is a symbol of defiance, and emblem of "You can't make me!" and an icon of a healthy skepticism of "authority."   And be honest here, as mature adults do you REALLY believe that everybody who claims to have your best interest at heart is worthy of unquestioned authority?

I want to think that most of my excesses of youth are behind me.  But even as I leave my youth, and its needs behind me, there are other knuckleheads just entering Guyland.  I might not have a burning need for the Confederate flag but that does not mean that others do not have a need.  Throwing the Confederate flag on the dust-heap of history would be a mistake because all of the other alternative that would fill that vacuum are worse.