Q. Should I wave the white flag?: Two months ago, I met someone wonderful and we stayed up talking until sunrise. He lives far away and we don’t know where this is going but we are both pleasantly surprised. I’m thrilled at how open-minded he is; he’s an Army guy who builds guns and I’m a Bernie supporter with a masters in global affairs, but we just get each other. Last night he sent me a photo and it was the first time I let myself see that he has two tattered flags tattooed on his chest: the American flag and the Confederate flag with a particular animal in front of each. (This is apparently a common tattoo.) Our relationship is already a long shot but I really am impressed by him and want to be open to his explanation that this isn’t in support of the Confederacy (how?). Is there any world where this isn’t doomed? FYI, I’m black, he’s white and I don’t want to ask my family or close friends for fear that if he and I can continue they would have a hard time putting that knowledge aside
This question was asked of someone named Prudence at Slate. Her advice is what you would predict. The young woman should run away from the racist bastard. And that might be decent advice. But you really can’t arrive at that point based on just the information in the question.
All we really know is that they are drawn to each other, and in a world where love, tolerance and understanding are rare it is nothing short of a crime to try to drive people apart over a tattoo. For all we know she has a portrait of Stalin stashed away somewhere on her body.
But it is worth pointing out the cultural blindness and double standard here. This guy has a tattoo. There can be any number of reasons for that and I would bet that “I believe in giving slavery another go” isn’t one of them. Sure, he could have used it is as racist symbol, but then he is apparently fine with having a black woman as his girlfriend so that seems unlikely unless he has grown out of that attitude. There are parts of the South where the Confederate flag is just seen as a regional thing so that could be a motivation, and what we have here is a cultural misunderstanding that Prudence wants to make sure they never get a chance to overcome. Or he could have simply been drunk and picked something colorful. He might not have even known there was an association between the Confederate flag and slavery. Hell, just today I read an article about how many college students think that through all of human history slavery only existed in the US. Never underestimate the power and prevalence of ignorance. The point is that we know nothing about this guy’s beliefs just based on having the tattoo.
And it is not clear from the question whether he was even asked. She says she wants to be open to his explanation that it is not in support of the Confederacy, but I guess that could be read as she wants to be open if he gives such an explanation. She would not need to ask “how” it could not be in support if he had already told her, and certainly she should have asked him for details rather than Prudence. Anyway, it just goes to show that getting a degree in global studies does not guarantee one can communicate clearly.
Although we don’t really know what his political or racial views are we do know hers because she told us which philosophy she espouses. We know for instance that she is fine with robbing her neighbors for her own benefit. We know she is economically and historically illiterate. We know she has a worthless degree which she touts in conversations where it is irrelevant because she thinks it impresses people. We know she is very much inclined to see force as the proper solution to problems because that is the only means governments have of “solving” problems and she wants more government. It may very well be that she is a much worse person than he is, and indeed that is what the only evidence we have about their respective attitudes seems to indicate. Prudence of course can’t see this because she suffers from the same biases as the person asking the question.
And if you think all of those assumptions I just made are unfair — you are absolutely right! But they are no worse than the ones Prudence made based on even less evidence. This girl might just have a head full of mush and is too naive to understand the depravity of socialism. She might be appalled were it ever explained to her. And if she got a degree in global studies then it is a safe bet she knows nothing about the part of economics where one seeks to get a return on their investment so she obviously has some holes in her education.
But here is the thing. If we assume the worst about both of them then it is easy to see how they have so much common ground despite the appearance otherwise. Both the old Confederacy and socialism believe it is just dandy to deprive others of the fruit of their labors. These are by no means conflicting philosophies. The chains of socialism might not lay upon the wrists, but they certainly lay upon the heart and can be very pernicious in their own right. And socialism in its purest form often devolves into actual slavery where people are shunted about and made to labor as others see fit with no say at all. That is ultimately the point of the whole exercise.
But here is the key bit of information that will make this all click together for you. Anyone living in the South will tell you, people wearing a Confederate tattoo are far more often Democrats than Republicans, so that is another reason why he might get along a Bernie girl so well. People outside the region will find it difficult to believe, but the party of slavery still attracts the most racist bastards.
All of that aside, the sort of advice that Prudence gave is how we remain divided and ghettoized. This woman found out that there are wonderful people out there that even she sees as “open minded” and it challenged her preconceptions. Sad to say, it is obvious why that had to be stamped out if one merely looks at how politics are conducted these days.
Prudence appears to be rather inaptly named because she exercised none of it.
And to prove my point about socialism devolving into slavery Venezuela has just implemented a law to force people to work in the fields. Perhaps some of the Bernie Bros would like to go down there and get a taste of what they are pining for?