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Flagging Hate Speech


Flagging Hate Speech

Olivia Alperstein

I’ve spent my whole life in the Northeast, but I have Southern roots. My late grandfather came from a long line of sharecroppers who toiled in the fields of Decatur, Georgia for generations. Their history of hardship was common in the South.

Where my grandfather grew up, poor whites often blamed their misfortune on the only group of people less fortunate than they: black people. For these marginalized whites, the Confederate battle flag came to symbolize what might have been.


Let’s remember that the spirit of the Republic is to prevent the majority from holding tyranny over the minority. That is the public space must remain neutral. The first amendment, by contrast, allows shouting at the wind. Freedom is a bitch…


“Where my grandfather grew up, poor whites often blamed their misfortune on the only group of people less fortunate than they: black people.”

Well, if you were a wealthy Southerner or Carpetbagger who would you want the dirt poor whites you were exploiting directing their anger at, you or the freed slaves? The 1% of that time did as good a job as the 1% currently in encouraging the poor to turn on each other instead of uniting against those who are keeping them poor.

What do you think the whole illegal immigrant thing is about?


There is a difference between some idiot putting a confederate flag on his pickup and a state flying it or incorporating it into the state flag. The idiot’s pickup flag is protected speech but the government, in displaying a symbol of slavery and oppression, isn’t contributing to a neutral public space, precisely the opposite. What it says is those in charge embrace a heritage of slavery and rebellion in support of slavery - regardless of how that makes those who would have been enslaved feel. The message is, “Whites are still in charge.”

What was that you were saying about the tyranny of the majority?


I think we are basically on the same side here. The idiot has the right to be an idiot.

As for the majority/minority thing, please search on this issue. I know from your comments that you’ll get it.


Always an iffy proposition. :slight_smile:


Sorry to say, but this whole flag-flap (getting so absurd that TV channels are even discontinuing re-runs of “The Dukes of Hazzard”) is just another manifestation of the ooooooh soooo typical USAn characteristic of dealing only with the cosmetic symbols rather than the root core of our problems of our society, economics, infrastructure, etc…

Suppression of the display of a goddamn flag will NOT do a fucking thing to address structural racism - which is by far the most dominant in places well north of the Mason-Dixon Line (as a quick survey of killer racist cop incidents shows) and where I am very hard pressed to remember the last time I saw a confederate battle flag anywhere.

It doesn’t bode well.


Yes, the flag is a symbol. Yes, removing it doesn’t address institutionalized racism.

But it’s a start.


No, it is not a start. It is something being done as a proxy for a start on eliminating racism.

A landlord in Cleveland or north of Detroit’s 8-mile road refusing to rent to black tenants because “they all tend to be criminals” and probably wont pay the rent on time; or,

White liberal people in the Baltimore suburbs scared to death to go to the wonderful Lexington Public Market because “it is full of blacks”; and,

The incoming white yuppie “professional” gentrifiers of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods refusing to use public transportation, because “the bus is full of scary black people and other low-lifes”.

and many, many other examples of white attitudes toward black - especially black men…

Have NOTHING to do with an old flag waved by some redneck anachronisms in a few southern states. I don’t recall EVER seeing a confederate flag displayed by anyone anywhere in Detriot, Cleveland or Baltimore or Pittsburgh - yet the racism is obvious in all these places - even among so-called “liberals”.


It’s very easy for a white male to dismiss the very REAL pain and prejudice that creates different systemic obstacles (and plights) for distinct groups of people. Turning the problem into the frame that these groups should not fight one another leaves out the fact that Power has always abused lots of groups for different purposes. Currently, It’s the Muslim community on the receiving end. But it’s the Power Interests that have set this framework up. Just as during the time of Hitler, the power elite made Jews into the enemy of state (along with assorted dissidents and gypsies).

By making the matter into the alleged fact that groups splinter and fight one another makes light of the very real forces that make life often unbearable for these groups. The problem is not that one group fights another, it’s that power holds onto power and uses it to wreak havoc on various peoples for various purposes.

When a loose wing-nut like this kid Roof goes off on a church group, that’s relatively rare. On the other hand, when power elites use racism to enslave an entire race and still blame that race for what was done onto them; it’s odd to speak about “the poor turning on each other.” This reminds me of the several trolls who push the idea that when cuts are made to social programs, it’s that “the Middle class hates the poor” rather than specifically funded and engineered operations-- by the 1% through its use of lobbyists, ALEC, The Chambers of Commerce, and various groups funded by the likes of Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers that act together to roll back financial support, social programs, and opportunities for poor communities.

Narrative frame matters.


From the article:

“Furling those flags won’t bring back lives or end systemic racism. But it will send a message that our state governments at least reject symbols of racist brutality.”

Why look at the problem as “either-or”? Both steps and many more are needed.


Once again, this comment critiques those fighting which in a very real way INVALIDATES what they are fighting for. And since many people (particularly females) are not comfortable with the Fighting frame (and macho response), the implication that all should fight together to arguably remove the oligarchs is like asking for a replay of The French Revolution. Always in the background, the rich elites of other lands wait to fund their own ilk until, like Krakatoa, gone off to deplete its former power, it gradually rises once again possessed of the same explosive (control of banks, courts, commerce, militia forces) force.

Structural hierarchies are sustained by militaries and financial might, but they begin with ideologies. And since traditional religions push prejudices of extremely long-standing, this idea that “if only the masses would unite” is a way of cleansing all inherent differences. A society based on HONORING those differences would represent a radical departure from the past. What you and your “radical buddies” posit essentially pretends that these cultural/ethnic/intrinsic differences are not important; that the only thing that matters is the class struggle and tossing off the controls of the 1%.

What you’re asking for is a different kind of uni-polar, one size fits all world. Sadly, it will once again reinstate to positions of domination, the typical white males comfortable WITH both domination and using FORCE to command lesser statuses onto others unlike themselves.

Note the complete lack of empathy for what “this immigration thing” means to families split apart, women sexually abused in detainment centers, and children essentially left orphaned from displaced parents. Note the glib show of political savvy that entirely discounts the real suffering to real people. If that’s not the mentality of a soldier or right wing operative who hates “illegal aliens,” what is?

“And yes Z this is exactly what the illegal immigrant thing IS about.” (From Marlborough)

It’s pure sanitized racism of another sort placed into a frame that appears to be sympathetic to “the class struggle.”


I am not framing it as either-or. Of course the flags should be taken down from public places. And of course Ms. Newsome’s removal of the flag was an excellent example of direct action getting the goods (an action I was generally condemned for suggesting it be done a couple weeks ago if I recall). But how much talk is needed about this? Because it seems to have pushed discussion of real racism off the agenda. White people will continue to be fear and loathe black people - especially black men - and discriminate against them and their communities.