“Take Down That Flag!”
June 23, 2015
“Take down that flag!” It’s the new hit phrase sweeping the country, and, the NY Times is reporting, supported by conservatives as well as liberals. Which really isn’t all that surprising as it is merely an updated version of the old game, divide and control, a game that in the United States has always been played with “race cards.”
Once, sometime ago, the powers that be saw to it that the poor and the powerless were classified as “white” and “black,” labeled different “races” and set against one another so that in their poverty and powerlessness they would think they did not have any common interests transcending their racial differences. In this way, the powers that be maintained their control of the government, disenfranchising the poor and the powerless for all practical purposes.
The “take down that flag” rallying cry is part of the same game, even though it looks different. That is, it looks as if those endorsing this movement have transcended racism and are forging a new, post-racial unity. And, of course, were this in fact the case, kudos would be most appropriate. But as the phrase “take down this flag” makes clear, the racism being transcended is merely the racism of the past, the racism of the Confederacy. The conservatives who are rallying around this movement need not change one iota of their political agenda, from their opposition to affirmative action to their endorsement of a war on drugs and the resulting mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of the many African Americans who have been incarcerated.
As with Reagan’s rallying cry, “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall,” this rallying cry has no implications for any real change in the basic policies being pursued by our current “establishment” or oligarchy. And it serves those in power by distracting us from more important issues such as the increasing inequality in the U.S. or the destruction of the middle class. All is subsumed under the alleged need we have to deal with “racism,” as if mass killings in the U.S. have much to do with racism. Doesn’t anyone remember Newtown, the shootings in Colorado, or Columbine? These had nothing to do with race or racism.
But just as after 9/11 and the attack in Boston, now all must attend to the alleged new threat on the horizon and this despite the fact that in this case the perpetrator was almost powerless and alone. It is no longer possible to play “the race cards” as they use to be played as we are well beyond that. But that doesn’t mean “the race cards” can’t be played. They are being played yet again and, yet again, for the purpose of disempowering or distracting the dissatisfied.