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Monday, June 22, 2015

Confederate Flag/US Flag Twitterscrum

When people respond to demands to take down/protest the Confederate Flag with demands to take down/protest the US flag I am troubled. The gesture reminds me too much of those who respond to #BlackLivesMatter by piously intoning "all lives matter." That is to say, it feels like a reactionary circumvention of a vital protest in the form of a pretense to greater radicalism, an evacuation of specificity through the ascent to a self-congratulatory universality. Of course there's plenty to protest about the domestic abuses/rights violations and foreign wars/imperialism waged beneath the US flag, but the US flag is an ambivalent signifier, invested in a history of protests, that include taking it up in demands to redress legitimate grievances. The Confederate flag is an unambiguous signifier of white supremacy, however, very much including when it is a signifier of "heritage." Take down the Confederate flag and take up the US flag, if only to burn it in public, I say. The difference makes a difference.

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