Dispatch From Real America

by digby

Did you know that the confederate flag is actually a symbol of Christianity and anti-communism? Neither did I:

Barack Obama’s presidential victory upset James and Linda Vandiver.

So, on election night, the couple — owners of the historic Faubus Motel in downtown Huntsville — walked outside, lowered Old Glory and raised the Confederate battle flag in its place.

It’s remained there ever since, flying high in silent protest of election to the nation’s highest office a politician the pair says is a “Marxist.”

You no doubt noticed the name of the motel, right? Yep. It was previously owned by the Governor who famously ordered the National Guard to lock out the black students who the court had ruled must be admitted to Little Rock Central High.

But this has nothing to do with race, don't misunderstand:

The Vandivers said they didn’t raise the Rebel flag to protest a black man moving into the White House, as many of their neighbors assume. Instead, they did it because they believe the country has abandoned the principles of its founders by electing Obama.

Linda Vandiver said the Democrat is a Marxist who wants to turn America into a socialist country.

Obama wants to redistribute wealth by raising taxes on the rich, create a universal healthcare system and institute a global tax aimed at eliminating worldwide poverty, she said.

“We think socialism is deeply rooted in him, and we’ll see it manifest in all areas,” Linda Vandiver said. “This doesn’t have anything to do with despising Mr. Obama’s color. We’d like to celebrate the fact that for the first time we have a black president. But we can’t.” Obama is also a friend to terrorists, James Vandiver said, referring to Obama’s association with William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground. The group bombed public buildings during the 1970 s.

“If Obama was just a regular Joe Citizen, he would not be able to get security clearance to get in the White House,” James Vandiver asserted. “This is the only way I know to send a message to the people of our country that we are in protest of someone like this being in the position of president.” But like all symbols, the Confederate flag carries different meanings to different people.

Yes it does. It's usually something to do with slavery, southern heritage or white supremacy. I've never heard it used as a protest against Marxism before. But they've got it all worked out.

In another ironic twist, the area newspaper is owned by relatives of Orville Faubus and they are on record disagreeing with the use of the confederate flag to protest Obama. The paper is chronicling the controversy:

In the three weeks since Election Day, the Record has gotten 20 to 25 letters to the editor about the flag, Mooty said. Most weeks, the 5, 275-circulation weekly is lucky to receive two letters.

Mooty published 11 of the letters. Many of the others are unprintable or unsigned, he said.

For Steve Maher of Whorton Creek near Huntsville, the Rebel flag is an “offensive symbol.” Maher wrote to the Record that townsfolk should boycott the motel, the City Council should condemn the action publicly and the town chamber of commerce should revoke the Vandivers ’ membership.

“I respect the freedom of speech, but this symbol of racism can’t be allowed to represent our community,” Maher wrote. “If we do nothing, we are silently supporting or at least accepting the symbolism of that flag.” For Loy Mauch of Bismarck in Hot Spring County, the Confederate flag is a symbol of America’s Christian roots, from which he believes the nation has strayed.

“The government has lost its moral authority over God-fearing Americans and I wish more patriots like James Vandiver would take their stand for what the Confederate
Battle Flag truly symbolizes,” Mauch wrote.


Steven Fowler, an accountant from nearby Alpena, which sits on the Boone-Carroll county line, called Vandiver to tell him that he supports what he’s doing after he read about it in the Record.

The Battle Flag of the Confederacy, with a version of St. Andrew’s cross emblazoned across it, is a symbol of Christianity first and foremost, Fowler said.

But it also represents the supremacy of the states over the federal government.

By flying it, Fowler said, the Vandivers are warning against an Obama presidency that he believes will expand the federal government by nationalizing health care, redistributing wealth and broadening the welfare system.


Owens said he thinks the majority of people in Huntsville understand why the Vandivers are flying the flag and have no problem with it — they’re just afraid to say so.

“There was a time when Americans were free to do what they wanted. But now we have to measure up to some politically correct ideal,” Owens said. “People ought to take [James Vandiver ] at his word. He has a right to make a statement against a political figure.”

Linda Vandiver wrote in a letter to the Record printed Wednesday that blacks, gays, Democrats — even liberal filmmaker Michael Moore — are all afforded a right to freedom of speech and political protest. So why not white, Southern Christians who are disenchanted with the incoming administration ?

“Our statement in raising the flag is ‘ Barack Obama is not our president, ’” Linda Vandiver said in an interview. “If the Democrats can say that about President Bush, then we can say that about Barack Obama."

(Well, there was that little matter of bush losing the popular vote and the Supreme Court stopping the vote count and appointing him the winner, but there's no need to belabor it...)

Notice what's missing from this bill of indictment? Nobody called Obama a Muslim. Maybe they just forgot, but it seems that they are really homing in on the Joe-the-plumber lines from latter McCain campaign. They clearly don't know what socialism really means, but it sounds political and I guess it still carries with it some traditional wingnut anti-communist resonance. There's certainly nothing new in accusing mainstream black political leaders of being Marxists:

Helms Stalls King's Day In Senate

By Helen Dewar

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesady, October 4, 1983; Page A01

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), charging that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. espoused "action-oriented Marxism" and other "radical political" views, yesterday temporarily blocked Senate action on a House-passed bill to create a new national holiday in memory of the slain civil rights leader.

Helms' assault on King, which prompted a scathing denunciation from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), came as the White House was putting out word that President Reagan intends to sign the measure, even though the administration once had opposed it.


Although Helms' colleagues had expected his effort to derail the bill by sending it to committee for hearings, the tone of his attack--linking King to what he called "the official policy of communism"--appeared to take them by surprise.

"I will not dignify Helms' comments with a reply. They do not reflect credit on this body," an angry Kennedy said, adding that what Helms said should be "shunned by the American people, including the citizens of his own state." Later, Kennedy accused Helms of using "Red smear" tactics.

Asked before television cameras to say whether he considered King a "Marxist-Leninist," as he had suggested earlier on the Senate floor, Helms at first demurred, then said, "But the old saying--if it has webbed feet, if it has feathers and it quacks, it's a you-know-what." Asked again later if he considered King a Marxist, Helms said, "I don't think there is any question about that."

When asked if his attack on King would cause him political trouble in North Carolina, where he faces a tough race for reelection next year, Helms said bluntly, "I'm not going to get any black votes, period."


A federal holiday should be an occasion for "shared values," but King's "very name itself remains a source of tension, a deeply troubling symbol of divided society," Helms said.

Helms said King had used "nonviolence as a provocative act to disturb the peace of the state and to trigger, in many cases, overreaction by authorities."

He asserted that there were Marxists in King's movement and that King had been warned against them by the president at the time, apparently meaning President Kennedy.

Added Helms: "I think most Americans would feel that the participation of Marxists in the planning and direction of any movement taints that movement at the outset . . . . Others may argue that Dr. King's thought may have been merely Marxist in its orientation. But the trouble with that is that Marxism-Leninism, the official philosphy of communism, is an action-oriented revolutionary doctrine. And Dr. King's action-oriented Marxism, about which he was cautioned by the leaders of this country, including the president at that time, is not compatible with the concepts of this country."

He's dead now, but the dream lives on, apparently. Socialism may be just another word for the boogeyman, but it's one that's been embedded in the DNA of rightwingers everywhere and it seems to have particular meaning to racists. Which is, of course, what's really going on here. They may not have read Marx, but they sure as hell know what raising the confederate flag on the occasion of the election of the first African American president means.

And it sure must warm the Republican Big Money Boyz's hearts to see these small town motel owners and their friends out there fighting the good fight against taxing the rich and universal health care. It's so sweet, it probably almost makes up for the 50% hit they've taken in the market.

h/t to bb