August 03, 2015

Source: Jim Goad

Stone Mountain is a 1,700-foot-tall grey dome rock located about a half-hour due east of downtown Atlanta. On its northern face is the largest bas-relief carving in the world”€”bigger even than the carving at Mount Rushmore. It depicts Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. The mountain also features a Confederate battle flag at the base of its hiking trail.

Stone Mountain is also where the Ku Klux Klan reinvented itself in 1915 under the direction of William J. Simmons. As legend has it, the Klan would conduct nighttime cross burnings from atop that massive rock to frighten the Atlanta area’s entire black population in one big theatrical stroke of political terror.

Fast-forward a hundred years, and the Klan has clearly lost. The surrounding town of Stone Mountain is now over 75% black and about 18% white. And Atlanta hasn’t had a white mayor since the early 1970s.

Mid-June’s Charleston church shooting”€”involving a killer who had sullenly posed for selfies hoisting a small Rebel flag“€”was used as an excuse to launch a full-on cultural purge of all Confederate symbols by those who hate what they insist those symbols represent. And they insist those symbols represent HATE. And they hate that. Those symbols represent intolerance. And they will not tolerate that.

Stone Mountain might as well be the Confederate Matterhorn. It is a huge”€”quite literally the largest”€”target for the fanatics who are seeking to forever expunge all remotely respectful memorials to Confederate and Southern white history.

“€œStone Mountain might as well be the Confederate Matterhorn.”€

Recently a spokesman for Atlanta’s NAACP demanded that the Confederate carving “be sand-blasted off” Stone Mountain’s side. He also urged authorities to remove the Rebel flag from the mountain’s base.

This raised the hackles and chafed the sunburned necks of Confederate sympathizers across Georgia. Insisting that the flag represented “heritage, not hate,” they arranged for a pro-Confederate rally last Saturday morning at Stone Mountain Park.

I couldn’t resist attending. I lived in the city of Stone Mountain for nearly four years and have also scaled that giant grey slab dozens of times. I met some real oddballs climbing up that hiking trail”€”such as the guy who allegedly popularized the term “Black Power.”

In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, the rally’s organizers stressed that any overt displays of “hate” would not be tolerated:

1.) NO racial slurs or offensive remarks
2.) NO alcohol, we do know its illegal and that will be opportunity for tickets/arrests
3.) NO taunting other vehicles, flipping other people off during the ride
4.) NO burning any flags of any type regardless of which flag
5.) STAY peaceful, which means NO violence….
Possibly media and cameras, ONE piece of negativity and that will be what goes Viral and that is what we will be remembered for. This is to show our support BC we care about where we live and grew up, lets [sic] keep this Clean and Peaceful!

The event took place two days after a rather fishy “hate crime” involving the placement of Rebel flags on the lawn outside MLK’s hallowed Ebenezer Baptist Church.

I arrived at the park around 11AM on Saturday, and I’d never seen the place deader, even on weekdays. I figured that the rally would be held at the foot of the Confederate carving, but when I got there I saw only a smattering of mostly foreign-looking tourists placidly grazing about.

A traffic cop redirected me to the rally’s location”€”a remote parking lot designed to handle overflow from the main parking lot. In my dozens of trips to this park, I’d never even been aware of this parking lot’s existence.

And there suddenly, like cultural porno, I saw it”€”a sea of Rebel flags flapping in the hot and muggy haze. I’d estimate the crowd at between 300 and 400, and good Lord, were they a torn-up, chewed-up, rough-hewn, beaten-down”€”yet proud”€”bunch. They wore their history”€”in particular, their intergenerational defeat and ongoing public humiliation”€”on their faces. Fuck those absurdly wealthy and culturally hostile scalawags at the Southern Poverty Law Center”€”here was the true Southern poverty, the generations of want and suffering and being scapegoated and trying to scratch out an existence in a conquered land where their conquerors seek to scratch them out of existence.

One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War ended, here was a perpetually maligned demographic that had witnessed almost everything, including their dignity, being stripped from them.

And now the professional carpetbagger class was trying to take away that flag, which is all that many of them have left. And for all the pious homilies being uttered about how that flag represented “hate,” these pontificators never bother to hide their sneering, fuming hatred for these poor unwashed white Southern proles.

The section of the parking lot hosting the “event” was fenced in, which seemed appropriate”€”this was a temporary animal shelter for the stray dogs of the Lost Cause. It was a clumsy setup, with the focus of the festivities the flatbed of a pickup truck rigged with a static-laden sound system. To help keep the peace, camouflage-clad members of the Georgia Militia roamed the premises carrying rifles.

I milled around taking pictures and stopping to eavesdrop whenever it sounded like an argument was erupting. Some earnest young black dudes were trying to explain to a bearded peckerwood that the Rebel flag represented pain for black people, but the peckerwood said it represented family and history and Southern soil.

Then suddenly the crowd started chanting, “KKK! Go away!” They surrounded a white-bearded man toting a Rebel flag but who had a small Klan insignia patch stitched to the front of his bucket hat. They shouted him right out of the parking lot. “Fuck the KKK. Fuck that shit. Get that asshole out of here.”


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!