August 03, 2015
Source: Jim Goad
Strange crowd, this one. They were taking this “heritage, not hate” thing literally.
Apart from the lone-wolf Klansman, the only other troublemakers were small pockets of white and black progressives who showed up to taunt the crowd. Never mind that this is roughly as rude as the Westboro Baptist Church showing up to taunt fallen war heroes. There was a group from the Revolutionary Communist Party standing right outside the fence protesting victims of police brutality but failing to explain what any of this had to do with the Rebel flag.
Then there was a bearded white radical who burned and stomped on a Rebel flag right outside of the fence. This led to much mutual screaming and taunting until most of the attendees were convinced it was best to ignore this hairy agitator. But if you could actually quantify hatred, I’d bet this bearded radical had much more of it coursing through his bloodstream than anyone around him.
And then, finally, came what the party-crashers were looking for. A genetically challenged-looking ginger male in a pink baseball cap called a black girl a “greasy monkey nigger bitch.” The black girl in question, who was wearing a shirt celebrating her “blackness,” began howling and screaming and clawing and swinging like a Jerry Springer guest before cops were able to restore order. Her friend, a portly black woman with a giant black leather earring in the shape of Mother Africa, shouted at someone in the crowd, “What if I called you a greasy inbred stringy-haired cracker?”
“I’d be offended,” they replied.
“But ‘cracker’ isn’t offensive!” she insisted.
“Shouldn’t that be for the crackers to decide?” I asked her. She either didn’t hear me or she didn’t want to answer the question. Maybe she simply assumed it was for her to decide what was offensive and what wasn’t.
To my immense delight”seriously, it was like a teenage girl learning that Justin Bieber had suddenly shown up”I was informed that the tall black dude in sunglasses and checkered bucket hat was Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson, infamous for publicly wondering whether Guam would capsize if the US were to send too many Marines to the island. I have been brutally unkind to Johnson in the past. In fact, the only time I’ve voted in over ten years was in a local election for whomever was running against Hank Johnson, because I thought it was criminal that a man of his meager intellect should be in the US Congress.
Everyone at the event who was aware of Johnson’s presence”as well as all of my friends after being informed of it”made the same joke about whether Johnson was worried if the parking lot might capsize.
But Johnson had recently told the press he didn’t have a problem with the flags at Stone Mountain because they represented history. He only objected to Confederate flags flying over government buildings. He reiterated this point to me. He even rolled his eyes when I mentioned the NAACP’s suggestion that the Confederate carving should be sandblasted from the side of the mountain. “Nah, c’mon, man”that’s history. It’s history. Leave it alone.”
It was a refreshing and unexpectedly hilarious burst of common sense from the unlikeliest suspect in Georgia. Hank Johnson actually agreed with the rally-goers”this was about heritage, not hate. I posed for a photo with him before moving on into the crowd again.
Yet another young black male was pleading with attendees about how he felt the flag was a provocation, and the attendees kept insisting it had nothing to do with him, especially not with hating him. But he told them that it did. And they kept insisting that it didn’t.
Smirking at an argument that kept going in circles, one peckerwood quipped to me, “That’s one of those deals where ain’t nobody going to get ahead.”
And that pithy quote encapsulated the entire event. It was an argument over what symbols represent”an argument that no one could ever win, because there is no objective answer. In the end, symbols represent whatever someone wants them to represent. One person’s heritage is another person’s hate. And the twain shall never agree.