The black flag

There are many historical ironies attendant to Republican symbology. If an American is sporting a swastika tattoo or flying a Nazi flag you can bet he or she isn’t a Democrat. Fetishism of the stars and bars — the flag of the Confederacy — is almost the exclusive domain of Republicans. Both are, apart from having a provenance of bigotry and hate, the standards of losers of major wars. And therein is the irony.

In a desperate attempt to level the playing field Republicans are quick to point out that it was they who freed the slaves of the Dixie Democrats. True enough, our party has a shameful history of that most loathsome of all transgressions — human slavery. For my part, having Southern antecedents, some of my ancestors were slave owners. I wish it were otherwise.

But these days we are the party of civil rights. That it was otherwise once upon a time is academic. We have renounced our past while Republicans have co-opted the racist symbols that we so thoroughly rejected.

And now they have another. The black flag. It is the American flag in shades of black and blacker, and it is meant to symbolize the opposite of the white flag of surrender. In other words, it’s a new Republican declaration of non-surrender, meant to communicate that they will never give up, they will take no prisoners and they will die fighting. In short it’s another silly, impotent declaration about their cold, dead hands.

Like most things Republican these days the black flag is probably more symbol than substance. Most of the fliers of that new banner of bigotry and hate would instantly wilt and wither away at the first sign of real trouble. We know this because most of the January 6th insurrectionists are suddenly ever-so-sorry, now that they know that it wasn’t a game, now that they realize that Trump won’t save them and the adults in the room are going to slap them with heavy consequences for their treasons.

The black flag is also a symptom of authoritarianism. Red hats, “Trump won” flags, stars and bars and swastikas are the symbologies of nationalists and spreaders of hate. We don’t need them. We don’t follow a cult leader, we champion ideas like equality, racial tolerance and the rights of women. Our fight is to rescue our planet from global warming and a worldwide pandemic, not wreck it with fossil fuels and nuclear weapons and anti-vaxxer stupidity.


To me Republican symbols say one thing and one thing only. Here comes a loser. Never before in human history have losers been so easy to spot. They’re the ones with the swastikas, the stars and bars, the red hats and now the black flags. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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