Perception is reality.
Friday on my way home from work, I stopped at a gas station to fill up on gas and pick up some lottery tickets. I needed the gas because I was damned near on E and I needed the lottery tickets because I'm sick and tired of working for a living. Anyway as I was walking out of the gas station another man in a suit was walking out too with a couple of twelve packs of beer in his hands. As he walked by me he dropped his keys. I bent over and picked them up and handed them back to him. I noticed the Steelers emblem on his key chain and told him that I'd do almost anything for a fellow Steelers fan. He laughed and we struck up a brief conversation as he put the beer on the front seat of his pickup truck. We spent a few minutes talking about the upcoming NFL season, Steelers glory from the past and Ben Roethlisberger. We both thought that Ben was an idiot. I've always been amazed how people with absolutely nothing in common can come together to discuss sports. Maybe that's what they need in the Middle East?!? Maybe they need college basketball and the NFL?!?
Anyway eventually we said our goodbyes and I walked to my car. He said something to me about not seeing a Steelers bumper sticker on my car; as if to say that I wasn't a serious fan. That's when I saw both his Steelers bumper sticker and the Confederate Battle Flag stickers all over the back of his truck. So I turned around and said "Nah I don't have any Steelers stickers or any Confederate Flag stickers". When I said that he made a face; and so I asked him why he had those ugly stickers on his truck. He stammered over his words at first and then he told me that his great great great great grandfather was a Confederate soldier who served as a sergeant in the Army of Northern Virginia. So I said, "so he served under Robert E. Lee?" He said yes and then he told me his ancestor's company, the brigade he served in and how his family still has some of the letters and his journal and almost all of his uniform from the war. He was proud and I respected that. I told him that when I see that flag, that I don't feel good about it; that to me, it's a symbol of treason and hate. He didn't necessarily agree with my thoughts on it. I have always been a student of history and he and I actually stood there and talked about our Civil War for about twenty minutes before we said our goodbyes and left. He was well versed in the history of our Civil War and I have the utmost respect for anyone who knows what the hell they're talking about concerning history and doesn't just pull stuff outta their asses.
So many times in the past I've engaged what I would call rednecks in conversation about our Civil War and I've usually found myself laughing at what they believe to be the facts of the war. To me, it's a crime and a shame to pretend to be knowledgeable about something or purport to support something that you know next to nothing about. I'm proud to say that I'm a southern man. I'm proud to say that my families roots in this country are centered in the south. I have farmers on both sides of my family. Men and women who tilled the soil to make a living. Family on both sides who loved living in the south. It's my south, my home too. I have many friends from different backgrounds and I'm not ever surprised to see a Confederate Flag on the back of a pickup truck. Hell, I'm not surprised to see Klansmen walking about in their Halloween costumes, seen them many times. I've seen them solicit donations on the side of the road; as if they were Boy Scouts or Firefighters. I live in South Carolina and there are more rednecks here than Van Camps has pork 'n beans. When I think of rednecks though, I generally think of a very ignorant person who is not particularly sophisticated. Rednecks aren't usually deep thinkers. They usually yell their arguments at you as if them screaming makes them right.
Even to this day, when I think of a redneck defending the southern stance of our Civil War; I compare that to a German defending Hitler and the Nazi cause. Anyway you look at it, the war was about slavery. All that nonsense about states rights, is just that, simple nonsense. Had the south won the Civil War, slavery would have continued in the south. Although I know that many of the people in the north weren't concerned about my ancestors in the least, their cause is one that I can identify with. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.......whether I like them or not.
The picture above is one of the few times that I've seen a Confederate Flag and not felt quite so bad about it. There is a store not that far from my house that actually sells Confederate paraphernalia, including these bikinis. I actually went in there once to look for something for myself.