All Neo-Confederate Politics Are Local

« July 2015 »

Memo to Brian Nielsen: YOU ARE A SUCKER.

It is often said that the South isn't more racist than the North, but that its racism is different. And this is true. Even when it comes to the Confederate Flag, the South couches its veneration of treason and slavery in terms of heritage and tradition, both of which are words that contain more syllables than are usually embraced by the people using them.

But as an Independence Day Confederate Flag incident shows, Minnesotan racists aren't romanticizing neo-Confederates, they're just weird, tribalistic lunkheads.

Specifically, we're talking about currently-suspended volunteer Brian Nielsen, who lives in a town called, I shit you not, "Hartland". Nielsen decided to take it upon himself to add a Confederate flag to the fire truck he drove in the Albert Lea 3rd of July parade, the theme of which was, of course, "Teaming Up For America" - quite possibly the least apt description of the Confederacy's relationship to the Union anyone could possibly find.

Is Nielsen a racist? Of course not. Just ask him! News organizations did, and he came right out and said that "I don’t see color, black or white. We’re all equal.” And actually, I believe him. At least the part about him not seeing color. Because Freeborn County, where Hartland, MN resides, has a population that is 96% white and 1.1% black. That's around 340 African-Americans or one every 2.15 square miles. And I bet they're not spread out that evenly.

So we have an incredibly white middle-aged dude in an incredibly white rural county in an incredibly white state flying the Confederate Flag because he thinks everyone's equal. Surely there's got to be more of it than that. And of course, there is. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"My view is that PC is going too far taking things out of history. It has nothing to do with slavery... I didn’t think it would bring this much attention, I just wanted to stand up and say that PC is not right all the time. They’re actually not right most of the time.”

Note Nielsen's repeated use of the abbreviation "PC", instead of the seven-syllable mouthful that is "political correctness". I'm not even going to get into his misunderstanding of "political correctness", or how it applies to the Confederate Flag situation, or the deep irony of him protesting something people aren't doing (erasing the Confederate Flag from history) by doing the thing they're actually objecting to (giving official sanction by the public sector). And yeah, a volunteer fire department is quasi-official at best, but it counts.

But the thing is, he's barely even cognizant of what he's doing. He clearly has a sort of half-assed, "overheard Sean Hannity in a bar one time" view of the situation. Liberals are bad, liberals are mad at the flag, therefore the flag must be good because PC! It's simpleton logic at its finest.

Of course, there is nobody dumb enough for the nation's tribal wingnuts to not leap to their defense when their stupidity is challenged. Nielsen's freedumb is being oppressed by getting in trouble for putting a controversial flag on his town's property without asking his boss if it was a good idea or not! Political correctness run amok!

Nobody's saying you can't fly the Confederate flag yourself. You can. You probably shouldn't, but it never hurts to have a clear indicator of ignorance on your person at all times, so, you know. Don't let me stop you. You can glorify the Confederacy. But it's long past time the government stopped doing it, since, you know, they're the government because the South lost. And that includes small-town fire departments.