The Confederate Flag and White Resentment

The Confederate battle flag flies in the unincorporated town of Gap Mills, southeastern West Virginia.

The Confederate battle flag flies in the unincorporated town of Gap Mills, West Virginia. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Confederate flag is a scandalous American icon that will never go away. For example, former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, recently stated that the flagΒ  represented “service, sacrifice, and heritage.” Then, she added, mass-murderer Dylann Roof “hijacked” the flag when he killed nine parishioners in a historically black church in Charleston. As a result of Roof’s actions, racist hate groups now embrace the Confederate flag as a symbol of white supremacy. However, Haley’s analysis is wrong. White resentment connects the Confederate flag from its Civil War origins, to the era of white nationalism and Donald Trump.

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A Race Against Time: The South and the Fight Against Social Welfare

1930s poster advertising the benefits of Social Security. The South accpeted this program on condition that African Americans be excluded from its benefits.

1930s poster advertising the benefits of Social Security. The South accepted this program on condition that African-Americans be excluded from its benefits.

This October, some of the major benefits of President Obama’s signature health care reform bill will start being implemented across the U.S.Β Of course, ever since the bill’s passage back in 2010, the Republican Party has stood in strident opposition to a supposedly Stanliesque health reform law that was inspired by… the Heritage Foundation: a Republican think tank that over a decade ago proposed the idea of mandated individual health insurance. Among the GOP’s most vociferous opponents of Obamacare has been Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas who is aiming for the title of senate Wingnut Royale. Cruz has made headlines of late by defiantly claiming that he’ll find a way to destroy Obamacare even in the face of procedural impossibilities in the Senate.

Cruz’s Quixotic quest to defund the health care law is, in large part, a rhetorical attempt to regurgitate just enough political innards into the gaping maws of his nested Tea Party backers in exchange for their continued support. But Cruz’s anti-Obamacare stance is also standard politics for a conservative politician from the South: Cruz, as did many southerners in the past, opposes social welfare programs. Historically, however, conservative southerners’ opposition to welfare has been far from total; rather, as scholars like Lisa Disch and many others have observed,Β it has been selective along lines of class and, especially, race.

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