L’Infâme: Lost Causes
“God’s Eye-View” and Confederate Tags
Pierre Tristam/Candide’s Notebooks, April 4, 2006
L’infâme—my all-purpose term for all things repressive and regressive—has been a busy bastard lately. Bush has been playing up his average Joe quotient to win Gallup brownie points. Neo-Nazis in Germany appear to be putting together a few cheerleading squads of their own to bash up foreigners attending the World Cup there come June. America’s anti-immigration cheerleaders, led by their doberman-in-chief at CNN, are dangerously close to sounding like Germany’s gathering foreign-bashers.
Here are two fresher idiocies altogether that haven’t gotten much play: A U.S. Air Force commander in Iraq tells Stars & Stripes that the “focus of U.S. air power has shifted from dropping bombs to giving U.S. troops a ‘God’s-eye view’ of what’s on the ground,” as if one crusading bigot mightily high in the Pentagon’s Iraq chain of command wasn’t enough. I wasn’t aware that god had joined up with the Air Force’s bomb-detecting squad, being under the impression that the “What Would Jesus Bomb” campaign still had him, or Him rather, in the bomb bay scoping out targets to fry. Lt. Col. Pete Gersten, commander of the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Balad Air Base and Stars & Stripes quotee, probably though in that Average Joe fashion of the day that he was making a cool run at vivid imagery. Maybe he was confusing god’s eye view with that of our true Lord and Savio, Bush himself. Let that little divine description of bomb-scoping get out on the Iraqi street, where word has it people are just a touch weary of Americans playing god on their ass, and see how wonderfully it will be received.
Speaking of Lost Cause: In my home state of Florida, that mossy brew of Bush country gone stale, the Sons of Confederate Veterans want a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate flag to be made available to motorists. It would be the 107 th such pander to one cause or another—we have a “choose life” one, not quite directed at the state’s capital punishment fetishists, a “family values” one (Floridians having trouble granting families more value than real estate), one for every branch of the military (and some branches that don’t even exist), even one for Martin Luther King’s Dream Foundation, because here it’s still, after all, just a dream: ergo, the push for a license plate emblazoned with the Confederate Flag, and justified by that ruse of a word that makes every racist proud: it’s heritage.
The Sons of Confederates got the NAACP aberration from Asheville, N.C., who’s made a name for himself wrapping his warp in the Confederate flag, to come to Tallahassee and sing Dixie in the campaign launch for the license plate. It’s not a first. South Carolina and Virginia have the plates already. But it doesn’t look as if even this Bush will let the thing ride in Florida. I’ve always liked t-steel’s take on the flag (“I pity the fool that wants to "act out" against me when they are flying a damn flag”) but I’d rather the government I contribute my taxes to kept its allegiances a bit more neutral regarding certain things, fluttering bigotries posing as heritage—however honest the heritage’s bigotries—among them.