Thursday, November 16, 2006

What She Probably Meant

I find it extraordinary that today’s young people are not only historically conscious, but are able to make wry socio-political commentary in ways that appear controversial unless subjected to deeper examination.

Case in point: I saw a young woman yesterday (twelve, perhaps thirteen years old) wearing a t-shirt bearing the Confederate Battle Flag and the slogan “It’s not a flag – it’s a way of life.”

At first blush, this might seem merely the ignorant drivel of white trash too lacking in intellectual honesty and intestinal fortitude to simply wear clothing that proclaims, “I HATE EVERYONE THAT ISN’T LIKE ME.”  But without pausing to appreciate the deeper meaning, one would miss the intended point entirely.

At face value, her shirt implies that she, the wearer, is dedicated to a way of life analogous to that which her 1861 counterparts endured.

Some examples would include:

“My 1861 way of life means that I’m getting married when I’m 14.”

“My 1861 way of life means I’ve had little or no formal education, and I learned to read just enough to be able to get through short passages of the Bible during Sunday meeting.”

“My 1861 way of life means that I work from well before the sun comes up, to well after it goes down, for my family to survive.”

“My 1861 way of life includes having the barber pull my rotten teeth out with unclean pliers, and no anesthesia.  Or worse: having to pull them out myself.”

“My 1861 way of life includes pampering myself with the occasional bath (using lye soap), and wearing a homemade menstrual belt every month (when not pregnant, of course).”

“My 1861 way of life means that I cannot vote, regardless of my age.”

“My 1861 way of life includes giving birth to four children in a one room dirt floor cabin, without a doctor, before dying during the delivery my fifth child – all before I turn 20.”

However, this young woman was obviously enjoying the accoutrements of a way of life far superior in all aspects to that she would have faced had she been born in the middle of the nineteenth century.

And therein lies the brilliance of her underlying commentary: her way of life is itself testimony to the vast superiority of living conditions in the United States today,* even for someone of her social status.  The shirt implies, “I hate everyone who is different,” but what it really means is, “let us leave our hate in the past, embrace one another, continue to grow as human beings, and enjoy the ample rewards mankind has wrought the past one hundred and forty plus years.”

So, young woman, although it is too late for me to tell this to you in person, I salute you, and I applaud the people who provide whatever passes for parental supervision in your home!

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

* (In fact, about the only aspect of life today that has not drastically evolved since the American Civil War are the bigots.  They never seem to change.)


Boski93 said...


Your Humble Reader

B. Freret said...

Please, sir, I struggle to suppress my pride and vanity on a daily basis. Your underserved praise makes it difficult for me to maintain a modicum of humility.

Your obed’t servant,
B. Freret