White Nationalism: The New (Old) Rebellion


He sat in class not doing the work assigned. Instead he kept drawing the same thing over and over and over again.

The Confederate flag.

There was one on his computer screen, too.

A Confederate flag with a rifle and in big black print “Come and Take It.”

It was a threat, of course. A double-dog-dare-you.

I don’t know if he is a nice kid or not. I don’t know anything about him other than that brief encounter where he wanted to show me what he was drawing. That same flag.

He was trying to get a reaction from me, I’m pretty sure. He knew nothing about me, either, though. Didn’t know at all that I grew up in the segregated South. That I was legally banned from attending school with people of color until my 10th grade year. Back then, I never thought about the wrongness of all that. When all you know is a white world, you can’t know what is missing. The stories. The language. The art. The music. The food. The goodness missing from your life. You can’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

I don’t know if kids growing up in the Pacific Northwest know what a volatile image the Confederate flag is. I don’t know if they even care. I suppose it is like anywhere else: Some do. Some don’t. I suspect many are attracted to it simply for its inflammatory and divisive messaging.

White Nationalism is the new (old) rebellion.

It’s a way for teenagers to rile up the old folks. Teens, who don’t know the definition of “states rights” or the “three branches of government”, hang the flag in the back window of their pickup trucks and drive around town raising holy hell with their broken muffler pipes.  Some drape the flag across their bedroom window, blocking out the light, literally and figuratively. At least one home up the road from me flies a billboard-sized flag from a flagpole in their front yard.

I admit that seeing the embrace of the Confederate flag here in the Pacific Northwest is discombobulating. When I am in Georgia or South Carolina and I see somebody with a bumper sticker of the Confederate flag, I make immediate assumptions about that person  – the first and foremost one is that they are declaring to the world that they are proud racists. I steer clear of those folks.

But here in the Pacific Northwest, I just don’t know what to make of the people who fly the Confederate flag, or post it to their computer’s wallpaper.

The schools here are pretty much already segregated. So are the neighborhoods. And the churches. Ask a native Oregonian or a transplanted Californian and they will likely deny that they are racist in any form or fashion, but certainly not racist like those folks from Georgia and Alabama, they’ll insist.

Maybe they are right. Maybe they aren’t racist.

But when a kid, any kid, is sitting in class drawing the same image of the Confederate flag over and over again, like a programmed bot, not contemplating anything of any depth – including the lesson he’s supposed to be learning, the one requiring critical thought – but is instead fixated on the guns he has stockpiled somewhere, we are all in much deeper dookie than we care to think about.

Can another Civil War be that far off?

Karen Spears Zacharias is an author of a lot of books. Most of them require critical thinking skills and a heart. Check them out.



Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

1 Comment

AF Roger

about 5 years ago

"And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." -Luke 16:8. This conclusion of a very difficult parable of Jesus has always been enigmatic at best, downright frightening at worst. Yet they are the only words that come to mind that seem to describe Pat Robertson's thinly veiled explication and justification of the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the justification and rationalization of it by the United States--on the basis of an obscene mountain of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Not sustainable, renewable agriculture or energy systems. Not freedom of information and democratization of the Arab world and empowerment of women. Not the resolution of tribal conflicts and regional disputes by non-violent means. No. Let's help this backward, pre-medieval autocracy perpetuate itself and give it the tools to draw the world ever closer to WWIII. In Weapons We Trust. Because they create a few 'good jobs' here while hastening destruction of the world? And 'Christians' buy this as being Christ-like??? The Evangelical establishment is looking less and less like children of light on a daily basis. We know Trump has already made up his mind. Money and power decide everything for him, and his shrewdness in enlisting religious sects in the cause of his own authoritarianism smells more like pre-WWII Germany every day. Trump is neither rational nor reasonable. He needs no factual information whatsoever to hold any view or opinion. He thinks what he thinks because he thinks it. But he is super-humanly skillful at manipulation and getting his way. His way is not the way of light. Not at all. That he has had such success should give us all pause. It indicts the rest of us for the dimness of our own light. Back to that difficult parable I began with. Perhaps 30 years ago, Prof. Murdo McDonald, a WWII combat veteran who became Chair of Practical Theology at Glasgow University, made the best attempt at extracting truth from the parable with this statement: "God is not prepared to bestow his benediction on our timidities and our stupidities." Were he alive, I doubt Prof. McDonald would be invited to The 700 Club. Would Jesus be? Or would he be asked to leave?


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