At The Atlantic
, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes Brad Paisley and the Politics of Offense and Offense-Taking
|New York's Jody Rosen has an interview up with Brad Paisley that's worth checking out. When Paisley released "Accidental Racist" earlier this year I got into some conversations on Twitter (I used to live there) with some of his fans. They defended him as a singular figure in the country music scene willing to push borders and challenge all manner of convention. You see that guy on display in Rosen's interview. Usually people who end up on the business end of the barrage Paisley endure come out sounding scornful. Paisley sounds more like he's grappling. We should all be so lucky.
I'd like to focus in on something:
|Some Southerners got very mad it me: "I'm done with you. How dare you apologize for the Confederate flag." But the majority of my fans said, "We know you, we love you -- and we don't understand the controversy, we don't get why everyone is so mad." Which tells you all you need to know, right there.
There is a gulf of understanding that I was trying to address. The most surprising and upsetting thing was being thought of by some as a racist. I have no interest in offending anyone -- especially anyone in the African-American community. That song was absolutely, earnestly supposed to be a healing song. One hundred percent.
I don't really doubt that Paisley wasn't trying to be offensive, nor that he really, earnestly was trying to do some good. But I don't think he really gets what bothers black people about the Confederate Flag. It is not simply that the flag is offensive. It is that it is the chosen symbol of slaveholders and those who wanted to live in a republic rooted in slaveholding. [...]
Natchez, Mississippi, a major slave-trading hub, was home to more millionaires per capita than any city in the country. But behind the numbers were the wrecked lives of black men and women. A slave stood roughly a 30 percent chance of being sold away. "Of the two thirds of a million interstate sales made by the traders in the decades before the Civil War," writes Johnson, "twenty-five percent involved the destruction of a first marriage and fifty percent destroyed a nuclear family." [...]
If you accept that the Confederacy fought to preserve and expand slavery, then you might begin to understand how the descendants of the enslaved might regard symbols of that era. And you might also begin to understand that "offense" doesn't even begin to cover it. Reading Penthouse while having Christmas dinner with your grandmother is offensive. Donning the symbols of those who fought for right to sell Henry Brown's wife and child is immoral.
Battle flag of the Army of Tennessee.
Typically called the Confederate flag.
It is important to speak this way. Nothing is changed by banishing the Confederate Flag out of a desire to be polite or inoffensive. The Confederate Flag should not die because black people have come to feel a certain way about their country, it should die when white people come to feel a certain way about themselves. It can't be for me. It has to be for you.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2002—Difficulties of urban warfare:
|Military planners continue to shudder at the thought of a street-to-street battle in Baghdad.
The US is working on new small-unit tactics to counter the urban defender's natural advantages, but those new tactics are still not ready for primetime:
And remember that in an urban center, US air power means little. It is difficult to call in air strikes on roving bands of urban defenders. Helicopter gunships are vulnerable to rocket propelled grenades. And as Grozny taught us, defenders can just as easily fire from behind rubble as from standing buildings.
|The Marines put some of their ideas to the test in a recent exercise on a shuttered Air Force base in southern California. In it, a battalion of 1,100 troops, backed by tanks and helicopters, tried to capture base housing from a simulated enemy force, played by 200 eager reservists. A hundred "extras" were hired from a temp agency to play civilian refugees.
In taking the city, about 100 of the attackers were killed — about 10 percent losses, a huge number compared with recent American military deaths in single battles. Several helicopters also went down before the Marines captured the town, and more were killed as the defending forces began using truck bombs and other guerrilla activities, Sullivan said.
Once again, given the weakness of Bush's case against Hussein, are we really willing to risk hundreds, if not thousands, of US casualties?
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