A pseudonymous liberal blogger in Washington state hopes that progressives across the country will show up to tea party rallies on September 12 and — if it’s legal — light up a confederate flag so tea partiers can watch it burn.
“I think that it would start a great conversation about race and about how it’s being used for political gain right now,” the blogger, who preferred to be identified by his online handle, “General J.C. Christian,” told me Monday. “I can imagine people showing up at the tea parties, which I’ll do at my local one, and the tea party backers will start explaining why [the flag] is about state’s rights, not slavery, and all that and basically hang themselves.”
“I think that will be one of the messages that come out of the tea party events if my idea works out and people actually embrace it,” he added.
General JC Christian, who writes the satirical anti-conservative blog Jesus’ General, says he’s serious about Burn The Confederate Flag Day, which he announced Sunday night on Facebook and the web. And while there’s no sign so far that Burn The Confederate Flag Day will spread across the nation, the idea seems sure to at least ruffle some tea party feathers.
September 12 is right up there with Tax Day in importance on the tea party calendar. The date comes from Glenn Beck, who helped launch the movement as we know it today with the first 9/12 rally in Washington, DC back in 2009. The 9/12 Project, as Beck’s yearly protest is named, is “designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001,” according to the project’s website. “The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.”
Of course what that actually meant in practice was thousands of angry conservatives converging on the National Mall to hear Glenn Beck and national Tea Party leaders whip up opposition to Democratic control of Congress and the White House. The 2009 9/12 tea party day became best known for the high-profile spat over how many people actually showed up in DC, though hundreds of sister rallies were held across the country.
This year, with the midterm election looming, tea partiers are expected to head out in to parks and public squares to make their voices heard again this September.
General JC Christian says he hopes Burn The Confederate Flag Day will expose what he says are the racial motivations of the tea party movement. The logistics are simple: protesters are urged to show up to the rallies and, if local laws allow a fire to be set, light a Confederate flag (or whatever approximation of one they can get their hands on — the blogger told me he’s not picky.) If laws don’t allow the flag to be burned in a public place, the protesters are urged to show up with a singed flag they burned at home and display it prominently.
The blogger told me that even as the tea party has publicly struggled to shake off its racist image, the movement has continued to be fueled by prejudice.
“Sure, after all the publicity, the leaders are trying to clean up their act,” General JC Christian told me. “But you’re looking at a group I think is fundamentally racist…I think there’s a conscious effort to show African Americans as subversive and anti-American and to tie that to Obama.”
The ongoing debate over the Confederate flag is the perfect way to expose those racial motivations, the blogger predicts. He posits that most tea partiers will be supportive of the Confederate flag, which he says means they’ve got issues with race.
“I refer to that kind of mindset as being from Confederate Americans,” he said, adding that the symbolism of the flag knows no geographic boundary. “I saw plenty of Confederate flags in Utah, I see plenty up here in Washington and you know if you get talking to the people [carrying them] you don’t have to scratch the surface much to find racism.”
It’s because of the prevalence of those views in otherwise blue state Washington that General JC Christian told me he has to remain pseudonymous, even as he tries to spark a national movement to publicly expose racist ideology in tea party ranks.
“You know, I’ve received some pretty credible death threats in the past,” he told me. “Also the nature of my work — I’m in a fairly conservative area of Washington state and I have to work very closely with some pretty scary right-wing people.”