Tuesday, July 8

cross on fire

This story about an idiot in Arkansas who burned a cross on the lawn of a white woman and her three mixed race sons hasn’t gone away in the blogosphere. Mostly because his criminally stupid mother claims that there was no way this was a racist act, “because he has Black friends”. I can’t even get into the depth of the stupidity surrounding them because blood pressure medicine is expensive; it’s better to just breathe…
I keep reading comments on other blogs about ‘the history’ of cross burning and it occurred to me that there are things you may not know about it. Some people know that cross burning is a Scottish tradition. At gatherings of the Clans not just in times of war but for festivals, weddings, or any other large gathering St. Andrew's cross would be set atop some serious logs. The head of each clan or family would bring a torch up to the fire set, announce that his group had arrived and add their small fire to the big one. Cheers would chase the sparks to the sky, and undoubtedly whiskey would be passed around. The point was for each group to contribute to the fire that was Scotland. It was about unity and light. It is still done every year at the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Festival, happening this month in NC if you’re interested. The thing is that anyone who’s seen the blue and white flag of Scotland can tell you that St. Andrews Cross is in an X shape. Which is perfect for starting a massive bonfire, but not so perfect for blasphemy or striking fear in the hearts of your neighbors.
And here is where we get to blame it all on the media, don’t you just love it? You could say that the seed of the idea was first planted in Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake where he talked about the cross burning on a hilltop to call the clans together for war. It was fictionalized, but not totally warped until the Grandfather of Fox News- Birth of a Nation, where whites with flaming crosses drove off the ‘Negro oppressors’ and Yankees to the tune of The Flight of the Valkyries and audiences went wild. (Yes, I know movies were silent then-but they came with score suggestions for the band)
Fast forward to today – past decades of fear and lynching and mutilation, past gunshots and terror in nights lit up by burning symbols of love twisted into hate. To a time when St. Andrews is ancient history to most people and Birth of a Nation is virtually unknown (although its’ Grandson, Fox News, is doing well). Now there comes a boy who thinks it’s funny to burn a cross on the lawn of a single mother. He meant it as a joke.

The cross has meant family, safety, country, loyalty, love and faith.

It has brought fear, hate, terror, pain and death.

It has never been funny.

17 Comments:

Doc said...

Not funny at all... however on a different note it's hard to take the KKK seriously when they call their leader the Grand Emperial Cyclops.

I am just sayin'

WNG said...

I'd love to be able to laugh at them, Doc. I love that you can - that so many people can see them as a joke because they don't deserve any respect. I know that my hatred of them only feeds into their hatred and I should find a way to let it go...but I can't.

Doc said...

Hey I look at it this way. I am the only person I know of who the Klan threatened to blow their house up. (I was 10 at the time) AND they didn't follow through with it so I get some leeway that I can laugh at them 'cause they are full of s--t!

WNG said...

Laugh at them all you want, Doc, I say go for it. We all deal how we deal.


ps. I'm glad you weren't blown up.

NoRegrets said...

Very very interesting. Thank you!

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

WNG said...

Seriously NoR there is NO cheap BP medicine.

Susan said...

You definitely need to breathe after the day you had yesterday. You might end up blowing someone up. :)

Jay said...

It seems hard to believe that people could be so ignorant and so uneducated that they would think this really was a joke. Unfortunately I actually know people like that. Seriously.

Remember the chick with the Golf Channel that made the lynching comment about Tiger Woods. I know people who in all honestly don't think that lynching has any race-specific meanings. They're either complete fucking morons or they've been convinced of this by people trying to pretend that racism doesn't exist or whatever. Probably a combination of both since most of these racist groups prey on the uneducated and ignorant anyway.

Big Man said...

Tons of good information here. I never took the time to look up the history of cross burning so I didn't know about the Scottish angle. I also didn't know that it was first introduced to American culture through Birth of a Nation. I guess I just thought the racist came up with it on their own. Birth of a Nation really, REALLY effed black folks over. It's the gift that keeps giving even if most folks don't even know about the movie.

And I loved your joke about Fox News. They are really out of control. Did you see that new story about them altering photos to make people look more dangerous? And it wasn't even black folks!

WNG said...

Oh Susan you have NO IDEA of the drama that is 'This Week in the Life of G'. I'll have to do a post on it...

I know Jay, you look at them and understand the words 'willfull ignorance'. At some point you just have to not WANT to know.

Big Man - the Scottish fam of G (and many others who are into Scottish history)gets pretty pissed about the whole cross burning thing because the kkk likes to claim that they're upholding some sort of tradition, which is complete bullshit.
And I really think that some grad student out there could do a great dissertation tracing American media from BOAN to Fox. It was a joke, but it wasn't, you know?
Check out yesterday's business section of the NYT for a great article on Faux News. The picture doctoring reminds of: First they came for my brother and I said nothing...

Doc said...

I know people who in all honestly don't think that lynching has any race-specific meanings. They're either complete fucking morons or they've been convinced of this by people trying to pretend that racism doesn't exist or whatever. Probably a combination of both since most of these racist groups prey on the uneducated and ignorant anyway.

Excellent point Jay!

(thanks G... I am glad I didn't get blowwed up either) ;)

slag said...

As always, great info! You've done the G family proud. And you're right about Faux News. It can be a scary sad world out there when you think too much about these things.

WNG said...

Hence my vodka consumption,Slag ;-)
I try to do them proud, all sides of the G family, thanks!

The CEO said...

Let me also say how proud I am of the job you did. Ignorance is everywhere. And it comes in such a wide variety to choose from. Please don't stop, or ever give up hope. Remain positive, and never, never, never give up. Thank you.

WNG said...

You just say things like that because you want to have sushi with me, Monty ;)

The Mountain Cat said...

I used to go to Stone Mountain in Georgia when I lived in the South. But then I heard it was a famous site for cross burnings. I won't go back there again.

WNG said...

It's where the first one was burned as part of a kkk rally as far as I know, Mt Cat.
But I don't think that means we don't go. I think that means we DO go, a lot. It means we reclaim that land from the haters. Have a huge party with all kinds of people having fun with each other -that's the way fight fire with fire!