Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dixie Flag in Argentina?

This post has nothing to do with physics, but everything to do with cultural (mis)understanding. In my position as a Fulbrighter, I am not only sharing knowledge and teaching methods, but am also an agent of cultural exchange.  At the risk of opening a massive can of worms, I am going to throw my $0.02 out there in an effort to help clarify some things that Argentines might not be aware of. Before I start, I want to reiterate the disclaimer from above- the following is my opinion, and nothing more. If you have a different view of things, I would be happy to discuss this issue with you. Feel free to leave a comment, but please keep things appropriate. This preamble may seem a bit over the top, but this is a contentious issue and I think it's better to be prepared. I'm also going to do my best to provide a translation so that all my readers can understand. Be patient, I'm sure there will be minor errors!

Este entrada no tiene nada que ver con la Física, sino es sobre (mal)entendimientos culturales. En mi posición como Fulbrighter, no solamente estoy acá para compartir conocimiento y métodos de enseñanza, pero también soy un agente de intercambio cultural. Al riesgo de abrir la caja de Pandora, voy a decirles mi opinión en una oferta para aclarar algunas cosas que unos Argentinos no conocen. Antes de empezar, quiero repitir otra vez el descargo de responsibilidad de arriba- lo que sigue es solamente mi opinión, y nada más. Si vos tienes una interpretación diferente, me alegraría discutir este tema con vos. Sientes libre para dejar un comentario, pero por favor, debe ser apropriado. Por favor, tienes paciencía, porque estoy seguro que hay errores!


About three weeks ago I was visiting a school and I saw a student pull a notebook out of a backpack. I did a double-take, because there was a familiar image on the front of it.

Hace tres semanas estaba visitando una escuela y ví un alumno sacar un cuaderno de su mochilla. Miré de nuevo, porque había un imagen familar sobre el frente del cuaderno. 




Company Logo, copied from website.
What caught my eye was that it was adorned with an emblem that looked awfully similar to the rebel flag. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Civil War in the US, this image was the icon of the Southern states who seceded from the Union (it was actually their second flag, but this is the one that is commonly remembered). Since the Civil War, this flag has become an symbol of Southern Heritage. I grew up in Tennessee, and it was a frequent sight (for the record, I also see it flown in New York from time to time). In Tennessee it was frequently displayed in the back of pickup trucks, sometimes with the slogan "heritage, not hate."

Lo que me llamó la atención es que el cuaderno tenía un imagen que me aparecío muy similar a la Bandera de Los Rebeldes, cual también es conocido como la Bandera Dixie. Por esos de ustedes que no conocen la Guerra Civil de Los Estados Unidos, este imagen era el icono de los estados del Sur que se separaron de la Unión, que se llamaba La Confederación (de verdad, ésta era su bandera segunda, pero es la que es más conocido). Desde la Guerra Civil, esta bandera ha se vuelto un símbolo del Patriminio del Sur. Cuando era niño, vivía en el estado de Tennesse, que está en el Sur de Los Estados Unidos. En este lugar, esta bandera era una vista frequente (también debo decir que la veo en el estado de Nueva York a veces). En Tennessee, unas personas la exponen de la parte atrás de sus trocas, a veces con la frase "patrimonio, no odiar." 




I finally got around to doing some research to see if there was a connection between the emblem and Confederacy. I found the website for the company: John L. Cook. It seems to be a company that makes clothes and some school supplies.

Últimamente tenía la oportunidad para hacer una investigación para ver si existe una conexión entre el imagen den cuaderno y la Confederación de los Estados del Sur. Encontré el website para la empresa: John L. Cook. Parece que es una empresa que hace ropa y útiles.


I wasn't the only one who noticed the Dixie Flag here in Argentina, another blogger found this interesting as well. While this person recognized the flag for the symbol of the Confederacy, and was astonished that it had been appropriated as the symbol of a popular brand here in Argentina, in my opinion he or she missed something important about the reasons for the Civil War.

Yo no era la única persona que comprendí la Bandera Dixie acá en Argentina, un otro blogger que también la encontró muy interesante. Mientras esa persona dío cuenta que la Bandera como el símbolo de la Confederación, y le asombraba que había sido apropiado como símbolo de una marca popular acá en Argentina, mi opinión es que el o ella faltó algo important sobre las rázones porque empezó la Guerra Civil de Los Estados Unidos. 


If you go back and look at the articles of secession for the civil war (few people have actually read these), you will find that yes, on the surface the states claimed economic factors as their reasons for seceding. However, their economies were based on slavery- without slaves the southern economy could not function. Hence, abolishing slavery would be ruinous to the southern economy. So the economic argument for secession doesn't hold water- in my opinion it's just a thinly veiled excuse- the real reason to secede was to keep the institution of slavery intact. This is what I believe, but I wasn't the one who originated the idea. I was lucky enough to have an incredible US History teacher. who was an expert on the Civil War. He provided my class with the opportunity to look at primary and secondary sources and decide for ourselves. It comes as no surprise that he was also an outspoken critic of the "Heritage, not Hate" claim, as the Dixie Flag represented the Confederacy, which was in turn based on slavery, which ultimately was based on the subjugation of one race for the benefit of another.

Si vas a ver los articulos de secesión para la Guerra Civil (poca gente lo han hecho), vas a encontrar que si, es la verdad que unos estados reclamaban factores económicos como sus rázones para separarse de la Unión. Sin embargo, sus económias eran basados sobre la esclavitud- sin esclavos la económia del Sur no podía funcionar. De ahí, el paro de la esclavitud hubiera sido un desastre para la económia del Sur. Pues, el caso de que la secesión era para rázones económicos no tiene sentido- mi opinión es que es solamente una escusa apenas velada- la rázon verdadera para separarse era para guardar la institución de la esclavitud. Éste es lo que yo creo, pero yo no era el creador de esa idea. Tenía suerte de tener un profesor increible de la Historía de Los Estados Unidos cuando yo era un alumno en colegio (y también tenía otros profesor buenos, pero eso es un cuento para un otro día). Él era un experto de la Guerra Civil. Él le dío a mi clase la oportunidad para ver fuentes primarias y secundarias para que pudimos decidir para nosotros propios. No debe ser una sorpresa que el profesor también era crítico franco de la afirmación que la Bandera Dixie represente "patrimonio, no odiar," como la bandera representaba La Confederación, que era basado en la esclavitud, la natura de cual últimamente es la subyugación de una raza por el beneficio de una otra.


There is a long history of disagreement about the meaning of the Dixie Flag. You can read a lot about it if you take the time to do some searching. I would encourage you to do your homework- read articles that are researched and supported, not the drivel that many take as gospel. Look for the primary sources- the articles of secession themselves, etc. Don't take my word or anyone else's for it- decide for yourself.

Existe una historía muy larga de desacuerdo del significado de la Bandera Dixie. Puedes leer mucho sobre este tema si tomas el tiempo para buscar. Te animo completar esta tarea- debes leer articulos que son investigados y apoyados, no la basura que mucha gente cree como si fuera evangelio. Buscas para fuentes primarias- los documentos de la secesión, y más. No debes creer lo que yo digo, ni las palabras de otras personas- necesitas decidir para tu propio.


For the moment, I'm going to end by saying that I was astonished to find that image here in Argentina. Clearly, it has been taken out of context, and is not meant to represent the same things that is stands for back home. However, its appearance here presents a unique opportunity for meaningful discussion. I'd love to hear what y'all have to say.

Por el momento, voy a terminar por decir que me asombraba encontrar el imagen de la Bandera Dixie acá en Argentina. Es cierto que lo está siendo usado sin el contexto que es necesario, y no es intentado representar lo que significa en los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, su aparación acá nos da una oportunidad para una discusión positiva. Me encantaria oir lo que ustedes piensan.

4 comments:

  1. Okey I never like this type of things, I mean, the way that companies take flags or simbols of other countries and use them like them logos. Because they may or may not know what thats logos means, but they are sending subliminal messages to the people, make them wear a flag of an other country, for example, and make all of us look like unpatriotic. And that's really an insult for the country we have to represent, which deserves respect. Is realy necessary, for me, that people have to know the meaning and reason of what they are promoting or wearing. I hope this change one day.
    An argentinian disturbed teenage.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to reply- and in English no less! I think people here don't know that the company logo has anything to do with the Civil War, in fact a friend of mine told me that he thought that the company was a US brand! I wonder if the company is aware of the connection.

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  2. Chris is correct in his historical analysis - there were many factors that contributed to the secession of our southern States but slavery was at the epicenter of the debate. The northern States had already abolished slavery and were being supported by the burgeoning industrial revolution in their city centers (mills, factories, etc). The southerners still relied heavily on the agricultural industry to produce revenue and trade. Their slaves were the workforce behind that agrarian society.

    I would like to add that there have been numerous developments in the 150 years since the war that have complicated the issue beyond an easy answer or label. Following slavery, the Jim Crow laws enacted throughout the south continued to keep African Americans oppressed up to and following the desegregation of the society in the 1950's/60's. In reality, blacks continue to live in substandard conditions when compared with their white counterparts - across the country, not just in the south. Another point - the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), developed in the decades following the war by a group of former Confederate officers, became a terrorizing force amidst the black population that would not hesitate to murder a black person for even the possibility of committing a crime or for a perceived insult to a white citizen. Over the decades, the Confederate flag became a growing symbol of meaning and significance for this group. To the present day, many White Supremacists hold the Confederate flag in high regard as a symbol of their racial superiority.

    On the other hand, there is little doubt that southerners suffered enormously from the war and its aftermath. Once again, to the present day, the southern states are underdeveloped and poorer than their northern counterparts. Many southerners hold the flag in high regard as a way of demonstrating their pride in their Scots-Irish heritage and in the distinctively southern way of life. In addition, because the southerners were referred to as "rebels" for their attempt to secede, many individuals in all states who feel an affinity for some type of rebellious life - whatever that may mean to them - have taken up the flag as their own personal means of individual expression. As Chris pointed out, however, this symbolism is marred by the reality of slavery as being at the heart of the Confederate secession.

    In any and all accounts....it is a thorny issue and one that will probably be debated for a long while to come. I applaud Chris for taking a stab at it in a fair and honest account.

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    1. Thanks for shedding some more light on this subject! Your explanation is way more detailed than my understanding, and very articulate to boot.

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