Back in July, I wrote a post titled My Embarrassing Southern Rock Phase, which prompted one of the best, if brief, discussions in the comments section that I’ve had here at Fish & Bicycles.
What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is that my post would be prophetic.
Now, just a few months later, this news from the Los Angeles Times:
Lynyrd Skynyrd denounces Confederate flag, angering some fans
The Southern rock band has long been known for its ’70s-era hits like “Sweet Home Alabama” and defiant embrace of Old Dixie imagery. But the group’s lone surviving original member, Gary Rossington, recently told CNN that the band, recognizing the stars-and-bars flag’s offensive and racist undertones, will cease using it as a stage decoration at concerts supporting its new album “Last of a Dyin’ Breed.”
“Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that’s what it was about,” Rossington said. “We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things.”
And, I got all excited!
Maybe they read my post and they finally got it! I thought, kudos to them for this decision, given that, as the article goes on to report, they faced the wrath of some of their fans and fellow southerners. That takes real bravery!
Well, um, unfortunately, just a few days later, it seems they weren’t very brave at all.
Lynyrd Skynyrd won’t abandon the Confederate flag
Recently, Lynyrd Skynyrd told CNN that it has stopped associating itself with the Confederate flag because “it became such an issue about race.” The flag had been hijacked by the KKK and other hate groups you see. However, after receiving lots of media attention and fan backlash, Skynyrd is sticking with the flag after all.
And, as if it wasn’t bad enough that they’ll continue using the flag, founding member Gary Rossington’s “clarification” of his statement on CNN, which he posted on the band’s Facebook Page, includes an infamous attempt at sanitizing history:
…the Civil War was fought over States rights.
Yeah, and one of those “rights” was the right to own slaves.
What I find most interesting about all this, however, is the cognitive dissonance in the clip from the CNN broadcast referenced in the L.A. Times piece.
Here, you have an African American woman, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield, enthusiastically introducing the band, with complimentary references to their considerable musical legacy of well-known anthemic radio hits — songs that, chances are, VERY few if any African Americans would EVER voluntarily listen to — she then warmly interviews them, an interview prefaced with this statement:
They remain steeped in tradition, but they’re proud to boast that they have evolved, a lot, in their lyrics, their style, and image.
…and that last form of evolution, the image, is clearly an intentional foreshadowing, because, when Fredricka asks them straight out about the flag, accompanying photos of the band are shown, examples of their longstanding use of the flag as part of their image, so there can be no doubt that their supposed decision to stop using the flag was the main angle for the entire piece.
Anyway, I just can’t help thinking that Fredricka must, almost certainly, feel duped, and I find that incredibly sad.