Treasonous Massachusetts

25May10

“You’re a black guy in Boston. You’re already fucked”- The Departed

Boston.com has a reminder today that the South is not the only domain of the Confederacy. Peter Schworm chronicles the enduring legacy of Walpole High’s use of treasonous propaganda:

Others agree the flag is offensive, at least to some. But they regard the Rebel nickname as sacrosanct and view efforts to discard it as mere political correctness. That is especially true among students.

“It’s Rebel pride,’’ said Will Krumpholz, 15, who added that “players like it more than their parents.’’

Walpole High adopted the Rebels’ moniker — replacing its old mascot, the Hilltoppers — in the mid-1960s, at the centennial of the Civil War and amid the bitter strife of the civil rights movement. At first the nickname carried no connection to the Confederacy. But when John Lee took over as coach in 1968, the Rebels fandom took on a distinctly Old South tone. Newspapers called the team “General Lee’s Rebels,’’ and Confederate flags became popular. In yearbook pictures from the era, flags fill the stands. Such images continued well into the 1980s.

“To speak against it was to speak against the team,’’ said Charles Hardy, a longtime social studies teacher at the high school who retired in 2002. “It always seemed pretty insensitive, but people just persisted with it.’’

This is why it’s arrogant for Northerners to feel a sense of superiority about race. Northerners did not inherit a permanent immunity against racism by being on the side of the country that ultimately declared the slaves free. As noted in the article, Walpole adopted this symbol during the civil rights struggle, something they have in common with many of the southern states that opposed civil rights.

I suppose that this “heritage not hate” argument will still persist, but even if that argument were valid for the South (it obviously isn’t), what heritage can Walpole High claim to the insurrection that divided this country?

Walpole is a suburb of a city that was in crisis due to integration in the wake of the civil rights movement. It seems clear that the high school can claim more solidarity with the South of the 60s, which vehemently opposed integration, than with the rebellion that many from Massachusetts helped defeat.

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