Weekly Obsession: Battle flag syndrome

Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 10:05pm

Within the hearts of some people there is, apparently, a need to hang stuff from bridges. Science hasn’t fully explored this phenomenon, but it’s likely related to similar vandalistic compulsions like painting water towers.

Whether it’s a desire to shock or a need to draw attention to oneself without actually receiving any personal credit (or infamy), these little acts of defiance are best described as the visual equivalent
of “Hey, watch this!”

Last week, someone decided to take some caution tape, knot it around the railing of the Shelby Street Bridge and toss a Confederate flag to wave in the wind on the north side of the bridge, presumably as an announcement to barges inbound from Yankeeland that we know they ain’t from around here, and we have our eyes on them.

The Confederate flag — of course, a loaded image to many — adds shock to this, but whatever purpose or cause the perpetrators meant to advance (if any), the message was lost in the sheer absurdity of the act.

What’s more, this apparently isn’t the first time something’s been heave-hoed over the side, nor is it the first run of the spangled saltire of the Old South over the edge. 

Not only did these latest flag-hangers committ a head-scratching act — they were unoriginal about it. This kind of thing has happened often enough that Metro police were ready with a quick answer about it. 

There are a lot of things better suited to swing from the structure: a Titans flag on game day (if one ever happens again), for example. Or the good ol’ Stars and Stripes. The Confederate banner appeared, coincidentally, the day the U.S. played a soccer game against Paraguay at LP Field, so cheers to Metro for getting it down before the TV cameras arrived.

Let’s hope this little display was a blip and not a trend. The folks at Metro Public Works are busy enough without having to clean up misplaced displays of … whatever that was about. 

6 Comments on this post:

By: HokeyPokey on 4/4/11 at 5:23

Really, maybe these guys could take a pointer or two from Vietnamese monks and set themselves on fire on the bridge. I'm sure that would change things for the better.

At least after the smoke cleared.


By: Loner on 4/4/11 at 5:26

Lind seems to be downplaying the seriousness of this incident. I'm not so quick to chalk this incident up to a simple case of boys just being boys. The flag-hangers knew what they were doing, they were intimidating black folks.

JR Lind considers the Stars & Bars to be "a loaded image to many ". I'd say that's quite an understatement.

Lind suggested that, in the future, vandals might try to hang other banners, such as the Titan's flag or the Stars & Stripes.....yeah, right.

If these dare-devil vandals had hung a Nazi swastika in that same place; nobody would try to deny that the intent was to intimidate Jews. The ADL would be right on it; and it would not be considered a harmless prank.

The KKK and various skin-head klans still use "the spangled saltire of the Old South" as their logo....it's power to intimidate and incite is still potent and still dangerous; do not underestimate that.

By: yogiman on 4/4/11 at 6:12

I'm sure we all see everything differently. As an old man from the South, I see that Confederate flag as a piece of history.

It is simply that. I can not believe there could ever be another racial uprising in the USA again, North or South.

By: treehugger7 on 4/4/11 at 6:33

Give the tea party a little more time...and you may see one.

By: Vandyville16 on 4/4/11 at 12:59

Yes I work downtown and saw a man that seems to show up this time of year.
Believe he's mentally ill and is an alcoholic,he was wearing a Confederate Flag wrapped around himself a few week-ends ago on Church St.
Sited him again this past week-end and no Confederate Flag.
Wouldn't put it passed him if he was the one who may have put this flag on the Shelby Street Bridge.
You just never know.He has shoulder length hair,blonde and very curly,about 5'10 and about the age somewhere between his mid twenties or early thirties.Only have seen him from a distance.

By: localboy on 4/6/11 at 8:11

What a poor piece of work.