Thursday, June 30, 2011

look away, look away

A recording of "Dixie" that's nearly 100 years old. Don't click on it if you find the song offensive.

It will surprise absolutely no one that my high school mascot was the Rebel. It was the same little guy as Ole Miss, but in our school colors of maroon and grey.

Couldn't find the right color but you get the gist

Our school seal had a Confederate flag in it, too. They flew by the dozens at our Homecoming celebration. The whole thing is antiquated and offensive and silly but it's pretty much par for the course in the South.

But I learned something interesting today.

I always learn the most interesting things at lunchtime at work. All the ladies crowd in the small kitchen and take turns microwaving their leftovers and Lean Cuisines and run their mouths about this and that while they flip through old OK magazines.

Today I learned that there are schools in Massachusetts that use the Rebel as their mascot. What?

Specifically I learned about the euphoniously named city of Walpole, MA. Walpole High School students are the Rebels just like we were. (All except the girls' field hockey team. They are the Porkers.) Until 1994, they used a Confederate flag as their symbol and sang "Dixie" in the stands. Unofficial lunchtime reports suggest the "Dixie" tradition persisted far beyond '94.

Even more confounding is the fact that a neighboring landowner has put up a gigantic Confederate flag adjacent to the field. He refuses to take it down amid much scandal.

photo from

What is happening here??? This place is well over 300 miles from the Mason Dixon line.

I really have no idea what to make of this. In Tennessee, you hear people speak of "heritage, not hate" when they explain the Confederate flags on splashed decals on their cars or superimposed over the silhouettes of busty women on their teeshirts. But how can it be "heritage, not hate" when there's no claim to the heritage? Is this an example of a weird fetishization of the South, similar to the way white culture has fetishized Native Americans as sports mascots for ages? Call me simple, but I had no idea you could find Rebels outside of Dixie.

Discussion question:
Someone please help me make sense of this.



  1. What if the person flying the flag is from the South? Either way, I never liked the FHS mascot and seal.

  2. I think the isolated incident of the flag is explainable, but why would they have had a Rebel mascot to begin with??

    Things that make you go wtf

  3. I dunno, but there were confederate flags a' plenty on rednecks' trucks and t-shirts even where I grew up in Washington State. It's like a rural, blue-collar-pride, middle-finger-to-the-educated-urban-yuppies-and-political-correctness-in-general, kind of thing. With varying amounts of racist xenophobia thrown in.

  4. It's such a strange appropriation of that already strange symbol! I guess you learn something new every day.

  5. i for one am more offended at "Porkers"

  6. You'll have to take that up with the Porkers.

  7. I'm glad SOMEONE finally replied to this correctly

  8. I can't answer the question yet - my brain paused when you said the girls' field hockey team = the Porkers. That alone, my dear Katie, is enough to make me go wtf.

  9. Ryan's mascot was the Colonel. You have no idea how many times he has explained, "yes, like Colonel Sanders, who was also from Kentucky, but totally not the same thing."

  10. You're from Franklin!
    I live in Nashville, and am from Bell Buckle, so yeah. I was always stymied by the giant painting of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the high school gym of (obviously) Forrest High School in Chapel Hill. Like... really? Still? Yeesh.

    Therefore, I am even MORE stymied by the rebel flag mascot in the NE. Say wha?

  11. omg fellow Tennessean!

    Bell Buckle is one of my favorite toponymns in Tennessee. :)

    glad to know another Southerner finds the whole thing confounding

  12. There are racists all over the country.

    The "General" Lee at Walpole High was a Massachusetts man who attended segregated Memphis State, then became a coach at segregated Overton HS in Memphis. Curiously, around the time when the schools became desegregated in Memphis, Coach Lee came back to Massachusetts and proudly wrapped himself in the Confederate flag at Walpole High.

    The sad thing is that for 4 lousy years millions of Southern Americans were caught up in the fever manufactured by wealthy slaveholders to create a white supremacist "USA"....and they lost, miserably.