COLD CAVE HILLS, TENNESSEE — Jethro Bohiggins’ family has what the 38-year-old, self-described “Good Ol’ Boy from God’s Greatest State of Tennessee” calls a “rich and full Southern tradition” that includes several of his family members fighting for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Bohiggins’ great-great-great grandfather “never owned no slaves hisself,” according to Jethro, but “that didn’t stop him from whooping Yankee ass for tellin’ him he weren’t allowed to if he wanted to one day.”
However, Jethro told The Political Garbage Chute recently, “that don’t mean that [his] extensive collection of Confederate Flag merchandise is about racism, or even slavery.” But despite his insistence that his approximately 122 different Confederate Flags that he displays in his formal living room are about what he calls “a natural, Southern rebelliousness and not the fact that many states left the Union because they were a-feared of slavery dyin’ out with that tyrant Lincoln being elected and all,” when his black friends come over, they never seem to appreciate his historical catalog of flags.
“I always tell them, it’s about heritage not hate,” Jethro told our reporter, “But then they always are like, ‘Yeah, a heritage of hate, dude.'”
Bohiggins says that “even when [he shows] them historical evidence that not every Confederate soldier owned slaves” his black friends “just keep saying things to me like, ‘But they sure had no problem killing other Americans so that other people could black folks like so much furniture.'” Jethro told us that “it’s just Yankee mythology that slavery was anything but a subtle footnote in the causes of the Civil War.” When our reporter produced the actual letters of secession from states like North Carolina and his own Tennessee that expressly state their belief that the North would try to end the slave trade altogether, Bohiggins clucked.
“Oh sure, to a Yankee reporter it would look like the actual words from many secessionist governments indicate that it was all about slavery,” Jethro admitted, “but I ask you this, are you going to believe historical record, or history that’s been revised over the years to maintain the same incorrect narrative from the time the war was fought? That’s what I thought.”
“I mean,” Bohiggins said to the reporter at one point, “why is it my fault if the Confederate Flag means racism to other people whose actual heritage means their family members were slaves? That’s not my fault. My Confederate Flag means I’m just like, you know, rebellious. The Confederacy’s Confederate Flag meant rebellion against not owning black people. Totally different, because I say it’s different.”
Jethro told the interviewer that he “will be sad if I can’t hang out with [his] black friends anymore because they are offended that I’d proudly display a symbol they associate with horrible things happening to people they were related to,” but that “ultimately the First Amendment means more to [him] than not hurting [his] friends feelings.” Our reporter asked Jethro if it was really so insensitive of his black friends to ask that he not show them his Confederate Flag collection.
“Oh, hell, of course it’s not insensitive of them,” Bohiggins said, “but why is it insensitive of me to proudly display something that at least millions and millions of Americans think is a symbol not of innocent rebelliousness but of systemic racism so bad it literally robbed an entire group of people of their humanity?”
Mr. Bohiggins says he plans to leave his Confederate Flag collection to his friend Charlie, a black man he has known all his life so that “Charlie can learn hisself about what the Confederate Flag means today, instead of fixating on that minor little point about Charlie’s ancestors’ subjugation kept alive under it.” Bohiggins told us that he was out in the WalMart parking lot with his fellow flag supporters on the Fourth of July this past weekend because “I really love celebrating human independence by displaying a flag that stood for the forced enslavement of an entire race of people. And because irony is how I describe blood tasting.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because they have a definition of hate speech that includes “calling Ann Coulter the C-word.”