I caught this in the City Pages – as reliable a barometer of the Twin Cities far-left, as well as the attitudes and mores of the wanna-be hipster, as there is.
Letter to the editor:
I fancy myself something of a dive-bar enthusiast, and the Gopher Bar was just about the last feather to place in my Twin Cities cap.
No doubt an ironic seed cap. No,wait – that was hipsters ten years ago.
Whenever hipsters talk “dive bars”, they’re talking “dive bars hipsters go to”. Which are to “dive bars” what the Disneyland “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride is to having your ship boarded by cuttthroats.
But the Gopher probably qualifies. It gives off all the signs of being “not upmarket” and “not even a little bit gentrified”.
Some signs, indeed, that make one suspect the lad might wet his pants, had he stayed long enough to read all the bar’s “flair”.
Which he did not:
Having spent the entire drive down talking to my friend about how troubled I was with the church shooting and resulting racial insensitivity, it seemed almost surreal to walk into Gopher Bar and see the Stars n’ Bars flying proudly. Upon asking the bartender about it, he replied with an (almost self-aware?) “Man, that doesn’t mean anything.” All I could squeak out was, “I beg to differ on behalf of nine families in Charleston” and walked out.
Confederates didn’t kill those nine people in Charleston. A mentally disturbed narcissist who’d latched onto racism as his vehicle to fifteen minutes’ fame did.
But I get it. The Confederate flag was the symbol of a nation that existed in large part due to slavery; the political crisis that led to its forming was over slavery; the economic battle between the North and South was between industry and slavery. The “preservation of the union” argument leading to the war was over the right to secede…over issues that all traced back to slavery. I have my misgivings about the Confederate flag.
We’ll come back to that.
The next morning I called and spoke with a woman, simply informing her that she had alienated a customer, to which she replied: “Actually, if you’re offended at that then you’re the racist, and for every one of you that leaves we have ten that come in because of that flag.”
My natural, earnest follow-up question was “Is this a Klan bar?”
That response was met with an expletive and a phone-slam.
And that was better than the earnest young hipster lad deserved. I wish he’d come into the place and ask in person.
But let’s diverge from our earnest young hipster friend for a moment and look at some history.
Rejection!: The day after VE Day, in 1945, the Swastika was trayf, worldwide. Everyone in polite, and most impolite, soceity linked it with world war, with the Holocaust, with millions of dead. Since then, the Swastika (outside of its traditional Sanskrit context) is only used for history, or to shock people. There’s never been any ambiguity about that.
Not so the Confederate flag. Southerners say it’s a symbol of the south’s valor – which is legitimate. In many ways, the South fought the right fight to defend the wrong cause. One might rightly say that “a wrong cause is a wrong cause”, and there’s a point there.
But most of our society was very slow to get it. The Confederate flag has been a symbol in pop culture roughly forever:
I mean, big pop culture:
Even popular music:
Now, a modern hipster might not recognize Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they were kinda PC for their day; how many southern bands today espouse gun control?
PC, hell – – even artists with impeccable liberal credentials have apparently committed thoughtcrime!
Here’s Tom Petty in 1985. Check around the 0:17 mark in the video:
It’s from an entire album about being southern and misunderstood by all us damn Yankees that practically jammed the kudzu down your throat
Even back with my father’s father, they called us all rebels
They tore up cornfields, and burned our cities to level
Well I still feel the eyes of those blue-bellied devils,
When I’m walking around at night,
through the concrete and metal,
Hey hey hey!
I was born a Rebel!
And yeah, it’s a great freaking song – one of Tom Petty’s greatest.
So – is he a racist?
Or, for that matter, the Allman Brothers…:
…which wrapped itself in the Confederate flag at times – with its drummer, Jaimoe Johanson.
Now – was Jaimoe Johanson an “Uncle Tom” token, a victim of the Allman Brothers’ corrosive racism?
Or was it just that as of 40-50 years ago, the Confederate flag just wasn’t considered all that corrosively racist, in and of itself, devoid of any further context?
Or even 35 years ago?
Or 25 years ago?
Now – were Bill Clinton, Algore and Goofytooth corrosive racists?
Or has the flag had different meanings to different people over time?
And if Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Bill Clinton in 2002, and the Allman Brothers in 1969, and Hollywood in the seventies, get a pass on that “different meanings” clause, why not the almighty Gopher Bar?
Pick Your Symbols: Back to the hipster lad:
I realize what a self-righteous, white-privileged Social Justice Warrior I’m coming off as, [Any bets on that? – Ed] and I suppose I tacitly must support this establishment’s right to display hate paraphernalia if they so choose [Mighty big of you – The Founding Fathers via Ed.]. I just think (especially with the increased foot traffic from CHS Field) potential patrons should be forewarned and take their business to the plethora of less abrasive, ignorant, and bigoted establishments in the area.
The hipster lad – his name is “Matthew Steen” – is certainly entitled to go where he wants. As someone who goes to the Gopher from time to time – for the cheap drinks and the Coneys, not the racism, which I personally have never noticed – I say it matters not what it takes to make hipsters go elsewhere, provided they actually go elsewhere.
But if I were to meet Mr. Steen, I’d have to ask: does he have a similar petulant outburst when he encounters this symbol of genocide and ethnic cleansing, which enjoys periodic bits of ironic hipness?
Or this one, which seems to be fairly timeless in hipster circles?
Mr. Steen – I’d be more than happy to entertain your reply.