Tucker Carlson, the FOX commentator most associated with Trump and White supremacy has spent over a week in Hungary, a country under the leadership of strong man and Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He is doing this as a way to promote the political model that country can provide for Americans desiring racial purity and other things from our past.
Ironically, Hungary is still a nation trying to find itself after tumultuous 20th Century events that still haunt it. They in part saw it participate with Nazis Germany to make war on the Soviet Union only to become a Communist vassal state of its enemy after World War II.
Yet their drive toward racial purity, anti-immigrant posture and reducing the profile of women is capturing the imagination of people like Tucker Carlson. His visit puts a spotlight on the White supremacy tendencies in the United States and his advocacy is helping to radicalize political discourse in America.
When Americans that think like Carlson gather they display symbols of their world view to include signs and flags of different kinds. I am particular intrigued by the prominent presence of the American flag side by side with the flag of the Confederacy.
Today, the Stars and Bars is being used as a symbol of White supremacy. That use is an expansion of a notion that at one time stood for state somewhat independent sovereignty.
When President Lincoln first took over the fight against the South, it was to preserve the union in the face of secession by 11 southern states that asserted “states rights.” This concept together with the institution of slavery divided the country and put the young nation in jeopardy.
The youthfulness of the United States is best shown in its 19th Century growth as the nation produced 21 of the 27 changes to its flag in the 1800’s. At the time of the Civil War there were only 33 states in the union and the notion of states rights was still of utmost importance.
That is why, for example, members of the American military found themselves having to make painful choices of going with their native states or the union. Choices for all of the officers from the South were especially difficult and complicated.
The concept of racial purity is not new to this country as it has governed national politics during the westward movement and settlement of America. Putting Indian people in reservations and diminishing the character of Latinos in the conquered territories were added to the separation of the African American community from their newly won rights as citizens.
The raising of the Confederate battle flag as a nationalistic standard by a significant minority of the White community in 21st Century America is actually a sign of progress because the country, led by a new generation, is leaving the trapping of ethnic and racial superiority behind. Still, the resistance is and will be strong as the changing of the guard continues.
The fact that the Republican Party that began as an organization dedicated to freedom and political rights for everyone is currently the party that is fighting for the power of the few and the fragmentation of the same union it had defended reflects today’s political dilemma. Extremists wrap themselves in the American flag at the same time that they honor the Stars and Bars as an equivalent or more.
The Confederate flag was a symbol of rebellion. Now, it has become the symbol of betrayal of our values.