The Upsidedown Cross and the Confederate Flag

What is this?

Some call it the Petrine Cross. The symbol originates from the Catholic tradition that when sentenced to death, Peter requested that his cross be upside down, as he felt unworthy of being crucified in the manner as Jesus.

But it's more modern usage is different. According to Wikipedia: " has in recent years been appropriated as an anti-Christian symbol and is often seen as such in popular culture."

It's kinda amusing that some Catholics use this as a Christian symbol, and some goths use it as an anti-Christian symbol. More amusing is that these groups fight over what the symbol really means. Some Catholics make fun of goth's historic ignorance in using a traditionally Christian symbol. Some goths make fun of Catholics because Goths took a historic Christian symbol and made it into something satanic.

And then some conspiracy theorists say the upside-down cross represents opposite of Jesus, which is the anti-Christ, which is a symbol the pope uses, so the pope is the anti-Christ and the inverted cross is the mark of the beast. Yeah okay.

Cross equals Christ, so upsideown cross = ...whaaaaa!??
Man, she must really love St. Peter

We; however, aren't ridiculous and therefore realize that the only meaning symbols have is the meaning we give to them. A symbol can have multiple simultaneous meanings to different cultures and subcultures, and the older meaning is no more true than the newer meaning. Grown-ups understand that when a Catholic wears an upside-down cross it doesn't really mean the anti-Christ, and when Maralyn Manson wears an upside-down cross it doesn't really mean respect for Saint Peter.

Okay, lesson learned. Now let's talk about another symbol; one that we all think rationally about and makes nobody angry.

According to a viral meme, Says William T. Thompson, the designer of the Confederate flag, said, "As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race" and "As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of the superior race."

What an asshole.

It turns out William T. Thompson didn't actually design the confederate flag and he was talking about a different flag, but it doesn't matter. A lot of people see the confederate flag and the see the capital T True meaning is racism and slavery.

But this is the same nonsense we dealt with in the Petrine Cross stuff. Symbols don't have any more meaning than what we give them. Only 4% of Republicans identify the confederate cross as a symbol of racism. 75% of southern whites say it's a symbol of southern pride, Since these are the people who fly Confederate flags, and since we don't get to decide what other group's symbols mean, it's hard for me to see how it's a symbol of racism.

Except when these guys fly it. Then it's totally racist.

"Racism? What racism? I'm just a southerner who's proud of my heritage"


This post is about my society's relentless confusion over symbols and reality. Other examples like this include:

1. "What are you, Gay?" (and tiny American flags falling on the ground)

No comments:

Post a Comment