Ever since the tragic killing of nine Charleston African Americans by a white supremacist hoping to start a race war, a few weeks ago, there has been a huge debate about the validity of the confederate flag, a flag which many associate with slavery, being displayed at government buildings. Amazon, WalMart and other retailers have stopped selling confederate flag-branded merchandise at their stores, and others have soon followed.
Many in the metal community, myself included, were curious on the thoughts of members of Pantera about the flag. After all, Dimebag Darrell had a custom "rebel dixie" guitar and the band were not shy about printing merchandise with the flag on it, including a keychain that is actively being sold in their official online shop.
Pantera, and specifically frontman Phil Anselmo are no strangers to racist accusations. Anselmo definitely spent some time spewing what could be considered white power propaganda, but at the time I witnessed it, he seemed incredibly high at the time, and has sobered up and I haven't heard a racist rant since, speaking very positively of tolerance in recent interviews.
So with all of this history, I was curious on Anselmo's viewpoint about the debate. The Metal Den asked him about his thoughts and here is what he said:
“Right now in my life as a grown up man and a soon to be 47 year old in 5 days… that any type of propagating hate toward any race or any group of people is not my bag at all. You know I didn’t invent the fucking flag. I was born in 1968. So I do see a lot of sides to this. I see where people can say, you know, when does it end? You know when is it good enough? When are we as a people ever going to be politically correct? The answer to that is really never. Because the world is made up of people with a lot of different ideas… telling us how to live and what we should do or shouldn’t do, you know? Or think or not think, you know.. that’s pretty extreme… it’s like you’re never going to make everybody happy.”
It seems like Anselmo agrees the flag shouldn't be displayed, but still taking an iffy stance to avoid offending a large portion of his fan base.
Being a born and bred New Yorker, I personally do not understand how any government building can display a flag that represents a part of the country attempting to secede. I have yet to get an explanation from anybody about how the confederate flag stands for their traditions. Serious question to any southerners: what non-racist tradition does the flag represent to you?