Today, July 10, 2015, the Confederate flag is officially coming down in front of the South Carolina state house–hopefully for good. There’s been a lot of talk about the rebel flag recently, and since the terrorist massacre in Charleston not long ago there’s been a marked cultural shift in attitudes about the flag. The change made me think of this song by Pantera, from their final album Reinventing the Steel, released in 2000. “Revolution is my Name” is an anthem that I suspect comes from the life of Pantera singer Phil Anselmo, and seems to be about the uncertainty and alienation of growing up in late 20th century America…and perhaps particularly Southern America.
During the recent Confederate flag controversy I was curious if any former members of Pantera had spoken up about the issue. During the 1990s Pantera freely incorporated the rebel flag in their imagery; Dimebag Darrell at one point had a guitar with the emblem on it. He is dead of course, but I wondered if he was still alive and the band was still going, whether they would repudiate their rebel flag associations. As it turns out, Phil Anselmo did speak to Metal Injection about the issue. His answer is somewhat ambivalent, expressing neither approbation nor approval of the symbol. To my knowledge no one else from the band has spoken about it.
I’ve loved Pantera for years, and while I was always a bit uncomfortable with the band’s embrace of the flag–which I think is a symbol of racism and secession–I don’t believe that any of the former members of the band, living or dead, are racist. I met Phil Anselmo once and found him quite a nice guy. As the song implies, however, he and they grew up in a certain time and place, and the Confederate flag has undeniably had a presence in white Southern culture. That culture is now changing, and that’s a good thing. The best we can do is put things like the rebel flag behind us and move on. Pantera has been defunct for 15 years now, but their music still rocks and always will.
Hope you have a great weekend, and Shabbat Shalom! \m/