Logo on Idaho trucks spark national headlines, outrage and ignorance

racist confederate flag logo
Dixie Services (YouTube/KXLY)

racist confederate flag logo
Dixie Services (YouTube/KXLY)

Earlier this week, media outlets in Spokane, Washington reported that logos spotted on trucks belonging to Dixie Services in Post Falls, Idaho depicted a stereotypical black girl eating watermelon.  Naturally, the reports sparked outrage, but they did more than that — they actually caught the attention of the Washington Times and revealed a bit of ignorance on the part of others who responded to the story.

According to the Times:

The owner of Dixie Services, an Idaho-based contracting company, is defending its logo of a cartoon black girl eating watermelon amid criticism that it’s racist.

Jim Valentine told local ABC affiliate KXLY that the image fits well with his company, which he said represents the good times for many people in the 19th-century South.

The image, which is posted on the side of the company’s trucks, depicts a dark-skinned African girl grinning and holding up a large slice of watermelon — a racist caricature also known as the “pickaninny.”

“I was looking at it saying, ‘Is it the watermelon? Is it her hair?’” Mr. Valentine said. “And I know why they don’t like it. It’s ‘cause she’s smiling and a very happy child like a lot of children were in the 1800s.”

Dixie Services also posts Confederate flags on the front of its trucks, which Mr. Valentine described as historical, not racist.

Here’s a video report, courtesy of Spokane’s KHQ:

Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KXLY’s Drew Reeves said on Facebook that he asked Valentine if he’s racist:

“Today, we spoke to Jim Valentine, the owner of Dixie Services, about an image on the side of his trucks. That picture includes a caricature of a young African-American girl eating watermelon. It’s sparked outrage online, many calling it racist. We asked Valentine if he is a racist. Here was his response,” Reeves said on Monday.

The Times reported noted: “Mr. Valentine, whose wife is West Indian, said he’s against discrimination of all races.”

But that apparently escaped the attention of Shawn Vestal, who used the incident as an excuse to attack Valentine at the Spokesman-Review.

“It’s not like the guy could be all that smart,” Vestal huffed.  “But there’s no way Jim Valentine could be quite this dumb: The Post Falls man stuck a gross caricature of a young African-American girl eating a big slice of watermelon on the side of one of his business’s trucks. When decent people criticized it, prompting news reports this week, Valentine pretended not to understand what all the fuss was about.”

He added:

“Is it the watermelon that’s bothering people?” Valentine asked a KHQ reporter. “It’s not the watermelon because that’s what … that’s what … they live down south and that’s what they eat so I think what’s really getting people is that smile on her face.”

They live down south. That’s what they eat.

Valentine said something similar to a KXLY news reporter.

“I was looking at it saying, ‘Is it the watermelon? Is it her hair?’ ” Valentine said. “And I know why they don’t like it. It’s cause she’s smiling and a very happy child like a lot of children were in the 1800s.”

Yes, the 1800s were a happy, happy time for children, and African-American children in particular. That’s just history. Heritage. Valentine says he loves the South, and all its rich history and heritage, and that has nothing to do with racism or slavery, he says – which were surely less than ideal, he acknowledges, but which are sometimes used to cloud over the happier parts of those good times, like happy African-American children eating watermelon, along with a stronger sense of states’ rights.

And there’s more:

Yes, Valentine’s tree service and landscaping company, Dixie Services, is named after the glory days of the Confederacy, and some of his company trucks sport Confederate flags on their front grills. It’s always interesting to remember that Northwesterners who fly that flag – whether it’s in their trucks or their yards, on their ballcaps or snotrags – are expressing pride in a heritage that has nothing to do with our history here.

It’s almost like they’re taking pride in something else.

For starters, it’s NOT the “Confederate flag.”  It’s known as the Confederate battle flag, not the actual ensign of the Confederacy.  It was designed with only one intent — to help Confederate soldiers identify friendly troops and minimize casualties from friendly fire, which was a real problem when Southern troops carried the Stars and Bars (which looked an awful lot like the Stars and Stripes) into battle.

Since then, the flag, also known as the “Southern Cross,” has been so misused by groups like the Ku Klux Klan — created by the Democrat Party to harass southern blacks who supported Republicans after the Civil War — and white nationalist groups like the Aryan Nations, which once had a contingent in North Idaho, that its original intent has been all but forgotten.

After the tragic shooting of black Christians by Dylan Roof, the flag — and the real history of it — was deemed doubleplus ungood by the politically-correct left, which sought to erase any mention of it from history.

The flag has also been used as a symbol of rebellion against the status quo, something Vestal seemed to have missed when he wrote this:

Remember the time that Heather Scott, the Idaho lawmaker from Blanchard who lives in that alternative reality known as the American Redoubt with Matt Shea and the Bundys, proudly displayed the flag at a Timber Days event in Priest River in 2015?

Like Valentine, Scott saw something noble in the symbol of the American states who went to war for slavery.

And again, Vestal apparently is unaware that the Civil War wasn’t originally fought over slavery, although slavery became the driving force behind the conflict later on.

“The truth is, the flags that Scott and Valentine fly so proudly do have a North Idaho heritage, but it’s not related to the Confederacy. It’s the heritage that has stained our region for years – the one that includes white supremacist parades and bombings, and the persistent dream of a white homeland for wingnuts. It’s the same heritage honored by Richard Butler, the lizardlike former head of the Aryan Nations in Coeur d’Alene, who once rode in the back of a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag in a Nazi parade,” Vestal wrote.

“It is the heritage of Butler – not Jefferson Davis – that Jim Valentine honors with the racist emblem on his business’s trucks. The heritage of ignorant hatred. It’s a part of our history here that we should put behind us, not celebrate. A part we should reject as loudly as possible, in our leaders and our neighbors and in those we choose to hire as landscapers – or not to,” he added.

I’ve seen Valentine in the area a lot, and he always seems to be a pleasant enough fellow, waving at everyone he sees.  I’ve also seen the battle flags on his trucks, although I’ve never seen the logo that sparked all the attention.

From my point of view, there’s enough criticism to go around here.

I don’t care for Valentine’s watermelon logo — at all.  At best, it’s highly offensive.  And I say that as a proud Southerner.  I also don’t care for Vestal’s use of this incident to smear Idahoans as stupid hayseed hicks.  Nor do I care for his ignorance of history.  And I certainly don’t care for his use of an outlet like the Spokesman-Review to personally attack a private citizen exercising his right to free speech — no matter how offensive that speech may be.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments below.

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