Rebel flag and Obama sticker: His truck will jar you

By Lance Aram Rothstein, Times Staff Writer

Posted: Nov 02, 2008 03:30 AM

First-time voter Josh Jones, 19, of Hudson probably isn’t what you picture when you think of an Obama supporter. On a mission to crush the Southern stereotype, Jones poses with his truck.

HUDSON — The 1984 Ford F-150 pickup truck parked at the Wal-Mart Supercenter is modified with special tires for mud-bogging.

And though the truck is caked in dirt, you can still clearly see bumper stickers that honor NASCAR drivers Rusty Wallace and Kasey Kahne. Another is a mock North Carolina Terrorist Hunting Permit, and another simply says "Rebel.”

A giant North Carolina Confederate flag waves from a pole stuck in the side of the truck bed. And if you look real hard, you can see one more proclamation on the tailgate, one that catches you by surprise:

"OBAMA ’08."

Eventually, the truck’s owner comes out of the store with four buddies. He’s wearing a straw cowboy hat, blue jeans and boots. He is friendly and introduces himself as Joshua Jones. He’s a 19-year-old mechanic in northwestern Pasco County, by way of Montgomery County, N.C.

By now, he’s used to the questions. How can you fly a Confederate flag, to many the symbol of racism against black Americans, and yet openly support the first black candidate for president?

"I can understand (people) being offended,” he says, "but I want to tell them that we might have different color skin but we’re all the same people, we all have hearts.

"I do not stand for racism; that flag is just my heritage," he says. "I had many family members who were in the Civil War not because of slavery but because the Union came down and burned all our towns, and if someone comes on your territory and starts a fire, you’re going to want to retaliate.

"I just wish that flag, you know, me showing what I stand for, wouldn’t upset people," he continues. "I know it does and I totally understand where they’re coming from, I just wish they could understand where I’m coming from."

And the Obama sticker?

"I was at the mud hole and I pulled up in my truck with the Obama sticker on the back and they were like, ‘Whoa, you need to get rid of that sticker, he’s black — you need to vote for a white man.’ I’ve had a bunch of confrontations like that, but I’ve also had a few country people down here that say they actually like it.

"This is very, very important to me. I really think that our future is at stake," he says. "We’ve gone downhill so much in the past eight years and now they want McCain to get in and take over where Bush left off.

"I’m just a lower-class, hard-working person just like millions of others down here in the South but also in the North and all over this country, who might lose their jobs but nobody gives a crap about us," he says.

Smart people make persuasive arguments to the contrary, although few shout them with such passion from the back of their truck.

Jones says this is what makes America great.

"And if you don’t like my rebel flag or my Obama sticker,” he says, "then you can just kiss my country a–!"

© 2008 · All Rights Reserved · St. Petersburg Times

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