Confederate to Combat
18th June 2020
Wraith | Toxic brand | Glenn Curtiss | Ernest Lee
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▲ 2020 Combat Wraith, or Confederate Wraith if you prefer. It's over-designed for our taste, and it's way over our budget with prices variously quoted across the wider Combat range from $45,000 to $150,000. But we can see the appeal if you've got a statement to make and a lot of fluff in your pocket. Interestingly, the company is offering to re-badge any Confederate bikes carrying the toxic "C" word.
First it was 'Confederate', then it briefly became 'Curtiss' (or appeared to be in the process of transitioning to that name), and now the dice have fallen on the appellation 'Combat'. Same company. Same heritage. Same bikes. But a new name. A clean name. Washed. Sanitised. Homogenised.
Think money-laundering, if you like.
Why the change? Public opinion. Or, more accurately, mob opinion. Specifically the Black Lives Matter movement. It seems that with half of the western world currently on the rampage looking for blood over the black slave trade that happened over a century before any of the protesters were born, the movers and shakers at Confederate got the willies and looked for a fresh moniker.
Meaning something clean and wholesome.
And it's worth mentioning that broadly speaking (and we did say "broadly") you're only as black as you let yourself be. Yes, that sounds like a tough argument to make in the light of what happened to George Floyd and while so much blood is igniting. And we acknowledge the numerous examples of institutional racism. It happens. And it's wrong. No arguments. But the legacy of the slave trade carries little or no responsibility for the problems of today. And even if that's not true, further self victimisation isn't going to right the wrongs of history.
So enter the Curtiss name which was, says the company, actually intended (a) only for their new range of electric bikes, and (b) offered in honour of legendary aviator Glenn Curtiss. So if you check the web, you'll find both the www.combatmotors.com and www.curtissmotorcycles.com
Meanwhile, the company—now under the ownership of a certain Ernest Lee—is still in business creating some pretty radical looking two-wheeled, high-tech hotrods for the well-trousered set, safe in the belief that they've soundly trashed any connections or sympathies they might have had (or might be perceived to have had) for the Confederate States of America and any slave-owning ideology.
In short, Combat Motors is desperately hoping to put themselves on the right side of history and keep the mob at bay whilst maintaining business and social respectability—never mind that any pandering to the mob is anything but respectable.
Would we do the same?
Absolutely not. Easy to say, of course when it's someone else's problem. But our underlying feeling is that we'd rather shut down the factory and pack boxes at Amazon than be bullied into social compliance by the self-righteous, ignorant and ill-advised BLM rabble currently tearing down history in contrived and self-excited indignation whilst enjoying themselves in a populist orgy of destruction.
▲ Interestingly, we took a look at the Combat Motors website and read their history blurb. It's 648 words, and guess how many times the name Confederate was used. Hint: it's less than one.
Of course black lives matter. Same as anyone else. But history matters too, and it should be understood that statues are erected not exclusively because men and women were good and moral through to the core, but because they were great in the truest and widest sense of the word. And the US Confederacy was no more all bad than the Union was all good.
At a personal/corporate level, the smart money is on the name change. But on the wider cultural level it's a mistake that soundly addresses George Orwell's fear of the present rewriting the past, and thereby controlling the future.
Meanwhile, Ernest Lee (or is that Earnest Lee) might want to reconsider the name Combat. It could, after all, be construed by some to underline or otherwise indicate latent sympathies for Combat 18, the neo-Nazi terrorist group founded in the UK in 1992 with international connections including some in the USA; a group that has a very different opinion on whether or not black lives matter.
Meanwhile, Ernest Lee and Confederate General Robert E Lee appear to have something else in connection that could get too hot to handle.
It's all got to stop somewhere, but it probably won't while firms such as Confederate—sorry, Combat—cosy up to the right-on arbiters of political correctness.
See also: Confederate to become Curtiss?
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