Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confederate Flag Flap--Editorial

Symbols mean different things to different people, so regulating them can be a complicated mess. Obviously for the alleged black church mass murder, it symbolized white supremacy and hatred of blacks.  Unfortunately, white supremacy is an idea accepted by many Americans.  Some, such as the KKK will admit it.  Once, during a visit to Louisiana I saw a Confederate flag flying over a sign that said "5th Generation Klan, and proud of it.' Others quietly harbor the ideology.  Apparently, some think the flag symbolizes the acceptability of white supremacy and violence against blacks.  It appears to them to say such ideas and behavior are accepted by the people of that state.   It's time to move the flag to museums, and out off government property. We need to start pulling together in this country and governments need to stop flaunting things which divide us. Hopefully those who view it as a more benign symbol will not loner need government endorsement and place the national interest above their own ideology.  Further, a myopic focus on 'heritage' ignores the huge dark-side of history. Millions of human beings treated like property.  Many were sexually and physically abused.  A poisonous heritage the passed on white supremacy?  Would you support German government  flying the Nazi flag if they only talked about how Hitler saved Germany from the Communists?  See this column by a Dallas woman whose great-great grandfather was a Confederate soldier.  Some excerpts follow.

"So I claim to have a stake in this argument because it’s my heritage as much as anybody’s. And I vote we remove it from every courthouse and license plate and state capitol where it still exists, because it also represents hate.
It has been used by too many Klansmen and skinheads and violence-besotted killers to pretend otherwise. If nothing else, it would be a gesture of common decency for those who have heritage ties to that flag to willingly part with something that, for so many other Americans, represents barbarism and cruelty.
In its modern incarnation, the Confederate flag is used to promote a lie — one that is unfortunately given fresh currency with every generation.
The lie is that the Civil War was about something — anything — other than slavery. . .
But their documented insistence, shared with too many otherwise rational people, that the Civil War was fought about “tariffs” or “state’s rights” or “principles” — anything other than the legal ability of a person with white pigmentation to own as property a person of African descent — is a ludicrous falsehood.
“The Confederacy was a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal, and that the government’s job is to preserve and ensure that inequality,” said South Carolina historian Gordon Rhea in a speech to the Charleston Library Society in 2011. “It is time for Southerners to squarely face this era in our history so that we can finally understand it for what it was and move on.”
The massacre, he said, may finally have made it plain to many in the “heritage” camp that, for many people, “the Confederate flag is hateful, causes tremendous pain, and has been a symbol for white segregation and racism.”


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    While I agree with the woman's sentiments regarding the abused image of Virgina's battle flag by racist groups, her history about why southerners fought is completely off base. My great-great grandfather was a confederate naval veteran who was up against Admiral Farragut's assault in the battle of Mobile bay. His vessel was disabled during the conflict and he was taken prisoner, later to be exchanged for captured Yankees. His vessel's ensign displayed the Army of Northern Virgina's battle flag, a square and not rectangle, in the left upper corner. This is of significance to historians and only involved naval warfare, albeit in support of an economy based on slavery. This in itself, however, was not the cause of the civil war but rather the trigger to what southerners viewed as a threat to states' domestic rights. White supremacists have hid behind other symbols like the Christian cross and U.S. stars and bars, I concur the battle flag belongs in a museum and not the public square.

  3. I won't argue against the view that the Confederate flag has become a symbol of hatred of blacks by some. At its beginning, however, it could not have been such. You don't hate valuable property.

    Before slavery became such an issue--and for Lincoln it was an unimportant issue--the South was at a monetary disadvantage to the North. Sold agricultural products wholesale and paid an excise tax for exports. Had to buy manufactured tax-free goods from the North at retail.

    Much like the reasons behind the Boston Tea Party: Unjust taxation.

    Few of the enlisted men in the Confederate army had ever owned slaves. Slavery could not have been their reason to fight.