Since the heinous crimes in Charleston last week, I’ve heard many people debating the Confederate Flag.
First off, don’t send me any mail about how “it’s not called the Confederate Flag, its called the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia and blah blah blah”. I don’t CARE. If I say to 10 out of 10 Americans, “Confederate Flag”, the image they get in their heads it exactly what I’m talking about. Get over it.
How About Some HISTORY
My Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, and news feeds abound with people, not all southerners, but almost all caucasian, decrying tha fact that the Confederate Flag somehow does not equal racism. I’ve heard the tried and true, “it’s about Southern pride!” and the oft mentioned “it shows my love of the south!”, I’ve heard “it’s about the history of America!” and I even read a piece, posted by a friend of mine on Facebook, written by some guy who actually used symbology to dissect the flag into some standard meaning a longing for the freedoms of the first 13 American colonies.
And, if you’re caucasian, or Southern, or if you for some reason actually subscribe to the Hollywood created notion of the dreamy South of the Rhett Butlers and Scarlett O’Haras….well, I guess you would actually buy that bullshit. It would give you a warm feeling in the cockles of your heart, and you’d stand there with pride in your Stars & Bars t-shirt, feeling no guilt or shame.
But, make no mistake, it IS bullshit.
The flag was created in 1861, and flown by Gen Beauregard, the Confederacy’s first duly appointed general, after he took Manassas, VA, at the first Battle of Bull Run. It was created FOR the Confederacy, and represented their beliefs in their battle against the Union (a term created by the South, because the “Union” = The United States of America, and using it’s REAL name would hint at the treason they were committing). Now lets face it, the Civil War was about slavery. We can say it was about economics, or manufacturing, or states rights…..but it was about the economics derived from slavery, the manufacturing by slavery and the states rights to continue slavery. The Civil War started because the northern states and the southern states couldn’t agree on whether new states added to the country would be “free” or “slave-holding”.
The Civil War is the central event in America’s historical consciousness. While the Revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States, the Civil War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation it would be. The war resolved two fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slaveholding country in the world.
Despite the happy, technicolor world of slaves depicted in Gone With The Wind, reality shows us that slavery was a world that tore families apart, demeaned human beings to the level of livestock, and inflicted pain, suffering and death upon untold numbers of people. And this flag was created by the side that wanted to keep that whole idea going.
Basically, it was a flag of traitors against the United States. Traitors that just happened to be our brothers and sisters. Fellow American citizens. But, traitors nonetheless.
Now, over time, as the Union marched south, and mass destruction followed them, many in the South turned from fighting for the cause of Southern Freedom (read: slavery) to fighting for their lives (read: survival). And the Confederate Flag was raised as a battle cry to defend their homes, their lands and their families against the army that was advancing. But, thats how war works. It didn’t make the flag a “good” thing. It didn’t make the flag a “decent” or “virtuous” thing, it simply became a beacon of “remember why we started this whole thing!”
After the war, the flag fell out of use. It was still used to bury southern war vets, but, like the medals, weapons and flags from WWII, it slowly became a piece of war memorabilia, a piece of a painful part of our nations history. Only used in a historical context or re-enactment.
It wasn’t about pride. It wasn’t about the “good” or “decent” parts of the South. It was about pain and treason and a painful, treasonous point in history.
And it was swiftly being forgotten by all but the die-hard secessionists that clung to the fringes of southern society.
Then Strom Thurmond came along.
Oh, those uppity negroes and their wanting to be treated fairly
In 1940’s, as the Civil Rights Movement actually started gaining a voice in it’s fight against segregation in the South, the flag reappeared, at places that had nothing to do with the Civil War or history. Places like southern university football games. and KKK rallies. In 1948, it was adopted as the emblem of Strom Thurmond’s “States’ Rights Democratic Party”, commonly referred to as the “Dixicrats”, a group that opposed desegregation and the civil rights movement as a whole.
This new image stuck, and the pro-white, segregationist movement gained a new symbol. So much so, that Georgia changed their state flag to include the confederate flag as a reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision on “Brown v Board of Education“. They adopted this new flag to show America how they felt about desegregation. Georgia’s own senate said, in 2000, that the “1956 General Assembly changed the state flag” during “an atmosphere of preserving segregation and resentment” to the U.S. government’s rulings on integration.
So clearly, to the racists who raised the flag, the flag represents racism.
In 1961, the flag was raised over Alabama, to mark the anniversary of the Civil War…kind of. In actuality, Governor George Wallace wanted to link the ideas of the Federal Government forcing desegregation to the Union troops storming Fort Sumter 100 years before. A year later, South Carolina would raise the stars and bars over their state house in support.
Again, this was not a symbol of southern pride.
Opposition to civil rights legislation, to integration, to miscegenation, to social equality for black people — these are the major plot points that make up the flag’s recent history. Not Vietnam. Not opposition to Northern culture or values. Not tourism. Not ObamaCare. Not anything else.
-source The Week
Over the past 30 years, the flag has been used by NASCAR fans, country and rock bands, and even unapologetically emblazoned on the car that was one of the biggest stars in a network television show…but at the same time it was carried at the head of the line by hate groups, tattooed on the skin of racists, and even revered by the likes of the accused Charleston shooter, Dylan Roof. And this idea of the flag meaning “Southern Pride” slowly started to leak out, to assuage the fact that it meant anything but. It was the off stage motion to distract from the magicians sleight of hand.
So desptie what many people are saying, the flag has never really represented Southern Pride…no matter how hard they try and say so. Some groups are SO filled with hate, they even think that South Carolina should take the American flag down and keep the Confederate one flying.
Ok, but what if we really WANT it to represent Southern Pride? Can we just take it back? And then all agree that it means good stuff?
The quick answer to the above questions would be:
The problem is, wishing for something to be, doesn’t make it so. Saying that the history of the flag is a good thing doesn’t make it suddenly turn good. What it IS has already been established.
The swastika is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist symbol called the “svastika” in Sanskrit, usually used to mean “good fortune, luck and well-being“, so much so that turning it the other way, it becomes the symbol of the Hindu goddess Kali….who is the opposite of “good fortune, luck and well-being”. It also has many other POSITIVE meanings throughout Asian folklore and religions, for example, known as a “yungdrung” in ancient Tibet, it was a graphical representation of eternity.
Then the Nazi’s came along.
Nowadays, no matter where you go in the Western world, the swastika represents hatred, death and destruction. The history of it no longer matters.
Don’t you think that the billions of Hindus and Buddhists would love to convince us that it represents things that are “good”, “decent” or full of “pride”?
But we can’t. Because it is forevermore linked to hate. History did that. Not feelings.
The Confederate Flag, regardless of what you might WANT it to mean, say or represent is also forevermore linked to hate.
This isn’t politics. This isn’t opinion. This has nothing to do with Democrats or the right, or Republican’s or the left, or even black and white.
This has to do with history.
This has to do with reality.
Deal with it.