I don’t care where you’ve got it tattooed. I don’t care about your bumper sticker, the hood of your car, the shade in your window, or the flagpole in your yard. I don’t care what battle your 5 times great-granddaddy fought in.
This is not something to be proud of.
This is not even the Confederate Flag. It was the battle flag of General Lee and the army of northern Virginia. It was used by civil war veterans’ groups after the war, but it got into popular usage in the 1940’s – as a symbol of segregation. This is a flag whose current popularity was built by hatred.
The legislature of South Carolina has – unintentionally, no doubt – done an excellent job of illustrating the perversity of this symbol. A confederate battle flag flies at the South Carolina statehouse, at a monument to confederate soldiers. It is affixed to its pole. It cannot be lowered. It will never sit at half staff. It may never be allowed to show deference or respect to anyone – even on Confederate Memorial Day. I would go so far as to say that this sort of refusal to offer respect to its own history as a battle flag disconnects it irrevocably from that heritage.
I cannot respect anyone or anything that does not show respect to anyone else. Period. And I will teach my children the same.
This is the actual flag of the Confederate States of America.
I am all for replacing the publicly displayed battle flags with this one. But only if we publicly call it what it is. Announce it loudly. Pass official resolutions on the state and federal levels. Make this part of the history books. Make it so that every single time anyone looks up this flag, anywhere, this is listed as part of its history:
This is a symbol that we have committed evils on one another. Actions that can never be corrected, and are a stain on our past. This is also a reminder that we must constantly be striving to be better. To remember that we were wrong. To remember that it is in our power to learn from our heritage, and be better people than our ancestors. We are better than our past. And this is a symbol that coming together is not easy. That we must strive to unite ourselves under a quest for decency and respect for one another. That we must all work for our country to be the great one that it should, and can, be.
When the Civil War ended, the Confederate states were not assimilated as conquered territories – though that was considered by more than one Congressional session. They were ultimately readmitted as sovereign states (albeit, with some requirements). It was messy and ugly. But they were readmitted.
To put it mildly – they screwed up, in one of the worst ways possible. But they were readmitted.
This flag should remind us of that, too. We are a country that has had a dark past. We hurt our fellow human beings. We killed each other over whether or not we had the right to hurt each other. But then, we decided to try to stitch ourselves back together, in the hope that it was possible to do so.
It’s a travesty that it has been 150 years, and we are still stitching, and that it is still messy and ugly.
Under the First Amendment, individuals have the right to free speech. Even it it’s distasteful and hateful. The confederate battle flag cannot be banned. It can’t even be forcibly removed from state houses or state capitols. No matter where it is, we cannot remove it without violating one of the tenants that makes this country great. But we can think about what we are saying to one another when we display it. We can talk to one another about it. We can learn. We can stop accepting it.
This is going to offend somebody. But I’m leaving comments open. Leave a comment. I can’t learn if you don’t explain things to me.