I am by no means a Southerner, and I don’t feel any particular affinity for the Confederate flag. However, recent events have led me to feel compelled to offer a rather simple defense for this flag, though it doesn’t hold any special meaning for me.
Ever since the Charleston shooting, the PC police have crawled out of the woodwork, and have derided the Southern battle standard as a purely racist symbol, and have demanded that it be removed from every public building in the South. There’s even a Facebook petition now that is calling for a national “burn the Confederate flag day.”
But what exactly are these people railing against? What makes this symbol so repulsive that it needs to be burned? Is it because it was flown by armies that defended a slave holding regime? Or because it was carried by supposed traitors? Or perhaps because it has been proudly displayed by white supremest organizations ever since?
Here’s the problem I have with people who froth at the mouth every time they see someone with this flag. If you’re going to burn the Confederate flag because you think it stands for racism and slavery, I suggest you get started on the American flag shortly thereafter.
If I recall correctly, and maybe my history is a little rusty so feel free to call me out on this, but didn’t the Union government accept slavery right up until the Civil War? Heck, there were plenty of Northern states that allowed slavery, which they abandoned in the early 19th century, largely for economic reasons rather than ethical concerns (and also because the British Army had liberated most of them during the Revolutionary War).
Even after the Civil War occurred, there were a few slave holding states that stayed in the Union such as Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland. There were even slave-owning officers in the Union army. There’s a reason why the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in states that seceded. Lincoln didn’t want to anger many of his own officers, or cause any more states to leave.
And while we’re on the subject of Lincoln, let it be known that he could have cared less about the institution of Slavery. His main goal was to preserve the Union. Freeing the slaves was incidental in that process. He said so himself”
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.”
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
And long after Lincoln was dead, the Federal government proved itself to be one of the most racist, genocidal, and imperialistic regimes in the history of the world, as they marched westward, brutally subjugating every native tribe they came across, before entering the 20th century as the world’s preeminent superpower. In this regard, the American flag is stained with more innocent blood than the Confederate flag ever was.
As for the notion that this flag is a treasonous banner, so is the American flag, a symbol that was born during the Revolutionary War.
And what of the fact that it was a symbol admired by white supremacists for decades? Well, there’s another flag that racists have often called their own.
Make no mistake though, I’m not suggesting you go out and burn the American flag. If you think that, then you’ve missed the point. All I’m saying, is that’s hypocritical to hate the Confederate flag if you love the American flag.
When it comes to symbols, and these flags are symbolic figures, is that they mean different things to different people. Everyone who waves the American flag sees something unique in it. They all see the America that they want to live in, and they disregard the awful actions that have been carried out in its name.
The Confederate flag is no different. While it has been and still is a symbol that is admired by racists, I would wager that there are more non-racist Southerners who carry it. For them, it’s simply an undeniable part of their heritage; a symbol that marks a bloody milestone in their history, which has set them apart from the rest of America.
So please, if you think that the Confederate flag is solely the domain of people like Dylann Roof, I implore you to think again. It’s just a symbol, and like all symbols, it means many different things, to many different people, and those meanings will continue to change in ways we can’t imagine, long after we’re all in the ground. Quit getting hung up on what this symbol originally stood for, and recognize what it means to people today.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.