The rebel “Confederate” flag is much less of a problem than the values and system it represents. The romanticization of the South’s traitorous slaveowner-led rebellion is an insult to America and American values and 150 years after the defeat of the that rebellion, the blatant, offensive distortions of history cannot be tolerated by this nation anymore…
…or, almost everything you need to know about the rebellion of the so-called “Confederate States of America” and its values in one series of in-depth articles, this being Part I and looking at the recent debate in South Carolina over the “Confederate” flag.
Other articles in this series:
Black & White IV (coming soon)
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse July 15, 2015
“The Bloody Angle,” at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, May 12, 1864, by Mort Kunstler
America must be one of the most tolerant nations on earth. Period. Full-stop. End sentence. The simple fact, that few people want to state this way, is that now, over 150 years after the end of the Civil War (1861-1865), the bloodiest war in American history—begun by an illegal rebel confederation in response to the lawful, legitimate election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860, after which at the end of 1860 and early 1861 first seven and then four more Southern state governments voted to illegally secede from the Union very clearly over the issue of slavery and formed an illegal rebel confederation that began illegally seizing federal property and when militia forces of the rebel government of first state to illegally vote for secession, South Carolina, opened fire on Federal Government forces at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina on April 12th, 1861 and lasting formally until May 9th, 1865—the flag and other emblems of the traitorous rebel slave-power states that almost destroyed this nation are allowed to fly in unrepentant defiance on both national and state and local government land, even including the seats of state government, including (until three days ago) the Capitol grounds in South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia, and including statues of rebel leaders in the in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (talk about controversy of installation) .
I can’t think of a modern national government that tolerates itself or any of its regional governments publicly flying flags of past rebellions in any official capacity. Yet 150 years later, here we are. Perhaps it should not be a surprise then, in such a permissive culture, that so many Americans are close to clueless as to why the war was fought and over what issues and how each side conducted itself both before and after the war. Instead, many have been brainwashed by post-Civil War apologist and apologetic revisionists (and it is important to note that these rationales and explanations only originated after the War) who sought to lionize and romanticize a cause which was described in this famous passage of the memoirs of General U. S. Grant that discussed his feelings after meeting Gen. Robert E. Lee to accept the surrender of Lee’s army in April of 1865:
I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.
Keeping in mind that we are not talking about the individual motivations of rank-and-file soldiers who believed they were fighting to “defend” their homes or for other reasons (we will talk about that in Part IV), but, rather, why leaders of the South attempted secession and chose war. Still, there are some of you reading this, I am sure, who would completely disagree with the characterization of the preceding paragraphs. To you I say, you are a product 150 years of brainwashing and whose minds have been poisoned by a diet of consumption of the most biased, ignorant, and deceitful sources that dominated our “histories” of the subject for far too long (more on this in part IV). Beyond that, there is nothing to say to you until you can educate yourself with the actual, as opposed to the imaginary, historical record. But on this, I will elaborate further in Parts II and III, going through what actually happened and linking to numerous period and scholarly sources so you can read for yourself what really happened.
II.) The Recent Debate in South Carolina
What was amusing about watching the debates in the South Carolina House of Representatives is the number of people who kept suggesting that if it was “that flag”—meaning the rebel battle flag carried into battle by many rebel troops fighting against troops that marched under the United States flag—that bothered people, another flag honoring the rebellion and/or the rebellion’s values should replace it. The rebel battle flag, in the words of its defenders, is said to have been “co-opted” and “abducted” by racist groups and hate groups. This assumes some sort of clean, noble cause, and that somehow racism and hate found its way into the flag because of bad people who misunderstood the flag’s true meaning. Many of the speakers spoke during the debate of the need to honor the military veterans who fought for the rebellion, and that getting rid of the rebel battle flag would be an insult to the memory of the veterans who, in their words, gave their lives “in defense of their state,” an insult unless it was replaced with another flag of the rebellion, different from the more recognized rebel battle flag. It is terribly amusing, as well as sad, that so many people, including some of South Carolina’s state representatives, insist that the rebel battle flag represents a fight against an “over-oppressive federal government.”
Particularly insulting was that so many of the people arguing for some sort of flag representing the proslavery rebellion and/or its military forces to remain flying noted the “grace” (a term repeatedly used) shown by the black families of the black victims (including a South Carolina State Senator, Clementa Pinckney) of the recent terrorist shooting in Charleston by an avowed white supremacist when the families forgave him, and then these politicians citing that forgiveness asked for “grace” to be shown to them and the rebel proslavery cause by allowing a different flag of the proslavery rebellion to fly on the Capitol grounds. After listening to several representatives complain about being threatened politically over supporting the flag, one Representative Christopher Murphy, a Republican,asked a pointed question of one of the flag’s most ardent defenders:
…when people of Charleston showed grace, they showed tremendous grace, and did you know that I cannot understand how substituting one Civil War banner for another Civil War banner shows grace to the people of Charleston and the people of this state. In fact I think… it’s a slap in the face the city of Charleston, to the people, the victims, their families… to place this banner in a place of honor, did you know, is just plain wrong, and for us to worry about being threatened politically, we need to quit worrying about June 2016 [the upcoming elections] and let’s worry about June 2046 what’s in the best interests of our state and not our political careers.
Perhaps the most outrageous of the proposed amendments involved proposing for the South Carolina Capitol grounds of the creation of a memorial for African-Americans who “fought” for the rebel cause. This involves pure myth, very popular among Southern apologists of the rebellion, that large numbers (“thousands”) of African-Americans actually chose to fight for and serve the rebel states and their illegal confederation government during the Civil War. Nothing of the sort happened. Yet only a few years ago, such lies made their way into a Virginia textbook for fourth-graders.
Rep. Jonathon Hill, Republican, importantly noted that one of his constituents who was an activist reminded Hill that Hill had never had a cross burned on his front yard but that she had. He continued:
Whether you believe that current battle flag is appropriate next to the…[rebel] memorial, which those soldiers fought and died under that flag, or not is a moot point, because the fact is it does not require that flag in order to teach the history of the sacrifice of those soldiers and the lives that were lost. Now, unfortunately we did fight the states’ rights battle on the issue of slavery, and any of the heritage folks, so to speak, who would deny that, simply have to read the ordnance of secession from South Carolina,” and then had the presence of mind to read from the actual Ordnance of Secession produced by South Carolina’s State Legislature ‘”Now, let’s let the irony of that sink in for a minute. Here we are complaining about the federal government breaching contract while South Carolina breached the very right to life and liberty of people they called slaves.
Rep. Jenny Anderson Horne, Republican, in perhaps the most reported replayed portion of the debates (video), noted how “this flag offends” several of her friends and colleagues in the House, and added tearfully and passionately:
I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday, if any of you vote to amend, you ensuring that this flag will fly beyond Friday, and for the widow of Sen. Pinckney his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it…I’m sorry I have heard enough heard enough about heritage, I have a heritage, I’m a lifelong South Carolinian, I’m a descendant of Jefferson Davis, but that does not matter… because this issue is not getting any better age…
Did you know that I personally am so offended by the references to us showing grace to this amendment and compromise, did you know that I am offended by that, because, in my view, for this body, and the people in this body who are making that request, to say to those of us “ Show some grace, like the people, like those nine families did toward the shooter, show us some grace by agreeing to a compromise [on removing the rebel battle flag],” did you know that your intention, and I say your not meaning you personally, but for all of those people who have come to that podium and said that, that whether they are aware of it or not, there are some of us in here who are extremely offended by that comparison, we believe, did you know, that it’s comparing apples and oranges, and that we would really, I would, I’m not going to speak for anybody but me, I would ask you Mr. Quinn, since you are in the leadership, if you would you please share with your caucus, if you would please not take the podium again and ask us to show grace in this effort like the folk who were so generous in forgiving of the shooter in Charleston, thank you so much Mr. Quinn.
Another African-American, Rep. Cezar McKnight, Democrat, very passionately told his South Carolina House colleagues:
So now, what will we do? What will we say to the world that looks at us right now and says “South Carolina, will you step into the twenty-first-century and say, resoundingly, that symbols of hate and division will not be allowed to decorate the yard of the people’s house? Or will you play to the lowest common denominator, to those people who claim heritage…We have a decision to make. Are we going to continue to tarry in the foolishness of 150 year ago? I sat here in disbelief as I saw to colleague after colleague who wouldn’t call the Civil War the Civil War. They wanted to paint over it and call it the “War of Northern Aggression.” That is a misnomer. It is a civil war. It divided this nation. Hundreds of thousands of people died, and we came together in 1865 under one flag, and that is the Stars and Stripes. You cannot serve two masters, you cannot pay homage to two flags. I served my country in the United States Army…I pledge allegiance every morning to the flag of the United Statesof America. It isour flag, and we need to hold it as such and take anything else and put it in its proper place…The world is watching, and in the words of the great abolitionist William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look away, but you can never again say that you did not now.” You know that that flag divides our state. You know that is embarrassing and shameful and promotes all types of division.
Yet another African-American, Rep. John Richard King, Democrat, added that
That flag is painful to many of us. And we understand and respect the heritage that many of you all call it. But to many of us, we hurt. You talk about family, you talk about “Oh, how I love you, and how much I care about you”… if we are hurting, and if you cared, we would not be where we are right now. I am embarrassed about my state.
To anyone who wants any of the flags of the rebellion flown, I ask them this: if this for you is about state pride, “states’ rights,” and honoring the soldiers who died, as you put it, “defending” their homes, why not just fly the state flag of whatever state you live in? Why do you need to fly the flag of a failed attempt to create an entire separate nation based on slavery and of tearing the United States and its precious Union apart? Those state flags today represent states that existed then, but that today do not stand for racism, slavery, or destroying the United States. They represent a flawed past, yes, but also a commitment to the future and an ability evolve, change, and undo some mistakes of the past. Isn’t that much better?
The problem is, these proponents of replacing one rebel flag with another rebel flag or of keeping the current blue-crossed, red-background flag that is the most recognizable flag of the rebel, pro-slavery faction in our Civil War are in effect asking us—demanding of us—respect that includes government-sanctioned publicly prominent respect of the values and causes of the rebel state governments and the illegal confederation they formed. To me, and to all Americans with a proper understanding of American history that claim to profess American values as embodied by our Declaration of Independence, this is intolerable, insulting, and disgusting, and amounts whitewashing a very ugly episode and period in our history. To be fair to them, these people do genuinely seem to believe that Civil War was not really about slavery, or that slavery was only a secondary or tangential cause (before the more informed of you may laugh, let it be known that Texas, the second largest state and a state that often sets national trends for American textbooks, just approved a textbook for all its public schools that calls slavery a “side” issue in the Civil War).
There are a number of instance above where the cognitive dissonance of some people regarding the flag’s and the rebel states’ confederation’s cause are truly astounding, and one wonders if these people have any sense of irony or self-awareness at a times. A close look at the historical record can explain firstly why so many people are so outraged and why the flag in question and the rebel confederation itself are the epitome of racism, oppression, and hate and secondly why widespread delusions and myths persist even today among those who ignorantly and naively romanticize the horrors of the true ideals of both the rebellion and the flags that represent it. The latter group do not know their history, so in Part II we will go into a detailed explanation of just how very wrong they are about this history.
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