Sunday, August 07, 2005

it's on the roof of the General Lee

The Civil War ended 140 years ago. Some people in the South still display the Confederate Flag. Some high schools still call their sports teams the "Rebels." Some fans still wave the stars and bars in the name of "tradition" and refuse to consider why it upsets others. According to Jack Neely, the Confederacy isn't as much of a tradition as they might think. Did you know that Sam Houston was against the Confederacy? What's the difference between changing the name of a team called the "Rebels" and changing the name of a team named after an ethnic group?
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Anonymous rich said...

Minor corrections. The Confederate flag is not on top of the General Lee; that is the Battle Flag, which is not the Stars and Bars. This flag is the First National Flag of the Confederacy, AKA the "Stars and Bars."
This link describes the development of the Confederate Battle Flag. Note that the flag is square, not rectangular.
The flag most commonly called the Rebel flag today is this one, the post 1863 Navy Jack, which takes the square battle flag and elongates it to the familiar rectangle.

Now, to the point. Suppose your father had been a baseball player who never made it to the show, and resented it so much that he wanted to make sure you hated baseball. Suppose you had been told all your life that baseball was evil and rotten, and anything to do with it was also evil and rotten.

You would be uncomfortable around a catcher's mitt, as it represents an evil and rotten legacy.

But baseball is not evil and rotten, (just boring as all get out and that's not worthy of hatred) you've been given a distorted view. Does your discomfort mean that everybody else must stop playing baseball?

I acknowledge that Confederate symbols make many people uncomfortable, and that some find them outright offensive. At one time, as a product of our compulsory education system, I felt the same way. Until I studied the issues for myself and found out that there was a ot more going on than what I was taught in my history books.

Yes, the South had slaves. So did the North.
Yes, Lincoln emancipated the slaves, but only those in the Confederacy; Union slaves were still slaves.
Yes, the election of Lincoln provoked secession, but it was the last straw, not the sole cause. Confiscatory tax policies and trade strangling tariffs were major issues of contention between the regions.
Yes, the South fired first on Fort Sumter, but Fort Sumter was illegally occupied after South Carolina had seceded.
Finally, yes, the KKK and other racist groups fly Confederate symbols when they march. They also carry Christian crosses, and American flags as well. Are we going to ban them as well?

In short (too late) the Confederacy stood for much much more than slavery. (Side note: the first Constitution to outlaw the slave trade was the Confederate Constitution. Slavery was on the way out in the south, regardless of the outcome of the war.)

Racism and slavery were a blight on the Confederacy, but they were not exclusive to it by any means, as recent history has shown. and they were not, despite modern history texts, central principles of the Confederacy. As a southerner, I cannot stand by and allow my history and my culture to be inaccurately characterized as evil and corrupt by those who are either ignorant of the truth, or cynically working to hide the truth for their own ends. It is for this reason that I still support the flying of the true Confederate Flag, the Third National Flag. I do not support the flying of the Battle Flag or Navy Jack because we are not at war anymore.


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