Over at the News Blog, Steve Gilliard links to a post about the idiocy of a public high school in Kentucky that is displaying a Confederate flag* in the school cafeteria (Kentucky was never a Confederate state: eastern Kentucky, in particular, was staunchly pro-Union). In the comments at the News Blog, one commenter left an excellent reminder of what ‘the Unpleasantness Between the States’ [/snark] was really about (boldface mine):
Why the hell are we flying flags from the Confederacy? Have we forgotten what the Civil War was?
During the Civil War nearly 200,000 men died in action, more than half a million died as a consequence of the war, and over 400,000 were wounded–many permanently disfigured and crippled by missing limbs–all because the South demanded slavery be allowed not only to remain, but to grow and expand throughout the nation.
Under this flag, millions of lives were utterly ruined because some people believed were not only legally entitled to own and rape and mutilate and torture and degrade their fellow human beings, but they also believed our nation should EXPAND sanction of this evil practice and they were willing to kill to do it. The adherents of slavery who had already caused untold suffering upon millions of their fellow men, women, and children decided they were willing to kill hundreds of thousands more rather than forfeit their right to own, rape, mutilate, and degrade their fellow human beings.
That flag is the symbol of our nation’s greatest failing, slavery. There has been no mistake in this nation’s history that has caused as much human suffering. I don’t know what’s more shameful: that we as a nation supported and bolstered this indefensible cruelty for so many generations, or that when the time came for us to give it up, a million men who called themselves Americans chose to fight and kill their fellow citizens rather than give up their right to torture their fellow Americans.
If I were in a foreign country and someone hung that flag on the wall, I would take it as a personal insult.
That thing shouldn’t just be taken down, it should be BURNED. It’s an insult to every American, Northern and Southern.
Jesus, if you want to honor “southern tradition,” build a porch, have a lemonade, and go bring a pie to your neighbors.
What I’ve always found puzzling is that the argument on behalf of the Confederate flag always revolves around “southern tradition”, “culture”, “pride”, “way of life”, “history”, or some other hooey. The huge percentage of blacks (between 15-40%) in the antebellum South–and the Jim Crow South too–are completely invisible. Yet how can you think of the South without black people?
So let’s be clear: when these defenders of the American Swastika say “Southern”, they actually mean Southern and white. Blacks, I guess, aren’t ‘real’ Southerners. I guess Ralph Ellison’s estate isn’t going to go broke anytime soon. This is a subtle, but insidious, form of subjugation: the denial of the ‘other’s’ existence. I say, find a Confederate flag and burn it if that’s what it takes to break through their thick skulls.
*To call the Confederate flag “Bars and Stars” is insulting: that was the name of the original flag of the Thirteen Colonies. Anyway, “The American Swastika” is far more catchy.
A related note: If you don’t think the Confederate flag is about race, then why the hell did one of the students refer to the African-American students as colored? Why not call them ‘dusky hued savages’ too? Dear Intelligent Designer.