A Few Thoughts On The Battle Flag Controversy

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the battle flag of the Confederacy in light of the tragedy in Charleston.  It’s caused a lot of people, both Republican and Democrat, to call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from main line view.  South Carolina’s governor is supportive of removing the battle flag from its state capitol grounds, and now there is focus on Mississippi’s state flag which bears the symbol.  I think it’s a fair discussion as, for some, it brings up negative imagery and connotations to racism and bigotry.

I have heritage in the Civil War, and I’m not ashamed of that.  My maternal great great grandfather fought in the army of Georgia.  Plus, it’s hard to not have a strong interest in the “War of Northern Aggression”, as a lot of folks around my neck of the woods like to call it, living so close to Chattanooga and Chickamauga…which was one of the bloodiest battles that was fought in the Civil War.  However, it’s time to let the ghosts of that awful conflict rest in peace.

Republican officials are having an honest and frank discussion about the impact of keeping such a controversial symbol in a place of prominence.  It’s a genuine discussion that needs to happen regardless of party, but it seems like some Democrats (and even some Republicans) are unsatisfied.  Removal of the Confederate battle flag isn’t enough.  There’s a push to scrub any semblance of the Confederacy from history.  The rhetoric coming from Democrats sounds more like they’re trying to figure out where to move the goal posts so they don’t lose their talking point of “Republicans are a bunch of racists” for the next few election cycles.

The Civil War was a dark time in our nation’s history.  Our history is just like us…it’s human history.  It’s full of blemishes and scars just like we are.  There are other dark times in our nation’s history like the forced removal of the Cherokee nation during President Andrew Jackson’s administration, the destruction left in the wake of General Sherman in his march through the South to the sea, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Our history, both the good times and the bad times, are threads in our cultural tapestry.  Those threads makes us who we are, and, hopefully, we can learn from the errors of our forefathers.  How much scrubbing of history do we need to do?  Do we rename the counties in Georgia that are named after people with Confederate ties, blast off the images on Stone Mountain, and remove every reference to the Confederate States of America?  What will be “enough”?  No matter how much we try, we can’t scrub away our history.

We shouldn’t ignore our history, but we shouldn’t ignore the feelings of our fellow citizens.  I believe Republican leaders are trying to do the right thing.  There will be resistance by some calling it capitulation and cries by others on how Republicans still “aren’t doing enough”, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

It’s time for us to move past this controversial object.

26 comments

  1. jh says:

    I’m Asian but the confederate flag offends me. When I see it on a car, on clothes, a building, or whatever, it just screams “white pride”.

    Confederate statues not so much. No one wears a statue. I’m sure there will be activists that want to scrub streets and statues, but we are talking about the will of the majority here.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/june_2015/should_south_carolina_take _down_the_flag

    Even Rasmussen has just 21% thinking SC should fly that flag.

    • Raleigh says:

      Jh, I had said I was not going to continue this discussion on this board today but my curiosity got the best of me. You said the confederate flag offends you but statues not so much and you also reference “White Pride”. So is it just the Southern Cross or all flags which flew over the Confederacy that bother you? Is your felling really about a flag or does it have more to do with ‘White Pride”? Last question, what do you perceive as how the confederate flag has negativity impacted you or your family?

      Again I’m just curious. If you choose to answer I do appreciate it.

      • jh says:

        I wouldn’t mind if the statues come down. I don’t like them, but they’re not a big deal.

        I don’t like the flag because Dylan Roof and many more have appropriated it into an FU symbol. If you like it, fly it on your own property. If it divides so much of us, why does it have to be represented on official state property?

        • Raleigh says:

          Well jh thanks for your answer. It seams to me the statues are a big deal for you. I’m still bothered by your “white pride” statement. You seem to be lumping one race of people onto the action of one person and you didn’t answer the question how the confederate flag has negativity impacted you or your family?. I’ll tell you this. Southerners don’t so much lament losing the Civil War as they did Reconstruction under Radical Republicans. That’s where much of the North South Animosity was based. As far as FU symbols a lot of different ones of those are around. The Civil War and aftermath is a more complicated subject than will ever be covered on this blog. Lincolns second inaugural speech pretty much summed up the war but it was not the message the Radical Republicans wanted to hear. They wanted vengeance and after Lincoln was assassinated they got what they wanted.

  2. xdog says:

    Whether to separate state business from the Confederate battle flag is a minor matter, and the question has already been decided for many people. Events have gathered and rushed past at an amazing speed, and gopers risk yet again finding themselves on the wrong side of history.

    If gopers want to avoid charges of racism, a good place to begin would be to stop proclaiming that racism in America is past. Another would be to quit pandering to the basest parts of American political thought. Phil Robertson, Clive Bundy, Sarah Palin, both Steve Kings should all be cultural embarrassments, not brand identifiers. Complaining about non-existent efforts to remove ‘any semblance of the Confederacy from history’ won’t help either.

    • Raleigh says:

      Non-Existent efforts? Just a few months back Thomas Watson’s statue was removed from the gold dome. Now there are call for Alexander Stephens and Robert E Lee statues to be removed from several locations. As I said get out the chisel and sanitize Stone Mountain.

      These tidbits were just from this morning.

      Louis Farrakhan stated “We need to put the American flag down. Because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag”

      And you know what, He’s right. The Stars and Stripes flew longer over slavery than ANY confederate flag.

      New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz called for the completion of the mission of Denmark Vesey, a slave who strategized to kill slave masters nearly two centuries ago.

      CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves.

      Online retail giant Amazon’s Monday decision to ban the sale of merchandise depicting the Confederate flag has many Americans scratching their heads, as a quick review of Amazon’s site reveals the company still sells Nazi flags.

  3. George Chidi says:

    I’m paying way more attention to this than it deserves, but I think that’s because the way it’s discussed pushes a few of my buttons.

    I poorly tolerate out-and-out prevarication in public policy debate. I’m seeing it often with regard to the flag, to the history of the Confederacy and the history of its placement. Somehow, people’s identification with the flag leads them to defend everything about the antebellum south with increasingly absurd assertions.

    Yes, a handful of black people fought for the south and owned slaves. No, that doesn’t obviate a system of white supremacy that killed more black people than Jews in the Holocaust.

    No, slavery wasn’t dying, at least not at a speed that matter to anyone alive at the time. No, slaves were not “treated well.”

    No, the Civil War was not fought over tariffs or economics — except, perhaps the economics of slavery — or anything else. The south fought to maintain the unrestricted enslavement of black people. The articles of secession are fairly plain on that point.

    The rebel battle flag was not raised above statehouses in the south to “commemorate history” or out of a general love of “heritage.” It was raised during the civil rights fights as a symbol of resistance to federal demands for racial equality. We had tape recorders in the 50s and 60s. We know why it happened.

    It is a throwback not just to the slave south, but to the south of firehosing protesters in the streets and lynchings and whites-only restrooms. The flag was raised by the governments of the south to tell black people that they should remember their place.

    ‘They’ll want to ban it in public next!” No, they won’t. And even if they do, they can’t. The 1st Amendment will see to that. “They want all the statues removed! They’ll come after Stone Mountain!” Statues are debatable — and in that debate is a good history and civics lesson. But statues probably aren’t going anywhere. We’re more likely to add new ones reflecting the heroes of the civil rights struggle instead. And there is no serious proposal to blow up Stone Mountain. I’m troubled by how little of the monument’s racist history is part of the display, but no one wants to look like the Taliban.

    The question at hand isn’t whether people in general should be able to fly the rebel flag — another touchstone fallacious argument made by its defenders. The question is whether the government should be flying the flag in any form. Government speech — what our government says it values — is the question.

    • Raleigh says:

      Mr. Chidi
      I can agree with some of you points so your question is, “whether the government should be flying the flag in any form. Government speech — what our government says it values — is the question”.

      We as a people constantly struggle with values and hopefully it gets translated into what government values are if we are truly a government of by and for the people. Now who sets those values, the majority, the minority, the political party in power at the time? Should governments be in the business of telling us our history? If the answer is no then should governments memorialize anything?

      And this ends my participation in this discussion… On to more important things.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      What our government says it values………..when you walk into any Atlanta government office say Marta for example there is no diversity. None in the other agencies including the Atlanta courts………………..so what is it that our Atlanta government says it values with its hiring practices.

  4. John Konop says:

    Bottom line does anyone really think arguments like this help the GOP? Walk in the shoes of someone who is not a WASP….If you heard comments like this would you support the party?

    ………Ann Coulter: Nikki Haley ‘an immigrant’ who doesn’t understand Confederate flag

    “I’d really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican, but on the other hand, she’s an immigrant and does not understand America’s history,” Coulter told host Kennedy on her Fox Business show Tuesday evening.

    “You think immigrants can’t understand history?” Kennedy asked.

    “Well, she doesn’t,” Coulter responded. “The Confederate flag we’re talking about never flew over an official Confederate building.”

    “It was a battle flag — it is to honor Robert E. Lee,” she added. “Anyone who knows the first thing about military history knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.”

    Haley’s parents are Indian Sikhs who came to the United States before she was born in Bamberg, S.C……….

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ann-coulter-nikki-haley-an-immigrant-who-doesn%25E2%2580%2599t-understand-confederate-flag/ar-AAc3yko

    • TheEiger says:

      Ann Coulter can go play in traffic. She is an unelected nutcase. She doesn’t speak for the GOP or elected Republicans. She has not idea what she is talking about. I’ve kept my mouth shut on the flag issue because I don’t think it’s worth wasting my breath over. She has done more harm to the GOP than any other unelected person I can think of. Again, I wish she would go play in traffic. Everything she says is to sell her next book and has nothing to do with furthering any type of conservative agenda.

      • John Konop says:

        Which makes my point why officeholders like Gov Haley who needed to create distance on this issue….It is a PR nightmare……They will be associated with outrageous comments like this if not…..No win for anyone with statewide and or national future….Do not think you need this flag issue to get elected in most primaries in the GOP…could be wrong…

        • TheEiger says:

          “Do not think you need this flag issue to get elected in most primaries in the GOP.” No. The flag issue needs to go away quick before everyone realizes that our current flag is still a confederate stars and bars flag. I don’t want to talk about a flag or racist Ann Coulter.

  5. saltycracker says:

    I love the phrase “walk in another’s shoes”

    Do that and shortly you will be a mile away from the SOB and have his shoes.

  6. SallyForth says:

    Those who forget or ignore history are doomed to repeat it. All this rush to scrub the remnants of one side in this huge part of our nation’s history from the public place are setting the table for the next generation to be clueless about the causes, the conduct, and the consequences of the War Between the States. We should keep all the reminders of the Civil War around that we can, as constant reminders of what not to do.

    Oh, but I forgot – guns don’t kill people; flags do. Get rid of those pesky old flags and I’m sure there will be no more incidents like Detroit this past weekend, where 12 blacks were shot, one casualty so far, by another black. This of course did not make national news – perhaps it has become too common place, the perpetrator was not white, and everybody was busy fighting flags.

    Where are the grown-ups when we need them?

  7. Dave Bearse says:

    The benefit of Republicans calling for flag removal is undermined by the attitude, if not the overt mention, that flag removal is capitulation to African-Americans, and the (maybe or in some cases unintended) subtext that removal of the flag is to appease African-American sensibilities.

    The “sorry if y’all were offended”—as if it’s a revelation that a symbol of racism, segregation and oppression is offensive—fits the narrative there isn’t any significant racism and prejudice in government anymore. (The people that don’t think the battle flag is a such a symbol are either too young or ignorant to know any better, or their bubble obfuscates the battle flags rise to prominence at the hands the KKK, Dixiecrats, and other oppressors.)

    Notwithstanding that, rejection of the flag will benefit the GOP in appealing to white independents and to the GOP’s centrists as a balance the party’s continuing hard-right spiral.

    • saltycracker says:

      Bizarre thoughts, IMO, there DB – personally I don’t care what others think, the flag has been desecrated to the point it does not represent those that served for their state. The left is whining, blaming a symbol, rejoicing in riots and looting while 90% plus of black murders are seen as just the way it is. They keep the divisiveness going by redirection and agitation. When the goal is you owe me over equality, polarization wins.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Desecrated is an interesting word to apply to a symbol whose popularization originated in malice.

        I’ll oppose the unfortunate excesses likely to occur with respect to Southern symbols. Maybe not ardently though, because doing so aligns me with people that think terminating government endorsement of a symbol of gross racist oppression is special favor appeasement.

        The right-wing hoopla about SCOTUS legalizing gay marriage is in the same scheme. The love the sinner class was silent in the face of badmouthing of and discrimination against gays. It’s only natural, when they make the ridiculous argument they’re being discriminated against, that there’s scorn about their complaining about being bad-mouthed.

  8. Lea Thrace says:

    “The left is whining, blaming a symbol, rejoicing in riots and looting while 90% plus of black murders are seen as just the way it is. They keep the divisiveness going by redirection and agitation. When the goal is you owe me over equality, polarization wins.”

    ^^This. This is why many minorities find it so absolutely difficult to vote for the GOP no matter how much they may agree with some of the party platform. The minimization of the journey for equality by calling any effort for change “whining” is just the most insulting thing. And yes this is a poster on a political blog saying it but leaders and politicians say it too. Disgusting.

    • saltycracker says:

      If you’ve been reading past posts my remarks were termed whining which is BS – change for equality is exactly what we need….and when it is proposed it is whining ?

  9. seekingtounderstand says:

    Lea: Everyone under 50 years old has grown up in Atlanta where there was not equality but affirmative action for minorities. Atlanta does not value diversity with its hiring practices.

    • Three Jack says:

      ” Atlanta does not value diversity with its hiring practices.” Please cite source for this BS.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Respectfully go and walk into the Marta Headquarters or any and all Atlanta government buildings and you will not see a diversified work force.
        Its a call for diversity when I want your job, but then its ok for me not have a diversified work force because of what happen long, long ago.

  10. Three Jack says:

    If we line I75 with confederate flags starting just south of Chattanooga all the way to Atlanta, will all the offended yankees boycott the interstate?

    Traffic issue solved!

    BONUS, it wouldn’t cost anywhere near $1B so we can also cancel the tax increase.

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