A different perspective on the Confederate battle flag

I shared my thoughts concerning the Confederate battle flag a few days ago.  They didn’t sit well with all of my readers (not surprisingly, given the controversial nature of the topic at present).  One reader, Sandy, sent me the link to an interesting article in the American Spectator.  Here’s an excerpt.

I submit that for many today, the Confederate flag is a statement of regional defiance, not against the abolitionist movement, but against what we might call Northernism, as manifested among cultural elites in the Northeast Corridor, the Beltway, Chicago, and the Left Coast. Though Southerners hear that they aren’t much unless they have an Ivy League degree, many are quite happy with a B.A. from North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina. And though Mayor Rahm Emanuel may declare Chick-fil-A unfit for morally advanced Chicago, Bible Belters are pleased to march right past the demonstrators on Same-Sex-Kiss Day to buy their grilled nuggets. Though national rankings for “livability” put pot-smoking Boulder, Colorado, miles above Arkadelphia, Arkansas, most of these Arkansans wouldn’t think of trading places to raise their kids.

If you think that the glorification or reinstatement of slavery is the subtext when Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alabama feature the Stars and Bars on an album cover or when Charlie Daniels sings “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” you’re deficient at cultural hermeneutics. Yes, Halloween has pagan roots, but if the governor wants to drop bite-sized Snickers into the bag of a trick-or-treater dressed like Chewbacca, we don’t have to consign him to the occult, even if he announced that the goodies would be forthcoming on Thursday, a day named in honor of Thor. And Halloween Samhain ceremonies by a few nutcase Wiccans doesn’t change that.

There’s more at the link.

I’m still not convinced that the author’s perspective can outweigh the genuine outrage in some quarters over the use of a symbol that was used by defenders of slavery.  As an immigrant, of course, I don’t have a dog in that particular fight.  My ancestors were several thousand miles away at the time.  Nevertheless, I think he makes a valid point.

What say you, readers?



  1. I tend to question how much of the outrage is genuine. Leftist have been whipped into a frenzy the last few days, give it a few more and they'll move onto something else.

  2. I think the question is simply, Is there more to a culture than its greatest sin? How long does a culture have to be dead before we stop holding those sins against its descendants? Can you forgive a sin without condoning it? And does choosing to remember the good rather than the bad carry an unacceptable cost?

    Wagner was an anti-semite well before Nazism took power; people still mount the Ring Cycle. And I'd like to think watching and enjoying THE DUKES OF HAZZARD doesn't mean I approve or condone slavery.

    That said, I'm neither black nor American, so those who consider that reason enough to ignore my thoughts can freely do so.

  3. I frankly don't care about other folk's outrage. They are solely responsible for how something makes the feel.

    I'm supremely tired of being told I'm inferior and an oppressor (white upper middle class male.)

    I've never flown the 'confederate flag' but I'm not bothered when I see it. I'm much more inclined to believe the article you linked is correct, than the "OMG SLAVERS, KKK, KILL ALL THE N!66ers" hysteria.

    If I was easily outraged, I'd be punching every 20-something @sshole wearing a Che tshirt or a Keffiyeh as a fashion statement, burning cars with "la Raza" bumper stickers, or firebombing mosques. The fact that I'm NOT doing those things proves that I'm an emotionally balanced ADULT who long ago learned that MY feelings are my own, and no one else cares.

    This is just another aspect of the self-focused "selfie generation" stomping their feet and saying "look at me, my feelings matter more than yours." It's toddler behavior, not adult behavior.

    I won't reward it in my toddler, I'm not going to reward it in society.


  4. It's another version of the leftist's selective outrage machine. Che, Ho, Mao, Castro, Stalin were not THAT bad. But THIS!!!!! oh boy.

    My kin lived in Alabama during The Great Unpleasantness. And they lost everything. My family has no riches from that era. It was taken by northerners after they subjugated the South.

    My folks were Okies that stayed in the dust bowl. All I have from my parents is stubbornness, hate for the word 'quit', and my name…. quite the inheritance!!

    White privilege? Tell that to my arthritic joints. Started working at 14 on near byfarms, married too young, paid my own way thru college, moved myself across the state to find work a few times, and help my extended family when they need it.

    Side note:

    I never cease to find amazing the black person named Mohammed. The Arab enslavement of African people was much more broad and orders of magnitude more deadly. It still is to this day. But that doesn't fit the template of leftist outrage. "I didn't see that on MSNBC!!"

  5. One thing I'd do if I really, really wanted to change all the blacks to Republicans is to teach them Arabic. Why? Because the Arabic word for a black person translates as "slave".

    Speaking as a proud Son of the South, I too find it a bit jarring when I see a truck trailing a SBF, but it doesn't offend me, because I think this guy has a point. The Confederacy might have stood for slavery, but the people who fly its flag today aren't thinking about that when they fly it.

    How much that means is hard to say, because obviously it does mean slavery, but symbols are symbols as much because of intent as anything else. So unless the person flying the SBF is known independently to be racist, then it's probably not a good idea to assume that they are.

    I mentioned that I'm a son of the South. And while that's true, W.T. Sherman is my personal Civil War hero. So I'm a bit of a heretic. Because the fact that the Confederacy had a few points in its favor does not excuse all the bad points, because there absolutely were more bad points than good ones.

    So I agree with it's removal from government grounds. Flags belonging to defunct nations shouldn't be flown on government property any more than flags from foreign nations. But if I saw that a neighbor had one in his window facing my house, I would just ask him to move it to a window on the opposite side, if possible. If he refused, I would put up an American flag in a window facing his.

  6. Around here, the Stars and Bars are the emblem of young men going through their oppositional stage.

    In the past, most of these young men would outgrow their opposition to authority. It had much to do with "authority" repeatedly and consistently demonstrating that adhering to the social contract was to everybody's mutual advantage.

    Part of what is tripping the outrage is the understanding that the social contract is broken. "Authority" is no longer consistent, nor is adhering to the "social contract" mutually advantageous. Imagine you are part of the fifty percent who incurs $270 per year in medical costs but are compelled to pay $12,000 per year in insurance.

    The conditions that made cooperation more advantageous than opposition are gone. The tension is growing. Don't fear the emblem. Fear the consequences of the ever more tilted playing field.

  7. I had thought of replying to your initial comment on the battle flag, but I let it drop.

    Yes, the flag is a cultural issue, it is a (deserved) flipping the bird at the culture promoted by the MSM.

    Also, I too think the outrage is faux. It is something ginned up since the early 90's.

    No, the flag is not a symbol of slavery – in a cultural war one does not concede the right to make such definitions to the opposing side. As Thomas Szasz said “Label or be labeled.”

    Some history nuggets:
    When Sumter was fired on there were more slave states in the Union than out of it.

    The upper south (Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas) cannot plausibly be said to have seceded over slavery. They clearly seceded over the use of force to maintain the union.

    Three out of every four southern households owned no slaves – the vast majority of the southern soldiers did not fight to defend slavery.

    Despite Northern ex post facto historical blather, letters and contemporary accounts show that the vast majority of northerners were not fighting for abolition. Consider the NYC draft riots.

    The Lincoln administration was willing to support the Corwin amendment – enshrining Slavery for all time, but was not willing to negotiate a reduction in the tariff increase rammed through when the Southern states began to secede. Lesson: Actions speak louder than words.

    I apologize for the nuggets for you may already be aware of them, I'm really not trying to be patronizing.

    BTW, I am not an old southern boy. My great-great grandfather commanded a regiment under Sherman at the siege of Atlanta. Interestingly, the old boy asserted in his letters home that the war would have no effect on the position of blacks in the United States.

  8. Faux out rage, pushing the agenda, and PC ism. Enough already. And the other posters are right too!

  9. The flag (most) in question, the one in South Carolina, flies at a memorial for confederate soldiers. Going after it is an attempt by some to attack the memorial and what it is for, in proxy.

    I did not comment on your previous post, but will do so now. The Civil war was fought over slavery. That is an oversimplification of a very complex situation. The war was fought over state's rights, including the right to be in the union at will. It was a fight over federal power. The war is often called, in the south, the war of Northern Agression, because the North was strangling the South, doing its utmost to keep the South in its place, suborned to the North and its factories. And yes, the war was also fought over slavery. But it would not have happened, were it only slavery at stake.

    The rebel flag stands for many things. To some, a minority, it is a symbol of slavery. To another (smaller) minority, it is a symbol of white supremacy. And to a third, larger than both other groups combined, it is a symbol of their ancestors, for a war that those ancestors fought, and for the potential (real or imagined) to fight that war again. And still another minority, it stands for the south and all that it was, and all that it is now, and could be tomorrow. It means many things. That one group is demanding that their feelings are the only ones that matter is hypocracy.

  10. I tend to see desire not to have the Battle Flag at memorials as part of general push against war memorials. The left has no use for soldiers and no use for valor. The American Civil War was a very hard fought war. We forget about it at our peril. We let our history be edited to fit fashion at our peril.

    I have a rabid dislike for the Democratic Party, this can be seen in how I understand the ACW and the aftermath. It is hypocritical for the Democratic Party to stalinize one of their symbols this way at their convenience, and not do the same with symbols that are still useful for them.

    The confederate flag is the least credible factor as a root cause of Roof's choice. Roof's drug use, for one, is substantially stronger.

    The outrage theater and retailer restrictions are troubling. Amazon has burned up quite a lot of credit with me.

    Again, the Mexican flag has a cactus with an eagle holding a snake. You may not be aware of this, but those symbols come from the Aztec founding myth of what is now Mexico City. The Aztecs had two calenders, and one was for keeping track of what kind of human sacrifice went when. They kept their neighbors more or less partially subjugated, as a source of war captives to sadistically murder. An argument can be made about the Mexican flag that essentially parallels what the left makes about the Confederate flag.

    But where is the Mexican flag's Roof? Well, the Mexican civil cartel war has spilled over into the United States enough to influence kidnapping statistics. I'm certain there are a fair number of other incidents that can be found if one accepts the principle that a piece of cloth can cause a man to commit a felony.

    Bob the fool

  11. I was going to link to Chris's post, but Will beat me to it. Personally, I'd fly the Goliad flag, or the Navy jack, since the Panhandle's not really the Southern part of Texas.


  12. The old Stars and Bars, if it can be said to mean any one thing, stands for "You ain't the boss of me!"

    I didn't want one until they told me I couldn't have one.

  13. I've spent a great deal of time thinking about the CBF and reading about the Civil War over the past week (see, outrage can be educational!), trying to understand why I (raised in NW) am disturbed by this outrage.

    Of all the symbols in this country, the CBF probably has the most baggage. Carried on the CW battlefields, used as a standard for the KKK and other racist groups, it has also become a symbol of regional identity. As a white woman, the CBF reminds me of both the CW and the ultimate subjugation of the South, and serves as a warning about what can happen (did happen) when the political process breaks down.

    This faux outrage seems to me to be an attempt to rewrite history (yes, I've been muttering to myself about "whitewashing history"), and I'm quite nervous about where this will end. Banning CBFs from retailers, removing CW games — what's next, removing Confederate soldiers' remains from Arlington? Destroying Confederate monuments? Renaming streets and schools? The CW was a painful and brutal chapter of our history for the entire nation; we all learned some difficult lessons, and it seems that we're still learning today (provided that we're still allowed).

    I never wanted a CBF either, but I've ordered a mini set of Confederate flags, along with a mini set of American flags, because we shouldn't hide from our history, no matter how painul it may be.

  14. The outrage isn't entirely genuine, Methinks.

    And, really, a symbol is what you make of it…..TO me, the Koran is just a book, but the Bible is special.

    TO others, both are just books.

    noose means a lynching to some and causes fear (even today), to me it is just a Halloween decoration or an interesting knot…

    It just depends what the person sees. Just because 13 % of our population sees it as a symbol of racism doesn't make it so. THere are many symbols I find offensive, but I don't demand that they remove them

    I see no Constitutional right to not be offended.

    THe SJW folks would have more credibility with me if they had banned other symbols, like swastikas and Malcolm X "X"s and Black power fists and Che t-shirts.

  15. I was born in Ohio and raised in Maine, so I'm a Yankee, born and bred. An ancestor was in Sherman's army.

    And I think that this is merely the latest example of the Cold Civil War that is tearing this Republic apart. The North was as racist and hateful as the South, and after the War the North was filled with KKK and Jim Crow laws. There were lynchings up north well into the 20th century.

    The Cold Civil War sees the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia used to wipe away the racist stain of the victors.

    Sorry, not impressed with narrow minded, ignorant of history, political self interest masquerading as a Moral Crusade.

    The actual history of the day – as understood by those who lived at the time – was much more interesting and (dare I say it?) nuanced. See https://foseti.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/review-of-shall-cromwell-have-a-statue-by-charles-francis-adams/

  16. what's next, removing Confederate soldiers' remains from Arlington? Destroying Confederate monuments?

    Actually, this is already starting. Here in Atlanta, the Usual Suspects are up in arms about Stone Mountain. I will admit that the carvings of Stonewall Jackson and company are a bit over the top, but listening to the outrage on the radio all I could wonder was if they would ask the Taliban to bring some artillery to blow them away. The wrong sort of graven images, don't you know.

  17. -what's next, removing Confederate soldiers' remains from Arlington? Destroying Confederate monuments?-

    I saw a headline where the mayor of Memphis(?) wants to dig up Gen. Forrest and kick his remains out of the city. Should that happen I predict an even greater racial divide in this country.

  18. When the war was being fought, slavery was legal on both sides. Even when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it only freed the slaves in the breakaway states.

    So saying the war was not an economic conflict between the industrial north and the agrarian south, with the north that held a small but significant voting majority in the U.S. Congress strangling the south for profit, is ignoring the roots of the war.

    And who invaded whom? And why? They wanted to keep those big sources of raw materials under their control. A separated Confederacy would have been able to set prices and sell goods to Europe if they chose.

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