Monday, July 6, 2015

Banning Confederate Flag Conflicts with Dr. King's Teaching

Treating the Confederate Flag as a hated enemy because some low life racists have misused it conflicts with Dr. Martin Luther King's teaching that we should love our enemies.  Instead of trying to ban the flag, black leaders should be embracing it so they can turn it into a symbol of racial harmony.   Turning the Confederate Flag into a symbol of racial harmony would rob racists of an opportunity to misuse a popular southern symbol to further their goals.

Using the Confederate Flag as a scapegoat for racism would conceal the real nature of American racism today and in 1860.  Racism then and now has always been an American problem not a southern problem. 

Banning the Confederate Flag because of the recent murders by a coward in Charleston, South Carolina, would reward the pariah by making him a major historical figure.   History books would mention him as the man responsible for eliminating the Confederate Flag.  His name might even appear in the future on shows like "Jeopardy".   [As Paul Harvey used to say: "He would want me to mention his name."]

We might consider him a pariah, but to others of his ilk he will be a hero.    He will have shown them that the easiest way to get what Andy Warhol calls "their 15 minutes of fame" is to commit a heinous crime. 

Normal people don't understand that some people would rather be regarded as a pariah than a nobody.  Some people satisfy their desire for attention through vandalism like breaking out windows in buildings or cars. Others use spray paint on buildings or public works.  Unfortunately, a few use arson or murder to get attention.

Bullies are a significant problem in our society.   The worst thing you can do if you are worried about a bully is let him know how he can get to  you.   The bully boys in the white sheets are already jumping on the Confederate Flag issue to convince white southerners to support the Kooky Krazy Klutzers.

I'm the great grandson of a Union Army veteran so I don't really understand the attitude southerners have toward the Confederate Flag.   I wonder if it is related to a military tradition which began when the caisson  carrying a dead soldier from the battlefield  during  the Napoleonic wars was covered with his national flag.  When my dad died we received an American flag from the government honoring his service in World War II.  When I die my family will receive a flag honoring my service in Vietnam.

Many of the Confederate soldiers were fathers.  Others were uncles of individuals who might not have been born yet.  Southerners may feel the way they do about the Confederate Flag as a way of remembering family members who died to protect their relatives and neighbors.  Many of the Confederate soldiers likely shared the attitude of  Virginian Rufus Peck:  "I hadn't a single regret. I felt I had answered the country's call and discharged my duty, but all the time I was fighting for what my state thought best and against my own convictions." 

Many of the "Johnny Rebs" were black men who had no way of knowing that the war would eliminate slavery.

Confederate soldiers were not the bad guys in the Civil War.  The bad guys were the politicians on both sides who couldn't work out a compromise on controversial issues like slavery and tariffs.

I'll deal more with the issue of racism and the Civil War in a future post.   Those who think the south had a monopoly on racism in 1860 need to recognize that it was members of the Colorado Militia flying the American flag, not Confederate soldiers, who murdered peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864.

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