Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Let This Flag Rest

     It appears as though the South Carolina legislature, at the behest of governor Nikki Haley, is going to vote on the removal of the confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds. It always seemed hypocritical to me that some could claim allegiance to the U.S. flag while holding onto their allegiance to a flag that represents the destruction of the union for which the United States flag stands. It is equally hypocritical in my mind that the very persons who hold to the theory that the cause claimed by the confederate battle flag was more about states' rights than it was about slavery, now seem poised to deny the state of South Carolina the right to remove that flag from their own capitol grounds.
     There is no question, no matter how hard the revisionist historians try to deny it, that the Civil War was fought over what the South called, "Our peculiar institution." Slavery had been a point of contention between the South and the union from the founding of this country. From the 3/5 rule, to the Missouri compromise, to the Kansas/Nebraska Act, to the Lincoln/Douglas debates, the cause of slavery motivated those in the south who pushed secession from the union, and motivated those in the north who were willing to fight a war to prevent the spread of that "peculiar institution."
     Some of the pro-confederate flag crowd try to mitigate the importance of slavery as a cause for the Civil War. They try to make the issue of tariffs imposed by the federal government on the south more important than even the southern leaders of the day thought that they were. One only needs to read the secession decree of South Carolina prior to the Civil War to understand that in that official document of rebellion slavery is mentioned as a cause and tariffs are not. Those in the south, even those who did not own slaves, understood that the core issue of states' rights was the right of any state to allow slavery within their borders.
    The fact that the battle flag of the confederacy was the battle flag of Northern Virginia prior to the Civil War, and prior to that was taken from the British Union Jack, has little relevance to the flag's representation during the war of the cause to perpetuate slavery. And even if the flag's support of slavery could somehow be mitigated or have a blind eye turned to it, it still represented the desire of southern states to dissolve the union. That, I think, is an inescapable fact.
     In  the final analysis the battle flag of the confederacy has no place on state grounds, which after all are owned by all residents of that state, anymore than any other representation of disunion. No other region in the country has such a flag, states do, but not whole regions. And even in a recent Pew poll less than thirty percent of those in the south think the flag should fly on public grounds. Governor Haley and others are correct in assuming the leadership to remove the flag from grounds that represent every resident of their state, not just those whose common sense as well as their loyalties are mired in the past.      

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