Dylann Roof and the Twilight of The Confederate Flag

The Confederate flag may finally be lowered from South Carolina's capital after decades of well-deserved controversy.

The Confederate flag may finally be lowered from South Carolina’s capital after decades of controversy.

A century-and-a-half after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, the Confederacy may finally be laying down its cultural arms. Following the horrific shooting rampage by white neo-Confederate psychopath Dylann Roof that left nine African-Americans dead in Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the long-enduring Confederate flag ‘s days of flying above the South Carolina capital — the heart of the Old Confederacy — may be numbered.

As the families of Roof’s victims still mourn their terrible loss, they may be able to take solace in the fact that the cold-blooded murder of their loved ones seems to have spurred a national awakening that centuries of spilled African-American blood could not quite inspire.

In the wake of the Charleston massacre, Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s Republican governor and heretofore defender of the Rebel flag’s public display, has called for the banner’s removal. Conservatives like South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham and staff members at the right-wing National Reviewwho have long been champions of the Confederacy’s overt public memory, have followed suite. Even the southern-fried capitalist behemoth Walmart, yes, Walmart, land of rock-bottom prices and rock-ribbed conservatism, has decided to stop selling all-things Confederate flag. When Sam Walton’s rapacious retail Cthulhu decides to take the cultural high road, you know the times they are a changin.’

With the squeeze of a trigger and a vile racist manifesto, Dylann Roof has forever obliterated the long-festering notion that the flag’s deep connection to slavery and white supremacy can be glossed over with transparent coats of white southern “heritage” lacquer. After all, South Carolina, the first southern state to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860, made the Confederacy’s raison d’être clear when it proclaimed in its Declaration of Secession that, “a geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States [Abraham Lincoln], whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” Following the lead of the Palmetto State — whose former Attorney General once characterized as “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum” — the Confederate South launched a rebellion that started the Civil War. As a result, between 1861-1865, 600,000 Americans lost their lives and countless more were maimed and psychologically scarred.

Most Americans associate the flag that still flies over Charleston with the Confederacy. But this flag was not the national flag of the Confederate States of America — the breakaway nation consisting of the majority of southern slaveholding states that seceded from the Union in 1860-1861 in order to protect slavery from Abraham Lincoln and his party of northern Republicans. The famous St. Andrew’s cross flag was, in fact, the battle flag of the Confederacy’s most famous fighting force, the Army of Northern Virgina, commanded by General Robert E. Lee. But it’s no surprise that a virulent racist like Dylann Roof would be drawn to this banner: it has served as a symbol of white supremacy since the day it was first unfurled in the Virginia breeze.

Its legendary status notwithstanding, the Army of Northern Virgina was an army that fought in the name of an explicitly pro-slaveholding nation, and it’s actions during the Civil War reveal much about why the Confederate battle flag carries so much racial baggage to this day.

Teh November 1862 issue of Harper's Weekly depicted the Confederate army capturing fugitive slaves and driving them back down South.

The November 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly depicted the Confederate army capturing fugitive slaves and driving them back down South.

During the June 1863 Gettysburg campaign, which saw Robert E. Lee make his second attempt to invade the North by crossing into the free state of Pennsylvania, the Army of Northern Virginia embarked on a massive “slave hunt.” For the entirety of its time in Pennsylvania, the Confederacy’s most storied army rounded up black people — fugitive slaves and free people alike — and sent them down South to be re-enslaved. In effect, Lee’s army became the biggest, most powerful slave patrol ever to exist on American soil, and it carried the flag that still flies over South Carolina’s capital. This was no coincidence. The Army of Northern Virginia, like all Confederate armies, knew that it was fighting to preserve the Southern social and economic system that rested on the foundation of black slavery, and it acted accordingly. The flag that Lee’s army flew in battle is, therefore, forever linked to the nation that it symbolized.

Many commentators have rightfully pointed out that the Confederate flag is a symbol, and like all symbols, different people in different eras have attached different meanings to it. Indeed, many white Americans, southerners and northerners alike, have embraced the flag as a generic symbol of rebellion or of “southern heritage,” which they believe has little connection to the racial oppression of the past. But the recent, post-Charleston controversy over the flag’s display on public grounds serves as a potent reminder that the past lives on in the painful — and sometimes deadly — memories of the present.

Racists have been drawn to the Confederate flag because it is a symbol of a historic rebellion born out of slavery and white supremacy. Dylann Roof not only follows in the footsteps of Confederates, but also in the footsteps of Dixiecrats like seven-term former South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, pro-segregationists, and Ku Klux Klansmen who embraced the flag as a symbol of opposition to the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century. Like Roof, these groups didn’t adopt the flag haphazardly; they were well aware of its historical connotations. The controversy over the Confederate flag reminds us that there have always been two Americas, one black, and one white, and these camps have always espoused different notions about what it means to be American.

White Americans — both inside and outside of the South — may see the Confederate flag as a symbol of regional pride, ethnic heritage, and “rebellion,” but the flag originated in a time when one man’s freedom rested on another man’s (and woman’s) bondage. For a majority of black (and many white) Americans who are familiar with it history, the Confederate flag stands as a reminder of the darkest aspects of America’s past. It recalls a war during which a Rebel army plucked human beings from Pennsylvania soil and forced them back into a life of servitude. It also invokes historical memories of families being sold as commodities in public markets; of midnight rides by white-hooded domestic terrorists; of police dogs and fire hoses being turned on peaceful protestors, and of black churches being violated by a rain of bullets. To those Americans who were forced to stand on the sidelines of a national story that for too long favored white privilege, if not white supremacy, the Confederate flag is a symbol of a very different kind of “heritage.”

Dylann Roof, the man accused of murdering 9 people in a historic Charleston, SC church, poses with the Rebel flag.

Dylann Roof, the man accused of murdering 9 people in a historic Charleston, SC church, poses with the Rebel flag.

Those who casually dismiss calls for the Confederate flag’s removal as evidence of the nefarious nattering of “politically correct” sourpusses fail to understand that to display the flag on state property is to claim that it symbolizes the heritage of all southerners — of all Americans —  in the same way. Yet even the idea that the Confederate flag represents “southern” heritage is a faulty notion. The Confederacy represented a mere four years of the South’s history, a history that spans multiple centuries of rich, multi-ethnic culture and heritage. Even during the Civil War, between 75 and 100,000 white southerners took up arms against their own regional kin by serving in the Union army. These included men from every southern state — except South Carolina.

The Confederate flag no more symbolizes “The South” today than it did in the 1860s, and the fact that its public display is being challenged with such force after decades of controversy is evidence that not only the South, but America as a whole, is finally ready to begin coming to more honest terms with the less-than-shining elements of its past in order to move forward to a more inclusive future. The Confederate flag will always be — should always be — a part of American history, but it should no longer be tacitly assumed to represent the history of all Americans.

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47 Comments

  1. I still kind of can’t believe this is happening. I didn’t expect to see the flag “defeated” in my lifetime, especially not while I’m still young!

    What’s maddening is that as you addressed, it took how many black people dying and being treated subhuman for this to happen? How many protests? How many think pieces and essays explaining how volatile and insulting flying this flag is? How many black people have had to live with running across this flag in our daily lives, serving as an evocative reminder of how much the US did not and in some ways still doesn’t care about us?

    I worry that some will think that by removing this flag from state property, license plates, stores, etc. that we’ve solved racism. Will we hear “We got rid of the flag! Stop complaining about racism!” the same way we hear “We have a black President! What racism?”

    There’s still an image of Confederate soldiers including Robert E. Lee carved into Stone Mountain in Georgia. What of that?

    • This is a very significant development, and even if the flag hasn’t yet been fully “defeated,” the wheels are in motion like never before. And I’m sure that some people will insist that this whole series of events has “solved” racism, but those are likely to be the same people who already think that the only real type of racism is “reverse racism.” As for Stone Mountain: I’m afraid we’re stuck with that, but at least you can take heart in the notion that it depicts the losers 😉

  2. Put the flag in a museum, display it at cemeteries, or when reenacting. Otherwise tear the rag down and burn it. Anyone who wears it otherwise is a racist and supporter of terrorism.

    • Shute, Jimmy, you should have a big celebration this weekend. Cash that paycheck. go to Walmart and go on a big spending spree, and thank the Walmart people for banning that “evil symbol of slavery.” Never mind you’re buying items made by slave labor.

      • Working on that issue as well. Enjoy the rulings on the ACA and gay marriage along with the CBF license plate and the nation’s desire to burn the CBF rag.

      • JD-
        “Working on that issue as well.”

        Including the Feds who draw taxes from those companies? They don’t seem to mind taxing the profits made from slave labor.

    • “tear the rag down and burn it”

      Well, it better be your own flag. If not, you’ll probably get a new nose job.

      • I get a new nose job you’ll be gargling my boot leather. The rag is the CBF and it is coming down. Whether it goes into the museum or the fire is up to you.

    • Cut BR some slack, Jimmy. He’s probably upset that a couple of Anniston’s Finest were booted from the police force after it was determined they were active members of the white nationalist League of the South. It’s been a tough week for Alabama’s make-believe Confederates.

      • It’s been a tough week for the heritage crew and conservatives everywhere. Their efforts to discriminate are getting shoved right back at them. They’ve lied long enough and now it is coming back to haunt them. They have no credibility so no one is listening to their wails.

  3. Hi Jarret! Just want to say GREAT ARTICLE and keep on doing what you are doing! Best wishes and continued success to you!

  4. I agree with the all comments you have written since the horrific murder of innocents in Charleston. As a white woman born and living in New Orleans, Louisiana, who grew up during the era of intergration, displays of racism and the euphemisms for it aren’t new to me. We have major streets named after some of the most egregious traitors who served the Confederacy. Statues and monuments to several of them litter the city. It’s past overdue for the remnants of the Civil War — flag, monument, statue, street name, school name, etc. — to be eliminated. They have never had a place anywhere in America. I hope that this is finally the end of the reign of terror waged for more than a century by the green-toothed Yahoos who continue to defend the Southern traitors in the name of heritage. The only difference between them and the Charleston shooter (refuse to utter his name) is that he acknowledged the truth of what “Southern heritage” really means. Now, if only we could do something about the Republicans, their Southern Strategy, and their distrust of anything not WASP male . . .

    • Thanks for the comment, Kathy!. It’s a tough call regarding Confederate iconography, especially in the South where, as you note, it’s everywhere. Generally, I’d supoort removing flags and statues from governmental property, although I think monuments that are on historical grounds such as battlefields should stay there. We shouldn’t sanitize the past too much, but we also need a proper perspective on it by not rewriting the history of the Confederacy to gloss over it’s white supremacist heritage.

  5. Reblogged this on The Evolving Narrative and commented:
    You should definitely check out this post. It’s a great read and you’ll walk away from your computer a more educated person.

  6. Many people think the Civil War of 1860-1865 was fought over one issue alone, slavery. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. The War Between the States began because the South demanded States’ rights and were not getting them.

    The Congress at that time heavily favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable. The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the South, and stopped these practices that were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain, then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not have occurred.

    I know for many years, we have been taught that the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort. The war had been in progress for two years by that time.

    Most southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families. They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave.

    Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union. However, after following my family around since I was just a year old to Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than abolishing the institution of slavery.

    It was more about preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded. I personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am glad that slavery was abolished, but I don’t think it should be glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights.

    Finally, removing that flag will do nothing to cure the real problem:

    Fact: Every year on average between 8000 to 9000 black people are killed by other black people in the US. Most of them are killed by guns.

    Fact: Prior to June 14th, the last time a white person was responsible for killing a black person inside a church was over 50 years ago.

    Fact: Until the majority of the black community nationwide comes to grips with the aforementioned facts and looks inward instead of outward to solve their problems, things will only get worse.

    • This is a long comment that’s filled with a good many falsehoods, but the core of your assertion is one-hundred percent wrong. The primary cause of the Civil War was indeed slavery. This is an indisputable fact that has been established by historical scholarship for decades now. Without slavery, there wouldn’t have been a Confederacy. You can choose to believe this or not, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

      • JR- The primary cause of the Civil War was indeed slavery.

        “most persons in the South are surprised at the course pursued by the North towards us since the disruption of the Union, it is really part and parcel of the old sectional policy. It has been the settled purpose of that section to use the South for their advantage. They blundered into the disruption of the Union, out of sheer lust of power, coupled with fanatical intermeddling, and from ignorance of the tone, temper and capacity of our people. The war is but a further development of the same unscrupulous aggression for the sake of gain which has always marked their carreer toward us. They have been led to entertain the belief that they might conquer the people of the South and render them again subservient to their interests and dominion. This has been the object of the struggle, utterly regardless of the principle of republican government and justice.”
        Charleston Mercury, October 22, 1862

      • Look, a segment from an old newspaper. Well that settles it. Multiple decades of scholarship have been overturned! Now we’ll have to re-examine everything we know about the Civil War. My life’s work is in shambles. How can we go on…?!!!!

      • Notice how the victimization theme stands out so strongly. Rhett was pretty good with the rhetoric in his time period.

        Sure it wasn’t about slavery? Let’s see what Rhett said in 1860 in his paper? http://www.mrsleeshistoryplace.com/honors/Civil%20War/Charleston%20Mercury.Secession%20Document.pdf

        Charleston Mercury
        , November 3, 1860
        The issue before the country is the extinction
        of slavery. No man of common sense, who has
        observed the progress of events,
        and who is not prepared to su
        rrender the institution, with the
        safety and independence of the South can doubt
        that the time for action has come—now or
        never. The Southern States are now in the crisis
        of their fate; and, if we
        read aright the signs of
        the times, nothing is needed for our deliverance,
        but that the ball of revolution be set in motion.
        There is sufficient readiness among the people to
        make it entirely successful. Co-operation will
        follow the action of any State. The example of
        a forward movement only
        is requisite to unite
        Southern States in a common cause. Under th
        ese circumstances the Legislature of South
        Carolina is about to meet. It happens to assemb
        le in advance of the Legislature of any other
        State. Being in session at this
        momentous juncture—the Legislatur
        e of that State which is most
        united in the policy of freeing the South from
        Black Republican domination—the eyes of the
        whole country, and most especially of the resist
        ance party of the Southern
        States, is intently
        turned upon the conduct of this body. We have innu
        merable assurances that the men of action in
        each and all of the Southern States, earnestly de
        sire South Carolina to exhibit promptitude and
        decision in this conjuncture. Ot
        her states are torn and divided, to
        a greater or less extent, by old
        party issues. South Carolina alone
        is not. Any practical move w
        ould enable the people of other
        States to rise above their past
        divisions, and lock shields
        on the broad ground of Southern
        security. The course of our Le
        gislature will either greatly st
        imulate and strengthen, or unnerve
        the resistance elements of the whole South. A
        Convention is the point to
        which their attention
        will be chiefly directed.
        The question of calling a Conven
        tion by our Legislature does
        not necessarily involve the
        question of separate or co-operative action.
        That is a question for the Convention when it
        assembles, under the circumstances
        which shall exist when it assemb
        les. All desire the action of
        as many Southern States as possible, for the fo
        rmation of a Southern
        Confederacy. But each
        should not delay and wait on the other. As these St
        ates are separate sovere
        ignties, each must act
        separately. . . .
        . . . What is really essential is
        this—that by the action of one or
        more States, there shall be the
        reasonable probability that a Southern Confederacy will be formed.

      • JD-
        “a forward movement only
        is requisite to unite
        Southern States in a common cause. Under th
        ese circumstances the Legislature of South
        Carolina is about to meet. It happens to assemb”

        What the heck is this? A poem?
        Assemb?

      • It’s the way it formatted coming through. In any event Rhett’s first line is the key line. Too bad he incited his fellow South Carolinians to join him in destroying their state, but they should have known better.

  7. In Lincoln’s first inaugural speech one of the first things he clearly stated was that he had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

    He also clearly stated that he had no objection to the Corwin Amendment:

    “I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen — has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable”.

    Yet the South still refused to budge regarding seccession. That was because slavery was not the issue that caused the South to secede. I’ve already covered the primary issues that caused the South to secede.

    Always follow the money……

  8. “Every serious, qualified historian understands that slavery was at the heart of secession.
    ————————————————————————————-
    See; “That is because the history books are usually written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union”, in my first comment.

    What exactly are the requirements that constitute a “serious, qualified historian”, in your opinion?

    Would those be the same “serious” and “qualified” historians who made sure that the History books glorified Thomas Edison as the inventor of all things light and electric, while completely ignoring Nikola Tesla and Alternating Current versus Direct Current? To the point where 99.9% of all students have never even heard of Tesla, much less know that he is responsible for all of our modern conveniences that we take for granted.

    You’ve got a lot to learn, Jarret. Again, always follow the money. In the case of Tesla, you need look no further than J.P. Morgan in that regard.

    (BTW, “Gangstabilly” and “Pizza Deliverance” were the 2 best albums DBT ever recorded. And they made a huge mistake when they fired Rob “The Devil” Malone. The band was never the same after that idiotic move. Jason Isbell (AKA/ He who now wears outfits) didn’t qualify to shine Rob’s shoes).

    • “You’ve got a lot to learn.” And here I wasted all that time getting a PhD in southern history when I could have just listened to a dude on the internet all along! Plus, Rob Malone better than Isbell? Now that’s some sacrilege right there…

      • Rob Malone is twice the musician/instrumentalist Jason will ever be and DBT’s chemistry was far better with Rob than it ever was with Isbell.

        When they moved Rob to 6 string, brought in Earl Hicks on bass and subsequently went to the 3 guitar attack, they went on a very long cross country tour behind “Alabama Asswhuppin’ ” and the upcoming “Southern Rock Opera” playing the Redneck Underground. At the end of that tour they returned to Atlanta/Athens to play a few shows.

        They’d been out on the road playing night after night working on their 3 guitar attack chops for months. That was DBT’s pinnacle as a band. They were an absolutely phenomenal rock band. “Thunderous” was how I described them to them when when they asked me what I thought after their first show back in Atlanta.

        Then Dick Cooper took over as their manager and stupidly talked Patterson into firing Rob and hiring Jason to replace him just because Rob was a no show for a private party that they weren’t even getting paid to play.

        Basically that was the beginning of the end for DBT. After Malone left and Isbell came in the band lost its edge and never got it back.

    • Mr. Sackett, only four states issued declarations of causes of secession (yes, I’ve read them). All the states issued ordinances of secession (I’ve read them, too) but those were short legal/political documents severing ties with the union. Slavery was one of the reasons for secession, the main reason, in fact. But secession is not war.

  9. Follow the money? Great line. Follow it right to the people who wanted secession in the first place. Half the wealth of the south was in slaves. They needed slavery to expand. It was not going to. So they chose to rebel to protect their way of life which was all about black chattel slavery.

    Read the primary sources and you will learn what happened. It’s that simple.

    The Corwin Amendment did not allow the expansion of slavery. That was the deciding factor. The Union was perfectly willing to let slavery exist in the places where it already existed. That was not the problem and the Corwin Amendment shows that. The issue was the expansion of slavery and the primary sources reflect that very strongly.

    You can forget the taxation issue as well. Exports were not taxed, only imports. There was no IRS to tax anything until 1862 and it only came about because of the war itself. The tariff was the lowest on record in 1860 and one that the south had put in place. It also protected southern goods as well.

    We have covered this at length in this blog and others. The issue of slavery was the cause of the conflict. The people of that time said so.

  10. The thing is, we’re not really debating evidence here. There are plenty of folks out there who simply aren’t interested in what actually happened in the past. It’s like arguing with religious fundamentalists: their faith cannot be penetrated by reason or evidence.

    • We’ve seen that in abundance on this and other blogs where commenters reject the facts in favor of fantasy. It is nice though when some begin to think and seek to validate the information they are given. It is transformative learning in action.

  11. Back to the root of your article regarding the Confederate battle flag.

    Removing that flag will do nothing to cure anything.

    This is the real problem.

    Fact: Every year on average between 8000 to 9000 black people are killed by other black people in the US. Most of them are killed by guns.

    Fact: Prior to June 14th, the last time a white person was responsible for killing a black person inside a church was over 50 years ago.

    Fact: Until the majority of the black community nationwide comes to grips with the aforementioned facts and looks inward instead of outward to solve their problems, things will only get worse.

    As a result, any white person who expresses support for the removal of the Confederate battle flag is in reality doing a tremendous disservice to black people by helping to bolster their false belief that a piece of cloth has anything to do with their real problems.

    I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life and I’ve lost count of the times when far more than 9 black people were murdered by other black people over the course of a single weekend in this city.

    WTF does that have to do with the Confederate flag?!

    “The biggest enemy of the black man, is the black man.” – Charles Barkley

  12. I understand that according to FBI statistics from 2011, 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians!

    When will the white community come to grips with this and solve their problems.

    • You’re avoiding the issue as it relates to the black community, Ewan.

      Very weak attempt at deflection. Much like pretending that the removal of the Confederate flag from the top of the Confederate War Memorial in Charlelston will solve anything.

      If you want to indulge in your liberal white guilt, that’s your perogative. But you’re not doing black people any favors by doing so. Because in reality you’re actually doing the opposite, while at the same time satisfying your narcissistic tendencies.

      Nice combo, man.

      • You’re pretty amusing, Larry. First you come here and try to pass off fiction as fact. That failed. So right now your credibility is pretty low. Then you try to run the black crime statistics by us in a context that ignores anything that doesn’t fit your opinion. When your blatant bias is pointed out, you then try to pass off your opinion as helping the black community.

        Talk about epic failures. You sound like someone else who has been on this blog in the past with a different name. Same shtick, same results. Run along and play now.

  13. It stands to reason there’s got to be more to it for the North than just a case of “insulting the flag.”

    “…the North said to the slave-holders: If you will not pay us our price (give us control of your markets) for our assistance against your slaves, we will secure the same price (keep control of your markets) by helping your slaves against you, and using them as our tools for maintaining dominion over you; for the control of your markets we will have, whether the tools we use for that purpose be black or white, and be the cost, in blood and money, what it may.” -Lysander Spooner, Northern abolitionist, 1870

  14. Mr. Ruminski, I believe you’re being a bit premature and not a little melodramatic. The Twilight of the Confederate Flag? Please.

    Eventually, retailers, especially online ones like Amazon, ebay, Etsy, etc., will quietly return the flag and Confederate items to their sales pages. Meanwhile, sellers on and off the Internet can’t keep flags in stock. Flags are going up everywhere across the South. Flag rallies and runs continue unabated. There will be one in my town this weekend.

    The callous political use of a tragedy to lie about history in the interest of attacking that history and, simultaneously, to protect and promote destructive contemporary policies in an election cycle is egregious to many people. It does not set well with Southerners who respect their Confederate heritage. Thus, a huge backlash has been created, and it continues to grow.

    It’s not just rallies and runs. In the immortal words of James Carville, “We gon’ augunize! We gon’ augunize!” In fact, we’re already “augunizin'” with heritage-centered political PACs planned and new descendants’ organizations in the works, not hampered politically as current groups are. We aren’t just protesting the removals from various flag displays in the South, we will demand that they be put back up. And until they are, we will blanket the South with battle flags flying high on private property. You won’t be able to swing a dead cat without hitting a pole flying a Confederate flag. Thanks to the Virginia Flaggers for setting the example. (Did you know there are calls to prohibit displaying the flag on private property? I suppose that’s not a big concern for socialists, but the country isn’t quite there yet.)

    In any case, these are exhilarating times. Twilight of the flag? In your dreams.

    • Well, when I talk about the Rebel flag’s “Twilight,” what I’m referring to is the end of the long-standing myth that the flag has nothing to do with slavery and treason. That old Lost Cause canard has been around for so long that it seemed invincible, but the controversy over the flag and its subsequent removal in South Carolina demonstrates that more and more Americans now understand what the Civil War was about, why it was fought, and what its legacy was. So in those respects, the flag is indeed experiencing a twilight.

      Now, with respect to its sale by retailers: no doubt it’ll come back on the shelves. In fact, I think it was rather dumb for retail outlets to stop selling it anyway. My issue is when the flag is displayed on state property and when its historical meaning is distorted, not its sale by private merchants. Regarding calls to ban the flag from being displayed on private property: that’s a stupid idea. People can and should display whatever they want on their property, just keep it away from statehouses.

      • The reason the lost cause has been rejected is because of two things. The first is education. Educators are teaching an interpretation of history that rejects the lost cause.
        The second is factual information. To be blunt, the facts do not support the lost cause myth.
        This is the information age. The information is at our fingertips. People are seeing the facts and that is making a difference. They do not have to believe the teachers. They can find the information for themselves. When they do look, they find the teachers are correct in telling them that the CW was caused by slavery.

        As for moral sides, the south was wrong to secede both because of slavery and because it had no legal grounds to secede. That is it. That is the crux of the moral controversy right there. Those who want to avoid the moral issue will say anything they want to escape this issue, but in the end it comes back to this.

        The Union was justified in putting down an insurrection. The slave owners made a choice and they wrecked their world by doing so. They are the ones to blame for leading the people they represented down a road that destroyed their way of life. Had they not done so, slavery would have continued for an indefinite time and that way of life maintained until the people of those states chose to change it.

  15. Oh, I see. Well, I’ve never been one to claim, “Slavery had nothing to do with the war!!!” Yes, it did, but so did other things. My position has always been that the north was no better, and the “Mommy, he did it too,” argument IS valid in this case because the north’s sins meant it had no moral authority to come South and kill Southerners. I will always, always be proud of Confederates for fighting those who did that, and proud to hold their banner high.

    • “My position has always been that the north was no better.” The North fought to end slavery, the South fought to keep it. That’s the definition of better.

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