From the top, I’ll tell you this is written from my personal knowledge and love of American Civil War history. Any assertions of fact are true to the best of my knowledge.
I had no intention of tackling this topic, since it is such a polarizing situation, but the recent massacre in Charleston, South Carolina has compelled me to write this. I know from the beginning, there are people who will immediately take offense and stop reading. So be it. But if you are an open-minded person, you will at least finish this and give my words serious consideration. I’ll warn you now, this will be a history lesson first, before it diverts to social commentary. Unfortunately this subject does not lend itself to brevity.
First of all, it is time to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from public buildings in the Southern United States, and anyplace else it might be used in a public venue. Make no mistake. The flag is an historical artifact. Which is exactly why it belongs in museums. The banner does represent a strong pride and belief in a cause that people fought and died for. But there are a multitude of problems here, which I will do my best to tackle.
First and foremost, the flag which displays the diagonal crossed stars on a red field is not, and never was, the national flag of the Confederate States Of America. It was a PART of the two last designs of the national banner, but the flag commonly referred to as the Confederate Flag today, was simply used as a battle flag by multiple portions of the Confederate forces, including The Army of Tennessee, and Robert E. Lee’s Army Of Virginia. It did also serve briefly as the ensign of the Confederate Navy. These inaccuracies offend not only my deep sense of history, but my sense of order.
The original National flag was in fact designed by Kentuckian Nicola Marschall and was first flown at Bardstown, Kentucky in the early days of the war. Marschall also designed the Confederate Army uniforms of butternut and gray. Marschall is interred in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, and his grave marked with several historic markers from government and private organizations. That flag was then replaced by “The Stainless Banner”, a white flag with the diagonal cross design in one corner. That one was revised into “The Blood Flag” which added a vertical crimson stripe on the far right edge.
To claim the Diagonal Cross flag is “THE Confederate Flag” is just factually wrong, but much more than that, it is a moral outrage. The Battle Flag which is used and displayed as a symbol of Southern Pride is essentially an instrument of war and destruction of generations of young men. Why anyone would want to glorify that, is beyond me.
The other thing, which seems to be forgotten time and again is that it’s a LOST CAUSE. The Confederacy LOST the war. It’s time to get over it and be Americans.
To make matters worse, the Diagonal Cross has been appropriated, again in error, by racist and supremacist groups who preach hate and intolerance, which further is a reason to remove it. I’m EXTREMELY hesitant to make this next comparison, but I’m already neck-deep, so what the hell.
Notice a few things the next time you see one of these racist groups in a march, protest, or circle jerk. Nearly every time, you will see a NAZI flag in close proximity to the Diagonal Cross. Those who have TRUE Southern Pride need to ask yourself. Is this is REALLY the company your symbol should be keeping?
The Nazi Party, and all of its symbols is outlawed in Germany and justifiably so. Any use or display is just illegal. The Germans get it. They realize what it offensive to polite society, and why. It doesn’t stop the rest of the world from knowing about the Nazis and what they did. Despicable as it was.
There is NO WAY America, or the world is going to forget the Confederacy. My God there are museums devoted to nothing else, and I welcome them, and I visit them often. You don’t need a banner to remind people.
The entire scope of American history interests me, particularly the American Civil War. The state where I was born–West Virginia–was actually born of that conflict, and I have a vested interest in it. It’s honestly only a coincidence that I’m writing this on West Virginia Day. But parading the symbols of that conflict in front of African Americans is simply offensive to me, and of course to them and their sensibilities.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, there are legitimate organizations like Sons Of Confederate Veterans, and Daughters Of The Confederacy, which have honorable and genuine intent to preserve the genuine American historic content of the late Confederate government. I further have no problem seeing the flag fly in actual Confederate burial grounds. BUT—
The flag that flies in front of the South Carolina Capitol is there mandated by state law, in reaction to efforts to remove it several years ago. Opponents succeeded in having it removed from the dome to the grounds, but by law, the Battle Flag cannot be removed, or lowered to half-staff without legislative mandate. To me it smacks of state-sanctioned racism. I know already people will say I’m a knee-jerk, pointy-headed Liberal, and I am certainly guilty of that. But I also have a conscience, which tells me it’s time for the flag to go.
Displaying this in a government facility and on government ground is tantamount to flying a Nazi banner in the German Bundestag. It would not be tolerated there, and it should not be tolerated here. It’s time our country—-OUR ENTIRE COUNTRY—stop fighting that old war, and hurting people with symbols. If we can’t stop doing something as simple as that, how in the world can we ever stop the killing?