OPINION: You should know what the Confederate flag stands for
There is no intellectual reason why flags should be flown, and monuments built, to celebrate to the traitors, rebels and racists who fought against America's interests during the Civil War.
The current national debate about these symbols, started quietly in the Southern states, but after Charlottesville and the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans, it has come to the national stage. If you use them to reflect on history, put them in a museum. If you are proud of your heritage, you should know this heritage died to defend slavery. If you believe in some “Lost Cause” mythology, that lost cause was slavery.
Your personal meanings and feelings for flying the Confederate flag, or supporting a monument are fine. When you openly display these, other person’s interpretations will almost always be that you are a racist or a supporter of slavery.
Displaying the Confederate flag is a gross statement of anti-Americanism, and one that is inherently tied to the beliefs of the people who used it as their symbol - supporters of slavery. The excuses they use to keep monuments standing are, at best, revisionist history riddled with flawed logic.
There is a claim that Southern states seceded because of “states’ rights” to defend itself against a tyrannical federal government. That's not the whole story, however. South Carolina’s declaration of secession noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” as its reason for leaving the Union.
Mississippi’s declaration of secession states it even clearer – “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-the greatest material interest of the world.”
Georgia echoed that sentiment: “For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property…"
Feel free, if you must, to disregard your history books or the many explanations that historians have offered on the causes of the Civil War. Every Confederate state made it exceptionally clear that slavery was the primary reason for leaving the Union.
Some people say flying the Confederate flag is a symbol of “heritage", not hate. What is the “heritage” people are proud of? What did that heritage” support? What did that “heritage” believe?
The Confederacy was built on, and fought to protect and defend the institution of slavery. Slavery is the ultimate form of hatred. It’s believing that someone is not worthy of being called and considered human. It’s undeniable that many people in the Confederacy believed African slaves were not of equal worth to white Americans.
Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, stated in an 1861 speech, “We recognize the negro, as God and God's Book and God's Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him. Our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude.”
His vice president, Alexander Stephens said in 1861, “With us, all the white, however high, low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the Negro. Subordination is his place.”
But Davis and Stephens were not alone. These ideas were pervasive throughout the entire Confederacy.
Stephen Hale, a Confederate officer, asked if Southerners, “can without indignation and horror contemplate the triumph of negro equality, and see his own sons and daughters in the not distant future associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality?”
As leaders of the Confederacy their beliefs are inescapably tied to the "heritage" so many people claim to be honoring today.
If you are just “supporting your heritage” by flying the Confederate flag, know that it is un-American. That flag stands against everything this country believes and fought our independence for.
Any flag or monument memorializing the Confederacy is a conscious nod of support to slavery and the racist beliefs of its supporters.
Today, there are no “states’ rights” being violated. There is only hate, not heritage.
It’s time people start admitting it.