Erick Erickson wrote a very logical and reasonable approach for a Christian to the Confederate battle flag issue, but he is barking up the wrong tree.
In essence, Erickson said we should not fly that flag out of politeness, and politeness is a virtue. Were there an award for politeness, I believe Erick would receive honorable mention, if not first place (that doesn’t always apply to his online, or on-air, persona, but it does apply to him as a man). But politeness does not inform culture when it’s only used by one side.
For example, Louis Farrakhan, a racist if there ever was one, correctly pointed out, “I don’t know what the hell the fight is about over the Confederate flag,” Farrakhan said. “We need to put the American flag down. Because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag.”
For 233 out of 238 years since the American flag was adopted in 1777, it flew over all of America, including racists. For 88 years, it flew over slave-owning plantations, state houses, and government buildings. It flew over Japanese internment camps. Today it flies over abortion clinics. If liberals finds that reference distasteful, I’ll add this one for free: it flies over Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
During the American Civil War, the Confederate battle flag didn’t fly over Georgia—the Georgia state flag did. And when that war ended, the American flag flew once again—while northern carpetbaggers and federal troops sacked the already-bankrupt and war-ravaged state. Georgia was hit particularly hard because of Gen. William T. Sherman’s “total war” doctrine of economic and cultural punishment. That Macon (and, largely, Milledgeville, the wartime capitol) were spared destruction is simply blessed good fortune.
Atlanta has only recently—within the past 40 years—fully recovered from its total destruction, hence the motto “Resurgens” (Latin for “rising again”) and the symbol of the phoenix rising from its own ashes.
Today’s south (and I am a northerner from New Hampshire, but I’ve lived here 23 years) is indeed rising again, and should not be tied to the symbols of the past like many who seek division would do. Condemning the Confederate battle flag as inherently racist sets up all of southern society as a straw man to burn.
That straw man has been burned and set up again too many times. Sadly, there are real (white) racists, in Georgia, the rest of the south, and in fact all over the nation. Fortunately, their numbers are declining. Tying them all to the Confederate battle flag unfairly gives the south a black eye and in fact only promotes more animus toward other racists who believe the sins of slavery were not paid in full by the blood of those who fought to end it.
These people would not purge the Confederate flag, as much as co-opt it for their own purposes: a war to pursue reparations for people who have never personally known slavery, from people who have never been slaveowners, further increasing the divide we seek to close.
The American Civil War is history—intriguing, interesting, and rich history, especially for Macon—but it is not a current issue. If someone wants to fly a Confederate battle flag in their yard, or have a sticker on the back of their pickup truck, it might be impolite, but people who are genuinely offended are probably offended by the American flag as well.
Erick, purging the Confederate battle flag from southern culture may be the polite thing to do, but it’s not the right thing to do.