The Bible tells me to love my neighbor. I have a number of black friends and I do not know any of them who would feel comfortable coming into my house if I were flying the Confederate battle flag. So I don’t. In fact, in my life, the people I can think of who proudly fly the Confederate battle flag outside their homes are people in whose yards, let alone houses, I would not feel comfortable.
I think if a Christian is to love his neighbor, he cannot fly a flag that so many of his neighbors associate with the defense of slavery. I agree with my friend Russell Moore in that, but I disagree in that I do think there are places that the Confederate flag is appropriate. I think it is appropriate at Confederate soldiers’ cemeteries. I think it is appropriate at Confederate memorials and museums. Frankly, considering a majority of citizens in Mississippi, both black and white, voted to keep it on their state flag, I think it is appropriate there. Mississippi, unlike many Southern states, put the Confederate battle flag on their state flag shortly after the Civil War, not in protest in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Outside of those locations, I don’t think it is appropriate. You, like many of my friends and family, may think the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of heritage, not hate. But for millions of black Americans, it is a very real symbol of oppression.
I’m afraid, though, that we are about to see a run on Confederate battle flags. Someone is going to make a tidy profit.
The only people I know who grumble and dwell on the flag are busy-body academics and people who don’t live in the South who have a low opinion of the region with or without the flag. The response, in the South, has been a reinforcement that others are bigoted toward the South and that the flag really does represent heritage, not hate — a heritage a bunch of racist1, northern white liberals want to stamp out. I have more than one relative, as do most white Southerners, who has a battle flag with “Heritage Not Hate” written in proximity to it. You and I can roll our eyes at this, but it is pervasive.
And now, because a bunch of mostly white yankees are again yelling about the battle flag, we’re not going to see a flag and tradition die out. Instead, we’re going to see a bunch of twenty and thirty-something Southerners go out and buy fresh flags as a middle finger to the Northern white liberals who did not like them without the flag. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are probably getting recruiting material ready as we speak.
I have found that less and less people of my generation and younger are fixated on race or care about it. The yards in which the battle flag fly typically belong to old racists of generations rapidly dying out. But in politicizing what happened in Charleston and demanding that the Confederate Battle Flag be removed by government action, the only thing that is going to happen is a run on the flags. It’s just like with gun control. The moment a bunch of liberals start making sounds like they want to take guns, second amendment fans run out to buy new ones.
I think the people of South Carolina can decide for themselves whether or not to take down the battle flag.
I think compromising with the left on this issue is not worth it because the left is only politicizing this issue to advance their agenda. Consider the attacks by leftists on Republican politicians, including Governor Rick Perry of Texas, shortly after the Charleston attack without a word about Gov. Perry and then Attorney General Greg Abbott blocking the Sons of Confederate Veterans from getting a personalized license plate in Texas. Or consider the attack on [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] from the Huffington Post that he kinda sorta maybe indirectly possibly championed a law that kinda sorta if you looked at it cross eyed gave support to the flag.
Once the flag is gone, the left will advance to the next issue then the next issue, etc. They won’t compromise. There is no compromise. There is only conversion or censorship with the left.
But I also think if you proudly fly the Confederate battle flag and call yourself a Christian, you need to ask yourself how you are being a good neighbor to the black family down the street, next door, or on the other side of town whose ancestors were enslaved under that flag and whose parents or grandparents faced down white men in the streets waving that flag as an act of rebellion against voting rights.
None of this really matters though. Because the issue is now politicized, you might as well buy stock in companies that produce the Confederate battle flag. They’re going to get a lot of orders from people who equate raising the stars and bars with raising the middle finger toward liberals up north.
1. Most Southerners, regardless of race, learn very early on that the North has all the racism of the south and none of the awareness of the issue. In fact, I’m aware of a public school teacher who, when teaching about desegregation, points out that the Kennedy family was all in favor of desegregating Southern schools, but not their own. That sort of statement is pervasive in the South.↩