The Confederate Battle Flag Debate: I Didn't Sign On for This

For the most part, I’ve been trying to avoid the recent debates over the acceptability of the Confederate battle flag. Seeing my friends and acquaintances talk about it has done nothing but exasperate me. I am a born and bred Southerner. Some of ancestors settled along the Mississippi Coast in about the 1750s. The family I have that fought in the Civil War all fought on the side of the Confederacy, to my knowledge, and Jefferson Davis himself is supposedly hidden somewhere in my family tree.

I say all of this merely to note that I have deep roots in this region. However, I do not believe my love of my heritage and duty to honor my ancestors should come at the expense of the truth. I firmly believe that the Confederacy was the worst mistake the South ever made. I do not want the Confederacy forgotten, by any means, but I believe it should be cosigned to the ash heap with the rest of the evil ideas and failed experiments of human history. People can fly it on their own property if they want, but I believe that a symbol of rebellion against the United States has no place on government property at any level. I am an American, not a Confederate.

As is so often the case, though, the radical Left is taking a good idea that would have bipartisan support and fusing it to their thoroughly anti-American agenda. Yesterday, we saw CNN anchors seriously debate whether the Jefferson Memorial should come down at some point. From the LA Times’ account:

This week, the Jefferson Memorial was drawn into the national debate about race following the shooting deaths of nine people in a predominantly black church in South Carolina last week. It joins other public statues depicting Southern or Confederate figures, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, that some are arguing represent the country’s racist past and should be removed.

CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. “There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down,” Banfield said.

Fellow anchor Don Lemon responded by saying Jefferson represented “the entire United States, not just the South.” But he added: “There may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson. I don’t know if we should do that.”

Then, we see movie critic Lou Lumenick of the New York Post argue that we ought to, in effect, ban the classic American film Gone with the Wind. He says:

But what does it say about us as a nation if we continue to embrace a movie that, in the final analysis, stands for many of the same things as the Confederate flag that flutters so dramatically over the dead and wounded soldiers at the Atlanta train station just before the “GWTW’’ intermission?

[…]

That studio sent “Gone with the Wind’’ back into theaters for its 75th anniversary in partnership with its sister company Turner Classic Movies in 2014, but I have a feeling the movie’s days as a cash cow are numbered. It’s showing on July 4 at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the museum’s salute to the 100th anniversary of Technicolor — and maybe that’s where this much-loved but undeniably racist artifact really belongs.

All of this goes alongside the preposterous decision by the same WB to cease licensing out depictions of General Lee, the famous car from The Dukes of Hazzard, because of the Confederate flag featured on it. Hazzard is not the all time classic that Gone with the WInd is, but nevertheless, there was nothing racist about the show itself.

The views in the pieces I’ve quoted are representative of a small but dedicated cadre of far Left activists. Unfortunately, they happen to occupy positions of influence that allow them to tell us what it is proper to think. This is hardly limited to the Confederate flag debate. They have come out in full force over whatever runs afoul of their agenda, but most particularly being a practicing Christian in public and professional life. This is nothing but censorship and fascism.

Moreover, we must consider the double standard at work here. For decades, the Democratic Party has had no problem promoting the Confederate flag when it served their ends. If you’ve read RedState over the last few days, you’ve seen the Clinton-Gore ’92 Confederate flag pin. This article from the Federalist does an excellent job summarizing the Clintons’ sordid history with the flag, but it misses that Hillary has also appeared on pins displaying the Stars and Bars during her 2008 campaign for the Presidency. The media also has largely ignored the fact that the Confederate flag flies on South Carolina’s state capitol grounds because the Democrats put it there.

Even beyond the Confederate battle flag itself, as Kevin D. Williamson at National Review notes, we should not expect the Democrats to change either name on their yearly Jefferson-Jackson dinners, and neither should we expect them to cease honoring Ku Klux Klan member Robert C. Byrd. The Democratic Party and, more properly, the Left’s outrage has always been selective over many things, but perhaps most especially on the issue of racism when the dark moments of their own pasts are unearthed. Williamson describes what is at the heart of the current campaign better than I ever could:

But only the South is irredeemable in the Left’s view, and it has been so only since about 1994, when it went Republican. Which is to say, the Confederate flag is an emblem of regional distinctiveness disapproved of by 21st-century Democrats. Their reinvigorated concern is awfully nice: When the South actually was a segregationist backwater that African-Americans were fleeing by the million — when Democrats were running the show — they were ho-hum. Today the South is an economic powerhouse, dominated by Republicans, and attracting new African-American residents by the thousands. And so the Left and its creature, the Democratic party, insist that Southern identity as such must be anathematized. The horrific crime that shocked the nation notwithstanding, black life in Charleston remains very different, in attractive ways, from black life in such Left-dominated horror shows as Cleveland and Detroit, and the state’s governor is, in the parlance of identity politics, a woman of color — but she is a Republican, too, and therefore there must be shrieking, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth.

I was gratified to hear that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has decided to push for taking the Confederate flag off the state capitol grounds. I am encouraged by stories from Mississippi about the efforts to change the state flag there. In my own state of Georgia, I am pleased to hear my governor is reconsidering the Confederate flag license plate, just as I was pleased by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the same subject.

But I did not sign on for what this has become. If removing the Confederate flag from state property and symbols means taking part in the Left’s desire to issue damnatio memoriae of whatever American symbols they do not like–which are all of them that stand for our traditional values in any way–then I want no part in this campaign. I will stand for neither the unpersoning of our Founders nor the destruction of the Christian consensus that has guided our nation since its founding. I would much prefer neither happen, but if that means the Confederate flag flies on state property, then I’d rather live with that than allow the Left one iota of progress towards radically redefining American life and culture.