You can't have been lucky enough to miss out on the on-going Confederate Flag controversy, nor, if you have any form of electronic communication, the memes supporting/opposing all sides of the 'issue', not to mention the arguments that your friends are having over it.
|As Hate vs Hate - KKK meets New Black Panthers...|
Decency comes out on top
Good times, right? I'd hoped I could avoid it all together, not because it's controversial - if anything that has a certain attraction - but because it's one of those 'issues' that are actually multiple issues, each with at least two possible positions on it, rolled up under one deceptively simple heading of "Do you support or oppose the Confederate Flag?!". Add to that, that several of those issues, not to mention the possible positions on them, range from being simply wrong to being purely disgusting, and several others that range from fairly neutral to being critical to the preservation of Liberty itself, and you begin to get a sense of what a fly trap this thing is.
Which is the point of it.
But wait, there's more: for every position you might take on any one of the 'But...'s, it is the simplest of things for those who disagree with you, to cast you in the worst possible light, and to see you as sympathizing with what they see as being as bad as it gets.
And that's amongst your friends. Your enemies? Licking. Their. Chops.
As I said, I'd hoped to dodge it all together, as few have the patience to even begin to go through the positions on any one of the issues, let alone most or all (is there an 'all'?) of them, I've started and stopped this post several times in hopes that the news cycle would let it fade away, but apparently, I'm to have no such luck with that. In a weak moment, as I began to realize there was no avoiding it, and tired of Conservatives being suckered into the patsy position, I let slip a comment last week on a GOP Conservatives post that:
"Why the hell the GOP feels defensive about one of the flags of the Democrat Confederacy, I can't imagine."His reply was accurate, in that very GOPish, and very non-Donald Trumpish sort of way that conservatives typically have of speaking:
"The GOP feels defensive because it's mainly our activists who are defending the confederate flag!! As we saw yesterday, the Democrats will try and associate Republicans with that flag for political advantage in '16. Is this really that difficult to comprehend?"Way to make sure that making the best of a bad situation, is the best you have to hope for. He was correct as far as that goes though, it is conservatives who've been drawn into strangling themselves with the Confederate flag issue, but it does nothing to help them to stop doing that to themselves. Exasperated, I replied,:
"[Difficult to comprehend...] That the Left would capitalize on the Right's weakness and willingness to assume guilt? No, that's not difficult to comprehend at all. That the Right accepts the guilt they have no part in, that the Right is willing to allow the Left to even open their mouths on the subject without pasting them with their historical guilt, without reviling them for their still evident rejection of the Individual Rights of the Declaration of Independence, and without drubbing them for their still active hatred for the Constitution they actually rebelled against 150+ yrs ago... yeahhh THAT I have a hard time comprehending."In fairness to him though, as I said, the supposed issue is such a target rich environment because there are so many sides to take upon it, that for every 'But' given, at least two others butt in afterwards. And far from going away anytime soon, it seems that however many Buts are offered and however big they become, the issue not only is Not going to go away, but is being allowed to metastasize.
With the idea that the first step in helping conservatives to stop strangling themselves with the Confederate Flag issue, is identifying what the various issues surrounding it actually are, I'll go ahead and address a few of the more common Buts that I typically come across. Ok, here we go, and in no particular order:
1 - "The Confederate flag is the flag of conservatives and the GOP!" This might be the biggest, fattest, dumbest But of them all. On terminology alone, there is nothing conservative about rebellion, and the Confederacy was all about rebelling against both the political structure of, and the principles of, America. On top of that, the Republican Party was explicitly formed in opposition to the idea of either preserving or extending slavery... I mean, c'mon, its early leader and president was Abraham Lincoln for Pete's sake! As I said in the comment above, the Confederate Flags, ALL of them, belonged to the Democrat party - those in the South formed the Confederacy, and those left behind in the North became the Democrat 'Copperheads', all of whom put States and power over the Rights of Individuals.
- But...The Confederate flag is the flag of conservatives and the GOP!
- But... Which flag are you talking about?!
- But...Conservatives defend the Confederate flag
- But... it's a symbol of the "State's Rights"
- But... it's a symbol of racism
- But... the Civil War wasn't about Slavery, but 'Northern Aggression'"
- But... it's honoring the valor of ancestors
- But... it's just a vague symbol of rebellion and good ol' boys, ala The Dukes of Hazard
- But... if you ban that flag, you are banning ideas and freedom of speech
Fast forward a hundred years and you'll find that little had changed, with Democrats filibustering the Civil Rights bill in 1964; not because of concerns over Individual Rights, but because of the desire to assert their racist, collectivist lust for power over others. And on top of that, it was a Democrat Governor, with a Democrat legislature, that raised the Confederate flag over the capital of South Carolina in 1961.
Here's a fun exercise, this link tells the oh-so dramatic tale of the raising of the flag over South Carolina's Capital - guess what word you won't find in it? D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T. Guess what party each of the pro-confederate flag politicians mentioned in the story belonged to? The D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T Party. Go ahead and google the story. On ABC, Politifact, CNN, Newsweek, TIME, Reuters, The Atlantic, MSNBC, USA Today... guess which party's name won't be mentioned in connection with raising the flag? That's right, the D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T Party. That ought to tell you something, both about the Democrat party, the Media, and about the incompetence of the GOP.
Now here's a question you should be asking yourself, and them, seeing as the Democrat party was the party of the Confederacy, the party of segregation - Democrat President Woodrow Wilson issued orders and directives to segregate the military and civil services - as well as the party that founded the KKK - and remember that, well into the Obama Administration, the Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, the 'conscience of the Senate', was a former leader in the KKK - and that they opposed both segregation and civil rights for reasons of race... what is it, do you suppose, that happened to make them and their party almost synonymous with the plight of inner city minorities? Can you point me towards that political 'Damascus Moment' where they suddenly rethought and repented of all their past beliefs and actions (other than LBJ's infamous chortling, I mean)? No? So what accounts for their stark change of 'heart'?
If you haven't guessed, it was, is, and always will be, for the Democrat party, about power. And for those of you looking to them for handouts and grants of power and privilege (aka: 'rights', in their mind anyway), that should give you great pause. For despite their own traditional and long held beliefs and positions, much of which they surely still hold, those couldn't hold a candle to their allegiance to advantage, position and power.
Now think about that.
For well over a century, not only were racist policies, and opposition to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, ingrained into the Democrat Party mindset (the 'living constitution' was Woodrow Wilson's phrase for dispensing with and 'moving past' the Constitution, and Democrats have always sought to minimize the importance of the Declaration to our laws),but they were indisputably deeply invested in all of that, and yet, in a blindingly quick flash of time, less than a decade, they abandoned all of that, in order to be seen embracing minorities, not because of discovering the error of their ways, or even of publicly apologizing and renouncing them, but for perceiving the electoral advantage which that new embrace could deliver for them.
And so given that, ladies and gentlemen, just how solid and lasting and secure can all of the 'rights' and privileges that they've been extending and enticing you with, be with them? How long do you think that their allegiance to what lures you into supporting them, will last once they perceive greater advantage elsewhere? The truth that should be plain to see, is that the moment that it no longer benefits them, they will abandon those promises, and you, for whatever offers greater advantage and power for them.
The Democrats then, as now, chose and do choose, the side of Power over that of Truth and Individual Rights, just as they chose intellectual and military rebellion against the very founding ideals of America, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence (see below), and adhered to by the Constitution, and as then, as now, they immediately sought to deflect guilt, rewrite history, and avoid responsibility for their actions, through extensively lying by omission as well as by lying flat out into the faces of the American people, in order to get the power and position they desire.
Sorry, if our 'Southern Cause' has anything to do with the party whose cause it was, and is, I've zero sympathy for it or you, as then, as now, it was a thoroughly anti-American enterprise.
2 - "But... Which flag are you talking about? The Confederate flag or the Battle Flag?!" Well I suppose that's a reasonable question, which flag are we talking about? Georgia's? The Palmetto blue? The Battle flag? South Carolina's? The Clinton-Gore campaign flag? Take a look at the graphic I put together, there's lots of options to choose from, which one would you care to argue for?
|Some of the flags of the Confederate... pick your poison|
Go ahead, take your time, I can wait, I mean, it's not as if your choice will alter my answer much.
Got it picked out? Good. Here's my answer: Personally I don't care which flag you choose to cite, revile or defend, in what is important to me, I see no meaningful difference between them.
Because any and all of them were symbols used in rebellion against the Constitution of The United States of America and the principles for which it stands, and as such, just as anyone involved in a riot is as guilty as everyone else for any crimes committed during that riot, by their chosen associations in the Confederacy they All partook of disavowing and repudiating the Constitution and the ideas behind it. They were all equally involved in what was central to the formation of the Confederacy (more on this below), explicitly repudiating the central ideals of The Declaration of Independence. To be in the Confederacy meant denying the idea that,
"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed....", and in so doing they all participated in rebellion against Individual Rights, The Rule of Law (as opposed to unabashed codifications of power for power's sake), and they all participated in corrupting and sullying the concept of Property Rights (more on that in a moment).
3 - "But...Conservatives defend the Confederate flag" I'm sorry, I can't fix stupid. Next.
4 - "But... it's a symbol for 'State's Rights'" It certainly is, and I can think of few things more worth condemning and spitting upon, than that. Oops, sorry, Does that make my 'But' look really big?! Here's why: when you say that the Civil War "... wasn't about slavery, but State's Rights!", that doesn't help your case because the one could not continue without the other. And for those on the Right who like to use the phrase "State's Rights", including several people I very much respect, allow me to clarify this point further:
To use the phrase "State's Rights" as a stand-in for Federalism and the 10th Amendment, is not only intellectually lazy, but it also serves to undermine Federalism and to repudiate Individual Rights, the Constitution and the Rule of Law.I suppose I need to say a bit more than that, eh?
Individuals have both Powers and Rights, but States have only powers, not Rights, see the 9th Amendment and the 10th Amendment for the Constitution's agreement with me on that point. Only individuals can have Rights, as Rights properly exist to protect those actions which a human being, as a consequence of having to reason to survive, requires the ability to take in order to live as a Human Being; Rights serve to shield individuals through law, from the impositions of Power that would prevent them from living their own lives.
States, on the other hand, don't think. States are institutions of organized power, which, if legitimate, are organized around the idea of instituting Laws to protect the lives, Rights and Property of its citizens - that's their point. You know:
"... to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."States have the Power to take actions, but they have no Right to take those actions, except as a means of upholding the rights of its citizens. The State's powers must always be subordinated to upholding the Rights of those which its powers exist to protect.
Assigning Rights to States, would shield its ability to act in its own interests, putting its original purpose, that of shielding the rights of its citizens, in second place to them. 'State's Rights' reverses the order of who serves who, which is what the creators of 'State's Rights' had in mind, as it was (and is) the only way to 'justify' slavery, welfare, a state managed economy, state mandated healthcare, etc. And of course, as a State is only a legal fiction, that means that the interests of those individuals who are in positions of power within it, who hold power over everyone else, are able to use its power, not as a shield, but as a sword, doing whatever they can get the power to do, usually through stoking public opinion, in order to justify their actions, as being for, not the good of Individuals, but for 'the greater good'. And with Individual Rights subordinated to them, there can be nothing left to stop them from doing just that.
If you use the phrase 'State's Rights' as a casual reference for Federalism, intentionally or not, you undermine and repudiate the very concept of states being limited bodies under law, and limited to the protection of Individual Rights.
5 - "But... it's a symbol of racism" This comment is usually met by apologists for the Confederacy with rolled eyes and assurances that they have gotten things wrong, that the 'truth' has been hidden by those who won the war. Uh-huh. Well, here's a truth that somehow hasn't managed to be hidden all that well, from Article 4, Section 3, Clause 3 of the Confederate Constitution,
"...the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States...."And here's a dazzling little snippet from the Vice-President of the Confederacy, Andrew Stephens, from his "Corner Stone" speech, of March 21, 1861, speaking of the new Confederate Constitution. In it, he states clearly, as does their new constitution, exactly what they found to be important to state:
"...But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."I'd happily supply you with more, but my stomach is feeling a bit tender today. Suffice to say, that whatever pretexts the confederacy deluded itself with, or with which its apologists today delude themselves with for its sake, central to its existence, was the glory of preferential treatment for some, and the denial of the principle of Individual Rights to all of mankind, with the aim of re-establishing the ancient rule of power for power's sake, upon American soil. No matter what other pretty wordlings they might have tossed together as a pretext for defending that, denying Individual Rights and equal treatment before the law to any, is a denial of them to all, and there is NO POSSIBLE 'principle' that could possibly render that a secondary or minor issue.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. ..."
That was the reality they stood for. Thank God they lost, and when the last apologist for them has faded away, that much at least, will be a good thing.
6 - "The Civil War wasn't about Slavery but about 'Northern Aggression' To the extent you might feel that I didn't already answer this above, whatever the individual particulars were that helped cause the guns to fire, and there were many, from trade, to concerns over territory, to tipping the political balance of power, etc., the notion that Northern Aggression initiated the war, is poppycock. The southern states, without so much as a "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind...", without a negotiation of terms, or an attempt to divvy up mutual property, etc., they declared that they were seceding from the Union even before President Elect Lincoln was sworn in to office. They then besieged and fired upon United States personnel at Fort Sumter - that is pure aggression across the board. Whatever tinder had been laid up from either side, the Confederacy aggressively lit the match and wound up burning themselves at the stake.
Whatever pretexts that might be claimed, the driving reason for the Democrats to create the Confederacy was Slavery, just as the driving reason for the creation of the Republican party, was to oppose it. Any other answer is but an evasive attempt to focus attention upon secondary considerations, at the expense of primary ones.
Yes, I'm aware that there actually were Blacks fighting for the Confederacy, and also that some even owned slaves themselves. Equally relevant, there were some Jews who fought for the Nazi's. Doesn't mean a damn thing other than human nature, especially in the context of struggles for power, is a damned difficult thing to get a handle on.
That being said, was the North divided from the South by Non-Slave State vs. Slave State? No. There were several border states that remained with the union, and which continued to practice slavery even during the Civil War. If you didn't know that... why didn't you? But for those states which remained in the Union and still had slavery, it was because, like the Founders themselves, they hadn't yet figured out how to end slavery. Despite our modern conceits, it is a difficult thing to be holding “a wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.” (for you conservatives who find this difficult to accept, imagine a relative trifle, such as attempting to end Social Security, which many consider to have some enslaving aspects to it, and then amp that up by multiple factors of 10, and you might begin to glimpse the difficulties of ending what you've allowed your culture to accept as 'normal').
But it should also never be forgotten, that for all of human history, everywhere, slavery was considered a norm, and for all of that time it was understood that any turn of circumstance could find you becoming enslaved. It was here, in America, that Slavery was for the first time ever, discontinued and outlawed (yes, even before Wilberforce in England, Vermont banned slavery in 1777 , followed by several other northern states, albeit imperfectly; while Wilberforce ended only the Slave Trade in 1807, and freed all slaves only in 1833. Even so, there is a difference between ending the legality of something, as Wilberforce accomplished, and making it into a moral evil, as was finally completed with the Civil War amendments.) as wrong and evil that would be impossible to legalize. The fact that our Constitution was not able to end the practice when written, is a lamentable fact, but it did provide for, they'd hoped, its scheduled demise. The Confederacy, on the other hand, sought not only to escape that scheduled demise, but to repudiate even the desirability of it, and while those states who remained in the Union may not have understood how to end it altogether, still they did desire it to end, and they remained standing with the idea of all men being equal before the law and in each possessing Individual Rights. That was the vital difference.
Let me state that point again: The notion that Individual Rights, the owning of human beings, could EVER be a secondary consideration among such concerns, is both a confession against, and an insult to, the primary role that Individual Rights for all must hold for there to truly be a Rule of Law. That must be primary amongst reasonable peoples, for there even to be a possibility of their being reasonable peoples; respecting that is the direction of Progress, and denying it, that of Regress.
The idea that it was ok to think of human beings as Property - the very notion of which discards the concept of Property, substituting for it that of 'Possessions held through power' - has to crowd out the very concept of Individual Rights along with it - as discarding one must always do to the other.
Sorry, but not sorry,'State's Rights' is not only wrong, but anathema to the concept of Liberty, and one that disgusts, irritates and infuriates me.
7 - "But... it's honoring the valor of ancestors" Can a reasonable person see the [pick your favorite] Flag as a symbol of valor? Can a reasonable person think only of that, without also thinking positively of, or endorsing, those negative aspects I've mentioned here?
Of course they can.
Not only is that possible, but doing so forms a necessary part of looking at things and events of the past in a historical manner, as opposed to looking at them as templates for an active and forward looking political vision. It is quite possible for someone to have statues and paintings of Caesar, Alexander the Great, even Genghis Khan, and feel some admiration for their 'Greatness', without supposing that they'd also like to see their more murderous ideas and practices in place in the world around them.
Is it possible for someone to admire them for their baser and more evil aspects? Again, of course, but you can't deny the possibility of perfectly reasonable behavior to all, on the basis that some might hide their unreasonable behavior behind it; to do so would mean you'd have to outlaw History itself - not to mention the possibility of learning from it. How will you learn lessons from the past, if you expunge them?
And if you add to that historical view, the fact that some of those figures, still relatively recent, historically speaking, might even have been that person's ancestors who fought under that [pick your favorite] flag, I personally would have no difficulty whatsoever in imagining that any one of those flags could hold, and signify, a special place for them, without also implying their agreement or sympathy with those fouler aspects which I associate with it.
And so to the ridiculous question of whether or not someone can own a [pick your favorite] flag, or any other associated memorabilia, as historic references to historic times, yes of course you can, you absolutely have a right to, and you can and should be able to do so without being slurred as a racist yourself.
But if you choose to display it, and yet can't see why others, and most obviously included in that would be Blacks (not necessarily, but justifiably), whether descended from slaves or later immigrants from anywhere else, might be at the very least concerned with, or on edge at seeing any one of the flags of the Confederacy flying, or as displayed in some other manner, then you are being either disingenuous, obtuse, stupid, or more probably a mixture of each.
The fact remains, that the flag of your choice was used as a symbol in a war that sought the eradication of Individual Rights, an abstraction that was made viciously real upon the flesh of Blacks, because they were black.
That could be tough to get past.
You have a Right to do with that flag what you will, but you have no reason for surprise or shock over the fact that others might see it as an endorsement of racism, or as a thumb in the eye, or even as open hostility to Individual Rights, Liberty, and America itself.
On the other, other hand, once you explain your position to them, it's reasonable to expect them to not equate you with it.
Just be prepared to have to do that over, and over, and over again.
8 - "But... it's just a vague symbol of rebellion against authority and good ol' boys, ala The Dukes of Hazard" If that's all the depth you care to reach on the issue, may your ignorance be blissful, go in peace. No one has a right to stop you from splashing about in the shallows, just try not to be offended at their lack of regard for your regard. Deal with it and enjoy.
9 - "But... if you ban that flag, you are banning ideas and freedom of speech." Would banning the flag be equivalent to banning ideas and suppressing freedom of speech? Yes, it absolutely would.
Personally, I believe that any and all of those flags should have been excluded from being flown in any official governing capacity within the United States of America, from the moment the South lost the Civil War, on down to today, because they were standards repaired to in violent opposition to the government of the United States of America.
No Buts about it.
But. That does not mean, in any way, shape or form, that individuals, or their companies, or their products, or for God's sake their Graves! can or should be banned from owning, flying or being decorated with any of those flags, or any other artifact or symbol of them.
Yes, you absolutely have a right to see things your way, no matter how unpopular, or even entirely corrupt that may be. But banning the symbols of ideas is every bit as bad as banning ideas or speech about them.
Those attempting to persecute those who choose to fly these flags, to expel them from grave sites, to exhume bodies, remove statues, or break into private property to steal their [pick your favorite] flags, are, in terms of principles, on a par with that Confederacy they are so energetically posturing about opposing.
Such actions are... that's right. D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T-ick.
Conclusion. I wish.
The biggest But to realize here, is that all of the Buts serve one purpose over all others: Division. The strategy and motive power of the Saul Alinsky trained community organizer, is to apply power, to divide and conquer, and increase power, and few things do that better in America than race, or symbols of it, as those divisions are sure to inflame those they'd like to organize against her.
Score one for the dark side, because every single But, mine included, only serve to deepen the divisions among us.
Edit: An anonymous commenter, who didn't read the entire post, nevertheless reminded me of something I should have emphasized more, which is this:
The important thing to realize here, is that this 'issue' is entirely arbitrary, it is a baseless, non-issue, and it cannot be responded to as if it were worthy of a response. This issue is being raised, not because it is a real issue, but because to respond to it means to create, and inflame division among Americans, by means of creating this non-issue, and making an issue of it.
At best there are two options:
Option One (and by far the best): Laugh derisively, and walk away.
Option Two (less good but more likely): Laugh derisively and say: "The Confederacy was a creation of the Democrat Party. All of the Confederate flags belong to the Democrat party. The child of the Democrat party, the Confederacy, was defeated by the Republican north in the Civil War. A century later, in hopes of maintaining is racist policies, the Democrat party raised the Confederate flag over the South Carolina capital in 1961, which the Republican governor removed in 2015, because then as now, Republicans have to clean up the messes that Democrats inflict upon America."
They deserve nothing more.
In fact the only party involved with the latest flare up of this controversy who had it right, following the murder of nine members of a South Carolina church, were the ones who actually rose above the mess, the congregation of those who were murdered in that South Carolina Church.They didn't seek division or justice, but only to stand against the darkness, choosing instead to rise above those horrible events in painful love for the ideals of goodness that mankind can and should embrace; they sought The Light.
Score one for the Bright Side.
No buts about it.