Battle Hymn of the Republic

So this week, we are all offended by the Confederate Flag.  Either we are offended because it is still flying or because someone wants to take it down.

I’m going to be honest.  I’m glad to see it come down from government buildings, for reasons I will explain later.  First, the sides.

On the one side are people who claim it is racist and on the other are those who claim it is history.  Both are correct.

The flag we recognize as the Confederate flag was never an official flag of the CSA.  It was a battle flag for the Army of N. Virginia under Gen Lee.  There were many like it, but it isn’t the national flag of the South.

The resurgence of the flag in the 1950s was due in large part to the growing race tensions and the Civil Rights movement.  Some people felt that desegregation was a bad idea and they used the flag as a symbol to rally around.

Racist hate groups use the flag as their symbol.  Pretty sure we all know that.

Lots of not racist people own Confederate flags or paraphernalia.  You see, while the resurrection of the flag may have come from racism, or at least a desire to maintain the status quo, symbols have the ability to change meaning.  It’s what they do.  So 60 years ago, a symbol represented a proud southern culture that still considered blacks as lesser human beings.  Now, after three generations (at least) have been brought up to understand that the war was about more than any one issue, the symbol has evolved for many so be a memorial for thousands of dead soldiers and a devastating conflict between the state and federal governments, as well as a clear expression of the rich and often separate culture of the South.

Symbols have no set meaning.  Both sides are right.

But I still want the flags down from government buildings.

A lot of people are using the Nazi flag as a comparable symbol here, but I find they aren’t a good fit.  The National Socialist Party of Germany was the elected government.  They decided to conquer the ENTIRE WORLD and wipe out all inferior races and people.  If you want to talk about the subjectivity of symbols, look up what the swastika means to Buddhists and Hindus.  The Nazi flag and Nazi paraphernalia is illegal in Germany, because Nazi=genocide and I’m sure that is embarrassing.  Some people see that and say we should do the same, but even 70 years later, I still hesitate to take my civil liberty cues from Germany.


I mean, we are Americans, right?  (U.S.A!  U.S.A)  We are WINNERS.  We are OBSESSED with winning.  Think I’m exaggerating?  How many people do you know who were hard-core women’s soccer fans before last week’s World Cup match against Japan?  How many did you know who followed any women’s sports?  How many even considered soccer a sport?

We are so obsessed with winning that it took decades for us to forgive the Vietnam vets for losing (as I loosely interpret the utter neglect of those veterans), or to even acknowledge that Vietnam was a “war” and that it was “lost.”

We are so obsessed with winning that there are big suits in DC wanting to send my friends back into Iraq to win someone else’s war.  [Yes, ISIS is bad bad juju, but people have to fight for themselves and if they won’t, sending more of my friends there isn’t going to change that.  We have become the freaking Helicopter Parents of the Middle East.]   Apparently if we don’t send more troops in, “we” are going to lose this war.  He may have been using the Royal We, but it sounded a lot like the American We.

Too political for you, yeah me too.  How about more sports analogies?  Do you know someone who is a fan of a crappy sports team?  The Cubs or the Raiders or whatever?  Do you congratulate them on their steadfast loyalty?  Or do you tease them relentlessly for being willing associates with LOSERS?  I’ve seen a lot of memes featuring sports flags that have been deemed “offensive” and should be taken down.  To my reasoning, the Confederate flag has much more to do with the Cowboys flag than it has with the Nazi flag.

I see no reason to censor the Confederate flag, which is exactly what making it illegal does.  We cannot change our history by deleting the unsavory bits and we can’t fix our future be focusing on the symbols rather than the problems.  Let’s never forget the horrible people we came from (North and South alike).  Otherwise, we’re going to start changing stuff to make it more correct to modern thinking.  Ban books with the n-word despite it being in common usage for a huge hunk of our history.  Redefine slavery as “unpaid apprenticeships.”  Reduce the CSA to a bunch of evil racists instead of thousands of people fighting for their rights and their way of life.  Ignore the complete neglect of the former slaves by the sainted US government during Reconstruction.


You try reading the Slave Narratives and not get pissed.

So by all means, show your Southern pride.  Knit it into doggie sweaters and fly it over your gun rack.  Drape it like a cape over your KKK dress for all I care.  It’s only offensive if I let it offend me.  And I realize that it does offend a lot of people because it is draped about the shoulders of KKK members and it is the rally mark for hate and senseless violence.  But outlawing the flag doesn’t fix any of that.  Just makes those people martyrs.

By all means, though stop displaying rival government flags at our government buildings.  The only flags that should be flown there are those which show that government’s loyalties.  Unless we want to start putting up the Union Jack in DC.  Or the French flag in Louisiana.  Or the Mexican flag at the Alamo.

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15AM00000082011 · 08:24

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