27 June 2015
We interrupt this year of haikus for an important (to me) commentary on a current issue.
South Carolina is once again the flashpoint for a divide. In 1860, another flag was torn down and replaced. Most people don't know this, but the traditional Confederate flag, the one we're fighting over, is NOT the "Stars and Bars." It is NOT the flag that represented the Confederate government, or the people. It is a BATTLE flag. It was carried on the battlefield to communicate the army's location to troops in the midst of smoky, hellish chaos. It was never official.
The REAL Confederate flag looked a lot like the American flag: red and white stripes with a blue field in the upper left corner, with a ring of stars representing the number of Confederate states: originally seven, eventually eleven.
As I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Confederate flag flying in South Carolina is part of a row of flags representing the governments that historically exerted authority over the area. There is a Spanish flag, French Flag, British flag, etc. Nothing can change the historical fact that the Confederate government exercised control over the area for a period of time in the early 1860s. You can't change history.
But flying the BATTLE flag is not only controversial, it's not historically accurate. So I have a painfully easy solution: Fly the REAL flag. It's even more historically accurate and doesn't carry the controversy that the battle flag does.
I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud of my Southern heritage, the good things: helping your neighbor, living life at a slower pace, dignity and social graces. Frankly, it pisses me off that racist morons have so successfully commandeered the flag for their hateful purposes. Was slavery wrong? Of COURSE, it was! Was a Union victory and reunited nation good for the country? Of COURSE it was! The South were fools for ever starting that war in the first place, a war they could never have won, at least not without foreign intervention, without which we never would have won the Revolutionary War! But there were good, brave men on BOTH sides of that war, and most Confederate soldiers thought they were fighting to protect their homes, not their slaves, because the vast majority never owned a single slave. To their minds, they were being invaded, and they fought back.
The opening of the Declaration of Independence justifies the American Revolution by saying that people who have formerly been politically aligned with a government have the right, nay, the duty, to remove themselves from that government and institute one more to their liking. THAT is what the Confederacy thought it was doing. That's EXACTLY what the Revolutionaries were doing in 1776, and Southerners at the time thought they had every right to do what was, in their eyes, EXACTLY THE SAME THING. I'm not saying they were right, I'm just saying that's what they were thinking.
The past has the power to guide and inform, or to bind and oppress. Erasing it does much more of the latter than the former. Both sides are pouring gasoline on the fire instead of standing side by side, each passing a color-blind bucket to put it out.