One Man’s Reply
If you seek a flag to compare to the swastika flag, look no farther than the thirteen-stripe United States flag.
Under that flag, hundreds of thousands of Africans were transported to slavery in the New World in the 1700s and 1800s.
No Confederate-flagged ship ever made a slaving-run.
Under that flag, non-combatant women and children and old men both black and white were robbed, raped, and slaughtered between 1861 and 1865 for the unpardonable sin of wanting a government of their own choosing rather than having a government crammed down their throats.
No government was ever forced upon anyone under a Confederate flag’s authority.
Under that flag, an Army Order (General Order No. 11) was issued 17 December 1862 forcibly removing all Jewish people from parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
No Confederate authority ever practiced anti-Semitism. To the contrary: Jews served as both officers and enlisted men in Confederate service, and Judah Philip Benjamin of Louisiana served in the Confederate Cabinet during the entire War. (The first Jewish member of a United States Cabinet was Oscar Straus, Secretary of Commerce and Labor from 1906 to 1909.)
Under that flag, thousands of men, women, and children were systematically hunted down and killed, and other thousands forcibly removed from their homelands and relocated to less-hospitable environs in the 1800s for the shocking offense of being Native Americans/Indians.
No such actions ever occurred under a Confederate flag. To the contrary: Many Native Americans/Indians served in Confederate forces, and the last Confederate general to cease fighting was Stand Watie, a Cherokee.
Under that flag, thousands of American citizens were placed in concentration camps in the 1940s for the heinous crime of being of Japanese ancestry.
The Confederate States of America never put anyone into a concentration camp based on his ethnicity.
The flag that we know as the Confederate Battle Flag was used by many (but by no means all) Confederate military units during the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865). It was the Confederate soldiers’ flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
When the War was over, the Confederate soldiers became Confederate veterans. They formed an organization known as the United Confederate Veterans. The Confederate Battle Flag was still their flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
In 1896, since many of the Confederate veterans were aged, infirm, and dying off, the Sons of Confederate Veterans was formed as the successor organization to the United Confederate Veterans. The legacy and authority of the United Confederate Veterans was transferred to them over the next ten years. This transfer of power culminated in a speech given 25 April 1906 at New Orleans, Louisiana by Stephen Dill Lee, Confederate lieutenant-general, and commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans, wherein he delivered the following charge:
"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Remember: It is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations."
Since 25 April 1906, therefore, the Confederate Battle Flag has been the flag of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They alone have the right to interpret its meaning. They have interpreted its meaning, and explained (repeatedly!) that meaning – and it is not hatred, nor is it bigotry.
Anyone other than the Sons of Confederate Veterans who uses the Confederate Battle Flag does so on grounds at best shaky, and any interpretation so given is questionable.
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Upshur County, Texas
One Man’s Reply