Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Burn that flag
I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant a week or so ago and a van rolled by with a prominent Confederate flag stuck to its backside.
Call me thin-skinned, but I bristled. I feel a fume of indignation at the sight of that flag whenever I see it on t-shirts or headbands or bumper stickers.
It’s not that I have anything against the South. The Confederate flag has nothing whatsoever to do with that region of the country in its modern form.
Nor do I have a problem with states’ rights. Frankly, I think the notion of 50 state-level experiments in democracy is brilliant.
No, my problem with the Confederate flag is that it is unpatriotic.
Whatever their motivations (more on that in a moment) politicians and soldiers in the South committed treason.
They betrayed their oaths to our Constitution and our military. They attacked our United States Army, collaborating with foreign powers to do so.
By the time the war was done more than 350,000 loyal Union soldiers were dead.
Put simply, the Confederacy abandoned democratic principles and tried to shatter our Republic through force of arms and terrorism
It puts Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden to shame.
Yes, in those days, many Americans saw things differently. They were Virginians or New Yorkers first; their loyalty to our nation was secondary.
And many couldn’t see that the institutions of slavery were savage, evil and reprehensible beyond all rationalization.
But more than a century after the Civil War, people who bear the Confederate flag should know better.
They claim to be patriotic, law-abiding Americans. They claim to reject the racism and brutality of the pre-Civil War South.
I say nonsense.
These days, it’s illegal in Germany to hoist a Nazi flag. I don’t support that kind of official censorship.
But I can see absolutely no moral difference between a Swastika and a Confederate flag.
One society used industrial methods to enslave and exterminate Jews; the other used industrial methods to enslave and exterminate Africans.
Fortunately, there are plenty of symbols available for people who want to show that they disapprove of an over-powerful Federal government.
There are plenty of ways for people to show their regional pride or simply to broadcast their fondness for cussed rebelliousness.
Hoist a Don’t Tread On Me flag. Wear a Harley t-shirt. Whatever.
But don’t fly under the colors of a movement that killed hundreds of thousands of American soldiers.