By Michael Guy
Re James Henderson letter, "S.C. folks should back Confederate boycott," Dec. 10:
The Founding Fathers were presciently apprehensive about the potential abuse of power found in the emerging nation states of Europe. They wisely chose to include some of the aspects of the Swiss canton system. In the Swiss model, individual, semi-sovereign states were incorporated into a confederacy. In an age of religious wars, people in the Swiss cantons were allowed to congregate into districts that reflected their individual choice of religion and language. The nation could (and still does) exist in harmony because the persuasions of one community were not foisted upon fellow citizens of a different belief.
It was from this system we derived the 10th Amendment. The citizens of South Carolina believed this amendment was abrogated in 1861 and tried to reinstate this ideal by force of arms. Another aspect made the citizens of South Carolina feel compelled to take up arms and hazard their own lives, liberty and sacred honor. It was the competing economic philosophies advocated by Alexander Hamilton and Adam Smith.
The citizens in the Northern states wished to protect their government-protected monopolies by the use of tariffs and interstate taxation of transportation. The Southern region advocated a policy of free trade (much like that of the current Bush administration).
Of course, we must make reference to that dreadful aspect of history, slavery. It is the associated connotation of slavery and the Confederate flag that cause such umbrage among our more liberal fellow citizens. May I first remind our friends that there were five Union slave states that retained their own, legally sanctioned approval of that abominable institution, and that their own slaves were not emancipated until 1865? But the issue is the flag.
In the book "Killer Angels," the author, Michael Shaarra, made reference to the fact that one-fourth of the Confederate soldiers did not have shoes. Could we infer that men who cannot afford shoes certainly could not afford slaves? Could it be that their bravery and sacrifices were for other beliefs and principles?
May we also conclude that this now-controversial flag was the physical representative of these ideals for which they hazarded and often lost all? And could not this flag be a tribute to such bravery and idealism for which Southern ancestors stood bravely, like Leonidas at Thermopylae, with courage and resolution? And could it be a representation for our generation that such courage is to be appreciated and emulated, if need be?
I realize flags are symbols and that symbols can have different associations and connotations for different people. I also write this opinion as a true son of a slave, since my ancestors were either killed or incarcerated in the concentration camps of the socialist regimes of both Hitler and Stalin. So there is some empathy for those who endorse the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s opinions on this issue.
However, the use of the flag as a symbol of the bravery of those who defended to the last measure the ideals of state sovereignty, free trade and against the perceived usurpations and abrogation of an encroaching federal government far outweigh the negative associations with the Confederate flag.
Therefore I will not endorse this boycott and advocate that you honor the positive ideals and examples of the citizens and ancestors of South Carolina and keep the flag flying at the Statehouse. [I write this] with empathetic deference to those in the NAACP.