Dennis Miller: Confederate flag has nothing to do with slavery

January 10, 2007

It’s delightful to read a heartfelt, passionate letter like Ron Hardy’s call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the courthouse. (Dec. 26, 2006) Equally, it’s sad to see such passion wasted because the writer failed to research the subject, relying instead upon the agenda-driven misinformation of others.

All agree, blacks and whites alike. Slavery was the most despicable institution this country ever permitted. The Confederate flag doesn’t laud it, nor does it disparage it. It has nothing to do with it. Want proof? Read on. But don’t take my word for it. Study the history. Use some logic. Read the documents "" they’re easy to find.

In the decade preceding the Civil War, slaves were freed in unprecedented numbers. Scottish, Irish and German immigrants moving south, willing to work the plantations for pennies a week, rendered slaveholding impractical. By the time the North invaded, fewer than 25 percent of Southern farmers still owned slaves. The new Confederate Constitution actually outlawed the slave trade. Would this new nation go to war to protect the slave trade after prohibiting it?

The most glaring proof lies in the reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation, which was simply an ultimatum to the Confederacy. All states not in rebellion could keep their slaves, as could any state that ceased participation in the war within 100 days. Consider this. The South is fighting a bloody and costly war to preserve slavery. Suddenly President Lincoln publicly announces that the South may keep their slaves if they just stop fighting. What would the rebels do? They would shoulder their rifles, march home, keep their slaves and declare victory. Historically, The Emancipation Proclamation would be considered a declaration of surrender by the Union. So why didn’t the southerners stop the war and keep their slaves? Only one possible answer "" slavery wasn’t the issue.

What then is the true symbolism of this flag? It represents a still ongoing struggle by the states and the people against a federal government obsessed with increasing its own power, arrogantly ignoring the Constitution which specifically limits that power. The Confederates tried to stop it. They failed. They tried to leave it. They failed. The newly emboldened government thinks, "Who can stop us now? Who really cares about the Constitution anyway?" I’ll tell you. It’s the citizens who proudly fly the battle flag of the Confederate States of America.

Copyright 2006© The Times

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