One Man’s Reply
One Man’s Reply to “Confederate flag no more honorable than swastika”
Definitions taken from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981)
BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
IGNORANCE: A lack of knowledge, either in general or of a particular point.
PREJUDICE: Unreasonable predilection for or objection against something; or an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; or an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics; or an opinion or judgment formed beforehand or without due examination.
The author correctly states that the Flag he dislikes was never the national flag of the Confederate States of America. That flag, properly known as the Confederate Battle Flag, was the flag of several military units in Confederate service. It was a soldiers’ flag, and the Confederate soldiers had the sole right to interpret its meaning.
After the War, the Confederate soldiers became 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:
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. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat.
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 has nothing to do with hatred.
The Confederate Battle Flag is not the flag of the Kluxers and other malcontents of their ilk. They do not have the right to interpret its meaning.
The author shows his lack of knowledge of the War for Southern Independence when he states that slavery was a major factor in the War. In mitigation, I realize that the mis-teaching of history (or the teaching of non-history disguised as history) has contributed to his lack of knowledge. Time was that university students were thinkers – rather than take what they were told at face value, they examined it to see if it was indeed true. Perhaps those days are gone.
The author shows an unreasonable objection against the Confederate Battle Flag, an opinion formed without just grounds or due examination and based upon insufficient knowledge, and an irrational attitude of hostility toward those who display the Confederate Battle Flag for benign reasons. The tone of his writing gives me the impression that he has an obstinate and unreasoning attachment to his own belief and opinions vis-à-vis the Confederate Battle Flag, with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
Is Freedom Whiting an ignorant prejudiced bigot, or is he merely acting like one?
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Des Moines, Iowa