One Man’s Response
Confederate Flag on N.Y. Dept. Logo Criticized
The Confederate Battle Flag is offensive only to those who do not know its history.
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 their 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:
"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 is not hatred, nor is it bigotry.
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, nor do they have the permission of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use it.
The favored flag of the Kluxers is the thirteen-stripe United States Flag (also known as "Old Glory"). See http://pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm for pictures of the Kluxers with their flag.
The War for Southern Independence (commonly, but erroneously, called "The American Civil War") was not fought over the question of slavery. It was fought as a war of conquest from the Northern point of view, and a war of independence from the Southern point of view. It was an almost exact repeat of the War for Independence (1776-1783), with the North playing the same role that the British played and the South playing the same role that the colonists played.
The Southern States seceded to be free of an oppressive, overweening government — the same reason that the thirteen States (including New York) seceded from Britain in 1776, Mexico from the Spanish Empire in 1818, and Texas from Mexico in 1836.
If the seceded States had seceded because they feared losing their slaves, they had only to re-join the Union and ratify the Corwin Amendment, which stated "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."
Clifton Palmer McLendon