The Elephant in the Room or What is Being Left Out of the Confederate Flag Debate
There are very few human symbols that find absolute approval or, in the alternative, disapproval. Symbols are called that because they represent something far larger than themselves. An unknown symbol is an oxymoron. At present, the symbol that is seemingly most under attack in this country is the Confederate battle flag albeit other flags that represented that short-lived, tragic nation, the Confederate States of America are also under assault—especially those which contain the battle flag in their star field.
But the battle flag in particular is under attack by the politically correct because they say that it is a symbol of “racism”—a Trotskyite term invented to sew discord between the races in the United States. Because of the power of political correctness these days, the claim of racism is far stronger than any claim that the flag represented a standard for treason. That claim together with the claim of the flag being “racist” are untrue. The battle flag represented neither racism nor treason, but a struggle by the People of the South for independence from a tyrannous central government, a struggle that was little different from that waged eighty-five years earlier against the British Empire. From that struggle came the American flag against which a claim might be made regarding the institution of slavery. For no flag of the Confederate States of America ever flew over a slave ship but the Stars and Stripes most certainly did.
It is not my intention to go over once more this debate about the battle flag. That is at this point irrelevant. What I do intend is to point out something that is so large in this debate that people cannot see it. For the “elephant in the room” in the battle flag debate is not the flag or the reasons that the flag is both condemned and upheld, but the means by which the debate is resolved. From the onset of the so-called “civil rights movement,” Southern heritage—including the battle flag—went from being an honored piece of American history to an example of bigotry and violence. The flag hadn’t changed neither had its place in history. What had changed was history itself. What before had been a fairly honest interpretation of the ante-bellum period and the War that ended it, became an effort by academia and the heritage establishment to turn the people and the States of the South into villains whose only desire was the preservation of slavery and the destruction of that glorious Union of the Founders! But it is not my intention to go into this debate either. It, too, has been well covered and only the ignorant can claim to be unaware of the facts that have been brought forward to counter this unjust and mendacious claim.
No, there is something else that must be brought forward here, something that nobody seems to feel the need to demand from those concerned before the flag poles are emptied and the monuments ploughed under. Most people in this country today identify the United States as a “democracy.” We aren’t—or at least we’re not supposed to be. We are a representative republic—or, as noted, we are supposed to be one such. Of course, we are not. We are, alas, a democracy, a form of government that is one step removed from tyranny. Benjamin Franklin defined a democracy as two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch! Of course, in this country we have believed in the will of the majority prevailing, but only so long as that will did not trample on the rights of the minority. In other words, the wolfish majority cannot vote to eat the sheepish minority! But, still, the will of the majority is supposed to prevail. And that’s what makes this particular “elephant” so difficult to explain. For the consignment of Confederate symbols, including the battle flag!—never seems to come to a vote to determine the will of the majority! Indeed, flags that have been censored, removed and otherwise consigned to oblivion along with monuments, heroes, icons and even music(!) attributable to the CSA have found themselves excised from the culture at the behest of a very small minority of people who demand their extinction because they supposedly, “offend” this “sensitive” minority. Furthermore, all efforts to address these concerns have met with rejection on the part of the chronically offended. History means nothing. Facts mean nothing. The rights of the majority of their fellow citizens mean nothing. All that matters is that small minority (white and black) who are “personally offended” by a symbol and a heritage about which they either know or care nothing is carried out and the hell with everybody else!
One cannot imagine anything less American than a small coterie of ideologues and race-mongers who inflict their agenda upon their fellow citizens virtually unopposed. It is also interesting to note that when these matters have been brought to the people in various referendums, the flags have remained! Equally interesting is the fact that the votes to retain them cross racial lines! Thus, those who reject a referendum with the claim it tramples on the rights of a particular race are proven wrong. On the other hand, removing them absent the opportunity for the people to speak certainly does trample on the rights of the majority!
Supporters of the battle flag and other Confederate symbols, heroes and history have brought the facts forward. Those of good will and objectivity can learn those facts if they so desire. Those who are neither, will not be swayed by them anyway. Therefore to continue to debate this matter as if it were one of ignorance is futile. We must look not at what is being done, but who is doing it and how it is being done! We must put a stop to a small coterie of ideologues with an agenda from robbing the people of a voice in their own culture. At this point in time, the removal of any Southern symbol from a place of honor should be determined democratically—that is by a vote of ALL of those involved and not just a chosen few. If the symbol is publicly displayed, any attempt to remove it should be on the ballot. If it is privately displayed, all those who are part of the institution involved should have a voice in the decision. The time has come to stop the destruction of a culture at the hands of an elite few. Yes, the lamb does not wish to be eaten, but the wolves don’t wish to be rendered voiceless either.
Lady Val Protopapas
Huntington Station, New York