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John Wayne's Holster: Why I Fly the Confederate Battle Flag!
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Friday, January 13, 2006

Why I Fly the Confederate Battle Flag!

I have a large replica of the Confederate Battle Flag on the wall of my study room. During a recent visit to my home, a colleague of mine seem surprised and confused. Conflicting thoughts seemed to be going through his head. How could I embrace such a “hateful” symbol? Was I a racist? Did I hate people who were not white?

Apparently he and I view the flag quite differently. He associates the flag with slavery and racially motivated hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. I view it as a symbol of national heritage. It is not a symbol of hate. And for the record, I am not a racist, and I embrace people from all cultures and races. People like my wife!

For starters, what we currently call the Confederate Flag most closely resembles the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, and is one of several flags used at various times to represent the Confederate States of America. Contrary to what some in the media claim, the Civil War was not fought over the issue of slavery! It was about taxes and tariffs and state’s rights. This is not to say that the Civil War had absolutely nothing to do with slavery. But the War had much more to do with the Morrill Tariff of 1861 than it did with any issue connected to slavery. It should also be pointed out that over 90% of the soldiers who fought and died for the Confederate army were not slave owners, and were not fighting for the big plantations. Rather, they were fighting for their lawful right to secede and govern themselves. The Confederate flag symbolized their struggle for independence and state’s rights.

The flag represents those same values today!

The confusion over what the Confederate Flag stands for has more to do with the misuse of the flag than it does with the flag itself. The flag has been co-opted by racially motivated groups during the 1940’s and 50’s, such as Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat party and other segregationists. Today it is misused by hate groups like the Klan and the Neo-Nazis. The Confederate Flag unfortunately becomes associated in some people’s minds with the rhetoric and beliefs of these radical groups.

The fact that some may be offended by the flag is not a legitimate reason for banning it. If we do that, just about every symbol will be banned because it surely will offend someone. Should Buddhists be banned from displaying the swastika just because the Nazi’s adopted it as their symbol? Should we stop flying the American Flag because of the atrocities inflicted upon Native Americans by the US Government? Should the flying of the Rainbow Flag be banned just because some on the religious right are offended by homosexuality?

The misuse of the Confederate Flag by radical groups is not a legitimate reason to ban displaying it in public. To many, the flag is a symbol of pride and heritage, and should be viewed with the same reverence as men such as Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson.

I will continue to display it as such.


At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Roy said...

I agree with you here on many points.
First off, the Civil War most certainly was not about slavery. Just as the emancipation proclamation was not about freeing the slaves but rather shoring up allies and dividing the south politically. If the Civil War were to happen in this era I believe it would be ruled an illegal and unjust war. I believe it would be like the EU trying to forcefully submit all European countries
Second, it is true that this particular flag is just one of many. However I think that the white supremists groups have successfully tranasformed the symbolism of the flag to that of a racist, white symbol(much the way gangs have transformed the meaning of bandanas). It is probably unfair but I believe most people associate racism with the Condfederate flag. I do not believe it should be banned publicly but I do believe that Government buildings should not be flying the flag. Since these racist groups do use the flag and history now tells us that the Civil War was fought solely over slavery(which cannot be debunked at risk of debunking the myth that Abe freed the slaves with a stroke of his pen).
Great Post! I had almost this very conversation with a co-worker of mine about four years ago.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black people take way too much credit for the Dixie flag.

I love the CSA, and I hope that it rises again. I want to fight for it.

At 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give me this stuff that the war was not about slavery. That's exactly what it was about. Just like Lincoln said in his first inaugural address, "Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied." The only thing Southerners were complaining about is the fact that they were afraid the North was going to take their slaves away. Why do you think South Carolina seceded right after Lincoln was elected? Why do you think Southern states didn't even put his name on the ballot? They were sure he was going to free the slaves. It was not about some tariff. Do you really think states seceded over some tariff? The slavery issue had been there from the very beginning (the debates during the writing of both the Declaration and the Constitution). The only political, economic, and social "state's rights" that the Southerners wanted was the right to buy, sell, and own other human beings they thought to be inferior. Don't let yourself be convinced otherwise.

People who think they are smart always try to take credit away from Lincoln. Yes, the proclamation only freed slaves in Rebel states, not the border states, and really did not do much at the time. But he made it clear many times that he was personally against slavery. At the beginning he did not see it as his official duty to abolish it--that would come later. His second inaugural address made his feelings clear. Please read that if you doubt his sincerity.

Confederates executed black soldiers and their white officers. They were afraid to arm blacks even when they desperately needed manpower. Why? Because they knew the way they treated blacks and they were more afraid of the justice that would be served than they were afraid of Yankee guns. When Jeb Stuart was riding through Pennsylvania (skipping his official duty as the eyes of the infantry), he rounded up free blacks and sent them into bondage in Dixie. What does that tell about him and the country who loved him?

The fact is they were racist, and the flag is a symbol of their racism, hatred, and rebellion. To me, a Nazi flag is the same as the Confederate battle flag. It symbolizes an idea of a nation built on the premise of racial supremacy, and it symbolizes an enemy of the U.S.

Yes, most soldiers did not own slaves. They let the gentry/cavalier class dupe them into fighting for a cause that was as Grant said in his memoirs "one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse". Don't make excuses for the Confederacy, it simply does not deserve it. And don't make excuses for yourself--take that flag down and burn it. Listen to your friend.

I know I am on a bit of a rant here, but what is so complicated about this issue? The C.S.A. was wrong and the flag symbolizes the C.S.A. If you ever have any doubts about what the Confederate States of America were all about, I suggest you read through Vice President Alexander Stephens' inaugural address. Then you can try to tell me the war was not about slavery and racism.
I agree with you that the history of all this is often oversimplified, but don't rewrite it yourself. Research it all a little more, look at what the people of that time period were writing, and I think you might change your opinions.

Please respond to my comments if you would like. I would love to continue making my point.

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Joe Verica said...

Dear No name

Please reread my post carefully. I make no arguments, either implied or expressed, that the issue of slavery was not a motivating factor in the Civil War. Certainly it was. One only needs to read South Carolina's Articles of Succession to see that. The point that I make, and I believe validly, is that slavery was not the primary reason for the war.

The southern economy was driven largely by agriculture and exports. The northern economy was industrial. In order to generate revenue, heavy tariffs were placed on exports. The "Tariff of Abominations" (1824) and the Morrill Tariff Act (1861) were two such tariffs. These tariffs (and others) had a major impact on the southern economy. The south bore a disporportionatly larger part of the burder, while the disbursement of funds largely favored the north.

Leading up to the election of Lincoln, there was a lot of talk about tariffs, and slavery, and succession. To quell the hostilities, Lincoln's claimed that he would not interfere with slavery in the states where it existed. Perhaps the south was suspicious. Certainly there was a strong abolitionist sentiment in the north. And the north had more political power. As such, it might even be fair to say that slavery was the tipping point or last straw for the south. But the lone causus belli?

You point out that Lincoln was not even on the ballot in SC. That is true. However, you failed to mention was that Lincoln was elected WITHOUT A SINGLE ELECTORAL VOTE FROM THE SOUTH. In other words, the south had no real voice in the federal govt. All their affairs could thus be controlled by the north. Whatever the north said about trade, commerce, tariffs, taxes, slavery,etc was the law. The north was destroying the southern economy, and the south had little control over this. As such, they had little choice but the succeed.

The war (like all wars) was about money - about the north not wanting to loose southern revenue. Nothing more. In fact, they treated the south like a conquered nation in its aftermath.

As for the confederate flag. It was a battle flag. It was not a slavery flag.

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is my opinion that slavery impacted most, if not all, the other factors that caused the war.

I understand that the economies were very different. New York had more factories than the entire South. The South was agricultural. Who was the cheap labor that worked in those fields? You say they relied on exports (aka King Cotton). Who picked the cotton they exported to Europe?

But what must be remembered is that the North was very agricultural also. It had more food crops and livestock than the South, and somehow they managed to do it without slave labor. We are talking about states that still produce more food crops than most of the countries in the world. These farmers made a living without having to buy and sell their fellow man.

To me it seems like the South needed to realize that they were living in the past. Slavery was outdated. I believe most of the civilized world had abolished slavery by the mid 19th century, realizing what it truly was. The South could have survived without it, but a few of the plantation owners would not have made such high profits. The war was about money, as you say, but it was not just about the greedy North. It was also about a small percentage of the Southern population who wanted to keep their cheap labor.

I will take your word for it and admit that the North can be blamed for some of the tariffs that may have cheated the South. The North is definitely not free from blame. But economical issues stemmed from the South's reliance on slave labor. Social/moral issues stemmed from abolitionist beliefs. Political issues stemmed from new states entering the Union as free or slave states. It may just be me, but I see slavery behind nearly all the differences between North and South.

The South was treated quite fairly, considering the scope of what had occurred in those 4 years. You sympathize with them, but I don't. I find it hard to look past their treatment of blacks after the war. In fact, this treatment lasted all the way into the 1960s. The century after the war is all the more evidence of why I blame the South and their 'institutions' for the war.

As for the flag, I hate it. But as long you aren't using it to further racist beliefs, then I guess it's just a free speech issue. It was a battle flag used in battles against the United States of America, and our Constitution allows you to express your opinions about our country.

At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Ama said...

You make a very good point about the Civil War having other motivations, but the fact is that many people still feel threatened by the "stars and bars." Whether or not it's all about slavery, it means as such to many people and I know several people who wouldn't be safe to see it in people's homes. The Swastica is viewed differently because only a specific color pattern represents the Nazis, but the many radical groups who used the flag as their symbol didn't alter it at all. The Rainbow Flag and the American Flag do not represent hatred and war to people, as the Confederate flag often does.

It can be also argued that the Confederate flag is celebrating the division of the United States. State flags are another because they acknowledge that they are seperate parts of a whole, but an entire region declaring itself seperate worries me. That's why I personally agree that, while people should be able to display the flag in their homes, it should not be displayed over government buildings in the South.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

most black people think this is a RACIST flag! it is not it is our history flag! the south will rise again!!! keep it flyin i live by this flag! it's my logo!! _Redneck_By_Heart_Southern_By_The_ Grace_Of_God!!

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

black people if yall dont like our flag stay the fuck off this page!!! thanx have a great day!


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