Southern Revisionism and the Confederate Flag

Lately the idea of the Confederate flag has been a topic of discussion.  When arguing with some on the far Right, you hear excuses as to why the Confederate flag isn’t racist, such as; “It’s our heritage! It’s part of our history!”, “It wasn’t even the official flag of the Confederacy!”, and “The Civil War wasn’t about Slavery! It was about States Rights!” or “It was about the economy!” All of these reasons are quite ridiculous and ignore major parts of real history.

“It’s our heritage! It’s part of our history!”:  I am willing to admit that the Civil War and the Confederacy did play a part in American history, because it’s actually true.  The Civil War was a HUGE part of our history.  But that doesn’t mean that we should celebrate and honor those against which America fought.  The Nazi’s also played a big role in American history, but most of us don’t think it’s ok to fly Nazi flags from our vehicles and proudly wave them in the air.  One man I debated with a few days ago posted a meme in response showing the graves of Confederate soldiers with the words “These are American War Veterans too!” But what this man, and whoever made the meme, Gravesfails to recognize is that Confederate soldiers WEREN’T American veterans.  The Confederate states seceded (meaning they gave up their status as Americans) from the United States of America, forming a nation that rebelled against us at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.  In reality, Confederate soldiers weren’t Americans at all! They were Confederates.  Honoring the fact that your ancestors died in war is one thing, trying to honor them with equal status of actual American War veterans, who fought and died for the cause of freedom and liberty, many of which fought and died against those very Confederates, is a disgusting and insulting twisting of historical fact.  The Confederates were traitors fighting for the subjugation of African Americans. Period. When the war was over their leaders should have been arrested and tried as traitors.  Those in the South that are alive now don’t get to rewrite history and paint this picture of heroic Confederate soldiers fighting for honor.

kkk confederate“It wasn’t even the official flag of the Confederacy!”: Who cares what the official flag was?  Regardless of whether it was the official flag of the Confederacy, it is a Confederate flag and it is what is proudly flown around by many in the South and by groups like the KKK.  Since the Civil War, the Confederate flag that we know has been flown as a flag of white supremacy, fear, hatred, and racism.  Yes, there were many other Confederate battle flags, but this is the one that has stuck as the symbol of the Confederacy and of the “Southern” way.  As an article I read pointed out, you can claim the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage, but normal, rational people don’t look at it that way.  When everyone else sees you flying that flag, they automatically label you as a racist, and rightly so.

“If You Ban the Confederate flag because of Slavery…”:  Another common cliche I’ve heard tossed around by Confederate flag apologists is that if we ban the Confederate flag because of slavery, then we have to ban the American flag too, because the North had slaves at one point.  My answer to this, is that the big difference is that America fought a long, drawn out war to end slavery.  America realized it’s horrible mistake and tried to fix it.  No, that doesn’t make up for the fact that America had slaves.  That is a disgusting part of our history that we should never forget, but nevertheless, America fought to change.  The Confederates fought America causing hundreds of thousands of deaths specifically so they could keep people in chains.  That is why we should ban the Confederate flag from government buildings and not the American flag.


Lost Cause 2“The Civil War wasn’t about slavery! It was about [insert made up Southern reason]”:
 Those in the South like to pretend that the Civil War was about something other than slavery, because they don’t want their ancestors to be seen as backwards, slave-mongering, racists who viewed another group of people as animals.  They throw things out like “States Rights” and “The Economy”, but in reality it was about slavery.  All of the letters, speeches, and documents written and spoken by Confederate leaders admit it.  No amount of Southern revisions on history can change this.  This Southern attempt at revisionism isn’t something new.  It goes all the way back to the end of the Civil war to something called “The Lost Cause.”  This was the Southern attempt to paint Confederate leaders as honorable and chivalrous, fighting for tradition, and it was all a big pile of bologna.  Why the United States didn’t stamp this rebellion out completely once the Confederacy surrendered, I guess we’ll never know.  Here are some quotes from Confederate leaders regarding their reason for seceding:

South Carolina’s Reason:…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

Mississippi’s Reason: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…”

Slavery 2Louisiana’s Reason:As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of an­nexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slave holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery.”

Alabama’s Reason:Upon the principles then announced by Mr. Lincoln and his leading friends, we are bound to expect his administration to be conducted. Hence it is, that in high places, among the Republi­can party, the election of Mr. Lincoln is hailed, not simply as it change of Administration, but as the inauguration of new princi­ples, and a new theory of Government, and even as the downfall of slavery. Therefore it is that the election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions—nothing less than an open declaration of war—for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and. her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.

Slavery
“Mutually beneficial?”

Texas Reasoning:…in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states….”

(Quotes pulled from The Atlantic.)

Any person claiming the cause of the Civil War wasn’t slavery, when the seceding states very plainly stated that it was, is either completely ignorant or they are blatant liars still trying to sew the revisionist  history of the Southern Lost Cause.

In the end, do I think that the Confederate flag should be made illegal?  For private citizens? No. Not at all.  Let them fly it. It identifies the racists in our midst and helps us to avoid them.  But I also don’t believe businesses should be required to sell it anymore than they should be required to sell Nazi paraphernalia.  I also most definitely believe it should not be flown on any government property.  If it is a states flag, it needs to be changed, because, as I’ve stated, it is the flag of a traitorous nation that attempted to undermine American values, and it is a symbol of hatred, oppression, and racism.  No amount of revisionism will change that fact.

Surrender

32 thoughts on “Southern Revisionism and the Confederate Flag

  1. Excellent. The absolute best exposition of this I have read since the can of worms was opened.

    No amount of hand waving will ever whitewash the true reason for the Civil War.
    All such racist rags should be publicly burned and formal apologies issued.

    1. I completely agree. I swear some of the things happening in this country make me feel like we’re living in the 1800s or the 1960s again. It’s completely ridiculous. The one positive from it all is that now I know which Facebook friends to boot. LOL!

  2. Although I agree with the thrust of your argument, there is a counter that bears examination. The North, like the British, recognised that slavery isn’t as economically sound as it might seem, and that tenant farmers are more profitable, and a lot less trouble, for a landowner. What’s more, you can make the change on faux humanitarian grounds and look like a good guy, whilst raking in the cash.
    Slavery is evil, period, but be careful who you attribute altruistic motives to. Some were undoubtedly goods guys, chasing a worthy cause, but maybe their success wasn’t all down to a righteous cause holding sway.

    1. I agree for the most part. I read a comment earlier on another post and the person stated “There are always multiple reasons for war.” This was true of the Civil War as well. But, regardless of whether ending slavery was the main motive for the north, they still fought to end it, while the South fought to hold on to it at the risk of destroying our country and at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.

      1. Yes, indeed. Also, there is an argument that says that war actually changes very little but hastens the inevitable. Whatever, the North should be proud of fighting to end slavery – it has done wonders for their mindset ever since. “Land of the free” means something!

  3. The opposition to slavery in this post and the reasoning that such issue was at the core of the Civil War cannot be faulted. Also, the unsuitability of a ‘tainted’ flag. What can be argued with is the failure to recognise that the ordinary soldiers who fell on both sides deserve honour – just as do the German soldiers fighting as Nazis who were not actively involved in any atrocities. The young Nazis and the soldiers of the South were victims of an environment where their mastery was accepted as the norm, and challengers to it constituted an enemy.
    Don’t forget that if the South had won, they would be heroic ‘Freedom Fighters’ and the North would be the evil land-grabbing oppressors.

    1. I disagree. The Nazis and the Confederates both knew what they were fighting for, which was the continued oppression of other human beings. Claiming they didn’t know any better or that they were forced to do anything is a lie. Without the cooperation of the soldiers there would have been no Confederacy, there would have been no Nazi party.

      1. That is far too simplistic an outlook. What both were fighting for was not seen as evil – in fact it was viewed as being in support of the highest ideals. I submit that had you had the same background and upbringing, you would have been no different.

      2. Just because it wasn’t seen as evil doesn’t mean that it wasn’t. Do you think the men who flew their planes into the World Trade center thought they were committing evil acts? Germany doesn’t continue to fly Nazi flags as part of their “heritage” because they have recognized that that part of their history is dark and horrible. It is only in our country that the idiocy that is the Southern Confederacy is still accepted today when it should have been stamped out immediately after they surrendered.

      3. I have not disputed that. My only issue was with not recognising that the ordinary soldiers on both sides who truly did not believe they were supporting something evil deserve their memorial.

      4. I don’t think they were anymore admirable than I think Nazi soldiers or the terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center were. I think they fought and died for a despicable cause and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of others in the process. I owe them no admiration, and they deserve none.

      5. You have very closed thinking on the subject. Consider that there you could well have been, given the same background, doing exactly the same thing, and believing you were doing right. Only, would you have had the courage to carry it through? I’m not sure I would.

      6. The same could be said for rapists and serial killers. Should we admire them for the “courage” it took for them to overpower their victims?

      7. Not a good analogy at all. There is no comparison. Unless they are maniacs, they are fully aware that they are doing evil. And, in most cases, do it with minimum personal risk.

      8. If a person can’t tell that keeping another person in chains, beating them, raping them, and killing them is wrong, then they have quite a bit wrong with them. As for serial killers and rapists, who is to say they don’t have some chemical imbalance that prevents them from empathizing with other human beings? Should we admire them for dealing with mental issues? You see how silly that sounds? I don’t quite understand how you can be trying to justify the atrocities that the Nazis and the Confederate soldiers took part in… I really don’t… Not only that, but you’re trying to say we should ADMIRE THEM FOR THEIR “COURAGE?” I really hope you’re troll, because I find that absolutely disgusting.

      9. You persist in reading into what I have said what simply isn’t there. I am referring, throughout, to the ordinary fighting men, conditioned by the age and ‘culture’ they grew up in, and defending what they saw as their rights. Have you studied in depth how a basically decent people like the Germans – or the Southern landowners – could become so subverted? Or have you made any attempt to apply the perspective of history to that period? If not, then you are not qualified to judge purely from a viewpoint of modern morals and enlightenment. I say again – had you grown up in the same circumstances, you would be one of them and it is unlikely it would even occur to you that what you were doing was wrong. Slaves were regarded as mere property, and those who opposed the glorious Reich were vermin.

      10. And I still will not agree with you that they should be “honored” or “admired” for the heinous acts they committed, whether it was because of their leadership or not. The Germans do not honor the Nazi soldiers that died in the war and pretend it is their “tradition” and we should not honor the confederacy in that way. You can agree with me or not, but I will most definitely not agree with you.

      11. It will take you a minimum of research to find that your statement regarding the Germans is entirely false. They do, indeed, honour the ordinary brave soldiers and officers – normal family men, and not monsters – who died in those wars, and for good reason. I see no reason why the Confederacy should not be viewed in the same light. Their ideals were horribly flawed, but they were inbred. War itself, and the leaders on both sides who allow it to happen, is the main tragedy. Slavery would have lasted longer without that war, but it would nevertheless not have survived.

      12. Ah, I see… So rather than looking at the Nazi regime as a dark and horrible part of German history, they wave the Nazi flag and fly it proudly above their official government offices? Interesting claim…

      13. You consistently take a narrow and bigoted view. I never said anything in support of the symbol – btw, the swastika was an honoured sign of antiquity until the Nazis sullied it, but that is by the way. All along, I have said that the actual soldiers, fighting for what they believed was right, are equally entitled to commemoration as those who were on (with all its manifold faults) what is now regarded as the side of the knights in shining armour.

      14. And all along I’ve said I disagree with you. Yet for some reason you have taken it upon yourself to try and convince me of the honor of the poor misunderstood Southern soldier. I don’t think those that fought on the side of slavery deserve honor or admiration in any way, any more than Nazi soldiers who watched Jews being marched into ovens deserve it. You can claim they “didn’t know,” but do you think the mindset that still persists in the South came from nowhere? The racism and hatred that exists in the narrow minded Southern bigots today has been passed down from the families of those soldiers who believed exactly the same way. So please stop trying to pretend like those soldiers weren’t the exact same type of racists as the ones that are living and breathing in the south today. Those that are direct descendants of some of those soldiers think they’re right. They “don’t know any better.” Should we “admire” them for standing up for what they believe in as well? If they band together and start another Civil War that costs hundreds of thousands of lives, should we just say “well they were just doing what they thought was right?” As I said, you are welcome to your opinion. I disagree.

      15. I have been waiting for a thread of logic to back your arguments, and here some has been provided. The fact that the legacy persists is disturbing, to say the least.
        However, the soldiers from the North also killed fellow countrymen because they believed it was right to do so. The fact that we agree with their version of right doesn’t take away the killing. War cannot happen if nobody is prepared to participate. An invasion, of course, is a different ball game.
        Consider, too, that some of your own ancestors are bound to have been associated with those practices. The more enlightened view didn’t happen overnight. Do you disown them because of that?

      1. They are – by those who subscribe to that lunacy. As individuals, albeit with mistaken ideals, they also deserve admiration from all for their courage and dedication. Their cause, and the indoctrination they had received, are the true evils. Those cannot be condemned strong enough terms. Yet, don’t forget what has also been done in the name of Christianity.

      2. Oh trust me, I haven’t forgot what has been done in the name of Christianity. I don’t think we owe any admiration for the “courage” it took to fly planes into buildings to kill thousands of people. When asked to do that, rational, kind, loving, people would realize that that is an evil act.

      3. You miss the point that given the background there is no possibility of such people realising that there is evil in what they do. Contrast somebody killing another for the insurance money – that is evil. If they have been brainwashed into thinking that the other person is part of an evil enemy, then they would regard killing them as doing good. Having the courage to sacrifice their own lives to that end does invite admiration.

      4. We’ll have to agree to disagree. Even when I was a Christian, brainwashed in all their ways, I never once would have thought killing someone in the name of god would be okay.

      5. Your brainwashing wasn’t actively in that direction. Had it been so, it takes an extraordinary intellect, courage and will to rebel. Those few who have done so at great personal risk – such as refusing to carry out Nazi orders which were recognised as being evil – are worthy of the highest praise of all.

  4. Yes the flag should go (I was born and raised in the south and I have never liked or supported the stupid rebel flag). It’s a sign of rednecks to me. Stupid rednecks lol
    But the real problem people are ignoring is we are all slaves to debt in this country (especially to the Chinese) and the creditors that up our interest rates to keep us literally forever in their debt to their benefit. Student loan debt in the trillions and high interest rates is uncalled for and needs addressed as much as any other problem that ails the U.S. currently. If they forgave student loan debt- think of all the money people could pour back into our own economy- what spending power individuals could have again- but that’s it- they don’t want us to have financial power- we are being punished for seeking and obtaining higher education. And they won’t even let us buy and use marijuana- but we can wave a bloody rebel flag that stands for slavery- WTF!!
    Some people want to say “oh it’s not the government’s job to pay for student loan debt.” And I say “it’s not the government’s job to charge me interest on money borrowed to get a degree.” I say erase student loan debt, abolish the IRS, and get rid of the stupid rebel flag- that’s so 160 years ago people- LET IT GO! 😳😄
    PS- thanks for bringing attention to the flag that haunts my eyes on the daily as a resident of SC! Lol
    Hope our country wakes the F up 😎

    1. I completely agree with the student loan debt. It definitely needs to go. Increased access to education can only benefit our country and steering it away from a for profit institution is the way to go.

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