Point of View Columns

Take Down the Damn Flag

In the aftermath of the Charleston Massacre Governor Nikki Haley has proposed that the Confederate flag will no longer fly over the State House. The governors of Mississippi, Virginia and Tennessee are proposing similar measures and too many Republicans and Democrats are breaking their arms patting themselves on the back for this amazing “progress”.

But the question stands, why has it taken so long for political leadership of this country to understand how deeply and tragically offensive the Confederate flag is for black Americans and all people of good will? And there is also this question – why is any American comfortable flying or wearing the Confederate flag? After all, we see very few Germans wearing swastika bikinis and baseball caps and we see absolutely no Russians parading through Moscow with hammer and sickle banners.

All this talk about “heritage” and honoring sainted and valorous Southern “heroes” must be seen within the context of real and undisputed history. First and foremost, we should be clear that the driving force of the Confederate States of America was the preservation and continuation of slavery – that is, the sale, ownership and uncontrolled and unlimited physical abuse and degradation of black Americans.

This really is not a subject of debate. Here are the words of Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the CSA speaking about the CSA:

“Its foundations are laid; its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

This is the “heritage” that the Confederate flag, and any damnable iteration, represents. This is the “noble cause” that the sainted and valorous Southern “heroes” fought and died for. Even a cursory overview of warfare would reveal that there will always be instances of bravery and heroism, no matter how evil and odious the cause. There can be no doubt that there were noble and brave Nazi soldiers during World War II, but Germans honor the war dead in a somber fashion and not in the raucous, outrageous and tone deaf fashion in which the Confederacy is celebrated in this country.

It is simply a damn shame that nine more black people had to die at the hands of a white racist before some people finally realized that the Confederate flag is not simply inappropriate, it is obscene. Flying and wearing the stars and bars insults the memory of every black person who suffered through slavery and every black person who has been oppressed and terrorized and killed with that same damned flag flying.

Look at the photographs of the spit-stained white mobs howling and protesting the integration of a high school in Little Rock, or the University of Mississippi or the University of Alabama and you will see the Confederate flag. Look in the archives and you will see the Confederate flag flying at Ku Klux Klan rallies and at the hundreds of lynching parties that always ended with black bodies hanging from trees like the strange fruit about which Billie Holiday wrote and sung.

There is nothing noble about the Confederacy. There is nothing honorable about the cause for which the Confederate soldiers fought and died. They fought a traitorous and treasonous war in order to perpetuate the enslavement of black Americans. There should be no flags flying, there should be no monuments, there should be no streets and universities and boulevards named after the leaders of this hideous cause.

Germans do not fly the swastika over government buildings. Germans do not name their streets and universities after Nazi leaders. Why should Americans countenance flying the Confederate flag or any other honoring or commemoration of the so-called heroes of the so-called noble cause?

Take Down the Damn Flag.

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