The winds have not been blowing well for the flag of the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.) in recent days. All across the nation there have been cries for its removal not only from flagpoles but also from monuments! Stores at Civil War battlefields are withdrawing merchandise containing the “Stars and Bars”. Political correctness is everywhere. Even the “General Lee” from “The Dukes of Hazzard” has come under attack!
The reason given for this all-out assault on the “Rebel flag” is that the flag brings back memories of slavery. The flag supposedly teaches that slavery is ok and represents bigotry. As some folks see it, that flag only reminds them of slavery.
For what it’s worth, I thought I would chime in on this lunacy. First, some disclosures:
1. I have a couple of “Stars and Bars” flying alongside some “Stars and Stripes” in my study at home.
2. I despise slavery. Involuntary servitude is wrong no matter who practices it (including several of our nation’s Founding Fathers).
3. I am not and never have been a bigot or a racist.
4. My ancestors served in the Union army during the Civil War. It is possible some served in the Confederacy but, if they did, I am not aware of it. I do know one ancestor died at Vicksburg and another defended the base of Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg.
5. I was born and raised in Illinois so I am a “Northerner”.
6. Two of my favorite persons from history are Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson, both Southern generals, both slave owners.
Now, let’s look at the Stars and Bars. Certainly slavery was a key factor in the outbreak of the War. Slavery was a millstone around our nation’s neck since its founding and the “institution” needed to be removed. But my study of the Civil War has led me to conclude that many of those Southern men who died fighting for the C.S.A. were not slave holders. Despite how the South is often portrayed, not all “Johnny Rebs” had slaves. Yet they died just the same. You see, there is more than slavery wrapped up in the Confederate flag.
If you have spent any time in the South, you know the Civil War is referred to as the War of Northern Aggression. Indeed, the Northern armies invaded the Southern states and attempted to force them to change their form of government. Yet the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States confirms that the Southern states were free to govern themselves.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
When the War began, the Constitution said nothing about the illegality of the institution of slavery. This intentional omission (intentional from our Founding Fathers’ perspective) was, thankfully, remedied by the 13th Amendment, ratified months AFTER the war. The Northern states had no Constitutional right to force the Southern states to change their government. And the South did not see anything “right” about the armies of the United States invading the Southern states and attempting to implement changes by force.
So, you could also say the Stars and Bars not only represent slavery but the rights of States to govern themselves. Our Constitution provided for a limited Federal government. The true governing was to be at the state and local level, not from Washington. In fact, one of the results of President Lincoln’s use of force in the Civil War is the continued growth of the Federal government to the detriment of the state governments. Prior to the Civil War, that was not the case.
Many of those rebel soldiers gave their lives in order to defend their state and their way of life (even for those who owned no slaves). The Confederate flag is viewed positively by many who lost ancestors fighting for states’ rights. You see, that flag also has some very positive connotations.
But some can’t see past the slavery issue and that’s a shame. They are so closed minded and hard-hearted, they see only what they want to see. To them, there is nothing positive in the flag of the Confederacy even though slavery officially ended in this nation 150 years ago.
I think before leaving this subject, though, I need to take a moment and look at the “Stars and Stripes”. What a beautiful flag it is! It represents freedom and liberty and opportunity. People from around the world want to come to America. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I love our country and believe we are the greatest nation on the earth. We have the greatest governing document every devised by man, our Constitution, and the greatest philosophical document written by man, our Declaration of Independence. Many of our citizens have boldly and bravely given their lives to defend our freedoms and I am truly thankful for them. I love celebrating the nation’s birthday on July 4th and would never want to be a citizen of any other country. It is a wonderful feeling to see our flag flying high across the land.
At the same time, our flag is not untarnished. While the Stars and Bars “supported slavery”, our Stars and Stripes “supports abortion”, does it not? You tell me, which of the two is to be preferred: enslaving men or killing them before they are born? The Confederate States had no right of abortion while they existed and, hence, that stain is not on their flag. But our nation permits unborn children to be killed, even as they are being birthed! How does this action differ from the Holocaust, the terrible crime associated with the Nazi flag?!
Perhaps there should be an outcry among our citizens about flying the American flag these days. When you see the Red, White, and Blue, does it remind you of abortion? Even if it doesn’t, can you deny that the flag represents that “right”?
Now I certainly do not want us to take down our American flags. Yes, abortion is horrific and I hope and pray one day that crime will once again be banned by our nation. Yet, compared to all the other nations in the world, we live in the greatest nation.
So let us fly our flags gladly and reflect upon the freedom and liberty it represents. But, at the same time, perhaps we should back off a bit about the flag of the C.S.A. Yes, slavery is a part of that heritage. But so is a defense of the rights of states to govern themselves. Surely if one can overlook abortion they can overlook slavery. The Stars and Bars no more causes slavery than the Stars and Stripes causes abortion.
So unfurl those flags. Let both fly! They are part of our imperfect but glorious history!