The Confederate Flag Still Flies in the South and the North

The mayor of Columbia, S.C., the capitol of the state that led the rest of the Confederacy off the cliff of secession in December 1860, has a letter in the local paper in which he pleads with racist conservatives who still run the state to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds:

To the rest of the world, the Confederate flag has become a symbol of racial hatred on par with the Nazi swastika

The presence of the Confederate flag in front of the State House … is an obstacle to economic development, and in particular to South Carolina’s and Columbia’s efforts to enter the knowledge economy. The flag creates an unnecessary, negative image of South Carolina to the world.

My experience is that outside of South Carolina, the flag creates a controversial and uncertain image of South Carolina that ties current state policy of flying the flag on the State House grounds to our history of racial segregation and intolerance. This negative image exists even though I readily accept the fact that most of the advocates for the flag do not intend to convey that message. Unfortunately, in today’s world of the Internet and national and international media, the Confederate flag, fairly or not, has become a symbol of intolerance.

The mayor, Bob Coble, is courageous for speaking out. He risks having a cross or two burned in his yard, at the very least. He could also be facing the end of his political career and, at worst, risking the safety of himself and his family.

He’s right about the battle flag. To the rest of the world, it has become a symbol of racial hatred on par with the Nazi swastika. As such, the flag at the South Carolina statehouse is one of the most lurid examples, since it was first raised in the Civil Rights era as a middle-finger salute to the United States Dept. of Justice, African-Americans, Yankees and anyone else who opposed Jim Crow.

There are still Southerners who cling to the delusion that the Confederate flag is symbol of the valiant cause of Southern independence. Whatever it once was, from the moment the North claimed victory, the Confederate flag became the symbol of a lost cause — and rightly so.

As long as the Confederate flag flies at its state house, South Carolina deserves its reputation as a backwater, with rankings in education, health care and productivity among the lowest in the country. And every multinational company that moves facilities there should be tarred with the same brush — especially including the German automaker BMW that saw no problem with a swastika, er, Confederate flag flying in the capitol when it opened a plant in Greenville.

As my colleague Trish often points out, stupidity about race is by no means a Southern trait. In Michigan, the Rapid City Businessmen’s Association flew a special KKK branded Confederate flag at its family picnic over the weekend:

The flag included a cross inside a circle, accompanied by the phrases “white power” and “Ku Klux Klan,” but its message didn’t bother everyone who attended.

“I didn’t care one way or another about the flag being up. It’s not a big deal,” said Tom Tucker, of Rapid City, a cookout volunteer…

Event organizer Stuart McKinnon, owner of Torch Plumbing in Rapid City, said the Klan flag was not meant to be there, but he knows who raised it. He refused to identify the owner.

“I’m not going to say because it doesn’t matter who did it,” McKinnon said… “He just wasn’t thinking,” he said. ‘People can fly what they want to.'”

Kalkaska County Commissioner Rob Crambell, of Rapid City, attended the event and saw the flag, but didn’t stop to read it. He thought it simply was a Confederate flag and didn’t mind because he “doesn’t have a problem with people voicing their opinions in this country,” he said.

“You see them everywhere, so no, I wasn’t (offended). I don’t think all those flags mean racism. If they did, you wouldn’t see them on NASCAR cars and all over the place. Do they question it when they see it on NASCAR or anywhere else? This is America, after all, and people can fly what they want to. It’s unfortunate that it was more than just a Confederate flag,” Crambell said…

Organizers said if anyone had complained, they would have removed the flag…

Organizers [said] the event was neither a Klan rally, nor a recruiting effort and nobody there belongs to the KKK, they said.

“I’m Catholic, so how can I be a Ku Klux Klan member? They’d hang me,” McKinnon said…

The Klan flag won’t fly over the next Rapid City cookout, [organizers] said.

“The businesses and people who participate in putting these events together apologize for offending anyone,” [said one].

“But for anyone to assume we were having some kind of Klan meeting is absolutely ridiculous.”

Sorry, but when you fly a Klan flag over your event, that makes it a Klan meeting.

Finally, my family is 100 percent Southern on both sides, and I have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.

50 Responses »

  1. Tom3 May 16, 2007 @ 9:27 am

    The Reb flag is a racist flag and has no place in modern America except behind glass in a museum.

    Too bad we didn’t hang all those traitors after the Civil War. Now their descendents are all redneck Repukes supporting the traitorous Chimpy regime.

  2. Jerry Falwell May 16, 2007 @ 9:28 am

    Dang! It’s HOT down here!!

  3. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    As a Canadian, maybe someone can clear something up for me (I think you’re an excellent person to ask Jon since, as you say, both sides of your family have roots in the Confederacy). My wife is from Missouri, so she and I have had this discussion many, many times. My wife was always kinda like the “black sheep” of her family, i.e., she’s very liberal in her thinking, believes in equality for all, kindness and respect to her fellow human beings without regard to race, creed or colour and would bring the apocalypse down onto any of our kids if she so much as got wind they used anything resembling a racial epithet. Having said all that, she explained to me that that during the Civil War, the Confederacy had, in fact, several flags, and that the most well-known one that’s pictured here, is in fact a “battle flag”, which was its intent. She went on to say that the this is precisely what Hitler did with the swastika; he took a 2000-year-old-old symbol used by the Romans, the Hindus (usually meant as a symbol to ward off evil spirits), and adopted it as his own. As such, because of what they did under that symbol, it has been forever perverted in peoples’ eyes. In this case, the “Confederate Flag”, underwent the same thing. She went on to explain, that the when the Civil War was raging, this conlict was not about the issue of slavery (although as the war progressed, it evolved to that). Rather, it was about the rights of individual states, and how they felt that the federal governmemnt was impugning on them, and stripping them away. She explained that the slavery issue was the spin eventually introduced by Lincoln when support for the war was starting to falter. Now, having said all of that (whew!), my questions Jon, are thus: WAS this, in fact, one of several flags hoisted by the South (i.e. a “battle flag”)? And IS there still that much of a stigma (for want of a better word) still attached to this flag? Heck, my wife even has a sweatshirt with that flag on the front of it, that says “Heritage—Not Hate”.

    Anyways, I’d be very interested in hearing your take on these issues.


    Your Canadian Neighbour

  4. John Clavis May 16, 2007 @ 10:02 am

    It is disturbing to see the Southern culture of ignorance, prejudice and baseless pride rear its ugly head. As far as I can tell, Southerners are incredibly proud of… well, of being Southerners, apparently. They spit on education and “book learnin'”, they celebrate blind faith and authoritarian obedience and they think they’re better than “them city folk” because they hate gay and black people.

    If America ever fully collapses into ruin, it will be because of some Confederate flag-flying redneck POS.

  5. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    Interesting comments, John.

    But as an example, wasn’t Sgt. Alvin York (WWI hero) a Southerner? You know..”th’ BOOK is agin’ killin’ AHM agin’ killin'”. And for that matter, Elvis? Johnny Cash? Buddy Holly? Jimmy Carter (Nobel Prize winner)? John Edwards? See what I mean?

    That’s a pretty BIG brush you’re usin’ thar, Hoss.

    (Yeah, I’m being a bit of a smart-ass, it’s in my nature; no disrespect intended)

    Have a GREAT day.


    Your Always Wise-Cracking Neighbour To The North (and I do mean WAAAAAAYYYYY North)

  6. John Clavis May 16, 2007 @ 10:41 am

    Canuck1963, obviously not every single Southerner is uniform in his personality or drive (although there’s plenty of evidence that Elvis *was* an ignorant hillbilly). My point is that the Southern culture — the set of values and priorities and vices that inform its ‘people’ — has certain negative qualities that are, in my opinion, a net loss for America.

    Funny you mention Jimmy Carter. He’s an example of how cityfolk don’t mind voting for countryfolk, whereas countryfolk will only vote for cityfolk if told to BY their local leaders. In other words, when Reagan ran against Carter, Carter was depicted as a hick who didn’t belong in DC. But when Bush ran, suddenly being a hayseed was a GOOD thing. (Actually, I’ve gone off on a tangent: this is an illustration of the authoritarian slavishness and hypocrisy of the Republican party.)

    The Republican southern culture has an antipathy towards education and intellectualism that is frankly suicidal, given how many corporations are importing mathematicians and engineers and scientists from India and China.

  7. Daisy Mae May 16, 2007 @ 11:08 am

    Hey John Clavis, thanks for explaining to me to myself. I just wish I had access to your vast wisdom before I spent all that time and money obtaining a post-graduate degree from a Southern university. Come to think of it, in light of your description, I wonder why we have those? And Christmas cards will sure be a breeze this year, since according to you, I can mark off all my gay and/or black friends. It won’t leave many people so that’s a big help. Thanks, John!

    You certainly prove one thing — bashing Southerners is the last refuge for people who need to feel superior to somebody, anybody.

    And if, as you lament, “America ever fully collapses into ruin,” it will be because of some simple-minded moron who is so absolutely certain of his own prejudices that he can’t get his head surgically removed from out of his ass.

  8. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 11:14 am

    Well John, (my name’s Mike, btw)that’s a great example of the Internet having educational value, because I never would have been aware of the points you’ve raised about the whole Reagan-Carter-Bush issue, and how some people tend to vote.

    Having said all of that, do you think that this whole flag issue is symbolic of a certain…ahhh…polarization that exists in the U.S.? That is to say, if it exists (and after having crossed the Mason-Dixon line many times myself, I have to admit it does), then how do you adress it? How do you mend it? Do you start banning flags and symbols (no matter what sensitive issue they represent)? And if you do THAT, wouldn’t that INCREASE this ‘cultural divide’?, as well as lead everyone down a slippery slope in general? Flags are a VERY touchy issue in the United States. As another example, listen to this: when my wife finally emmigrated up here 5 years ago from Missouri, I took it upon myself to put up two flags on proud display in front of our house–the Canadian and American flags, respectively; this was to show a sign of a family living here, who are both proud of the heritage and background they hail from. She was very touched and proud that I had done this. Recently, she made me take down the American flag, and replace it with the black POW/MIA flag; apparently, she had become so upset and disgusted of what was being done in that flags’ name by Bush & Co., that she couldn’t even look at it anymore, because she felt that all the noble and good things that this symbol once stood for had been severly tarnished and corrupted. Therefore (she felt), it was much more fitting to put up the black POW/MIA flag, to honor ACTUAL young American men, who not only answered the call, but were still unaccounted for.

    So I’m very aware of how flags in the U.S. can symbolize different things to different folks, and as a result, passions can run deeply as a result.

    Again…what do you do? How do you mend it? How do you encourage cultures to bridge that chasm?

    Over to you, Sir……….

  9. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 11:29 am

    Oh, and Daisy?

    Question to you, Ma’am:

    If, as you say, you’ve obtained a post-graduate degree ( and I give you all the respect and credit you deserve for that), surely you can add valid points of view to this discussion without resorting to crude insults, yes? See, with all due respect, when you resort to that…well….you kinda slightly edge into the territory of of proving Johns point, y’know?

    I think you have MORE than THAT, at your disposal, yes? I believe you do.

    Have a GREAT day.

  10. Jon Ponder May 16, 2007 @ 11:36 am

    Neighbour –

    There were several Confederate flags. Here’s a Wikipedia article. The flag known today as the Confederate flag was a battle flag.

    The meaning of symbols can change over time. The swastika is a good example. It is a traditional Hindu good luck sign (although I’m not sure Hitler knew this — I always assumed he took a Christian cross and bent the ends, so to speak) but today even in India its use causes controversy.

    Even well-meaning flyers (or sweatshirt-wearers) of the Confederate flag need to know that African Americans, among other groups, find it extremely offensive.

    As a liberal expatriated Southerner, I’d say that even the heritage represented by the Confederate flag is suspect. It is a symbol of a war we lost, like it or not. Why we would want to preserve and celebrate being losers is lost on me.

    During Reconstruction, while the North was industrializing — all the while with its boot on the neck of the South — our Southern forbears dug in their heels and refused to budge on racial equality. One of the few institutions the South created during that period that has lasted was the Ku Klux Klan.

    You asked whether slavery was an issue in the war. It wasn’t at first. When the Civil War broke out, Southerners (only about 5 percent of whom owned slaves, if memory serves) were fighting for independence. In the North, the reason for war was to force “reunion” or re-unification onto the South.

    But slavery was certainly the elephant in the room. The war was triggered by the election in Nov. 1860 of Lincoln, the candidate of a new liberal party, the Republican Party. Its extreme leftwing faction, the “Radical Republicans” were fervent abolitionists. (Lincoln won the election with only 40 percent of the vote, out of a field of four candidates, so neither he nor the cause of abolition came to office with a clear national mandate.)

    To complete the upside-downness of politics then, the Democrats were the conservatives. Southern Democrats, who were certainly pro-slavery, were led in Congress by Sen. Jefferson Davis, a Mexican War hero from Mississippi. Davis was elected president of the Confederacy at about the same time the war began.

    It is doubtful Lincoln could have rallied the North to war on the issue of emancipation alone. Slavery had been outlawed in the Northern states beginning in the 1780s but most Northerners, including Lincoln himself, still held what we today we would think of as racist views.

    For the first few years of the war, the North appeared to be losing badly. Abolition became an issue when Lincoln saw intelligence that showed that slaves were playing a significant role in the Southern war effort, particularly by keeping the farms running while their masters were at the front.

    Lincoln introduced emancipation as a wedge issue to give these slaves an incentive to stop working against their own best interests. (When he introduced the Emancipation Proclamation, it only freed slaves in Southern territories occupied by the Union.) Even so, freeing the slaves was not widely popular in the North. Many white Northerners feared that free slaves would flee to the North and take their jobs, doing the same work for less money.

    Northerners, especially antiwar rightwingers known as “Copperheads,” grew increasingly angry with Lincoln over the course of the war because he had imposed conscription. The bad news from the front of tens of thousands of men dying in battles was relentless, and with each new round of conscription, riots and insurrections broke out across the North, especially in the Midwest.

    Many recent European immigrants, especially the Germans and Irish, had been against the war from the beginning. The antiwar riot most often remembered was the Draft Riot in Manhattan in July 1863. It started as a violent protest by Irish immigrants against a new round of conscription, but it quickly devolved into attacks against black citizens, with rioters dragging them from their homes, injuring and killing them. They even set fire to an orphanage for black children and then stood in the way when the firefighters arrived.

    In 1864, Lincoln’s reelection campaign, just like the war, was going very badly. Two other Republicans, including the explorer and war hero John C. Fremont, briefly entered the primaries to run against him. His advisers begged him to take the unpopular issue of full emancipation off the table but Lincoln refused, saying in so many words that he’d rather be right than president.

    It’s hard to find moments of true political courage in our history, but that was one.

  11. Anon in PA May 16, 2007 @ 11:45 am

    You may want to keep in mind that some Southerners are Democrats. It’s a well-known fact that you can’t win an election without some Southern votes. It’s also a well-known fact that Southerners are pissed off that Yankees think they can dictate what shall be the paramaters of Southern Culture. If you piss off the South too much, you risk a racist Republican POS president in 2008. Please keep that in mind – don’t screw this election up!!!!

  12. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

    Thank you, Jon.

    As an outsider (i.e. a non-American who’s totally fascinated with American history), I’ll have to take a bit of time to process the information you’ve given here.

    Hoever, I WILL have to respectfully disagree with you on ONE point; you stated that:

    “Just about the only institution the South created during that period that has lasted was the Ku Klux Klan.”

    I can PERSONALLY attest that at least TWO other noteworthy institutions have survived vis a vis “the South”:

    their talent for singing (i.e. the aforementioned Elvis, Holly, Cash, that ol’ “Dixie” song, etc.), AND……their cooking. I’ve never had biscuits-and-gravy in my whole LIFE, until my wife made it for me (as well as cornbread, deep-fried chicken and the way they B-B-Q). I mean, all that stuff is GREAT!

    It’s a shame that they have all those other issues in their history, ‘cuz as far as I’M concerned, they can at least sling a mean skillet, and belt out great tunes. You know how they can measure a trees age by the rings in its trunk? Well, after 5 years of my wifes’ southern-influenced cooking, you can do that with my gut. So many expanding rings. So sad. So depressing.

    I’m gonna go eat now.

    I’ll feel better.

  13. paleotn May 16, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

    “this conlict was not about the issue of slavery (although as the war progressed, it evolved to that). Rather, it was about the rights of individual states”

    No offense, but that’s simply the current mantra of “lost cause” revisionists. Was the question of states rights an issue? By all means, yes. At question was the right of a state to allow the institution of slavery and to advance slavery into the territories. In the south, the early Republican Party was considered nothing more than a bunch of yankee abolitionists. Whether that was true or not was not of consequence in many southern minds. It was the southern perception of Republicans that held sway. Upon Lincoln’s ascendance to the White House, many in the south expected the expansion of slavery into the territories to be cut off and fugitive slave laws to be repealed or go uninforced in the north. Worse yet, they perceived that a full frontal assault upon the basis of the southern agrarian economy, black slavery, would not be far behind. Was early northern reasoning about the war based upon abolition of slavery? No, for the most part it revolved around preserving the Union. From a southern perspective, however, it had everything to do with the economics of slavery and the protection thereof. If that meant leaving the Union due to the perceived fear of the potential actions of a Republican administration, the south would and did leave. How ironic it is that neo-confederates to this day spout on about the war not being about slavery when it was their own ancestors who perceived a grave threat to slavery and seceded because of that perception.

    As to your question about flags, the well known “stars and bars” was not the official flag of the confederate government. Virtually all of the official confederate flags bore significant resemblance to the US flag, causing much confusion on a 19th century battlefield. Thus, the confederates adopted a bastardized version of the St. Andrew’s cross as their official military flag.

    Does it represent racism today? Take it from a South Carolinian. It does whether we want to believe it or not.

  14. Madison May 16, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

    Anon in PA: Most Southern Democrats believe that the Confederate flag should hang in a museum, not above the South Carolina state house grounds.

  15. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

    No offence taken, Paleo. Thanks for the input.

    As I’ve said already, I’m just an outsider listening to different point of view from my next-door neighbours, about a subject I’ve always sunk my teeth into (you know, I actually stood inside the preserved jail cell of Frank James, brother of Jesse? I mean, how cool was THAT??) And maybe along the way, come to a little more of an understanding about a…shall we say….’colourful’ period in American history.

    (Jesus, I hope that didn’t sound like a rotten pun)

  16. Anonymous May 16, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

    Dear Canuck, cut the crap. The civil war was all about slavery. The KKK-lite can call treason for the preservation of a crime against human dignity “heritage”, but the debate in the 1850’s was about slavery, and ‘states rights’ was solely invoked in defense of slavery, Jackson had ended serious debate 40 years before.

    This codespeak can be seen in the modern era when Reagan opened his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, the subject of hsi speech? “states rights”, strange place to open a national campaign eh? If you’ve seen the film Mississippi Burning, you know why Philadelphia MS is a special town for the right of states to murder civil rights activists.

    Oh and the “War of Norhtern Aggression”? Who fired first on Ft. Sumter? yes that would be the treasonous murderers of South Carolina.
    You can say that the “battle flag” wasn’t the “slavery flag” and you could also say that aside from the Jewish thing the Nazi’s had some great ideas. In both cases you’d be wrong.

    The really interesting thing is not only are the modern inhabitants of the south the great great grandchildren of a bunch of white losers in a racial caste system, that died in droves and ruined their country to preserve an inhuman monied slave owning elite. Thats bade enough but these shameless morons want to brag about descent from a people who fought to enslave their fellow man.

    The people who voted for Jefferson Davis are the same who voted for W, just look at the election map. 5 generations is not enough to teach anything to homo americanus inferus.

    As for ignorant fucks in Michigan, you don’t think it was only poor blacks that migrated north in the great internal migrations of the 20th century do you? e.g. Bakersfield CA.

  17. paleotn May 16, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

    “Anon in PA: Most Southern Democrats believe that the Confederate flag should hang in a museum, not above the South Carolina state house grounds.”

    Amen, and Amen! Interesting, it’s the SC Repugs for the most part that support the flag. Wonder how they reconcile their flag deal with their annual “Lincoln Day” Dinners. Oh, I’m sorry. That would take far more intellectual ability than most South Cakalacky Republicans are capable of. Just give them some talking points and send them on their way.

  18. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    Sorry, Annonymous, I think you kinda missed my whole point.

    I put forth some personal examples and opinions, and in turn, asked for some input on them. That’s all. We here call that “a civilized exchange of ideas and thoughts”. For you to come back, and say “cut the crap” and “you’re wrong!” really kinda pisses ME off, y’know? Look, all I was saying was I’m fascinated by American history, and want to learn more about it. Period. And as a Canadian, I will emphasize that it’s YOUR history, okay? I wasn’t passing judgement on it either way. And if I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. So be it. But don’t get on here, and start shooting off your sewer gate in a MOST undignified fashion, and tell me to “cut the crap”.

    I hope I’ve made myself clear on this, Mr. Annonymous.

    There, you see?

    Now I’m in a snit.

    Thanks a million.

  19. NoOneYouKnow May 16, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

    Hitler’s version of the swastika is more accurately called the hakenkreuz, or the broken cross; the swastika’s arms point in the opposite direction as the hakenkreuz’s, though most people won’t know or care about the difference. I believe Hitler took his version from Norse symbology.
    Also, hell yes the civil war was about slavery. The right the Southern states were fighting for was the right to keep slaves. The articles of secession (or declaration, or whatever) for at least three of the Confederate states state this explicitly. Next time some sorry redneck makes the “states’ rights” argument, forcefeed him or her that little clue. It’s not like they were fighting for the right to party or something.

  20. Canuck1963 May 16, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

    “It’s not like they were fighting for the right to party or something.”

    LMFAO! Now THAT’S funny!

    Thanks for the input, NoOne. I wasn’t aware of those points. Definitely food-for-thought.

    So, what’s the bottom line here?

    Is the whole “states rights” issue an apologist, excuse-making argument intended to mask the Souths defence/support of slavery (vis a vis the Civil War)?

  21. Trish May 16, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    For the record, NoOneYouKnow is correct. The Civil War was about slavery. Other news flashes: the Iraq War is about oil. Global warming is caused by people. And yes, NOYK, you DO gotta fight, for your right, to par-tee!

  22. Jon Ponder May 16, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

    Trish is right. And the analogy from the Civil War holds today.

    At the start of the Civil War, the 5 percent of Southerners who owned slaves could have never convinced the 95 percent who weren’t slave owners to die in order to preserve slavery, so the politicians spun the “Cause” as states’ rights.

    Similarly, in the North, the pretext for war was re-unification, not emancipation, because 95 percent (maybe 99.9 percent) of mid-19th Century Northerners would have never been willing to die to free the Southerners’ slaves.

    As with Iraq’s oil — for which few if any Americans would be willing to die today — the real cause of the Civil War was hidden in plain sight.

  23. Ann May 16, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

    I haven’t seen in this discussion any mention of the notion that the Confederacy was the enemy of the United States, and thus, any Confederate flag qualifies as an enemy flag. Isn’t it just fundamentally wrong for a governmental entity (a state) to fly an enemy flag?
    Or am I misunderstanding this concept?

  24. Rev. Dave May 16, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    Being a lifelong southerner, I can definitely agree that we have plenty of ignorant hicks in our neck of the woods. However, all would be well advised to remember that the south has no monopoly on these people: I have met just as many hardcore “rednecks” in rural Ohio, Montana, and Illinois. It’s easy to relegate backwardness to one part of the country instead of recognizing the national issues we should all be dealing with.

  25. Snowden May 16, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

    Time for some deep history gentlemen. The civil war was not about slavery, but it became so as support for the war began waining in the north. It was not about states rights, but became so as southern states and the upper classes of the south made a case for seperation and war. The root cause of conflict, the genesis of war was money. Lincon wished to create a tarrif system that would support industry in the north. By slapping a huge (70-200 percent) on manufactured goods imported to the United States. Lincon wanted southern cotton money to come to the north, instead of leaving the country for England and France. Southern culture looked to England, and the south would rather trade with London, where so much of the cotton went, than with New York. The tarrif was inacted, the south was ‘cut off’ from its favored trading partners, and war soon followed. (Side Note: Why did the New York City Council pass a ‘non-binding’ resolution proclaiming New York City a Empire City of the CSA?)
    Slavery, States Rights, Independence, Union, Jeff Davis, The Rebel Battle Flag and the Stainless Banner, All of that was secondary, ancillery, to the fact that the rich and landed gentry of the south didn’t want to pay a tax aimed at them, and paid out to factory owners in the north. Money decided, the guns spoke, and we live with the aftermath. That, Gentlemen, is history.

  26. DesignProf May 16, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

    I am not a scholar of US History but I do know this–once a symbol has been appropriated by a hate group or totaliatarian state it cannot be claimed/reclaimed by people of good will. The Battle Flag belongs to the Klan now. We allowed this. People of good will should make certain that the Klan and their fellow travelers do not do the same to the Christian cross.

  27. EdWood May 16, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

    The southern flag means “F–k your preconcieved opinion of me for being a (southerner, redneck, biker, trailer-trash, poor person…you add one).

  28. Rob May 17, 2007 @ 6:19 am

    Does anyone here find the Rapid City event and the protection given to the perp, at least a little troubling? This is not just a Confederate Flag, but a symbol of a hate group. I’m finding it very concerning that nobody in Rapid City is identitfying who flew this flag. If people are not thowing this guy, or gal, under the bus, they are only accepting themselves as white supremacists.

  29. K2snothome May 17, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    EdWood, that is my understanding as well.
    However, having said that, my preconception about ignorant, mouthbreathers, rednecks, bikers, and trailer trash being a large social class within the Southern melieu is supported by years of thoughtful observation.
    And it mildly pisses me off that adherents of a losing, illegal action against the United States are allowed to fly a symbol flaunting their lack of fidelity to their country and what it stands for.

  30. Rob May 17, 2007 @ 10:55 am

    Marge Schott was from Ohio.

  31. Aaron May 17, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

    I support a flag burning amendment to the constitution.

    Any confederate flag, or anything showing the symbology thereof (cf: first pic) is to be burned as the flag of treason. It is to be burned as quickly and as publicly as reason, public safety and good sense permit and the owner fined and/or jailed.
    If it attached to a vehicle and it cannot be removed, then the whole vehicle is to be burned.
    It may not even be displayed on private property where such is visible to the general public. (hang as many as you want in your living room, just dont let me see it)

    Exceptions include:
    the inside of scholarly texts,
    web pages that are scholarly in nature (wikipedia)
    historical flags that are over 100 years old that are displayed in government buildings and are outside the areas regularly frequented by the general public (ie: not in the central rotunda, but that side room which no one regularly uses)
    historical recreationalists where they are on historic civil war battlefields recreating historic civil war battles or where a civil war reenactment is taking place outside a historic battlefield, then where it is not visible to the general public (you can recreate in front of the visitors center on a historic battlefield but otherwise, just keep generally out of sight.)
    where it is a historic flag that is part of display of flags of the enemy that where captured.

    Confederate flags are the flags of treason and racism.

    Nazi flags are also included in the burning requirement.

  32. Martin Niemöller May 19, 2007 @ 2:47 am

    First They Came for the Jews

    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.
    Pastor Martin Niemöller

  33. Brian June 3, 2007 @ 1:34 pm


    The south is full of some of the most educated people in our country, and yet you yankees think you hold the key to the brain vault, I hate to inform you but it was Southerners who wrote the decloration of independence and the constitution NOT a yankee!

    We are now a corporate fascist nation (if you dont know what that means please look it up in the dictinary) thanks to lincoln, we are now on our way to communism, just look at Venezuele they wanted communism now they have it and now they dont want it, well I hope this helps you, its easy to vote communism in and you must go to war to get a free nation back, we are just one step away, with people like you Hilory,Obama,Kennedy,Busch ect. in our country we should get there in no time at all.

    P.S. If you dont like what you see you can leave, close your eyes or change the channel!!!! The only true Patriot in polotics today is Ron Paul

  34. Madison June 3, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

    Brian, good buddy, I suspect you are a hoax, but in case not, as a fellow Southerner, I have to say you are a poor representative for smart people from the South.

    Leaving aside the fact you misspelled Declaration, Venezuela, don’t, it’s, Hillary, Bush, etc. and politics — corporatism and communism are about as far apart on the spectrum as two systems can get, so how and why would a “corporate fascist” nation convert into a communist nation overnight? That makes no sense.

    I think the term you’re looking for is “oligarchy.” (Look it up.) That’s certainly what Bush seems to have in mind. Some of his followers want us to become a theocracy. But as far as I can tell Democrats, including Hillary, Obama and Kennedy, generally favor democracy. Hence the name, “Democrats.”

  35. not ashamed of the outh December 11, 2007 @ 9:08 am

    well, there are certainly a whole lot of historians here. I would just like to clear up a few points before I am branded a “racist” or a “traitor”

    first, Aaron:
    As far as your “flag burning ammendment goes, why not just go ahead and repeal the rest of the bill of rights along with your eradication of the first ammendment. and since slavery was legal in the United States before, during , AND AFTER the war, why not go ahead and add “old glory ” to your list as well.
    second , design prof:
    You already mentioned the Klans use of the christian cross, and like you said they used it so its theirs now. heres a newsflash, teh Klan also flys the American flag and have done so for nearly a century. lets get together and remove all of the crosses and American flags from view as well.

    now that that is out of the way, I would like to bring up some points that no one has decided to mention thus far.
    It seems to be the consensus of this group that the war revolved around slavery, well how do yall explain the corwin ammendment? During beginning of the war in an effort to convince the south to ru-unite Lincoln endorsed a constitutional amendment proposed by Thomas Corwin, a congressman from Ohio that would have permanently legalized slavery. If the war HAD been about slavery and nothing else, why did the south not take this “easy out”? Lincoln himself told noted abolitinist Horace Greeley in a personal letter that teh war was about Union. that if he could save the union by freeing all the slaves he would, same for freeing none of the slaves. let me inform you of a few more reasons why the south seceded.
    Economy- at the time of secession, the South paid 80 % of national taxes. most of that money went to northern financial interests.
    states rights- regardless of the narrow mindedness of the arguments presented here, states rights WAS a key point for southerners. They felt that The Union was a servant of the states ( which according to the constitution it is) and they resented the centralization of power that was occuring at the time

    And as far as being “illegal and treasonous” can anyone point out where in the constitution Secession is prohibited? no where.
    since there is no prohibition mentioned, then secession is legal according to the tenth ammendment which reserves all rights not specifically enumerated in the constitution to the states.
    Another point I would like to bring up is the swastika refference. During Hitlers rise to power, one law he passed was to ban the confederate flag and all symbols of the Confederacy. Why did he do this? because he knew what most people knew at that time. That the Confederate battle flag (which is NOT the stars and bars, that nickname belonged to teh fisrt natinal confederate flag which closely resembled the American flag) was a symbol of decentralized government. As far as teh confederate flag being internationally known as a symbol of hate, that is ridiculous.
    and finally on a more personal note. I too am descended from Confederate soldiers. My family has never owned slaves. Why would my family go to war to defend an institutin that they didn’t even care for? It deeply saddens me that so many people are so ashamed of such a noble heritage, and that they would defame their own ancestors to continue the illusion of teh “glorious union”.

  36. JohnRebel March 31, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

    Anyone offended by the rebel flag needs a history lesson. Some of you seem overly sensitive…. and others seem to have such a passion against people who fly the rebel flag I ? your motives and intelligence. Most educated white people would agree that the people flying confederate flags are def not the problem in this country.

  37. Trish March 31, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

    I have a master’s degree. People flying confederate flags are a major problem in this country.

  38. Buck April 1, 2008 @ 6:09 am

    Hey John, I noticed that you only considered “educated white people” in your comment. Ever given a thought to how educated black people might feel about the Confederate flag? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    BTW, I almost have a masters degree, so I can pass as an “educated white person.” Can you?

  39. eric May 15, 2008 @ 10:14 am

    The confederate flag is about pride and does not mean trailer trash or being poor. I’m educated and make six figures and I fly the flag in my front yard. I saw a black man wearing a tee shirt with a black fist with the saying “black power” and no one said a word. If I say that shirt offends me I’m a racist. Everything a white man does that is not mainstream is considered a racist, but the blacks are just showing their heritage…..WHAT A DOUBLE STANDARD.

  40. eric May 15, 2008 @ 10:18 am

    I’m just real tired of black America relating everything they do to heritage and getting away with it. Why cant I say the black population has a huge crime problem and chances are if I go into the inner city I will be robbed. This is a fact, but if I make this statement I’m a racist. How can a factual statement be racist? No one can argue the fact that blacks are killing one another, but guess what its the white mans fault. Unitl the balck people stand up and take responsibility for their own actions they will always have major problems. Just look at the alcohalic who blames everyone else for his problems, he remains an alcohalic until he admits responsiblility.

  41. Madison May 15, 2008 @ 10:54 am

    Why cant I say the black population has a huge crime problem and chances are if I go into the inner city I will be robbed. How can a factual statement be racist?

    Because it is not factual that “chances are if I go into the inner city I will be robbed.” That statement literally means that at least 51% of all anglos who go into inner city neighborhoods at any given time are mugged, and that is simply not the case. It’s more like less than .01%.

    Whatever the Confederate flag may have meant in the past is irrelevant. Today it is a symbol of bigotry, violence and repression equivalent to the swastika. If you’re flying the flag at your house, it says everything anyone needs to know about your ignorance and nothing positive about the South.

    Finally, Southern whites are 100% responsible for Jim Crow laws that deliberately kept blacks uneducated, thereby creating four generations, at least, of millions of people who were raised without the wherewithal to compete for good jobs and access to the middle class. We’re all paying for that today, black and white, in this country.

    Why don’t you take some responsibility for that?

  42. Trish May 15, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

    Madison, you were doing good until you said, “Southern whites are 100% responsible for Jim Crow laws.” According to the Martin Luther King Jr. web site, “From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race.”

    The History of Jim Crow, a resource for teachers, shows that while most Jim Crow laws were in the South, a buttload weren’t. Louisiana led the way with 29 of the nation’s 439 laws, followed by Alabama and Georgia with 27 each. But the site goes on to say:

    “In September 1949, only 15 states had no segregation laws in effect. These included Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Of the remaining states, 30 states prohibited mixed marriages and “race mixing.” Twenty states proscribed separate schools for blacks and whites. Fourteen states permitted or required separate railroad accommodations.

    Outside the South, California passed more Jim Crow laws (17) than any other state in the country.

    Miscegenation statutes, intended to prevent racial interbreeding, led the list of Jim Crow laws enacted. At least 127 laws prohibiting interracial marriage and cohabitation were passed between 1865 and the 1950s nationwide, with 37 percent of the statutes passed outside the South. Western states enacted 33 such laws (27 percent). Both whites and blacks who ignored the law could receive sentences for up to ten years hard labor in the penitentiary in a number of states. Punishment for miscegenation in state statutes was still in force in the 1960s in Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

    Further testament that racism existed nationwide is evident in education laws. States outside the South enacted 23 percent of the laws that authorized segregated schools. Likewise, seven of the 12 laws that required race to be considered in adoption petitions were passed outside of the South.

    In 1945, California passed a miscegenation law prohibiting marriage between whites and “Negroes, mulattos, Mongolians, and Malays.” This was in addition to the state law enacted in 1931 barring marriage between Caucasians and Asians. After World War II ended, these laws were repealed.

    My point is that yes, we have a race problem in this country — a huge one. But saying the South is 100% to blame for it not only gets us no closer to resolving it, it keeps us mired right where we are. Let’s think bigger than cursing the unenlightened savages down south and take a big ol’ look in the mirror — all of our mirrors. Maybe then we can talk meaningfully about the problem and not just hurl hostilities at one another.

  43. Madison May 16, 2008 @ 7:38 am

    Trish, I stand corrected on the pervasiveness of Jim Crow laws, but I’ll stick by the assertion that Southern states were 100% responsible for the laws on their books. You’re right, as ever, that racism exists everywhere in the U.S. Shortly before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. had declared that his next front in the war for Civil Rights was the North, starting with Massachusetts, which was, ironically, the first state to ban slavery — but his over-arching strategy was to address the situation in the South first, which brings us back to that stupid flag: In the Civil Rights era, the only states that were defiantly fighting efforts to repeal Jim Crow laws were the old Confederate states. That defiance 40 years ago is a big part of what the Confederate flag symbolizes today, for both its fans and its detractors.

    It is also true that California did not become the bastion of free-thinking it has become until very recently. In the 1850s, Southern California was an outpost of slavery, and tried to join the union as a slave state, separate from northern California. Until WWII, the black population was well under 1 percent. (It’s about 10 percent now.) In the wake of the Gold Rush, there were all sorts of laws that were maliciously discriminatory. For example, in the gold fields, if a Native American walked onto the property of an anglo, the law permitted property owner to enslave him and force him to work for a period of time. Until very recently, wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles were restricted by “covenants” that were codicils in deeds that forbade property owners from ever selling the property to blacks, latinos, Asians and Jews.

    Interestingly. the California miscegenation law is in the news now in stories about the lifting of the gay marriage ban yesterday. I didn’t know it was passed in ’45, but the current stories note that it was overturned by the state Supreme Court in ’48, which was 20 years before Loving vs. Virginia.

  44. Trish May 16, 2008 @ 10:57 am

    “In the Civil Rights era, the only states that were defiantly fighting efforts to repeal Jim Crow laws were the old Confederate states.” So THE major Civil Rights decision, the granddaddy of them all, the one that started everything — Brown v. (Topeka) Board of Education — that was the old South? Kansas fought for the Union in the Civil War and it was a major destination during Reconstruction — 20,000 blacks moved to Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma during that time. Most KKK activity you hear about today is in Colorado and other Western states. Meanwhile, the 2000 Census showed African-Americans moving to the South from the Midwest and Northeast in record numbers. That census also showed 54 percent of all African-Americans in this country lived in the South.

    Madison, all I am asking is for you to examine your constructs. Looking at everything in the same stereotyped way doesn’t advance good arguments. It just keeps the old ones going — and going absolutely nowhere.

  45. Madison May 16, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

    By “defiantly fighting” I was referring to governors standing in school house doors, cops turning firehoses and German shepherds on peaceful demonstrators, rednecks lynching Civil Rights workers, grown adults spitting on high school students, churches being burned, waitresses refusing to serve people at lunch counters, etc. — all in an ugly, desperate attempt to hang onto the Jim Crow status quo in the South.

    While similar actions may have taken place elsewhere in the 1960s, and before and since, those specific actions were taken by white Southerners often with news cameras rolling. The Confederate flag has come to symbolize those actions and images.The fact that the rest of the country is racist — which I have stipulated — is/was irrelevant to my point. This is about the Confederate flag and what it symbolizes to certain of the descendants of the men who died for The Cause.

    Look back at what I said: “Finally, Southern whites are 100% responsible for Jim Crow laws that deliberately kept blacks uneducated, thereby creating four generations, at least, of millions of people who were raised without the wherewithal to compete for good jobs and access to the middle class. We’re all paying for that today, black and white, in this country.” I didn’t say only Southerners are responsible for oppressing black people. I said they are responsible for the oppression in the South. We’re all paying for it because federal tax dollars have gone to improving schools and economic development in the South specifically targeted at trying to right these ancient wrongs.

  46. NewHampshireCopperhead June 13, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

    Strange that the cause of the War being tariffs and states rights was taught to me by a liberal US History teacher in Newport NH. Mrs. Rose and I didn’t see eye to eye on politics, so I almost shit myself when she told the class that Lincoln decided to emancipate slaves simply to avoid war with England.

  47. Hannodb September 23, 2008 @ 4:01 am

    I’d like to give an Afrikaner’s (South African) view on this issue.

    Firstly, I agree that, as a historic symbol, the battleflag has no place on official state buildings. Only officially recognised flags should be flown. The correct place to fly the battleflag, would be at war memorials and museums.

    Secondly, I think African Americans – and Africans in general – should stop waisting time and resources on symbolic changes, and focus their energy on making real changes in their community. During the 1899-1902 Anglo Boer war, the Brittish rounded up the Boer population in concentration camps. 27000 Women and children died of disease and malnutrition. Even before the war, their relationship with the Boer republics was all but fair. However, I, and most Afrikaners, do not take offence to the Union Jack anymore. We also do not agonise over the fact that Brittain never fully compensated us for that destructive war: We cherriesh our past, but our focus is to the future. In South Africa, the local governments would rather spend millions on changing street and town names, instead of tackling water pollution, crime and poor service delivery.

    Thirdly, I do not think that mistaken ideas should be allowed for destroying people’s herritage. As I understand it, the American civil war was never about slavery. That only became an issue after the war started. The battle flag should be treated based on historic fact, not popular believes. In SA too, radical groups have harmed the image of the Vierkleur, but that image can be restored if moderate people decide to reclaim their heritage. We must not allow radical fringe organisations, like the KKK or the AWB to demonise our heritage. We must reclaim our historical symbols from them, so that they can be remembered for their original meaning.

  48. Joe Petracca October 25, 2008 @ 12:39 am

    Very nice…Lots of educated people (w/degrees) demonstrating their studied perception of Truth and Justice. Objectivity (seeming) clearly to have the upper hand over subjectivity, that is… the opinions with all embracing qualities claim Virtue as their own, all others in outer darkness,evil,ignorant rebels etc. A computer,though remarkable is objective… but sterile just like a marxist homogonized world in which the only virtue is equalized tolerance. The diversity so praised by the open minded heros of egalitarianism is being destroyed by their mad effort to destroy freedom of association. “Birds of a feather” is now considered evil by the self proclaimed (enlightened).Distinctness,individuality is what is at stake..(subjectivity). In as much as cooperation is a virtue so also is competition..Yin ang Yang. Equality is an interesting word… and virtuous if not used to legislate the death of inborn perceptions,organic identity’s. Equality as a god is the death of quality, this is a problem for those not satisfied with mediocrity or survival alone. What is often called human bigotry via different provincialisms by one worlders may in fact be organic anchors that make for healthier psyche’s. Who has the right to claim exclusive knowledge of what diversity model is correct? Is a (legislatively forced)geneticaly homogonized,transexualized world a more beautiful world? Is not the desire for a homogonized world a bais? Who has the Singular tuning fork for Ignorance or knowledge of TRUTH? The trampling of states rights is now evolving to the trampling of nation rights,…which eventuality implies globaly centralized POWER, (ABSOLUTE POWER) What is that saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely?…While stupidity IS ignorant, bais and idiosincrosy may not be,… these in fact may be the very things that make us most human and not computers, these may be our intuitive salvation.

  49. Doug Prater January 17, 2011 @ 9:31 am

    When we speak of the war between The North and The South, we are not speaking of different directions but rather of two different cultures. One of the few things they had in common was the same language, and even that was spoken with different dialects. By 1861, Southerners had developed a philosophy of independence and individual freedom and were relatively free from governmental restraint. At the same time, the populous North embraced the notion of a strong central government, which resulted in its citizens giving up a large measure of individuality. The strained attempts at holding together two cultures so diametrically opposed resulted in a disastrous war. President Jefferson Davis predicted that if The South lost the war, The North would rewrite history in its favor, and today, virtually every school system in The South teaches its students from American history books produced in the North by Northern authors. A nation that is ignorant of its past is a nation that is ripe for deception and manipulation. Therefore, it is not what happened, but rather what people believe happened which determines the present actions of a nation.

  50. Doug Prater January 17, 2011 @ 9:32 am

    Monday, Jan. 17, is a state holiday in Alabama in honor of Confederate States Gen. Robert E. Lee.
    The events propelling Gen. Lee into the limelight to attain worldwide fame for his unmatched record of brilliant military leadership all occurred within a two-week period in April 1861.
    On April 8, Abraham Lincoln attacked Charleston Harbor with 11 U.S. warships to collect a 40 percent federal sales tax from Southerners under the Morrill Tariff Act of 1861 at the federal tax collection fort, Fort Sumter.
    On April 13, Sumter surrendered to the Confederate States.
    On April 15 and 19, Lincoln declared, “Whereas, the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed,” and ordered 75,000 troops to invade the Confederate States and blockade their ports.
    On April 17, in response to Lincoln’s declaration of war, Virginia passed an ordinance to withdraw from the union called the United States.
    On April 18, Lincoln offered Lee command of the entire U.S. Army.
    On April 20, Lee refused Lincoln’s offer and resigned his commission in the U.S. Army, writing Gen. Scott, “Save in defense of my native State shall I ever again draw my sword.”
    On April 23, Lee accepted command of Virginia’s militia, soon to be Confederate Army.

    Roger K. Broxton, president
    Confederate Heritage Fund

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