The Continuing Debate…
CNN held a CNN/YouTube debate last night in which Republican candidates answered questions from the YouTube generation via email and videos posted to YouTube. Among one of the questions was asked by Leroy Brooks of Houston, TX. His question had to do with the Confederate Flag flying on state grounds in South Carolina: “[does] this flag right here represents the symbol of racism, a symbol of political ideology, a symbol of Southern heritage — or, is it something completely different?”
Fred Thompson, who has played up his Southern heritage while campaigning in S. Carolina, replied “I know that everybody who hangs the flag up in their room like that is not racist. I also know that for a great many Americans it’s a symbol of racism. As far as a public place is concerned, I am glad that people have made the decision not to display it as a prominent flag, symbolic of something, at a state capitol.” The only problem with this statement, however, is the fact that the Confederate Battle Flag is displayed at the state capitol. I should note here that it’s not the rectangular flag most often flown here in the south, but the traditional square design. The flag now flies next to a memorial honoring fallen Confederate soldiers; however, this memorial rests on state grounds. Thus, the Battle Flag is still flown on state grounds in South Carolina. Thompson went on to say that the flag, flown in the context of a memorial, is acceptable: “As a part of a group of flags or something of that nature, you know, honoring various service people at different times in different parts of the country, I think that’s different.” Sen. Thompson concluded his statement about the issue by stating “…we don’t need to go out of our way to [bring] up things that, to certain people in our country, [are] bad for them”.
GOP front-runner Mitt Romney criticism of the flag was more blunt: “… that flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn’t be shown. Right now, with the kinds of issues we got in this country, I’m not going to get involved with a flag like that. That’s not a flag that I recognize so that I would hold up in my room. The people of our country have decided not to fly that flag. I think that’s the right thing.”
While Romney’s statement was more direct and to the point than Thompson’s, I do take exception with some of it. As an African American, I wholly disagree with everything that flag represents and what it stands for. Call it racism or heritage, I view it as a representation of a dark time in our country and I do not understand the burning need to honor a lost war over an immoral cause. However, as an American, I fully support any person’s right to free speech, even if I don’t agree with what they’re saying. Do I think the flag needs to be banned all-together? No, I don’t. I do, however, believe that a state with South Carolina’s history of mistreating non-whites should seriously reconsider housing a Confederate Soldier’s memorial on state grounds and flying the Confederate Battle Flag on state grounds. I believe both to be bad decisions and represent bad taste by the legislators of South Carolina. My point is this: If you really study your civil war history like I have, you’ll notice that the argument of “states rights” was introduced after the end of the civil war in an attempt for southerners to save face with their northern neighbors. If you read the secession rights of all the states that seceded from the union, they all state, in some form or fashion, that their right to own, and profit from, the enslavement of the African peoples was in jeopardy from being overruled by federal law. It is therefore an undeniable logical fact that since the confederate battle flag so favored by die-hard southern “heritage” proponents is a flag born out of the struggle to ensure the right to own slaves in the southern states.
Below are some examples of the rights of secession issued by several southern states, including South Carolina:
Mississippi Declaration: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world.”
Texas Declaration: “She (Texas) was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as Negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits – a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.”
Georgia Declaration(second sentence): “For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.”
South Carolina: “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.”
My final points are these:
1.) When the confederate flags were designed, the Confederate States of America was, in practice and law, a foreign country. This means that the confederate flags designed by members of that country are foreign flags.
2.) Logically, if the proponents of Confederate Flag-flying are correct, then the New England states should be allowed to fly the British Flag (aka “Union Jack”), Texas should be allowed to fly the Mexican flag, and many other southern states should also be allowed to fly the French and Spanish flags. After all, these countries owned territories in the new world at one point in time, didn’t they? Is that not a part of “Southern Heritage” as well?
3.) Finally, my last, and probably most important point is this: THE SOUTH LOST. Are not supposed to be “One Nation, under God?” Well riddle me this: If we are truly “One Nation” how many flags can “One Nation” have?