David French gives a response to the caterwauling over the Confederate flag, which is on the front burner thanks to the shitbag who opened fire in a black South Carolina church.
From The National Review.
Like many Southern boys, I grew up with two flags hanging in my room — an American flag and a Confederate battle flag. The American flag was enormous, taking up much of one wall. It was the “1776” flag, with 13 stars in a circle in the field of blue. My grandmother bought it for me on the bicentennial, and for years it was a treasured possession. The flag took on a special meaning later in life, when I learned more of a family history that included service with General Washington, suffering at Valley Forge.
The Confederate battle flag was much smaller, and it hung over my bookshelf. We bought it at the Shiloh battlefield in Tennessee, where one of my Confederate ancestors fought and where Albert Sidney Johnston died — the general that many considered the great hope of the Confederate Army in the West. My Confederate forefathers went on to fight at Vicksburg, at the battles of Franklin and Nashville, and in countless skirmishes across Tennessee and Mississippi. I grew up looking at old family pictures, including men who still wore their Confederate uniform for formal portraits — long after the war had ended.
Like many Southern families’, my family’s military story didn’t end with the Civil War — it continued on to World War I, the European theater in World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then to my own recent deployment during the Surge in Iraq. The martial history of our family is inseparable from the family story, and it includes men in gray. So I’ve followed this most recent round of debate over the Confederate battle flag with perhaps greater than normal interest.
In the immediate aftermath of mass shootings, there is always a demand to “do something.” Always, that demand involves gun control — typically, gun-control measures that wouldn’t have actually stopped the shooting in question. But often there’s something more. In the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Left demanded “civility” — despite zero evidence that the barking-mad perpetrator was motivated by any form of political discourse. Now the demand is to remove the Confederate battle flag from a Confederate memorial in South Carolina (and presumably elsewhere).
……There’s a disturbing habit on the Left of trying to find the position that renders one especially virtuous in their identity politics culture — regardless of its real-world impact — and then sneering from that high ground at all who dissent.
……It’s simply undeniable that the Confederate battle flag is a painful symbol to our African-American fellow citizens, especially given its recent history as a chosen totem of segregationists. So it’s critical to respond to the argument in good faith. And just as the history of the Civil War is personal to me, so is America’s present racial reality. As I’ve mentioned before, my youngest daughter is quite literally African-American (born in Ethiopia and now as American as apple pie), and when she’s a little bit older, we’ll no doubt have many tough conversations about history and race.
If the goal of our shared civic experience was the avoidance of pain, then we’d take down that flag. But that’s of course not the goal. Rather, we use history to understand our nation in all its complexity — acknowledging uncomfortable realities and learning difficult truths. For white southerners — especially those with deep roots in the South — those difficult truths are presented front and center throughout our lives. Yes, the South seceded in large part to preserve slavery. Yes, had the South prevailed, slavery not only would have been preserved for the indefinite future, it may have even spread to new nations and territories. And no, while some southerners were kinder than others, there was nothing “humane” about the fundamental institution of slavery itself.
But there are other difficult truths. Among them, when the war began, it was not explicitly a war to end slavery. Indeed, had the Union quickly accomplished its war aims, slavery would have endured, at least for a time. When hundreds of thousands of southern men took up arms (most of them non-slave-owning), many of them fought with the explicit belief that they were standing in the shoes of the Founding Fathers, men who’d exercised their own right of self-determination to separate from the mother Country. Others simply saw an invading army marching into their state — into their towns and across their farms — and chose to resist.
And no one can doubt their valor. Both sides displayed breathtaking courage, but the South poured itself into the fight to an extent the modern American mind simply can’t comprehend. If you extrapolated Southern losses into our current American population, the war would cost the lives of a staggering 9 million men, with at least an equivalent number injured. To understand the impact of that human loss, I’d urge you to read Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust’s Republic of Suffering — a book that explores the psychological impact of omnipresent, mass-scale death on southern culture.
……Then, the defeated survivors came home to the consequences of total war. Large sections of the South were simply devastated — crops burned, homes burned, and livestock slaughtered or scattered. Entire cities lay in ruin.
……The South had to rebuild — under military occupation — and it had to rebuild more than just its physical infrastructure. It had to reimagine itself. It ultimately did so for good and ill. The worst of that new South was obvious: the gradually tightening grip of a new and different era of racial oppression, one that culminated in Jim Crow, lynching, and systematic segregation. This is the side of history that is now taught clearly and unflinchingly — and should be taught. But that wasn’t the whole story, not by any means. The region also rebuilt by honoring its war dead and extolling a culture of military valor. Through this reverence for valor, the defeated South, ironically enough, soon supplied the newly reunified nation with many of its greatest warriors — men who were indispensable in preserving our democracy against the existential threats of fascism and communism. To this day, the South supplies more than its fair share of Soldiers, men and women who lay down their lives to protect us from the deadly threat of jihad.
……Flying it as a symbol of white racial supremacy is undeniably vile, and any official use of the flag for that purpose should end, immediately. Flying it over monuments to Confederate war dead is simply history. States should no more remove a Confederate battle flag from a Confederate memorial than they should chisel away the words on the granite or bulldoze the memorials themselves.
I no longer have a battle flag at my house. The American flag flies proudly from (by far) the tallest flagpole in the neighborhood — a gift from my father-in-law, raised when I was deployed. But we have a room in our home that honors my family’s history of service. On one side of a framed picture from my own time in Iraq is a painting from the Revolutionary War, on the other side is a picture tracing the history of the Confederate Army in the Civil War. It’s all a part of the complicated, messy picture of who I am — of who we are. Removing the Confederate flag from Confederate memorials doesn’t change that history, it merely helps shroud it in ignorance. The flag should stay.
You can’t erase or rewrite history by removing a flag. It may make you feel better but it doesn’t change the facts. Removing a flag will not improve race relations or stop the divisive racial politics practiced by B. Hussein Obama, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson.
And it’s not going to stop some deranged nutjob.
There are genuine symbols of hatred all over the world. I can think of a few flags waved by despots, radical moonbats, brutal regimes and violent theocracies which deserve eradication:
The Left’s cause du jour is usually focused on whatever they can exploit for political gain. Of course, they’re very selective.
As for my background, I’m Irish, Scots, German, and Cherokee. People on both my mother’s and father’s side of the family were born in the South. My mother carried the pride of being southern born all of her life, even after she moved north to Cleveland, Ohio. I’m also learning about my ancestors who fought in the Civil War. So far, I’ve discovered some who fought in the Union Army, but there’s no doubt that I’ll find others who fought for the Confederacy.
The Confederate flag is always a scapegoat for representation of slavery and racism. I view it as part of the heritage of the southern half of the country that fought in the most tragic chapter of American history and struggled to rebuild under the most horrendous conditions imaginable. And I say that as a Northerner.
The same screeching DemLeftProgs who demand the removal of all vestiges of a battle flag adopted by the losing side in the Civil War, conveniently forget that Jim Crow and slavery were products of southern DEMOCRATS. They initiated Jim Crow laws to punish blacks.
The KKK, often used by DemProgs as a label for Republicans, was founded as the the terrorist wing of the Democrat Party. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Democrat. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. The Republican party was the party of abolition. That always gets lost in the race hustle.
Remember Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV)? He was a Grand Kleagle in the KKK.
Before anyone politicizes and demands the removal of the Confederate flag they deem ‘racist’, from southern courthouses and capitols, they’d better know who to blame.