Contrary to popular opinion, the flag pictured here is the Confederate flag. What? You didn’t know?
The flag everyone is pitching a fit about and trying to censor is really just a Confederate battle flag. Ironically, it isn’t even the only battle flag flown in the south; it is just one of several.
Most people who object to the Confederate flag view it as a symbol of oppression and slavery. Sadly, they haven’t really thought through what they’re upset about, nor have they stopped to really look at the history, or how the battle flags are being used even today to tell the story of the Civil War; to explain to every new generation how our country fought a terrible war that divided friends and neighbors, fathers and sons, and even brothers from brothers; pitting them against each other in the course of determining how our government would be run and how strong our national government would be.
Oh–you thought the Civil War was about ending slavery?
It’s true that there were slave states and free states before the Civil War, and the political tensions between slave and free states helped fuel the quarrel that led to the Civil War. It’s true that the Emancipation Proclamation happened during the war and the slaves were freed, but the causes of the Civil War went far deeper than slavery, into questions of national sovereignty and decision-making our country has wrestled with ever since the Declaration of Independence.
- Who is in charge: the states or the federal government?
- Which is more important: states’ rights or national sovereignty?
- How much power does the federal government need to do its job properly? How much power is too much?
- Is there a way to perfectly balance the federal government’s powers with the powers granted to the states to create and promote the best amount of life, liberty, and happiness for all?
- What would that balance look like?
- Who is included in that “life, liberty, and happiness for all?”
- Could states secede, having once joined the Union, if they didn’t like where the Union was taking the nation?
There was an on-going discussion and debate around these question that really heated up at the end of the Revolutionary War. While the Civil War answered some of these questions (no, a state can’t secede; yes, life, liberty, and happiness for all includes ALL Americans), this debate is still going on.
Is it a bad thing that people who care are discussing these issues surrounding states’ rights? I don’t think so, but then, I’m all for freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech allowed the discussion that led to the Civil War. It also allowed men and women who cared deeply to campaign for freeing slaves and treating people of all races and colors as human beings with equal rights to everyone else. This was a good thing!
Freedom from slavery was an important part of the discussion of states’ rights versus national sovereignty, but it has never been the entire focus of the discussion.
This is why southerners refer to the Civil War as The War Between The States or The War of Northern Aggression.
If we ban all Confederate flags, including battle flags from public use because they’re deemed ‘politically incorrect’, what effect might that have?
- No more Civil War historical novels with a Confederate flag or battle flag in the cover art
- No more Civil War movies with a Confederate flag or battle flag used during filming
- No more Civil War battle re-enactments using Confederate flags and battle flags in the re-enactments of battles
- No more Civil War buffs collecting Confederate flag or battle flag paraphernalia
- No more artwork incorporating a Confederate flag or battle flag, regardless of the theme
Remember Scarlett O’Hara, and Gone With The Wind? Gone With The Wind was one of the first movies where a black actress had a significant role. If you click on the link and view the trailer, one of the first clips you’ll see is a Confederate battle flag waving in the wind.
Are you offended by this? Why or why not?
If we ban all Confederate battle flags, if no one can sell reproductions through Amazon or any other company (because they’ve been shamed into removing them), how will anyone ever do a remake of this old classic?
Before Gone With The Wind was a movie, it was first a book. Should the book and the movie be banned because they portrayed the truth about people living in the South at the time of the Civil War? Why or why not?
Here’s a book about the Civil War that shows a Confederate battle flag on the cover. If Confederate battle flags are no longer acceptable free speech, then…should this author’s book be banned?
What is so offensive about this use of a Confederate battle flag?
Here is a book by an African American author about Harriet Tubman, who was a great hero of the Underground Railroad, and helped many former slaves to escape to freedom in the north.
This book ALSO happens to have a Confederate battle flag on it. Is this battle flag intended to offend readers of this book?
No. It is there purely for historical purposes. After all, Harriet Tubman lived through the Civil War. The Confederacy lost the war, and the slaves were freed. Harriet Tubman WON.
Here’s a group of Civil War re-enactors with an American flag. Look closely; there are Union and Confederate re-enactors standing together in this photo!
Civil War re-enactors act out the battles of the Civil War. They create and maintain authentic uniforms, weapons, and flags for their roles in acting out these battles. They research the person they’re supposed to be portraying in depth, so they can get into character and think like them and talk like them, just like other actors do. The purpose of re-enacting these battles is not to entertain so much as to make this history come alive, both for the re-enactors and for their audiences.
Because the Confederacy lost the Civil War, in most of the Civil War battles re-enacted, the Confederate soldiers lose the battle.
Confederate re-enactors who participate in these battles have to be pretty good sports to handle losing all the time!
Anyone who is angry about the Confederate battle flags needs to keep this in mind: that just about every time a Confederate battle flag flies in a re-enactment, it’s over a losing battle.
America supposedly stands for liberty and equality. America supposedly stands for freedom of speech. Flying a flag is a form of speech.
So what happened to all that wonderful tolerance that we supposedly have as a nation? Where did it go? If Confederate re-enactors can be good sports about it every time their flag suffers defeat, what about the rest of us, when some people in the South still want to commemorate a defeated flag?
If you’ve got a problem with any of the Confederate flags, then…why aren’t you joining up as a Union re-enactor, or attending the re-enactments to cheer the Union side on?
Surely you’d get more of a vicarious thrill out of watching the Confederate flag go down in defeat than in finding manipulative ways to ban an old flag from the side that lost the Civil War from the marketplace of ideas!
Here’s a picture of re-enactors with the American flag and one of the best-recognized Confederate battle flags. These flags are a part of the history of our country; a history that, while it has sad and difficult parts, is something that we should all study and remember.
Men gave their lives to settle a terrible quarrel over states’ rights: men who were brothers and cousins, and friends and neighbors not only fought side by side, but also against each other, because this issue of how our country is governed is such an important one.
The Confederate flag flying above some cannon.
When the war was over and General Robert E. Lee surrendered, men from both sides returned to their homes to try to put their lives back together. Later, they attended reunions where Union and Confederate soldiers sat down together to reconcile their differences, and to do what they could to ease the grief and divisions the Civil War caused in our nation.
The Civil War brought about big changes in the way Americans lived their lives. Slavery was outlawed, and freedom was guaranteed for all Americans. It didn’t all happen at once, but it DID happen.
People moved on. I suggest that we move on as a nation now too, and stop worrying about old flags from the past.