In the wake of the senseless shooting of innocent worshipers in the Charleston AME Church, the Confederate flag has once again come under fire. First and foremost, let us not lose sight of the victims and their love ones. We should offer them our prayers, sincere condolences and respect their time of mourning.
I believe the following quote from William C. Davis’ book “The Cause Lost” describes the views of many Americans concerning the Confederate Battle flag:
“But the battle flag is something different. It was not a governmental banner. It was the flag of the men in the ranks in the Confederate armies, the average Johnny Reb’s, 90 percent of whom never owned a slave, had no stake in a slave economy, and were not at all fighting to preserve slavery. They were fighting for purely American values that millions of other men and women, north and south, white and black, have fought for for generations – defense of home and hearth and what they perceived as their country. The battle flag is not a symbol of racism but of motives that represent the best that all of us have to give – courage, patriotism, self-sacrifice. As such, it is viewed with justifiable pride not just by Southerners but also by Americans of all sections. Those who cheapen it by putting it on underwear and license plates and flying it at white supremacist rallies do the flag and those who followed it a disservice. Likely many of our Confederate ancestors would be ashamed of them, but such antics cannot diminish the fact that the battle flag stands for much of what is best in all of us”
I can understand that African Americans may have a very different view of the flag but if we are to be a diverse and pluralistic society we must be mature enough to tolerate if not embrace the views of all segments of our society. We seem to be open to a vast and unlimited array of views on religion, sexual orientation, ethnic heritages and political ideals to name but a few. Virtually anything and everything is ok except the Confederate flag.
The civil rights movement of the 1960’s strove to end prejudice and discrimination. People calling for the removal of the Confederate flag have one view of the flag, based on their preconceived ideas and are striving to discriminate against that flag by imposing their view on all of us and depriving those who honor the flag the right to display it. African Americans need to remain true to the ideals that have benefited all of us over the past 50 years, even when it may seem uncomfortable.
The rioters that burned and looted Ferguson and Baltimore do not represent the people of those communities. The rioters were a small group of criminals and gangs who took advantage of a sad situation. In the same way, hate groups who abuse the Confederate flag in no way represent the Confederate States of America or her honorable soldiers and sailors.
Removing the Confederate flag from war memorials and museums or inhibiting it’s respectful display will do nothing to stop hate crimes. Hate groups do not frequent museums, do not seek the truth, care nothing for history and have no regard for the views of others.
If we discriminate against the Confederate flag – what will be next? If we are to move forward as a diverse and pluralistic society, the Confederate flag deserves a place in the parade.
Submitted by the Pasco, Washington, Washington Artillery, Camp 2178