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#1 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 09:27 PM

So I've been seeing a lot of posturing on Facebook in regards to the Confederate flag. 

 

Some folks seem to want to ban state-sponsored use of it, which is not only sensible, it's well past due. Some folks seem to want to ban its manufacture and sale, which seems a little extreme. Some folks seem to want to wave it in our faces and say 'I dare you to take it from me,' which is just silly.

 

I grew up around the battle flag. Many of my friends had one. Some folks flew one on their car, or in their yard, or wore it on their hats and shirts and belt buckles. I had one in my room as a kid, because I thought it was cool-looking. I liked the idea of rebellion against authority. But that didn't mean I liked the Confederacy. It was obvious to me who was correct in that particular conflict. I just liked the way the flag looked, and the gray uniforms and kepi hats.

 

I got in trouble when I was in the fifth grade because of a Civil War writing assignment. I wrote about the death of Stonewall Jackson. Thing was, I wrote my story from the perspective of the Union soldier that shot him from his horse outside Chancellorsville. It was a decently told story for a fifth grader, I spent time on it and went through a couple drafts. But I received an F and a note home to my parents that I should 'consider my audience.' My assignment was failed not because it was bad or because it failed to complete the requirements, but because I wrote it from a Union perspective, and it was an account of the death of a popular Rebel icon, and my teacher considered that to be inappropriate and disrespectful.

 

My eighth grade Georgia History teacher had a huge battle flag covering one wall of his room. He taught the Civil War from a perspective that could best be described as 'D.W. Griffiths with a laser pointer.' He once sat down abruptly on the desk of a friend with an Italian last name and said in a low voice "we don't take kindly to furriners down here." He gave us extra credit for going with him before school to place flags on the graves of Confederate veterans on Decoration Day.

 

So I understand how deeply the Confederate mythology is embedded in the culture down here.

 

Thing is, though, the myth is just that: a freaking myth. The Lost Cause. The War of Northern Aggression. The struggle for states' rights and to preserve the Southern Way of Life. None of those things are real.

 

All those words, all that mental and emotional manipulation, all of it is deception, pernicious evasions designed to get around the festering horror at the center of the Southern identity. And it's a pervasive deception - intelligent people fall for it, and perpetuate it, people who love the land they grew up in and really believe that their ancestors fought to protect honest work and genteel living and freedom from the impositions of meddlesome tyrants and their soulless industrial empire.

 

Always the defenders of the Lost Cause pretend to be historians: 'do your research,' they say; 'to say it's about slavery is just ignorance.'

 

So I did the research. Primary sources! Here are the Declarations of Causes of many of the seceding states, as drafted and officially adopted by their various legislatures.

 

Some relevant excerpts:

 

Georgia: "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. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic."

 

Mississippi: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove."

 

South Carolina: "We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection."

 

Texas: "In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States." 

 

It goes on. The Texas one is particularly ripe with racist rhetoric.

 

Anyway. The reasons stated by the states themselves for their secession, and what they were fighting for in the resulting conflict, are unequivocal. Slavery was the cause, slavery was the desired outcome, slavery was the issue at hand. In most of the documents, desire to continue the practice of slavery and upset over the failure of other states to enforce fugitive slave laws are literally the only reasons presented for the South's pursuit of independence.

 

The Lost Cause is a myth born of shame, an illusion fabricated in the hot flush of defeat and bruised honor, and created to obfuscate a deep-seated ugliness that still flutters in the hearts of those longing for Antebellum days.

 

"We fought against the disproportionate expenditure of taxes in the North, and against the undermining of our economy." Bullshit. The North's population was booming compared to the South, and as such had greater infrastructure needs, and the Southern economy was based on slavery, and not only was not being undermined, it was booming: the South created 75% of the United States' total export goods in the 1850s.

 

"We fought because the North attacked us. Secession is legal, they had no grounds." This is true, but irrelevant. The Confederacy was established to preserve slavery. The Union pursued military action to prevent the secession of its parts, which is not prescribed in the Constitution and is of questionable necessity. However, the legality and necessity of the war is a moot point. Regardless of whether there was a war or not, the prime motive of the South's secession was to preserve slavery, to preserve its institutional racism. 

 

The Confederate battle flag, as used by most everyone I've ever seen use it, is not a proud symbol of heritage and Southern character. Especially in the years since the Civil War. It's become a political statement, a way of presenting an opinion without having to cop to it, a symbol of resistance to equality and justice, a symbol of long-held resentment.

 

It's a flimsy disguise for nasty opinions, a facade of 'historical interest' pasted onto a nostalgia for a way of life that never really existed, an aristocratic racist utopia founded on the subjugation of other human beings. It's a declaration of allegiance to a cause that failed 150 years ago, a nation which failed its test of will and ceased to be, a nation that was an enemy of the one in which we now live. It is a symbol of not just racism but a poisonous resentment against one's own neighbors and fellow citizens.

 

I would like to see it torn down from every post from which it hangs.

 

But I think wresting it from the hands of private citizens is not a good thing, it would only solidify and entrench the unacceptable ideals it represents. People should be free to fly whatever symbol of whatever thing they would like to represent themselves. 

 

But by all means, get it out of the statehouses and government buildings. It's time to let the Civil War go, let it be actual history instead of a warped cover forced over discussions of modern events and ideas.



#2 SteveT

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 10:56 PM

I got in trouble when I was in the fifth grade because of a Civil War writing assignment. I wrote about the death of Stonewall Jackson. Thing was, I wrote my story from the perspective of the Union soldier that shot him from his horse outside Chancellorsville. It was a decently told story for a fifth grader, I spent time on it and went through a couple drafts. But I received an F and a note home to my parents that I should 'consider my audience.' My assignment was failed not because it was bad or because it failed to complete the requirements, but because I wrote it from a Union perspective, and it was an account of the death of a popular Rebel icon, and my teacher considered that to be inappropriate and disrespectful.

 

Not to derail the conversation because this is an important topic, but wasn't Jackson killed by friendly fire?

 

And as a suburban guy from upstate NY, screw the Confederate Flag.  It should be no where near government buildings.


Edited by SteveT, 23 June 2015 - 10:59 PM.


#3 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 11:15 PM

You're absolutely right, he was, which I didn't learn until years later.  But inaccuracy was not my teacher's complaint. Or my parents', for that matter.  I remember the lecture I got from my Dad (he's a big fan of Jackson) about why it was a disrespectful thing to write.



#4 Selena

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 11:59 PM

I rambled on facebook already, so the short and sweet version of my position:

 

 

1. It should never be used as a government/state flag. Not only is the Confederacy an extinct nation, but the flag is irreparably steeped in a history of racism and oppression.

 

2. You should be free to purchase one for personal use, but prepare to be judged and shamed accordingly by a jury of your peers. It's legal to purchase the Nazi flag, so pretty much anything else goes.



#5 JRPomazon

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:17 AM

I'm more or less in the same camp, although I believe that the preservation of the Confederate flag should not be up to folks who don't live in Southern Carolina, let alone the south. It has to be a decision the people of the states who still fly that flag have to make or else it's just someone else forcing a decision on them. And that will basically reinforce the rhetoric of why people still think the Confederate Jack stands for, states rights and freedoms and etc.


Edited by JRPomazon, 24 June 2015 - 10:19 AM.


#6 Jasi

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 12:56 PM

That's kind of a moot point, because there's no sense in which another state or coalition of states or whatever can compel SC to do something. But it's perfectly fine for people living in other states to put pressure on SC to do that. The whole reason people grow up thinking that it's okay is because of people being reluctant to speak up against it.


Edited by Jasi, 24 June 2015 - 12:57 PM.


#7 wisp

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 09:47 PM

I mostly have no idea what we learned about the Civil War in school because I was terrible about memorizing stuff for the test and then forgetting it immediately. But I always heard from friends and family, at least, that it wasn't really about slavery, or at least that slavery was only a tiny part of the bigger picture. I believed it for a while too. But it's pretty obvious, now that I know how to at least think a little bit critically, that the South's entire economic structure rested on the shoulders of slaves, so even if it was about "economic reasons," it still boils down to slavery. It's especially obvious now, seeing the text of those documents that were never presented in class.

 

I'm pretty disappointed in the curriculum of my AP US history class, come to think of it, because we had these textbooks that were full of primary sources - letters written by former slaves and plantation owners - that were supposed to give us the whole story by filling in the blanks of what our previous history classes hadn't covered. But what I remember about them is that most of them made it seem like slavery wasn't so bad, because they were things like letters from former slaves who'd been freed after the war, written to their former owners, saying they were now having trouble finding jobs because nobody wanted to hire them because even though they were free, white people were still racist, and they longed for the good ol' days when they were on the plantation. I mean, maybe some families viewed their slaves as human beings, and I think it's worth learning about those people too, but never do I remember seeing anything like those declarations there... which state pretty unequivocally that the South wanted to secede because they wanted to continue owning other people.

 

We got very mixed messages. Overall, if I had to sum it up, it would be, "Slavery was really, really bad. Mostly that's because those boats going across the ocean were awful. But the white people really aren't that much in the wrong for doing it, because other black people in Africa also had slaves, and because here are some letters from slaves who had Stockholm Syndrome."

 

Personally, I love the visual design of the rebel flag, but I hate what it stands for. Therefore, I don't go around flying it and promoting it, because that would be in poor taste. That would make it appear as though I'm standing in solidarity with racist fucks who think black people are beneath white people. But I am really troubled by the fact that most of what I see from friends and family on Facebook and what I'm seeing across the internet at large basically amounts to a huge argument about the design of a flag and fails to address the actual problem of casual and institutionalized racism. I'm not completely exempt from it either; I was raised by racists, in a racist state, in a racist society, and I have to go back and check some of my thoughts sometimes and think about why I'm having them. But that's the point; I'm thinking about it. More people need to think about it.

 

Yes, absolutely states should choose to stop incorporating it into their official government dealings and their state flags. Absolutely, if businesses want to choose to stop selling them because of pressure from customers to take them off the shelves, that is exactly what should happen. But the talk of banning the manufacture and sale of them is not only taking it too far but is actually pointless, because racists will just find a new symbol to use. 

 

And that is the problem... I'm not hearing enough discussion about the fact that racism is still a problem. Everyone still wants to believe they're "colorblind" and "don't see anyone's skin tone" or whatever stupid bullshit people want to say to make themselves sound better. Nobody wants to talk about race because they're afraid that bringing it up will be inflammatory, or maybe they don't even know how to bring it up at all. I don't pretend to know how to appropriately address it, but it's clear to me that this flag business basically boils down to a huge distraction from the real issues... which currently are: the fact that we still suffer from institutionalized racism which results not only in general unpleasantness for black people but also gets them killed, and also Congress fast-tracking terrible legislation while we're all looking the other way (I know, that's off topic but still true XD).



#8 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:25 PM

I think that there are the seeds of a pretty good discussion on racism going on here. The flag thing will pass once the various sides have expended their energy, but I think the discussion will be ongoing. It's been ongoing for a bit, from the discussion on police violence to the discussion about looting; it underlies the discussions about gun control and domestic economic policy. The flag is the latest wedge in the door, and each one pushes the door open a little wider.

 

The tip-off for me is that the folks I see on facebook and elsewhere shouting that racism isn't a thing are getting louder and more desperate. And their hypocrisy is getting more undeniable.

 

Just today I saw from a guitar player I know a post defending the flag, defending himself as not racist, in fact anti-racist, it's the politically correct sheep that are racist against him, followed within an hour by another post about a demonstration in which he actually unironically used the description "ghetto thugs."

 

And he's just one of today's examples. I'm seeing this type of thing all over the place. It's terrible and makes me sad to see, but at the same time, the obviousness is beginning to pile up, and I can't help but think that perhaps some of these people are eventually going to look over their words and have a revelation.

 

The thing is to keep the conversation going, through the flag thing, through the gun control thing, through whatever thing is next. Cultural shifts happen by accumulation, by the subject being on the tongues of the people. I hear something about racism almost every day, it's a topic that people are discussing, and the longer it stays that way the more information will be dispersed and the more progress will be made.

 

This sounds like a very optimistic view, but it's really not. Keeping the topic in people's faces for years to come, suffering the increasingly frustrated venting of the opponents, knowing that nothing will change quickly, that really sucks. But I don't see any other way.

 

I think the flag discussion is accomplishing some things. There are a lot of people learning real stuff, being exposed to primary sources that have not always been readily available before the internet, people realizing that their history textbooks and teachers were not necessarily teaching them the truth.

 

Anyway, I'm rambling.



#9 wisp

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:41 PM

You do sound optimistic. XD

 

Yeah, people are learning stuff, and that's good. But most of the people I see really learning stuff are people who were on the right side of this in the first place. Maybe I just don't have enough faith in people, but the hypocritical screaming that you see as a sign of impending progress just seems to me like the opposite. I feel like a lot of the people who are calling for the removal of the flag just want to take it down, put it out of the public eye, sweep all this under the rug and then go back to pretending we're not racist here.



#10 Jasi

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 07:25 AM

I got into a Facebook debate because I mistook someone commenting with innocent-seeming but poorly-thought-out questions to be a friend from college, when it was really someone else with the same name (replying to a status of a mutual friend of ours, so there was good reason to be confused, haha). Otherwise I SWEAR I would have resisted. Anyway, they trotted out this lovely tautology—"Do you really think everyone flying that flag is announcing their racism to the world? If the flag is really a symbol of blatant racism, why would people fly it? Racism isn't tolerated anymore in our society." 

 

Do you really NOT think there aren't people flying it for that exact reason?! Why would people do this? Because they can, because it's not illegal, because no one will hurt them for it, no one will take them to jail, because it's free speech and this is America, and because they are proud of their views. And lolololol to "racism isn't tolerated anymore." 

 

Sorry, I'm really just venting, and not contributing...

 

Well, I guess my contribution is that sadly these people who say such naive things are still out there in abundance. 



#11 Egann

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:10 AM

I find it very, VERY frustrating how little people understand the history.

 

The "battle flag" was rejected as a Confederate flag in 1861 and therefore was never a Confederate flag. The only place it was consistently flown was Lee's Army of Northern Virginia because it was the army's flag. The Confederate flag itself was predominately white. Also, like many revolutions, it changed a lot and wasn't very consistent. The Confederate Naval flag, for example, looks a lot like the first American flag.

 

Army flag =/= Confederate flag.

 

There's also a quote going around. Something like the maker of the Confederate flag said it symbolized white supremacy. This would all be well and good if we were talking about the same flag; we're not.

 

The Battle Flag was a specific and obvious take on the British Union Jack. For most of the Civil War the Confederacy was trying to get the British involved on their side because the 1860's was close to the height of the British colonial empire, and so they built their flag off the Union Jack as part of a way to say "See? Friends!" This internally complicated the Confederacy because Britain had outlawed the slave trade in the 1830's. It's likely the "white supremacy" statement was half about keeping plantation owners happy.

 

Of course, it was probably also at least half-genuine. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates (which again was largely for the Republican North which wanted abolition) Lincoln explicitly stated that he didn't want to give blacks social equality. Practically everyone was racist 150 years ago.

 

But all this is irrelevant because the Confederate flag and the Battle Flag are not and never were the same thing.

 

 

*hyperventilates into a paper bag* OK, on topic.

 

 

This issue crosses several of my lines, primarily because it's a deliberate attempt to erase history because someone finds it offensive. Where do people get away with thinking they have a right to not be offended?

 

My family is conservative Christian, and I distinctly remember the first time I watched the original Planet of the Apes. "Apes were made in the image of God," it said. Everyone knew this was a finger in the eye. The writer had a clear axe to grind against Judeo-Christian beliefs and consequently made the phrasing as clear, disruptive, and personally upsetting as possible. And no one did anything because, while I may not like what you say, you have every right to say it.

 

If I'm held to that standard, why shouldn't everyone else be? Locke's rights are to life, liberty, and property.You don't have the right to throw everything which you find intellectually upsetting into a cultural apartheid. So you think the battle flag is a symbol of racism? You can argue fairly that it shouldn't be a symbol for any government representing you because that symbol doesn't represent you personally, and I would agree. But other than that? Deal with it. You have the right to legal compensation for specific acts of racism. Not to remove a symbol from someone else's property because of your personal interpretation of it. It doesn't necessarily mean that to them.



#12 Jasi

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:26 AM

In America, you can pretty much own any flag you like, including Nazi flags. Almost no one is considering banning the flag altogether. Only extremists are arguing to "remove a symbol from someone else's property". Most people are only asking that South Carolina and other states remove the flag from their capitol building and other government buildings.

 

Its defenders should accept the fact that it's used as a banner of white supremacists, though, and accept the consequences of being associated with it if they choose to fly that flag. People are going to judge you as being at least a little bit of a white supremacist. But again, pretty much no one is saying that it should be banned because of that. It just may make other people, like non-whites, feel unwelcome. It's your right to make non-whites feel unwelcome in your own home/car, or to broadcast that message on your tshirt or whatever, if that's how you want to depict yourself. But the government needs to play by different rules. It should not fly flags that have well-established connections to white supremacy.

 

Comparing that to a movie that you watched made by someone who was a different religion than you is ridiculous because the two are in separate universes of offense. On the one hand, a symbol of the 150 years of oppression, enslavement, lynching, segregation, and other acts committed under that flag. On the other hand, a movie that made you feel bad. Get real.


Edited by Jasi, 25 June 2015 - 10:29 AM.


#13 Selena

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:47 AM

You're splitting hairs and getting angry about minor points, Egann.

 

 

1. A lot of people ARE aware that it's not the national flag of the Confederacy. I know this. And I still refer to it as the "Confederate flag," as most people do. Because it was elevated to become the iconic symbol of the Confederacy, both during and after the war. It may have been rejected as the national flag on its own, but they still liked it enough to include it in 2 out of 3 versions of the national flag. So I'd say "2 outta 3" is a pretty strong case against your complaints. It was absolutely a part of the national flags.

 

It does not stop being a "Confederate flag" just because it's a military flag. It's still a Confederate flag, representing a Confederate army which was fighting for Confederate ideals against the United States. Some might say that its status as a military flag is even worse. Regardless of its original use, it was elevated to become the iconic representation of the Confederacy. Public error? Perhaps. But an ultimately irrelevant minor issue.

 

 

 

 

2.People aren't trying to enact a 100% ban the flag because they "don't like it." That's, frankly, a huge load of bull. You can purchase it. You can slap it on the back of your pickup. You can make clothes out of it. And you can always see it in a museum, where it rightfully belongs anyway. 

 

People are arguing to have it removed from state and government buildings. Which, to sensible eyes, should have happened a long damn time ago. Because it has no place flying over a US building so long after the war -- battle flag or not. I don't see many people campaigning to prevent other people from owning it. Other people will judge you for owning one, but that's different.

 

The fact that retailers no longer want to sell it is a separate issue, and it's a decision businesses largely reached on their own. Most protests are being directed at state leaders, not Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

And I have no idea what your Planet of the Apes thing is going on about. There's a difference between criticizing something in fiction and actively flying the flag of  different (pro-slavery) nation over our government buildings.



#14 SteveT

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 11:41 AM

1. A lot of people ARE aware that it's not the national flag of the Confederacy. I know this. And I still refer to it as the "Confederate flag," as most people do. Because it was elevated to become the iconic symbol of the Confederacy, both during and after the war. It may have been rejected as the national flag on its own, but they still liked it enough to include it in 2 out of 3 versions of the national flag. So I'd say "2 outta 3" is a pretty strong case against your complaints. It was absolutely a part of the national flags.

 

Not only that, but I don't see how the distinction matters to the debate.

 

Flag of the Confederate States of America: Flag of a government that seceded over states rights (to make black people their slaves).

 

vs.

 

Battle Flag: Flag of an army that was willing to kill people over states rights (to make black people their slaves)

 

When you put it like that, the flag is even more racist than it gets credit for.

 

Now, what Selena just said is a very meaningful and important distinction.  Removing a flag from government grounds is completely different from making such a flag illegal to sell or display on private property.

 

My family is conservative Christian, and I distinctly remember the first time I watched the original Planet of the Apes. "Apes were made in the image of God," it said. Everyone knew this was a finger in the eye. The writer had a clear axe to grind against Judeo-Christian beliefs and consequently made the phrasing as clear, disruptive, and personally upsetting as possible. And no one did anything because, while I may not like what you say, you have every right to say it.

 

Why do you assume that the writer was deliberately taunting Christians as a personal insult?  Why not treat a story as a story, and assume that the line was written that way to show how the Apes co-opted human culture and rewrote it in their image?  Of course it was meant to offend; the writer wanted to show the depths of ape supremacy.  They stole our language, our land, our knowledge, our culture, and even our God.  Damn those damn dirty apes!

 

What I'm trying to say is that you should get angry at characters when they say things like that, not the writers.  Not every character in a book is espousing the author's ideals.  This is a total non-sequitur in a free expression debate.  No one's arguing that artists shouldn't be allowed to portray points of view that go against mainstream culture.



#15 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 01:09 PM

I'm pretty sure most folks at this point are aware of the distinction about the flag's provenance.

 

Here's the thing though: the Civil War is irrelevant to the flag debate. It doesn't matter what purpose the flag served in the war, or whatever the mythology surrounding the war has become. None of that matters even a tiny little bit.

 

What the thing represented 150 years ago (which is military failure and treason) is interesting to get into, but it doesn't matter. It's what it's come to represent since then that matters, and that's even worse.

 

Just take the last hundred years. That flag did not come back into fashion as a symbol of pride and bravery, of men fighting for their homes against invaders. It came back as a symbol of racist defiance - of resistance to change, desire to cling to the broken ideals of the past. It flew over statehouses that resisted desegregation, it flew among burning crosses, it flew as an act of intimidation and as a false representation of the facts of our past.

 

The flag came back into prominence as a sigil of resistance to the civil rights movement, a sign used politically to express discontent about a changing world. It became a racist shibboleth, a symbol that people around the world use to quietly express opinions they don't necessarily want to say out loud.

 

Why anyone would want to represent themselves in such a way, I don't know. But I don't advocate taking it away from people who want it. The flags of defeated armies don't belong flying over the edifices of the State, but private citizens should be free to passively display the ugliness of their beliefs as they see fit.

 

And this is not about erasing or belittling the study of history. In fact, studying history without bias is what makes this all come clear.

 

History is not to be honored or revered, or looked upon with longing. It is to be honestly examined and learned from. It is a guide for avoiding the mistakes and prejudices of our forebears, not for repeating and entrenching them.

 

I like the battle flag, I think that graphically it is a very good design, an awesome-looking flag. But it will nevermore have a place in my home, because it has had a life of its own, and come to mean things that I would never wish to be associated with.

 

I would not use it in a racist manner, I would not intend racism by it, and I would credit a lot of its proponents that they would not either. But intent is not magic. It has a story of its own to tell, no matter what I might intend with it.

 

We are judged by our actions, not our intent. Employing a racist emblem is a racist act, even if you are ignoring that meaning, even if you clearly have other intentions. Doesn't matter - ignoring the other meanings of a symbol doesn't mean that they aren't there. Their existence is beyond our control.

 

And so it's time to let this symbol go. No matter how cool it looks, it has taken on a life beyond and gotten stuck in an unfortunate and ugly place in history, and it's time to release it to history books and museums, and the yards of people who wish to quietly signify their lack of couth to their neighbors.

 

Perhaps in letting go of this we can find symbols of our own, rather than struggling to add our own meaning to one raised by those long dead.


Edited by Doctor Pogo, 25 June 2015 - 01:12 PM.


#16 Green Goblin

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 01:18 AM

Just a few facts before I start.  I'll keep it short and sweet.

 

 

Now, with this factored in, there is absolutely no reason to continue allowing this flag to fly on any government-run buildings.  If a person wants to buy it personally and a business wants to sell it, then far be it from me or anyone to stop them.  It just puts them into 1 of 3 camps

 

1.  Racist

2.  Delusional

3.  Ignorant

 

The flag is racist.  At its very fucking core, it's a symbol of racism.  This cannot be refuted.  So I'm honestly just surprised this is even a discussion to be had.  Apparently, a lot of folk agree with me.



#17 Spikey

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 08:23 AM

Why anyone would want to represent themselves in such a way, I don't know. But I don't advocate taking it away from people who want it. The flags of defeated armies don't belong flying over the edifices of the State, but private citizens should be free to passively display the ugliness of their beliefs as they see fit.

 

Sometimes, flags of defeated armies are very important, but I can see what you mean here. It is just odd for two flags that represent an opposing ideology next to each other. The situation in the States is too far away from my home to judge, as I always (probably wrongly) assumed that the Confederate flag in these days was worn because of a sense of pride. As in, people being proud to be from a certain part of the United States. This is because I guess I always compared it to the many separist movements here in the Europes. 

 

Take the southern half of France for example. From Gascony in the west, all the way to Provence in the East, and from the south of the Massif Central right up to the Pyrenees, there was once an autonomous region up until the 13th century. This was a region that was bigger than what the French nobles directly controlled. Then the pope launched a "crusade" upon the "heretics" there, which resulted in a massive international terroristic invasion led from France, which lasted for 20 years. At that point, the genocide on the heretics was far from effective or completed (hence the inquisition followed), but the French had as an unfortunate side effect of the crusade-war taken over all the lands from the southern nobles. The particularly non-French culture of those regions was dealt a heavy blow and sort of faded into oblivion from that point. 

 

In retrospect, historians call this "country" Occitania. Government buildings in the modernday regions there wave an "Occitan" flag in abundance, hand in hand with the French flag. In reality, there was no such country. Even though they very much shared an "Occitan" culture and a language (related to Catalan), politically it was a patchwork of counties, viscounties and lordships that quarreled a lot (I mean A LOT) among themselves over their fuzzy boundaries. Now here is the thing. Just like the Confederate battleflag, it was never a flag that was used in former Occitania, it is simply designed after the coat of arms of the Counts of Toulouse (who actually supported the crusade in the first year of campaigning). Occitan as a language has almost died out. France still (quite morbidly) celebrates the date of the murder of the papal legate at the onset of the war, because that was what eventually led to the annexation of Occitania. Looking at those flags next to other, I always get the creepy feeling that something is amiss. Those flags are in essence mortal enemies, they don't belong next to each other. 

 

In this sense, intention DOES matter, a lot! The flags in southern France that scream "Toulouse! Toulouse!" (oops I mean "Tolosa! Tolosa!") right in your face is okay, no matter how awkward it is, because it reminds us of a random vicious and bloody genocide launched on a heretic movement, as well as a brutal war waged upon those that defended their own lands and culture, an echo of destruction that we now deem extremely immoral. To wave both flags is to acknowledge all that, I guess.

 

 

Whatever the case, when read all of this thread, the Confederate battleflag should die a horrible death and leave modern day buildings and homes forever, just like the Nazi flag, purely because of intention.


Edited by Spikey, 15 July 2015 - 08:26 AM.





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