The War Over the Confederate Battle Flag Escalates


It’s a shame it took the violent deaths of nine people to do it, but it looks like 150 years after the end of the Civil War the days of the Confederate battle flag are finally coming to an end. South Carolina, where the racist massacre occurred is swiftly moving to take down the flag outside their state capitol. Lawmakers in Virginia and Missisippi are proposing similar action to remove the symbol from their official state business.

This is fantastic news. State governments have no business using the symbol of a treasonous and racially-motivated war, no matter how much they try to spin it as part of their “heritage”. The Confederacy should be a period of shame, not pride, to any moral and especially Christian southerners. Its relics belong in museums to remind us of the darkest moments of our past, not as part of our current identity on state flags, license plates, capitol buildings, and the honorific names of schools, military bases, and other government buildings.

Naturally (but ironically) many Democrat-aligned media outlets used the opportunity of Republican governments trying to remove the Confederate flag as a cudgel to ask why it took them so long? It will never be good enough, it seems, to right a wrong. Never mind that 2016 presumptive nominee Jeb Bush had the flag removed from Florida’s capitol in 2001, and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and one of his primary challengers, Fred Thompson, railed against the very same flag in South Carolina in a 2007 debate there.

Conversely, the Carter and Clinton campaigns both used Confederate imagery to solidify their southern voting blocs.

Even more ironic is that it was Democrats who first hoisted the current flag in South Carolina in the first place. It was raised above the state capitol dome in 1961 at the request of state representative John May, a Democrat, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (and as a protest of recent civil rights progress). There was even a celebratory reenactment of the firing on Fort Sumter. One year later the Democrat-led legislature passed a resolution to keep the flag flying over the state capitol.

The irony doesn’t stop there. In 1998 the Republican governor of South Carolina decided it was finally time for the flag to come down. He subsequently lost to a Democrat, who signed a law two years later moving the Confederate battle flag from the capitol dome to the monument in front of the building. Not sure that was an improvement, but it brings us to the current fight.

Only one day after the states started talking about removing the flag, America’s largest retailers followed suit. Walmart, Amazon, Ebay, Sears, Etsy, and others have all announced they still stop selling Confederate memorabilia and prohibit third-party marketplace sellers from doing the same. The companies cited their policy not to sell items promoting racial insensitivity to justify the move.

That is, of course, their right to do so, and the reverse-outrage mob on Twitter would be wise to remember it. There was no organized boycott or mass outcry for anyone to stop selling Confederate items. The story isn’t old enough. And no one’s “free speech” is being violated by a store removing an item from their shelves. From all appearances this was simply a preemptive move by corporations being (perhaps too) sensitive to the whims of their customers.

That doesn’t make it consistent or wise. One can still buy Soviet and Nazi paraphernalia from these online retailers, as well as plenty of items celebrating noted racists Che Guevara and Woodrow Wilson. But apparently Big Retail thinks this one particular combination of red, blue, and white is too much for customers to handle.

Private citizens are free to buy and fly any flag they want. They should, of course, be shamed for flying those of the Confederate States, Nazi Germany, and any other treasonous, genocidal regime. Private companies are able to decide what they sell to those customers. You don’t have the right to buy a product from a particular store (except in the insurance business).

But the federal, state, and local governments should not honor anything that was founded on such evil:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

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