Flags of our Fathers

Now I’m going to discuss another topic that should have little impact to anyone yet seems to be one of the big issues in our country purely based on news media and Facebook stats…the Confederate flag. Oh yes, one real post in and let’s get right into it!

First, let’s start with some things about me. It’s my blog so I can talk about myself all I want. My education was…varied, to say the least. To this day I have never attended the same school, from kindergarten to college, for more than two and a half consecutive years. I have gone to public school, private school, home school, big universities (University of Florida), community college, and smaller universities (University of Nevada Reno). I’ve taken a fairly large range of topics; in high school I took AP Calculus, English, U.S. History, Physics, and Computer Programming. In college I started with a Computer Engineering degree, then switched to Philosophy, then Speech Communication, and finally a General Studies degree with a focus on Speech Communication, History, and Political Science. I learned a lot from my parents, and my mother is a strongly Catholic teacher from Minnesota and my father is a strongly opinionated pilot with a degree in history and law from Mississippi. I have lived in California, the Florida Keys, Miami (those are two different countries, basically), mid Florida, Nevada, and Hawaii, and have traveled to essentially every state in the U.S. as well as Japan, Hong Kong, England, Austria, and Italy. I’ve also been a Marine for almost 9 years now, and although I haven’t been deployed, I’ve worked closely with people from all over the country and world extensively.

So what, you ask? Why did I bring all that up? I bring it up to give you perspective on why I believe the things I believe. That, in a single long paragraph, is essentially my history. It’s a list of facts that make up where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. It doesn’t tell you everything but it tells you a lot. This will be important later.

Back to the flag. As you have probably heard, assuming you haven’t been living under a rock, there was a horrible tragedy recently in which a racist psychopath murdered a bunch of people in a church. This opened up a whole new discussion on racism which finally didn’t involve the police and somehow people got focused on the Confederate flag rather than, well, racism. Look, if Wikipedia isn’t going to bother explaining how the discussion went from a mass murderer to a flag, I’m not going to bother wasting my time looking it up. It doesn’t really matter anyway, the discussion is out there and in force.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve studied a bunch of U.S. History, so when “facts” about the Confederate flag started getting thrown around, naturally I was intrigued. And yes, I use quotes because, from what I’ve seen so far, the majority of these facts are…what’s a diplomatic way to say this…complete bullshit. And I use that in the kindest, most heartfelt way. I’m going to be throwing a lot of links to Wikipedia around because this is not a scholarly journal and we all know scholarly journals are made by reading Wikipedia and then citing the bottom of the page anyway. I’m on to you, lazy graduate students!

First of all, when I say the “Confederate flag” I am talking about the flag below:

Battle flag of the Confederate States of AmericaThis is commonly considered the Confederate flag today. In reality, it is the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. We’ll get to exactly what that means in a minute. There is a lot of misinformation spreading around about the American Civil War. Note that this discussion is specifically about U.S. politics, so when I talk about the Civil War you know which one I’m talking about. I’m going to spread some facts, and feel free to look them up. Let’s do a Myth/Fact setup, because those seem to be popular. I’m going to do it slightly different, though; my myths will have a touch of truth. After all, the best lies are at least partially true.

Myth: The United States had more slaves and more reliance on slavery that most of the rest of the world, mostly concentrated in the southern states. In fact, around 10.7 million slaves were shipped to the New World, making this the largest forced migration in history.

Fact: Around 10-11 million slaves were shipped to the New World, and of those, 500,000-600,000 ended up in the United States. Close to 5 million of them ended up in Brazil, and around a million went to Cuba. Millions more (over a longer period of time) were sent to the Middle East; during the primary “slave trade” periods of the world the Arab nations imported an estimated 10-18 million slaves. Brazil and Cuba didn’t end the practice of slavery until the 1880s, 15 years after the U.S., and most of the Middle East didn’t abolish slavery until the mid 20th century, and exists unofficially to this day in many parts of the Middle East and Africa (although you could easily argue that human trafficking is essentially slavery, and is of course a worldwide problem).

Sadly, while this was a massive movement of people, the Atlantic slave trade was not actually the largest forced migration in history. After World War II the Allies created a similar situation with the Germans, displacing a similar number to the entire New World importation in a fraction of the time. And I could go on and on about the massive number of refugees forced to leave their homes over the years in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

The truth is that the U.S. was certainly involved with slavery, and was up there with the racist ideology (which we shared with the Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabs), but we were by no means unusual. The U.S. was right in the middle as far as slavery goes, on the lower end of raw numbers, higher end of racist ideology, and center of abolition. Most people didn’t fight a war to end it, however, which is going to come up in my argument later.

Myth: The Confederate flag symbolizes slavery and racism. William T. Thompson, the creator of the Confederate flag, referred to its design using the following language:

As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.… As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.

The flag was taken out of retirement later to terrorize blacks during the Civil Rights movement a hundred years later. Any attempt to argue that it represents something other than slavery and racism is wrong and driven by a desire to glorify a horrible past, also known as the “Lost Cause” history. This historical revisionist ideal believes that the Civil War was fought for states’ rights, not over slavery, but the South seceded due to slavery, not due to states’ rights.

Fact: This is probably the biggest argument I keep seeing, and it’s the easily the most deceptive. It has a lot of truth mixed up in there; William T. Thompson did design a Confederate flag, he did say that in reference to the flag he designed, the South did secede primarily due to slavery, and people did use the Confederate flag as a symbol of hatred and racism during the Civil Rights movement. These statements are all true, and my somewhat ambiguous phrasing is intentional.

There’s just one problem. William T. Thompson didn’t design the flag I posted earlier. He actually designed this flag:

Second Flag of the Confederate States of America (1863-1865) BorderedI added the black border for clarity; the original flag is pure white except for the portion in the upper-left. Yes, I see how that flag is similar to the flag I posted earlier. But the other portion was created two years earlier and by a different person. Thompson’s “masterful” design, which he had the arrogance to try and explain the symbolism for, was literally an Army battle flag placed in the corner of a white sheet. Get it? White flag = white supremacy? The “a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause” part make a little more sense when looking at the actual flag? I would be shocked if there weren’t some rolled eyes back then, too. After two years the South got rid of it anyway by adding a big red stripe to the end because, and this shows more of Thompson’s brilliance, the flag looked too similar to the white flag of surrender. History is history, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be irony in it! Also, it’s always fun to laugh at stupid people, especially stupid despicable people.

So what? It was a Confederate flag, made by a Confederate racist, right? Aren’t you just splitting hairs?

No, no I’m not. Why? Because the actual Confederate flag’s “symbolism” is well known, and it has nothing to do with slavery. Here’s what the first Confederate flag looked like:

Flag of the Confederate States of America (1861-1863)Look similar to any other flag? Especially from a distance? Guess what happens when your Armies are flying a flag that looks pretty similar to the flag your enemies are using? If you guessed “friendly fire” you get a white star!

So what’s a general to do when his troops are getting shelled by his own guns because of crappy spyglasses? He tells someone to make a new freaking flag. And that’s exactly that P. G. T. Beauregard did; he asked his aide, William P. Miles, to make a new flag. And thus the flag I posted in the first part of this discussion was born. It wasn’t because of racism, it wasn’t because of slavery, it was because someone was given the task “make our flag look different, but still match the general theme”…and he did. That’s all there was to it.

So now that we’ve establish the history of the flag, let’s take a look at the history of the Civil War, Barney-style. I’m going to hit the big myth right off the bat…the Civil War was not fought due to slavery.  It simply wasn’t. No other country that I can find fought a war to abolish slavery, and I’ve never seen any convincing evidence that, had the South not seceded, the Civil War would have been fought anyway. In fact, considering the President of the United States at the time, Abraham Lincoln, literally stated on multiple occasions that he was fighting to preserve the Union, and even said that he would allow slavery if it would prevent secession, I think there’s pretty solid evidence that the war was NOT fought over slavery.

It was fought over secession, plain and simple. Now, wait a minute, you say. Didn’t you say earlier that the South seceding due to slavery was a true statement? Yes, yes I did. Well, strictly speaking the main catalyst for the secession was Lincoln’s election as President, but the primary reason the South didn’t want him is because they believed he was going to end slavery (which was dumb, as Lincoln had said many times prior to being elected that he did not intend to abolish slavery in the South).

So isn’t slavery still the driving force? Aren’t you splitting hairs again? No, and here is why. The South didn’t have to secede. They believed they did, and did it, but I can see no compelling evidence that slavery would have been abolished if they hadn’t done so (although the practice was already dying worldwide so it was a lost cause anyway…rim shot). Likewise, the North didn’t have to fight. They could have allowed secession, let 13 states go and do their own thing, waited for them to grow up and start acting like adults, and the country most likely would have reunited in a decade or so once the stress of westward expansion died off. But neither side was willing to be the bigger man and let it go (arguably a case for much of our world conflict) so we got into a huge fight that affects our country’s beliefs 150 years later.

Make no mistake…the South was not blameless in the Civil War. They made a lot of dumb decisions are were ultimately driven to fight a war due to pride, arrogance, and a culture of cruelty and selfishness. But the North was not the “good guy” in this story. They were driven by many of the same things, and were so angry that someone would dare leave their club they beat them up and then tied them down with laws that affect our current political system in what I would argue are very negative ways.

Still not convinced the Civil War wasn’t about slavery? What about the Emancipation Proclamation? Wasn’t that an act to free the slaves? No, no it wasn’t. It only freed the slaves in the rebelling states (granted, partially because Lincoln didn’t have the authority to do so elsewhere). Both New Hampshire and New Jersey did not abolish slavery until the 13th amendment in 1865, after the Civil War was already over. If the North fought for four years with over 620,000 casualties between both sides due to slavery it seems they’d want to ban it in their own states first. Yet during the war Lincoln responded to a well-known abolitionist that he would not end slavery even in the North; his entire focus was on preserving the Union.

Last part of the myth (take a deep breath, we’re almost done!); the Civil Rights movement. As I mentioned earlier, the Confederate flag was flown as a symbol of white supremacy. So was the American Flag. So was the Christian Cross. In fact, the official symbol of the most influential white supremacy hate group in existence doesn’t include the Confederate flag at all; it’s a white cross. I don’t see many people trying to ban those symbols, and if you say that the cross doesn’t actually mean the centuries of hatred and ethnic cleansing performed under its banner (including long before the U.S. existed), but that it has a different meaning entirely, well then you just argued my exact point six paragraphs ago about the Confederate flag.

I strongly believe the best way to fight bigotry of any kind is to attack ignorance. To teach people the truth. I’ve found that, behind the majority of racist, sexist, and other discriminatory beliefs is a whole lot of misunderstanding and lies. You don’t fight that by hiding things from people, or forcing them to accept your way of thinking because you said so; you fight it by revealing the truth and exposing the lie for what it is. When we go after a flag and start posting lies and misinformation about it, smug in our own superiority because anyone who argues otherwise is automatically labeled a racist, we aren’t fixing the problem…we’re just making people angry.

And angry, ignorant people are much more of a problem than the 154-year-old flag of a dead army.


3 thoughts on “Flags of our Fathers

  1. Ok. I can’t let this one go. I tried, but I couldn’t. I’m going to number my points. When you respond, please use the numbers so that I know which point you’re talking about. It will make it easier for me to flow chart the conversation in my head.

    1) Symbols. Yeah, the “Confederate” flag wasn’t the official flag of the Confederacy. Ok. BUT it is still a symbol of hate. For DECADES it’s been the front line symbol of bigotry. Maybe it was created so that the soldier’s could know who was whom, but it’s taken on distinctly bigoted meaning since then. And while YOU may not see it as a symbol of bigotry, you have to realize, other people do. People who were attacked, discriminated against, spit upon. Here is an apt comparison of the situation. The swastika. In eastern cultures it’s a symbol of luck and/or auspiciousness. There is no negative connotation to it. But here in the West, we all know it as the symbol of the Nazi’s. You have neo-Nazi’s who still use it as a symbol of bigotry to this day. Here in the west we look down on the symbol because of the clear negative history and current attachment of bigotry. Are you going to tell a Jew to get over their dislike of the symbol just because it originally meant something else (and means something different in other parts of the world)? Of course not. You understand that for them, it is a symbol of hate because that is the symbol that bigots used/use to discriminate and hate them with. That same symbolism, wether you like it or not, is attached to the “Confederate” flag. That symbolism needs to be acknowledged.

    And because I know you, I know you are aware of this and acknowledge it. But at the same time, this essay is coming across as deaf to that symbolism and the very real hatred that has suffused the flag. An example of this is your point that the flag is not the official flag of the Confederacy. To you, and please correct me if I’m wrong, the flag is a symbol of heritage. A symbol of Southern Pride in all the best sense. And I get that. But the it feels as if you’re, while not outright ignoring it, diminishing the negative symbolism that, whether you like it or not, is attached to the flag. Yeah, maybe technically it was created to show who was on which side, but it has grown to symbolize so much more than that. No greater show of this than when you state that it is a myth that the flag is a symbol of racism and slavery. It sounds like you are just ignoring how it has been used since it’s creation.

    I think snopes highlights my previous thoughts best “Herein lies the problem with symbols: They have no inherent meanings; they have only whatever meanings people choose to read into them, and different people can associate very different meanings with the same symbol. The Confederate battle flag is now regarded in many different ways — as a symbol of slavery, as a rallying banner for white supremacists, as a quaint historical artifact, as a memorial to those who fought gallantly and bravely (even if it was in the service of cause no longer considered virtuous), as a general emblem of rebellion against authority, as a benign display of regional pride, or even as a fond reminder of two “good ol’ boys” who were “never meaning’ no harm.””

    Their last 4 paragraphs (that starts with the above paragraph) is perfect for this point actually. You can read it here: http://m.snopes.com/2015/06/28/confederate-flag-history/

    (As an aside. I actually found that snopes article after I had written the preceding for it. Forget what I was looking up, but those last paragraphs nicely encapsulated my thoughts which is why I added it)

    Ok. That’s that part taken care of. Let’s go over your point about how the Civil War was not fought over slavery. I’m going to go about this a couple ways.

    2) I want to verify your reasoning. You state that the Civil War was fought over secession because the South did not have to secede, correct? And that the North could have just let them? That’s why the war was about secession and not slavery? The reason for secession was/is unimportant?

    If you think that the reason for secession is unimportant, and the war was fought for the right to break away, then I think on this point we’ll have to agree to disagree. The reason for this is because I think the reason they wanted to secede is important. I’ll illustrate why with this example: The American Revolution. It could be said that the American Revolution was fought because the colonies wanted to secede from Great Britain, but Great Britain did not want them to. Would you argue that in this case the reason is unimportant? That the American Revolution was not fought for the right of representation without taxation? Or would you say that the comparison is not apt? In that case, why is it not apt? Looking at the definition of secession, I would think that it’s apt comparison. So why is the reasoning for secession unimportant? And if I might make an assumption as to your response to this question/line of thinking, why is the reason for secession unimportant in the Civil War, but not the American Revolution?

    3) However, if the reasoning for secession is important, then I argue that the Civil War was in fact fought because of slavery. You acknowledge this yourself. You state that the South seceded because Lincoln was made President and the South believed he would abolish slavery. In other words, believing that slavery was going to be made illegal, they withdrew from the Union. What Lincoln MIGHT have done is unimportant. (And I say it is unimportant because stating Lincoln’s intention is asking what-if. We don’t know what he would have done because the chance was never presented. He was the leader of the abolitionist party https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWww0YIf-JE and within a month of him taking the mantle, the Civil War began. And I should say here, that while it began a month after he took office, southern states had already started seceding from the Union months prior, in direct response to him winning the election.)

    And it’s not just you who acknowledged this. The states themselves acknowledge that slavery is the reason they were seceding in their “Declarations of Causes” (http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/declarationofcauses.html).

    From the Georgia Declaration: “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.” – Paragraph 1

    And they mention states rights by the way. Just not in the way most people think. Apparently, according to the law, is a slave escaped and made it to the North, by law, the northern state had to return the runaway slave. Except the northern states weren’t doing that. The south did not like that the north was using this “state right”. Here are paragraphs 14 and 15 of the Georgia Declaration:

    “The faithless conduct of our adversaries is not confined to such acts as might aggrandize themselves or their section of the Union. They are content if they can only injure us. The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed. It would appear difficult to employ language freer from ambiguity, yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property. Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. This clause of the Constitution has no other sanction than their good faith; that is withheld from us; we are remediless in the Union; out of it we are remitted to the laws of nations.

    A similar provision of the Constitution requires them to surrender fugitives from labor. This provision and the one last referred to were our main inducements for confederating with the Northern States. Without them it is historically true that we would have rejected the Constitution. In the fourth year of the Republic Congress passed a law to give full vigor and efficiency to this important provision. This act depended to a considerable degree upon the local magistrates in the several States for its efficiency. The non-slave-holding States generally repealed all laws intended to aid the execution of that act, and imposed penalties upon those citizens whose loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths might induce them to discharge their duty. Congress then passed the act of 1850, providing for the complete execution of this duty by Federal officers. This law, which their own bad faith rendered absolutely indispensable for the protection of constitutional rights, was instantly met with ferocious revilings and all conceivable modes of hostility.”

    Yeah, they weren’t happy with states rights. Hell, the following paragraph keeps going on about the injustice of the Northerners not returning slaves to the South. I’d include it, but I think you get my point.

    The 2nd paragraph of the Mississippi Declaration: “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.”

    The 2nd to last paragraph of the Mississippi Declaration: “Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.” (I had come up with the comparison of the American Revolution on my own, but it’s nice to see that they see it too)

    (Aside, I’m reading some of these Declarations as I write this. Oh man does South Carolina go heavy on its reference to the American Revolution. They really go into the history here of the formation of the US and treaties. It’s kinda impressive. If any state has a legit claim to the idea that they were fighting for secession, it’s going to be S. Carolina)

    tl;dr: Ok, I have to get read for my day, so I’m going to stop reading the Declarations of Causes that each state gave when they decided to secede from the Union. From what I saw, they all left because they felt slavery was going to be become illegal and they wanted to keep it. Any mention of states rights I saw was negative. They hated that the northern states had taken it upon themselves to ignore federal laws that required the return of slaves to their owners. If the why of a war is in any way important, than it’s clear that the Civil War was caused by the issue of slavery.


  2. No need to apologize; discussion is the whole point of the comments!

    1) I never said it wasn’t used as a symbol of hate. To quote myself…”As I mentioned earlier, the Confederate flag was flown as a symbol of white supremacy.” And yes, many people still see it that way…well, less than half of all U.S. citizens see it as a racist symbol, and 25% of African Americans see as not being racist, but hey, sure, there are a lot of people who see it that way. The point was there are a lot of symbols that have negative associations, yet we don’t ban those symbols. And the bigger point is that banning them as hate symbols *makes them a STRONGER hate symbol!* Do you honestly believe racists are going to stop using the Confederate flag as a racism symbol because we ban it? No, now they’ll use it as a symbol of racism *and* as argument about how the “oppressive government” is taking away their “freedom of speech.” Or whatever they call it.

    The fundamental difference in our way of thinking is, to me, the flag being used as a symbol of hate is a *symptom* of racial hatred, not a *cause*. I’m fairly certain that a non-racist isn’t going to see a Confederate flag and think “man, now that I’ve seen that flag I feel like hating black people, because a bunch of dead guys 150 years ago hated black people.” The people using the flag already hate other races, and removing the flag will only increase their hatred and do absolutely nothing to reduce it.

    To use your swastika example, if people started saying that the Hindus and Buddhists were anti-Semitic because they used the symbol hundreds of years ago, I’d call them out for being stupid. Are the Chinese anti-Semitic because the swastika is used in their written language? Should we take it out of the history books because it was a symbol of hate? Likewise, there is a difference between the swastika and the Nazi flag, and they have different historical contexts. Just because something was used by a hate group, even a major hate group, does not change the historical facts of that symbol. While I am staunchly against racist ideology I do not believe pretending the past didn’t exist is going to fix anything. So yes, I would make the same arguments for the swastika, and no, I would not tell someone who was black or someone who was Jewish they need to like either symbol. But if they pretend it has only one meaning to everyone else, well, they’re wrong.

    2) I never said the reason was unimportant. After all, without the issue of slavery, the South wouldn’t have seceded in the first place, and there would have been no war. As for the American Revolution question, yes, they are the same, and could have had the same results. Great Britain could have allowed the colonies to leave, and the colonies could have stayed under British rule. If life was so bad, how come all the other British colonies weren’t rebelling left and right? Sure, there was a “freedom” motivation in there, and that’s what was preached, but I would be pretty surprised if the colonists’ reason for secession wasn’t to maintain the power of colonial aristocrats. Wars are messy things, and they tend to be fought for primarily economic reasons, with ideology used primarily to motivate the soldiers.

    3) Now we’re arguing semantics, and my attempt to keep my post relatively short seems to have backfired. My statements regarding the South seceding due to slavery were based on the Confederate constitutions, which stated as such. That’s why I said it was a true statement in the first place. Also, at no point did I ever state the South seceded due to states’ rights. The states’ rights argument is also provably false, which is why I didn’t argue it. I said the war was fought due to secession, which is exactly what the Commander in Chief of the North’s armed forces, Abraham Lincoln, said himself.

    The South didn’t have to secede, though. Why do you think they did? Did the North ever say “if you don’t secede we’ll get rid of slavery?” No, although they did break faith with the South by passing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and negating the Missouri compromise and starting the first major bloodshed of the period by John Brown, a psychotic abolitionist. But hey, it’s OK to murder bad people, right? That’s what too many police seem to think (another topic).

    The point is that you, like many people, are looking back at history and applying your own biases to what the people of the time believed. You seem to believe that the North wanted to free the slaves and the South wanted to keep up their oppressive lifestyle at all costs, forcing the North into a bloody war where the men on the battlefield were divided by their ideology over slavery.

    This is factually inaccurate, and glosses over major motivations and events that happened during this period. Many Northerners *and* Southerners, both in and out of the military, couldn’t give two craps about slavery. The North was fighting to preserve the Union and their country, and the South was fighting to defend their home from invaders. *That* is what the majority fought for. Slavery was the catalyst that drove the South to secession, but most of that was political maneuvering that didn’t affect the lives of the majority of the common people. Those people fought for their homes, whatever they believed that to be.

    I’m not trying to minimize the effect of slavery, or the hatred that has existed over the last 150 years, but the people that believe the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride and history are NOT wrong, just as the people that see it as a symbol of hate are not wrong. And by declaring that it is *only* a symbol of hate, and that everyone who flies a Confederate flag is really just a racist trying to justify themselves, you are completely and utterly wrong. And your ignorance, and the ignorance of millions of other people, is accomplishing nothing but making a lot of people angry because you are arrogant enough to think you know what they believe based on your misunderstanding of the history and culture of a group of people and labeling them as the “bad guys,” which is *exactly* the same thing you are accusing them of doing to minorities.

    You can’t fix hate by being a hypocrite. Rather than rage about the Confederate flag, and tell a bunch of people they’re bigoted idiots who need to be made to do the right thing, why not try explaining the situation and ask why they feel the symbol is necessary? If you assume for a moment that many people view it as a symbol of freedom, how do you think it looks when you tell them they’re wrong and force them to remove it?

    A common theme in all my posts is that you change minds by convincing them to change, not by forcing them to change. People naturally resist being told what to do, some more than others. All the hatred towards the Confederate flag is doing is making one group of people feel superior and righteous while making another group of people angry and resentful.

    If your goal is just to make yourself feel better, by all means, continue blaming inanimate objects for the actions of people. If your goal is to actually fix social injustice, you need to start addressing the people responsible and convincing them it’s in their best interest to be less of an asshole.

    Hope that makes sense!


  3. I wanted to add an additional bit of food for thought on my logic about the cause of the Civil War. Take the transitive relation in math…one of the proofs is that if A = B, and B = C, then A = C. This is the fundamental logic of the “slavery is the cause of the Civil War” argument; in other words, if slavery is the cause of secession, and secession is the cause of the Civil War, then slavery is the cause of the Civil War. So for our purposes A is slavery, B is secession, and C is the Civil War.

    The problem is this logic doesn’t actually work when applied to the historical record of the Civil War. If you remove B, in other words, if that part of the equation is removed, there is literally zero evidence than C would have occurred. In order for the logic of A = C to exist you must assume that B can be removed from the equation.

    It can’t. I’ve never seen convincing evidence, or even a real argument, that implies that, had the South chosen not to secede, we would have fought a war in any form. I’m oversimplifying the math a bit, but that’s sort of the point. You can’t just take a weak causal relationship between three things and conclude that one of the things, one *without* a direct link, caused the last thing. In fact, it’s the basis for a common logical fallacy (“false cause” fallacy, also known as causation fallacy or “correlation does not imply causation” fallacy). Discussion of the fallacy, and its permutations, are outside the scope of this comment, but may be explored later as I have a fascination with fallacies.

    History is messy, and involves lots of people and lots of variables. In general, whenever someone says “this single factor caused this historical event” I recommend raising your skeptics eyebrow (the right eyebrow, in my case). I hope that makes my argument more clear, and not the opposite!


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