Byline: BILLY KENNEDY
BILLY KENNEDY, News Letter journalist and
author of the Scots-Irish Chronicles (seven volumes),
explains the historical and cultural links
of the American Confederate Flag to Ulster
THE ALLIANCE Party appears to be exercising some muddled thinking over the origins and the legitimacy of the American Confederacy flag which is being flown in some loyalist areas of east Belfast in the run-up to the Twelfth.
For Alliance to summarily dismiss the Confederate flag as a racist emblem is to grievously insult the memory and the sacrifice of men and women of great courage, who fought a noble but unsuccessful fight against the numerically stronger and better equipped Union Army in the American Civil War of 1861-65.
The Confederate flag - the distinctive Stars and Bars - has, admittedly, been wrongly used by racist elements in the United States, in a way that sometimes the Union Flag, the Ulster Flag, or the Irish Tricolour, can be dragged in the gutter, by those who, while purporting to uphold what it stands for, show absolutely no respect for it.
While not wanting to enter into the argument over whether or not it should be flown here over the Twelfth, the Stars and Bars is not an illegal paramilitary flag.
It flies from many civic buildings in the United States - and is an emblem with more relevance to Ulster/Irish culture and history, than the Israeli or Palestinian flags that can be seen flying from lamp-posts on our Northern Ireland streets.
The Confederacy in the United States during the mid-19th century was a cause considered lawful and respectable by many millions of people in the Southern states in America, quite a number of whom had Ulster-Scots Presbyterian family origins.
Indeed, support for the Confederacy in the South also came from a significant percentage of Americans from an Irish Roman Catholic background, many of whom left Ireland after the Great Irish Famine, in 1845-49.
Together, rightly, or wrongly, many in the Ulster and Irish diaspora settled in the Southern states considered it a duty to resist the imposition of federal laws by the then Washington Administration.
The Confederate nation composed of 11 Southern states (Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia) that seceded from the United States in 1861. …