Keep Confederate Battle Flag, but for a Different Reason

By Kearney, Warren | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), July 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Keep Confederate Battle Flag, but for a Different Reason


Kearney, Warren, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


By now we have heard the renewed calls for removal of the Confederate battle flag from all government facilities in the South (or for that matter, everywhere). I want to suggest why we should not. This outcry began anew and with force after the world was introduced yet again to the utterly purblind culture of Southern politics with its self-worship of its supposed "heritage."

Images of the flag flying undisturbed on the state government grounds while other flags dipped in respect and mourning were broadcast around the world. As it flew, the first few days featured politicians, mainly Republican, repeating the decades-old robotic litany that the flag is not a symbol of racism, rather of the "heritage of the Deep South. But the force of the moment after the racist murder of nine people in Emanuel AME Church did finally seem to penetrate even this obtuse, inbred culture of rationalization.

With the emotional conviction of converts publicly embarrassed into righteousness, the voices of these politicians have taken on a new and decidedly unfamiliar tone of courage and sensitivity. However convincing, or not, it is a change for the better.

So be it. But the discussion is misdirected. It should not be about the flag. And though concern for the feelings of black Americans forced to view this spectacle is anything but trivial, it is not about that either. It should be about that heritage. Because whatever else this political class of people, the self-appointed guardians of this heritage, have been saying until now, it has not been a lie.

There is a heritage to "celebrate." It is a heritage of racism that has provided political sustenance to generations of Southern politics. It deserves a permanent place on a flagpole.

So here is my suggestion: Seal the commitment of the South and its politics to this new righteousness.

Do not take the flag down. Do not tuck it safely away in museums. Do the opposite. Let us use it to properly "celebrate that heritage. Fly it prominently on every state capitol ground in the South. Surround the flag pole with 11 large stones, with the names of the secession states, the dates of their secession, and the portions of their articles of secession which specifically reference their grievances as slaveholder states.

And at the base of each flagpole place a large plaque declaring the heritage of the Confederacy. Here's my suggestion for the language on that plaque:

Here flies the battle flag of the Confederacy. It led hundreds of thousands of young men into battle in a war to destroy the United States and to defend the right to own slaves. …

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