Chris Rivait posted a link to his blog that quoted in full the Roanoake Times article Rebel flags barred from Lexington poles outlining the Lexington, Virginia, city council's recent decision not to raise the Confederate battle flag at city-sponsored events:
- The arguments have been made thousands of times before. The Confederate flag is a symbol of history and Southern heritage. No, the flag is a symbol of hatred and racism.
- In essence, the same arguments dominated a public hearing held Thursday night by the Lexington City Council . . .
In reply to Quick, I wrote:
- Stephen, I'm going to respond to your link not because I have any faith whatsoever that you would change your interpretive stance on the issue, but because such myopic quasi-historical & ideological points of view need to be challenged.
- Your argument in favor of respect for the Confederate battle flag is specious for at least four reasons.
- First, the Confederate battle flag, more than any other Confederate flag, represents the fact that slavery was a primary cause of the American Civil War (http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2007/12/24/slavery-did-too-cause-the-civil-war/).
- Second, it may be the case that "antipathy toward the flag is a recent phenomenon" from the 1980s. However, if it is the case, it's not because of "a liberal media irritated at the lingering conservatism in the South" and a financially strapped NAACP. It's because after the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, African Americans were finally able to voice their opposition to White supremacy in all it's various manifestations, _and_ there was a wider White constituency open to hearing and responding positively to these critiques.
- Third, because slavery was a main cause of the war, and because by the 1960s the points of view of African Americans started to make their way into the mainstream of American culture & discussion, many people -- myself included -- have come to associate the Confederate battle flag with injustice. I will leave it up to the descendents of slaves to correct, modulate, or refine what I'm about to write, but, for me, a White male, the Confederate battle flag is just a notch below the Nazi Swastika, in terms of its symbolic resonance with deeply racist ideology.
- Fourth, regardless of the extent to which any given Southerner understands or agrees with the interpretations sketched briefly above, to ignore that they exist, or to dismiss them off-hand, or not to engage with their very real substance, is to be intellectually dishonest.
- In summary: It's certainly not "irrational flag hysteria" for people to challenge the government-sponsored presentation of the Confederate battle flag. Southerners need to face up to the facts that slavery was a main cause of the Civil War and that, for this reason at least, these days the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of intolerance to a great many Americans.