In the wake of the Charleston shooting—and subsequent revelations that the shooter appears to have been a Confederate-flag-loving racist—Montel Williams tweeted, “This would be a good time for @nikkihaley to decide that flying the Confederate flag over the Capitol is the wrong msg. #Charleston Shooting.”
At the risk of alienating…well, whomever…I’m going to go with Montel on this one.
You see, I believe that no conservative—and particularly no Republican—should have anything to do with the Confederate flag.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of the failed attempt of the Democratic Party to defend the vile institution of slavery in the United States. The Confederacy was the quasi-government of the rebel insurgency fighting the United States of America and its Republican president.
In case you missed it, the United States of America (and the Republican Party) won.
Therefore, there is no purpose to the Confederate flag, except to express love for and allegiance to the losing side of the war that ended slavery—the not-Republicans.
Given that the Republican Party was explicitly founded to fight—and, if possible, eliminate—slavery, it makes no sense to me that any Republican would admire or in any way feel anything other than revulsion for the symbol that the bitter enemies of abolition chose to rally behind.
Don’t tell me it’s a symbol of “Southern heritage,” unless you want to tell me you are proud of being descended from a people so stubbornly committed to the institution of slavery that they fought a war over it. Don’t tell me it’s about free speech—because I’m not saying you should be legally forbidden from having one. I’m just saying there isn’t any logical reason for a Republican to do so. It’s similar to my feeling about Christians being pro-choice.
In my opinion, it is not possible to be pro-choice and Christian. Abortion is murder. Murder is wrong, and God is against it. You apparently have a legal right to do it in this country, so I am not saying anything about that, though I hope one day abortion is a “choice” no one would be willing to make. In the same way, I recognize your right as a private individual to fly the confederate flag, or tattoo a swastika on your arm, or hang a poster of bunny with a skewer through its head on your wall. That’s your private business, it’s your free expression, God gave you that right, the Constitution protects it, and I defend it.
But I think all of those things are revolting. As a conservative, I think a rational belief in the value and dignity of all people precludes a love for Nazism, abortion, or racism. The Republican Party as founded certainly didn’t approve of racism, and I consider myself a 33 AD Christian, and an 1865 Republican, in that order. The Confederate flag is a symbol of my enemy.
The Democratic Party perpetuated that flag and all it stood for more than 100 years beyond the Civil War. Rather than accept the fact of defeat, the Southern Democratic Party (which was the only party viable in the South for a century) twisted history in its educational system to make the South appear to have had a good point about the Civil War. It also did everything in its power—legally and illegally—to keep freed slaves from exercising most of those freedoms that the Union army had bled and died for on their behalf.
Moreover, a defense of the right of private individuals to be jackasses and express their love of something stupid in any way they see fit doesn’t apply to government speech. Given that the governments of the Southern states now consider themselves full members of the United States that the Confederacy opposed, it makes absolutely no sense for the battle flag of the defeated opposition to fly as government speech. It’s insanity. No other defeated foe anywhere gets such reverence, nor should it.
The Confederacy was wrong, in every sense of the word. It was a rebel insurgency against a nation trying to fulfill the promise of its founding. It claimed to be a nation, rejecting the nation of which it was a part. Its people fought and died to perpetuate an institution that not one civilized American still believes was a good—or even acceptable—idea. Regardless of what else one may think the Civil War was about, at least we must agree—in deference to history–it was wrapped up in a defense of slavery. And, surely by now, even the most Southern of Southerners, the most committed lover of Southern culture—even those whose deep accents render their speech incomprehensible to a Boston Brahmin—agree that the cause of slavery was not noble, but shameful.
The United States as a whole has repented of what some scholars have called her “original sin.” The South, after finally joining the civilized world and reluctantly letting Republicans be elected, has become for the most part a place where the races live together on a day-to-day basis without killing each other at the rate that, say, Chicago residents do. Let us all finally be done with the detestable symbol of the racist Democrats we defeated.
Neither the flag nor the slave-holding South it represented should rise again.