Tears for the Stars and Bars

The Confederate flag has become a symbol of evil.

It's natural for ordinary human beings to have a strong reaction to the depravity which, we are told, Dylann Roof perpetrated in the sanctified halls of Emanuel African Methodist Church in South Carolina all too recently.  It would be worrying indeed if America wasn't enraged and disgusted, although we fervently admire the parishioners of Emanuel for showing the best example of Christianity by forgiving the monster who murdered their friends and relations.

Despite this stunning act of Christian charity, once Dylann Roof has been tried by a jury of his peers in a fair and open court, and assuming he is convicted, the only right and proper sentence for his appalling crimes is an early date with Old Sparky.  There are some crimes which put the criminal outside of the realm of human decency and make it indecent for innocent people to have to share this planet with them.

So it is with the most profound sadness and sympathy that we witness the anger of people in the South, and, yes, of the black community which was mercilessly attacked.  Alas, in their grief, all too many of them are targeting symbols and devices that bear no moral responsibility.

Guns Don't Kill People.  Neither Do Flags

Of course, the usual suspects are once again trying to rob all Americans of their Second Amendment rights.  At this point, it's hard to imagine that anyone will be persuaded to change their mind on this point.  It says something pretty disturbing about the Left, though, that they consider people to be such animals, of no moral independence, that they think that the presence of a piece of inanimate hardware inevitably leads to violence and crime that would not otherwise take place.

That's ridiculous on its face.  Mankind has been doing others to death since Cain hit Abel over the head with a rock.  Cain didn't have the Second Amendment or any technology at all, but it didn't stop him from bumping off his brother.  Genghis Khan had no personal firearms either, yet somehow he and his hordes managed to eliminate more human beings than anyone else prior to the 20th century.

The same logic ought to apply to symbols.  Haven't we all heard the schoolyard ditty "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"?  How much more harmless is a piece of cloth that doesn't even have any words on it!

And Yet...

A flag is, in fact, just a piece of cloth - yet countless millions of men have fought and died for flags all around the world.  In and of itself a flag is harmless, but once human beings get involved, a flag is anything but meaningless.

The Stars and Bars, the famous Confederate battle flag, has a history of military glory and chivalry.  Up until very recently, Robert E. Lee was revered as the exemplar of a Christian soldier and an honorable gentleman even though he fought for the other side.

Yet it is unequivocally true that the Stars and Bars also stood for the most heinous oppression, America's original sin of slavery.  There were many reasons for the soldiers of the South to put their lives at risk - the example of their comrades, the defense of their homes and families, the noble principle of states' rights as ordained by America's founders - but by the end of the Civil War, it was plain that its single overriding cause was the defense of the institution of slavery.

In other words, those who fought under the Stars and Bars, regardless of their personal actions and views, were fighting on behalf of America's purest evil.  Sad to say, there are still some people who feel as the racists of the Old South did, who tend to use the Stars and Bars as a symbol of their dark desires and darker deeds.

Consider the swastika.  Anyone who has visited India knows that the swastika is a religious good-luck symbol, adorning countless classical temples and monasteries.  In spite of that, however, we'd be horrified if somebody put up a building in America covered with swastikas.  Even the modern Hindus have pretty much abandoned their traditional emblem.

Why?  Because through no fault of the Hindus, the swastika became a symbol of some of the greatest crimes in all of history.  Adolf Hitler's choice of the swastika as his emblem, and the abominable crimes committed under its colors, have made it a picture of evil which no sane person wants anywhere around.

Unfortunately, as rational people, we have to recognize that the same thing has happened to the Confederate Flag.  Like it or not, regardless of whatever honor was associated with it in the past, it has since become a symbol of oppression, violence, and racism, views which have no place in modern society.

Now, as with the swastika, we ought not ban the Stars and Bars.  All Americans have First Amendment rights, and if they choose to exercise those rights by symbolizing or proclaiming evil, well, the government has no authority to prevent it.

But certainly the government has every obligation not to promote symbols of evil!  We agree with the rabid Left that it is time for the Confederate flag to be removed from official government buildings wherever it may be found, except of course for museums which commemorate the history of the War Between the States.

Down the Memory Hole?

We're still deeply worried about the modern Leftist penchant for revisionist history.  Is it really helpful to an understanding of the past for us to tear down statues of Civil War generals?  Wouldn't we learn far more, and be a better nation, if instead we learned about why people back then honored them enough to put up statues?

It seems like that's not their desire, though.  They want their political opponents to be expunged from history, to be stricken from every pillar and every wall, for their names never to be spoken and remembered no more.  This is wrong, and history shows that historical revisionism always leads to more violence down the road.

That's a battle for another day.  For today, we mourn, and while we mourn, it's time to fold up and put away the Confederate battle flag once and for all.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

I agree that it should be taken down but not merely because it's a symbol of hatred. It's more than that.

Technically speaking, the Confederacy was a separate country that the United States defeated. Remember your history. A group of people declared their independence, formed a separate country - with a separate government, flag, army, etc - and then proceeded to fight a war over it.

Now what happened? They lost. Full stop.

So it's quite simple really - we should not be displaying a LOSING FOREIGN COUNTRY'S flag on our public government buildings. That's what the Confederate flag is in a national context - a foreign country that we fought and defeated. Why on earth would we want their flag flying over any public building? Would we fly that Japanese flag over our public buildings after WW2? Would Israel fly Nazi flags over it's public buildings?

There's no need to debate whether the Confederate flag is about heritage or hate. It's a losing foreign army's flag, so it's absurd that any government building, at the federal or state level, should be allowed to fly it.

June 29, 2015 10:34 AM

Should this extend to Mississippi's State Flag?

June 29, 2015 2:32 PM


Excellent question! Personally, I can't answer that at the moment. I am as swayed in one direction as the other. I do think the traditional Confederate "battle" flag (the one normally depicted and flown as the Confederacy symbol) should not be on public buildings and forums.

There are a bunch of different ones by the way:


June 29, 2015 5:17 PM

Well, I don't suppose we'd tolerate a state flag with the swastika in the corner. I suppose that Nazism was worse than slavery, in that slavery didn't set out to actually exterminate blacks just exploit them - but they're both pretty bad.

June 29, 2015 6:58 PM

I have a couple of comments Maybe they seem like details, but sometimes details are important. First, the confederate flag people are discussing right now is NOT the Stars and Bars, which was the official government flag of the Confederacy. The "confederate flag" now being made some sort of taboo is the confederate battle flag used by the army in the field. It is also known as the Southern Cross, and it is based on the St. Andrew's cross, which is the flag of Scotland. Second: I have lived in India and spent nearly 50 years studying its religions, culture, and history. So far as I can see, the swastika symbol is directly connected with the conquest of most of the subcontinent by the Aryan tribes about 5,000 years ago, and hence to the establishment of the caste system. The sanskrit noun, "Arya", meaning those people, is often (now)translated as "race of princes", but can just as easily be translated as "master race". It is also worthy of note that the word "caste" is a Portuguese-based modernism. The sanskrit word is "varna" -- and that means "color". I have been at party rallies of the BJP, (Bharata Janata Party) and seen a whole field of swastika flags, and it is pretty creepy. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...well, you know the rest.

July 1, 2015 7:32 PM

You are technically correct about the flag but the Stars and Bars is what most people today colloquially call the Confederate Battle Flag.

I am not an expert in Hindu history, and certainly the ancient Aryans were no egalitarians. But I don't think they perpetrated genocide or heritable chattel slavery, did they? So whatever their wrongs were, the Nazis and the Old South did worse.

Thanks for your wider knowledge of Indian history!

July 2, 2015 8:02 PM
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