Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Overreach & Dishonesty

There was a mass shooting at a church in South Carolina. It was racially motivated, quite obviously. Very quickly, however, the response was not on guns or racism (at least, not directly) or white supremacists; it focused on the Confederate flag, which really had nothing to do with the murders.

It got worse from there. It leaped to the flag being flown at the Confederate monument on the state's capitol grouonds, and the car used in the "Dukes of Hazard" TV show that ended 30 years ago, and nearly anything related to the US Civil War. There were even calls to remove all confederate reminders from the Gettysburg Battlefield. (Which would leave many visitors with the question, "Who did the Union army fight there?") It begins to look like a substantial overreach.

Of course, there's a bit more hiding behind the surface. Well behind.

It appears a good chunk of the the claims in our children's textbooks are — as a matter of history — false. They claim the Southern states' reason for secession was primarily to protect States' rights. But no state cited states' rights at the time as its reason for secession. In fact, they all objected to states' rights — at least, they particularly objected to other states exercising their rights to move against slavery within their borders. And apparently every state that seceded cited protection of their rights to slavery as their reason — their right to let some of their people own other people as if they were furniture (or livestock). With that, the Confederate flag is more clearly an element of racism rather than of cultural pride.

Personally, I'd always thought the "states' right" supported or promoted by the Confederacy was the right to slavery — the right to let some of their citizens own others. Nothing else ever made any sense to me.
This supports the demands that the Confederate battle flag should be removed from official places. Indeed, it supports calls for the Confederate battle flag to be removed everywhere it appears. (It would appear slavery has been the primary contribution of Arabs and other Muslims to U.S. history and culture.)

Even at the beginning of the Civil War, things were more complex than has been acknowledged. Much of the population of "the South" apparently didn't want to support slavery, at least not to that degree. Especially in the border states, more volunteered to fight for the Union than for the Confederacy, but we don't find that in the school textbooks. So there was more hope for the future then than we have been told — and more now than the textbooks are willing to tell us.

I started out opposing this move as "not really related to the incident." But in its real historical context, that's not really true.

And then there's this:

Just keeping it all in perspective.

UPDATE: The Confederate battle flag is coming down. Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill today.

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