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Confederate Flag Banning Is Political Sleight Of Hand

Written by Devtome contributor Bomac

I was probably in junior high school (in the late 60s & early 70s) when I first formulated an opinion on the Confederate flag. As a natural leftie, going against the familial & church zeitgeist I was brought up in, it seemed silly to me that people identified with the symbol of the Southern states which unsuccessfully tried to secede the United States more than 100 years before.1) This was compounded by the fact that this symbol had ties to slavery.

I could really not fathom how after more than a century, when everybody who had originally flown that symbol had died off, people could still relate to it. Of course, as a kid, 100 years seemed like an eternity. Today, nearly at the age of 60, 100 years doesn't seem all that long at all, 1945 doesn't seem as far off to me in 2015 as it did in 1970.

Time Is Funny That Way

Time perspective is funny (interesting) that way. For instance, it was probably about 1970, my mom was driving me to junior high school one morning when she saw a kid who had drawn a swastika on his t-shirt. She was taken aback at first, and quickly concluded that he was operating out of blissful ignorance.

She understood that he had no sense of history and he had no idea of the things that had been done under the auspices of that symbol during World War 2. She assured me that if that kid had been around, like she was, during the war, he wouldn't be wearing that symbol.

I needed to be reminded of the years of the war. She informed me that it end in 1945. Now mind you, that meant that barely more than 25 years prior, the war was being fought, but to me, it might have well of been centuries. The war ended 12 years before I was born. I had been alive ( this time around, that is) for a total of 13 years, so it was like a whole other lifetime before I had arrived on Earth. Today, I look at it like I was almost around for World War 2, and I laugh when I remember how far removed from that era I had felt as a kid.

Passed Down Through Generations

These days, I also have more of an understanding how culture is passed down through generations. I mean, look at religion. Most people would tell you they subscribe to the same faith of their families from generations ago. (Not only that, but they will likely tell you it's the best sect, branch, of the only true religion there is.) That includes people who rarely even attend a worship service, but they will get their babies baptized, and make their children go to Sunday School, etc.

So, I do get that Southern pride really is the largest compunction of people who fly that flag. It's handed down, generation to generation. I really do understand that it is inaccurate to believe that anybody who identifies with that symbol is making some kind of unspoken declaration that slavery was a good idea for the United States.

It's Not Usually About The N Word

I used to believe that almost everybody who relates to that flag, summarily refer to black people as niggers. I now know that is not the case, but until the Confederate flag banning trend of this year (2015), I still couldn't wrap my head around how people would be willing to display that thing when they knew that so many people view it as a sign that they are racists. I mean, if you abhor racism, why would you want people to mistakenly believe you are racist? However, now that there is a movement to outright ban the rebel flag, and there is a social media campaign to steal these flags from people, I find myself smiling as a see the reaction to this censorship, as people are suddenly flying large versions of this flag from the backs of their pickup trucks, more or less daring anybody to come and take it.2)

That said, it's one thing to say I don't want to identify with a symbol that will cause people to think I am something I'm not, but it's quite another to take the rights of anybody else to make that choice for themselves. Yet, I do believe it's a good idea to take that flag down from halls of government, if only due to the perception that it's racist.

A Personal Double Standard?

I realize conservatives & libertarians will generally claim I'm demonstrating an unforgivable double standard, by disagreeing with a general ban of the flag while simultaneously calling for its removal from government institutions, but I find that it's often appropriate for government to have a different standard. If scores of millions of Americans associate the symbol with racism, I believe that government officials should voluntarily take it down since perception is reality for the public, and governments serve the public. If they won't voluntarily take it down, then I agree with legally forcing them to do so. On the other hand, just because a lot of people are creating their own subjective reality that the flag is racist, via their own perception,3) that doesn't give them the right to steal or vandalize their neighbors' flags, or to prevent them from waving, let alone, owning them.

In recent years, I've moved away from the political correctness I used to always subscribe to. The reason is because the bar keeps moving into nonsensical territory. However, banning the 'Stars & Bars' from government institutions is one form of political correctness I still support, even though I find the movement to ban it outright, to be run by political magicians.4)

As the title of this article suggests, I find the hype against the rebel flag to be a form of political sleight of hand. The people behind it, just like a magician, who distracts us with one hand, are using their other hand to fool us, and prevent us from seeing what is actually important and happening before our very eyes.

The End Of America

The US Congress recently passed legislation that paved the way for the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is, for all intents & purposes, the final nail in the coffin of the sovereignty of the United States, as it officially secedes control of the nation's law making to multinational corporate boards. It is billed as an international trade agreement, which can be devastating enough, economically speaking, as we have seen by the loss of millions of jobs brought about by trade pacts such as NAFTA & GAFTA, but the harm those agreements have done to the United States, as egregious as they have been, pale in comparison to the harm that the TPP guarantees to bring to the United States.

This agreement is so bad, law makers were not allowed to even know what was in it for several years, as Obama's team was negotiating it. In recent months, certain law makers were allowed to read it, one section at a time, as long as they didn't make copies & promised not to tell anybody the specifics of what they read. Senator Jeff Sessions rang the alarm, saying that it states that regardless what it says now, it can and will be changed, but once it is agreed upon, law makers will be helpless to stop changes or pull out of the agreement.

It's A Lot Like Hell

So let's be clear. The TPP is being passed without most of the lawmakers having any idea what is in it, but it will give up power to make laws on many matters, and it will change and most certainly widen its scope, but there will be nothing that can ever be done about it. So, it's sort of like hell. Once you are admitted to hell, you can never get out there, no matter how unimaginably heinous and painful it is, or how sorry you are for having gone there.

The TPP has not passed yet (August, 2015), but Congress voted to give Obama fast track authority, which virtually assures that they will pass it by simple majority, in the coming weeks. It is actually a treaty, and it should therefore require a 2/3 vote from the Senate, but in this day and age, the Constitution is rarely ever honored, so what else is new?

There is also no precedent or legal authority for the secrecy surrounding the TPP. If the news media were really the fourth estate that our founding fathers expected of the press, everybody would be aware of the danger and impending disaster of this official move into global government, but instead of covering this, the media, as usual, is hyping periphery nonsense that diverts us from paying attention to what is crucial.

Much Ado About Nothing

We are stuck debating just how much banning of anything Confederate we should take part in. Many people aren't satisfied to take down the Confederate flag from government buildings, they want to take away the right of anybody to display or even own that flag. Protestors were able to get cable TV networks to pull reruns of the 80s show, the Dukes of Hazard because it had a Stars & Bars painted on it. Cities are planning on digging up Confederate soldiers buried on government property.5) Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Sears & Kmart are banning “Confederate merchandise, which, is some cases means that historical books are being banned by these companies.6)

This situation came about because of the whacko racist in Charleston, South Carolina who ruthlessly killed 9 people in a church Bible study group. He had an affinity for the Confederate flag. While there has always been debate about that flag, the banning and the hype we are seeing at this time, is a direct result of the aftermath of that tragic shooting. None of this would be happening if those murders had not have been perpetrated – or even if he had not demonstrated a fondness for that symbol.

While We Were Reeling

The passage of the fast track to the TPP came while the nation was reeling from those murders. As horrible as they were, the TPP is many times worse. The media has forgotten about the TPP and has almost all but forgotten about the murder victims, choosing instead to focus upon the banning of Confederate lore and symbols, as if that is going to make any kind of a difference.

Banning history is now evidently trendy and liberal and loving, but how does it help? How does it even help black people? Even if everyone who likes to fly the Confederate flag were really racist – which isn't even close to being the case – do you think for one moment that sending people to jail if they fly the flag could ever reduce racism by even a single iota?

Freedom of speech isn't merely about freedom of popular speech. It's about the right to communicate what is unpopular. Klu Klux Klan members are allowed to hold marches because the Constitution allows everybody to express their opinions. Nobody gets to be the arbiter of what opinions are allowable. We have lost the spirit of Voltaire, who said, “I may disagree with what you say, but i will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

Speaking of the KKK

The irony to this hype to demonize the Confederate flag is that the KKK has no love affair with that symbol. The flag that the KKK has always used is the American flag. In addition, another important symbol is the Christian cross. So, seeing as how we are trying to wipe out racist symbols, why don't we start banning and demonizing the cross of Jesus as well as the American flag?

It's a very slippery slope to start telling groups of people they don't have the right to express their opinions. It's made even worse, when you are misperceiving what their opinions are, which I can guarantee that you are doing if you think everyone you see with a Confederate flag symbol is wishing for the “good old days” of slavery.

Do You Really Care About Black People?

If you want to really do something for the African American community, you could work to stop the failed war on drugs which puts a disproportionate percentage of black people in prison and takes parents away from their children.7) You could work to change hearts and minds about abortion, which takes place in black communities in disproportionate percentages as well.

Planned Parenthood is infamous for having more locations in black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods. Gee, I wonder why that is.8) 9) Oh, maybe it's because Planned Parenthood was started by the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger who said, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”10)

Time For Us Liberals To Admit Some Failures

That's the great irony I have come to allow myself, as a long time liberal, to admit. So many of the liberal programs, ostensibly created to help minorities have not been helpful at all.11) Moreover, many of the policy makers, or their bosses, have always known such policies would not be helpful to them. Wantonly giving out welfare and public housing does not usually lead to uplifting people. (On the other hand, there is a need to have some kind of a safety net to help people who really need help, which would be different than have dole outs which allow people to become dependent.)

If we look at cities with overwhelming Democratic party long term majorities in government, those are the ones where the living conditions of minorities are most reprehensible. I certainly don't think that the Republican party, at the national level, is any better than the Democrats, but it's pretty clear that at the local level, a long term, Democratic stranglehold on politics does not benefit minorities.

The Good Cause Litmus Test That Will Rarely Let You Down

Moreover, the more we allow our attention to be diverted by hype and subterfuge along the lines of banning all things Confederate. the less likely we are to come toward making a difference in the quality of life for minorities and everybody else. If you ever find yourself wondering if a cause is worth devoting your time & effort to, one litmus test that is likely to rarely let you down is to turn on your television. If the network news is hyping it incessantly, it's a pretty damn good bet you should stay away from it.

Issues | Politics | Political Philosophy

1) To clarify, by siding more times than not with liberal positions, I was on the other side of the aisle of family and church members. Nobody I can recall flew the confederate flag.
2) My reaction of now rooting for this flag, reminds me of the time, back in the late 80s or early 90s when there was talk about creating a federal law to make it a felony to burn the American flag. Flag burning is nothing I'm into, but I understand our founding fathers and revolutionary army fought for the right to do such a thing. I told my friend, Reimar, that if such a law were passed, I'd probably break it merely out of protest of the law itself.
3) I can only imagine the chorus of people screaming that there is nothing subjective about that flag being associated with racism, and I understand where they are coming from, but they probably don't understand a lot about civil war politics. For one, it wasn't primarily about slavery. For another, a number of Unionists were slave owners, including General (and future president) Ulysses Grant. However, my main point is that one can't possibly know what is in the heart of everybody who likes the Southern flag, any more than one can be sure that every World War 2 memorabilia collector who owns a Nazi item wants to see the extermination of Jewish people.
4) Examples of the nonsensical territory of political correctness include bans on various Halloween costumes, like cowboys or Indians, at college parties, or Seattle's move to stop city workers from referring to their lunches from homes as, “brown bag” lunches, or the movement to refrain from saying, “husband,” or, “wife,” now that same gender marriage is legal in the United States, etc., etc.

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