This photo of the Confederate flag has been getting around Facebook. The message printed on it reads as follows. The rebel flag was the flag of the Confederate States of America. A lot of people are offended by rebel flags because they believe that they symbolize racism. Quite the contrary. Rebel flags are not racist. The Civil War erupted over states’ rights, not slavery. The south was mostly people in favor of states’ rights. And the north was mostly people who wanted the national government to have more power over the states. Please. Learn your history before you judge. History may repeat itself…
First, that a lot of people might see this flag as a symbol of racism seems perfectly understandable. After all, the flag represented the confederacy and the people of the confederacy believed in holding a race of people in slavery.
Even after the war was won by the union and the confederacy was dissolved, the “freed” slaves were still oppressed, murdered and RAPED by the former confederates for many decades to follow into the next century. One has to wonder why anybody would fly a confederate flag in modern times. The symbol carries no positive feelings for the race of people who suffered under the people that once called themselves a confederacy. Displaying a rebel flag would be much like posting a huge crime scene photo of your murdered child in the back window of my pick-up truck after I was acquitted of the crime that I bragged of committing. Would you not be offended?
While it is true that friction between the north and the south started over states’ rights, it had everything to do with slavery. The issue of states’ rights was compounded by the voter populations in southern states being less than in the north. The southern states, with their agricultural economy built on the backs of slaves, had less representation in congress for lack of a population of white voters . Enslaved black men could not vote and had no rights as citizens. However, they were counted as three-fifths of a white man in order to artificially inflate the voter population and gain southern representation in congress.
Then there was the Missouri Compromise which allowed Maine to be admitted to the Union only on agreement that Missouri would be admitted as a slave state and, thus, maintain the balance of slave and non-slave states. As the western U.S. opened up, succession of the southern slave states was pretty much inevitable.
President Lincoln even tried to make the war not about slavery. He said openly that he wanted only to maintain the Union, with or without slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was only a timed political move that was of minimal, if any, benefit.
The president, though he held genuine compassion for the suffering of slaves, was a racist. He believed black people to be inferior. He did not believe that they would ever be able to coexist among whites. President Lincoln favored sending black people to Africa to form colonies.
Indeed, there was an issue of states’ rights that started with drafting the constitution. In interests of states’ rights slavery was ignored in the constitution. It was left to fester and swell so that it oozed nastiness into the hearts of Americans over the years and well into the 19th century. Southerners feared and hated northern abolitionists.
A good illustration of the rebel flag as a symbol of racism comes from a story once told to me by a southern black man with whom I was acquainted through work. He and another black man were on the side of the road after dark, suspecting a problem with their car. One white man in a pick-up truck, displaying a rebel flag in the back window, pulled up behind them.
On one hand, it seems possible that the white man was just a southern good ol’ boy, who was proud of his heritage and willing to help out anyone in need. On the other hand and for reasons that ran generations deep, the black men were conditioned to fear white men with confederate flags. They left before the white man could get out of his truck.
States' rights, racism and the rebel flag are just three braids of the same rope. Please learn your history before you judge. This horrible period in our history must not happen again
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