To start out the new year, I thought I'd begin by responding to a somewhat bizarre and presumptuous piece from the Roanoke (Virginia) Times website concerning how some falsely view the Dixie Cross (Confederate battle flag). It struck me because of so many factual errors that I felt duty bound as a defender of Southern identity, Confederate historical heritage, and true civil rights, to respond to.
The full article can be seen here:
The full article can be seen here:
Now let's begin shall we?
Ryan: The Confederate flag as divisive symbol: Then and Now
By Halford Ryan
Ryan lives in Lexington.
(Nice town. Had the honor of visiting it twice in the last three years. Planning on making it three times in a couple of weeks, but more on that later.)
A symbol stands for something else. (I think that "A symbol stands for something" would work better, plus its a rather obvious statement that a symbol stands for something....everyone with me: DUH!)
The Confederate flag is a symbol, so my task is to determine what the Confederate flag represented and how it is still divisive.
(I would say "this ought to be good" but as yet I've never dealt with a flag hater who's been very eloquent, but let's see what we got here.)
To rebels who began war on the Union at Fort Sumter, the Confederate flag and its battlefield variants embodied Southern patriotism for a new nation ready to assume its place of honor in the Western world.
Founded on “Cotton is King,” the slave-based country would prosper as it supplied cotton, not to mention sugar and rice, that the North and Europe demanded.
(Humm, an A for effort on this paragraph, though the second line is a bit presumptuous as it assumes that slavery in the South would remain a permanent institution. Even its most hard core supporters knew that wasn't going to happen, though many of them did support keeping former slaves as an underclass - that much unfortunately went without saying in the mid-1800s in America, as well as much of Europe's Western culture and its attitudes towards its non-European colonies and native people.)
To Unionists who waged war on the Confederacy after Fort Sumter, the identical flag signified rebellion against the United States of America. One symbol had two meanings to two different sections.
(Well, now that we've established the plainly obvious....)
The flag’s allegiance diverged within the Southern people. Consider the border states.
(Let's do so.)
Five contiguous Southern slave states bordered the North: Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Of these, only Virginia seceded. (Because a US President ordered the governor of said State to recruit volunteers to invade States that already left the Union, an act that some at the time considered outside his executive authority and a violation of the US Constitution.) Four slave states did not perceive their hearth and home to be threatened nor their Southern honor disrespected nor their slaves at risk in the Union. (Humm, I seem to recall that all of these States did in fact have men and boys who joined the Confederate military forces - and that at least two of these States - Kentucky and Missouri - sent representatives to the Confederate Congress. Oopsie!) The Confederate flag unified the seceding slave states but alienated non-seceding sister slave states. (Um, which Confederate flag was that again? Certainly not one of the "battlefield variants" you mentioned before, those were battle flags. The Confederate national colors at the time was the 1st National Banner "The Stars and Bars" - a banner which looked similar to the flag on the United States.)
|Humm, not the Confederate Flag the writer meant I presume.|
The Confederate flag also denoted differently to people in the same state. When Virginian delegates voted to secede on April 17, 1861, the state divided roughly into three parts. With the largest concentration of slaves, the eastern counties and Tidewater Virginia were the most secessionist. With fewer slaves, the northern border counties and the Valley of Virginia were less enthusiastic. With the fewest slaves, (Yet still had them till the end of 1865.) northwestern Virginia counties were pro-Union. (Actually they were pro-Union long before secession, but let's not let details cloud the mindless hatred....oops, I mean the story. Carry on.)
Northwestern Virginia, which became the state of West Virginia in 1863, was discordant to Virginians. These counties enacted a logical progression. Once the secessionist principle was enacted by the Old Dominion, northwestern Virginians seceded from Virginia’s secession. That fact also reveals that not all Virginians perceived a duty to support their state’s slave-based secession from the Union. (And yet they committed the very same act that of secession their pro-slavery cousins committed against the Union that was sooo desperate to get them back they sent an invading army to force them back. If two "wrongs" don't make a "right" then your point is a bit lost here.)
A similar situation arose in two other states. The South had difficulty in drafting soldiers to fight under the flag from eastern counties in Tennessee and western counties in North Carolina. (Just like the North had difficulty drafting soldiers from southern Illinois and most of the for-mentioned Border States, not to mention those wild and crazy Irishmen in New York who actually set off one of the worst race riots in American history in July 1863. Face it, drafting was never popular in America no matter where you lived.) These areas resembled present-day West Virginia: a mountainous terrain not conducive to the peculiar institution. (Yet they still had it and many of those pro-Unionists were themselves slaveowners.) Since few slaves were in those regions, white plebeians did not want to fight for white patrician slavers. (Truth be told not many of them fought for the Union either, but again why let a little detail like that ruin a good - well, modestly entertaining - argument.)
The facts are inescapable. (And most of the ones presented have a good many holes in them....)With the greatest concentration of Negro slaves, the Deep South (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas) seceded first. With relatively fewer slaves, the Upper South (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas), seceded in the second wave. With even fewer slaves, four border slave states remained in the Union. (More like two officially, and two that was split down the middle, and one that left on its own.) No free state joined the Confederacy. (Um, considering how they viewed the Constitution, all of the States were "free states"....or at least independent and sovereign ones. But I don't suppose you meant it that way.)
The Confederate flag itself is a misrepresentation regarding the symbolic number of stars emblazoned thereon. (Already shown that's a factual error.) The Confederacy’s founding fathers recognized the patriotic point inherent in the number 13, which resonated with the original 13 rebellious colonies. (Bravo! Finally a smart analysis.) The Confederacy enticed a mere 11 slave states into secession. (And "Boom Goes The Dynamite!" LOL sorry had to say it!) Only four of these were from the original 13 colonies. (My home state of South Carolina - the State where the American Revolutionary War was more or less decided - was proudly one of them!) In order to manage the magical 13 stars, Dixie’s founding fathers fudged Kentucky and Missouri as shadow governments in the Confederate Congress. (Humm, according to pro-Unionists, all the pro-Confederate governments were "shadow governments" and therefore illegitimate....what's two more?) Whatever else the Confederate flag is to its adherents, (Living cultural and hereditary symbol of Southern identity and heritage to descendants of Confederate soldiers, memorial for the honored dead.) it represents a factual falsification. (Wow try saying that last line five times fast! He he!)
Chauvinistic Neo-Confederates (Um...huh? How did we establish that one? Sorta out of the ballpark there dude, and factually in error.) and their fellow travelers want currently to hawk the Stars and Bars without regard for its historical, symbolic and divisive impact on others.
(First of all, a little history check here: we established the Stars and Bars is NOT the battle flag you speak of. And secondly, us "travelers" - I won't even bother with the nonsensical term "neo-Confederate" today - very much care about its impact on others. We seek to eliminate the fear that flag wrongly inflicts in the hands of haters and bigots....and have been somewhat successful in the last decade at doing so, I am proud to say.)
But many recognize the flag’s disruptive symbolism for what it was then and for what it is now. (Only those who seek to hold back true progress and continue to submit to a pro-racist status quo view of that flag and feed the sin of hatred, both against American minorities, and against Southern people everywhere regardless of their race and creed.) They do not honor the flag now nor respect what it stood for then. (Wow the arrogance and presumption there....)
The Confederate flag in 1861-65 symbolized exactly what it signifies in 2014: rebellion over slavery against the United States of America. (Really? And here I thought that battle flag symbolized an army of men and boys who were protecting their homes from a destructive invasion by a government that claimed to represent them. Humm, apples and oranges.) Despite Neo-Confederates’ (That silly term again, you're dropping well into the double-digit IQ category there my friend.) efforts to rationalize, justify and defend their flag, they cannot suppress its irrepressible divisive symbolism of slavery and secession wherever and whenever displayed, then and now. (Well, that ended with more presumption. Truth is that those who support that flag are aware of the fact that slavery is tied to it, along with other negative aspects in its history since the end of the War Between The States. I certainly don't shy away from it, though I would put it in proper context and remind you that the flag of the United States - the Union you so cherish - was itself founded on secession, and slavery was a major part of its history for ninety years, that's eighty-six more years that the CSA had, or probably ever would have had even if they somehow lucked out and won that war. Yet somehow we as a nation can remember that slavery past in regards to the US flag and still maintain a love for its deeper meaning. Surely the same can be done for the battle flag of the Southland?)
(Sigh) Well folks, I have to go take a shower - I always do whenever I read something disguised as a reasoned argument that turns out to be little more than a thinly veiled excuse for some pretentious Leftist puppet to show off how smart they think they are. The most fun is taking apart their argument and showing off how morally and factual bankrupt they truly are. My job is done here.
Wait, maybe not.
I see that Mr. Ryan himself lives in Lexington, VA. What a coincidence! I plan a trip to that very same spot in two weeks to take part in the annual memorial service and parade in honor of Lee-Jackson Day (Jan. 17 in Virginia).
Perhaps Mr. Ryan would like to attend the services himself as my guest. I invite him to spend a few hours actually talking to the people he choose to label "neo-Confederates" face to face, learn who they are as individuals rather than stereotypes, and maybe - just maybe - learn a different perspective about the modern view of that flag, one not based on media hype and politically correct intellectual fascism.
I will send him the link and wait for his response.
Guess what folks? He didn't take me up on my offer. Wish I could say I was disappointed, but I'm not. I am after all The Man Deniers Fear Most.