It was our honor Sunday to leave our regular charge and preach for a larger congregation in place of a good friend who was not feeling well. For the occasion, we wore an early Father’s Day present: A tie with Confederate soldiers charging over a picket fence. Naturally, the troops had their colors flying high with them. It was a nice, historical piece and we were proud to have it around our neck.
Following the sermon, a visiting lady walked up and told me rather bluntly that my tie was offensive to her. I was a bit startled to say the least, but replied politely that the tie was a celebration of my heritage.
“Well, I’m offended by it,” she sniffed.
I chuckled and said, “Well, you need a history lesson.”
That clearly did offend her so in the interest of kindness, I simply thanked her for the comment and abandoned the subject. But her comment was surprising to say the least. And yes, her skin tone was the same color as mine and her accent was equally as Southern.
The comment stuck with me the rest of the day. I asked a few other folks if they found my tie offensive. Most seemed surprised at the question. No one else was offended, it seemed. I even posed the question later on in the evening to a black lady, a native of New York City of all places.
She laughed at the suggestion she would be offended by it and offered perhaps one of the best lines I could think of in the situation, “I know who won the war.”
While I could be forgiving of a person of color for being offened at an image of the Confederate flag, even that idea vanishes when one educates oneself on the complete history of the flag. And forget what you learned in public school on the issue. Nine times out of ten, it was nothing but the repitition of the same lies that have been in place for 150 years.
I love the Confederate flag. I love the land it represents and I agree with the principals behind it. However, the flag I love has been deeply tarnished by misinformation and by hooded morons who use it as a symbol of hatred.
The traditional Confederate flag with its St. Augustine Cross is what is known as the Battle Flag. It was never adopted as a national flag by the CSA, but rather, it was used by troops under General Nathan Bedford Forrest to represent their outfit.
Those of us that see the Confederate battle flag as a historical symbol refuse to surrender it to the Bedsheet Brigade or the redneck trash who insist on using it without any sort of understanding of its background. It is a much-loved symbol that evokes powerful Southern pride and we’re not going to lay it aside anymore than we would expect the USA to replace Old Glory because it, too, has been misused over the years.
I’m a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My ancestors on every side fought for the Confederacy, and some gave their lives for it. My great-great-great Grandfather William T. Crawley was the last Confederate Sheriff of Clark County when the war ended in 1865. Not one member of our family fought for the Union, and that’s a fact of which I remain proud.
Some dismiss the Confederate battle flag as a sybol of racism. Putting aside its commandeerment by hate groups, it should be noted that racism was almost non-existent in the Old South. Now, before you wonder just want I’m talking about it, consider these facts:
*The Northern state of Illinois banned (yes, banned) blacks from entering it.
*Abraham Lincoln despised blacks and stated that he had not intention of ever making them equal to whites or even allowing them to serve on a jury or hold public office. He also said if he could win back the South without ever freeing a slave, he would do so.
*Slavery flourished in many Northern states and even in Washington, D.C. until and even after the War. Only a constitutional ammendment ended slavery in the North.
*Northern states that ended slavery did so because they did not want the competition for workers. Some did it under fear of a workers revolt. The slaves were not freed; rather, many were sold down South. Laws provided that no current slave would be freed; instead, a prolonged end to slavery was held so Northern slaveowners would not lose their investment and so free blacks would not populate the Northern states.
*The South banned the slave trade long before the war. Slaves were procured and purchased from Northern slave traders.
*Northerners who professed to wanting to end slavery for humanitarian reasons hated blacks, didn’t want them to live in their states, but had no problem selling slaves and purchasing products harvested by slave labor.
*George Washington Carver stayed in the South for the rest of his life after one foray into the North as a teenager. The harsh racism in the North sent him back to the South because he feared for his life.
*The Southern states that left the Union all realized and discussed the steps toward slowly abolishing the practice. But like the North, they realized that for economic reasons, it could not be easily done quickly. Why was the North allowed to get rid of their slaves slowly (freeing none) and the South forced to free theirs?
*Robert E. Lee freed his slaves at the outbreak of the war. Grant’s wife did not until forced to do so by the 14th Amendement.
*There were black slave owners in the North and in the South at the time of the War. In the earliest days, there were white slaves, some of whom were owned by free blacks.
*There were many black Confederates who willingly fought for the South, knowing the hatred the North had for them. Many were slaves of white soldiers, but others were free men of color. Some were like Bird Flanagin of Arkadelphia, who was a body servant to Harris Flanagin. When his master received word that he had been elected governor of Arkansas, he began to prepare to head back to his home state to assume office. Bird asked to stay in his place as a soldier and this was permitted. Until it was discovered in the early 1900s that he was a black man, he received a Confederate pension from the U.S. government, who promptly cut him off because of his race.
And the list could go on. With these facts, how can it be argued that the Confederate Battle flag is a symbol of racism based on history?
Surrender my flag? Not gonna happen.