Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Attack on Our Flag Deserves a Response

The opinion column (reproduced below) by Charles Dean of the Huntsville (Alabama) Times is dated April 1, 2015, but it is not an April Fool's joke. The fool is Mr. Dean.  This man's attack on the symbol under which our ancestor's fought and died is as hateful as it is uninformed.
I suggest that each of us send Mr. Dean an e-mail, and let him now that he, not us, is the one guilty of bigotry here. Please compose your letters to him as gentlemen of a great tradition, taking the high road in the way of General Lee.
Chief of Heritage Operations Ben Jones' letter:
Mr. Dean,
You are practicing what serious historians call "presentism", i.e., assuming that folks who lived 150  years ago can be judged in a modern context. And apparently you have not read Mr. Lincoln's First Inaugural, where he   said that he had no desire to end slavery in the South. He said in that address that it was Constitutionally protected.
He also said he supported the Corwin Amendment, which would re-enforce that position.
Apparently too, you have not read his letter to Horace Greeley written well into the second year of the War, when he said that if he could preserve the Union with slavery, that would be fine.
And you have forgotten that slavery was not the Southern sin, but the National sin. For the cotton, and most of the profits went North. Read "Complicity" or "The Half Has Not Been Told."
I hear the sound of jerking knees, Mr. Dean. Do your homework. Read the full history of slavery in this nation.
Accept that our nation's Capital is named after Virginia's biggest slaver, whose picture is probably in your wallet.
Accept that our Declaration of Independence was written by another slaver, and that the "Father of our Constitution" and the force behind our Bill of Rights also bought and sold human beings.
Understand that they were of the previous generation of Southern leadership, and were of the same mind as their sons and grandsons.
Your sophomoric simplification of a very complex issue is terribly amateurish, and is an insult to the 70 million Americans whose ancestors took up arms for the Southern Cause.
Ben Jones
Washington, Virginia
Original Article Follows:
The photo above (not shown here) ran with this headline on Monday: How did the Confederate flag become a symbol of racism?
My first thought was: Is this a trick question? My second thought was that my friend and colleague Leada Gore was setting a trap for me. My third thought was: don't do it! Don't fall for it and answer the question.
Alas I lacked will power. So here are some answers:
The Confederate flag became a symbol of racism the minute it was designed and made and unfurled on its first battlefield where under it a rebellious army fought to defend slavery.
I can hear some of you now: the war was not about slavery! It was about states' rights!
And I agree with you. It was fought over what the southern states saw as their right to continue - slavery.
No, you say. You say it was fought over economic issues. And again I agree. It was fought over economic concerns, chief among them what Alabama and the other southern states saw as their right to operate their economies which were built around slavery.
How long are we going to have this fight? How much longer are we going to commonly fly a flag that belongs only in museums? How much longer are we going to defend a symbol that was flown to defend a system that treated people like cattle? How much longer are we going to say it's part of our proud southern heritage? Slavery. Jim Crow. Lynchings. Segregation. Four little girls killed while in church because of the color of their skin.
When did the Confederate flag became a symbol of racism?
From the moment of its creation.