Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why the Confederate Flag?

Civil War Monument and Cemetery in Owingsville, KY. Attribution conditional Fair Use license by C. Bedford Crenshaw

You look out at the great sacrifices of the past, those who have come, fought and died for family, land and what they valued, for the old and the young, giving their lives when they had barely begun for a home they would never see again, entire generations massacred, their blood trampled in the wine press. Proud flags flying high over the hills, strong spirits screaming loud through the valleys, young men in their prime, following orders from generals who drive up death tolls because they don't understand that the protective formations they were taught so long ago are killing their men in greater numbers now. Deaths by the thousands, thousands of unique individuals destroyed from the earth, cast to the uncertainty of the cold grave with bullets in their chest, broken bones, agonizing infections and tears of terror and rivers of blood dripping down their face as they look up in to the eternal sky for their final moments on Earth.

It's no wonder that such a thing would leave an imprint on a people. And it's no surprise that those who lived took back both horror and pride at their ordeal and their survival. It is true that it has not been forgotten, though it is untrue that people are bitter - that's something Yankees like to think. But there is a proud rivalry, and like it or not, people down here think of themselves as American AND Southern at equal levels.

It is true that to some people find the Confederate Battle Flag offensive. It is also true that it stands for many things to many people.

To me, this symbol stands for the following: standing up for yourself, especially local vs. national, the cultures of the Southeastern United States, both refined and otherwise, rebellion from oppression, and standing up for the weak against the moneyed interest of Northern Industrialists, and a better, more honest America. There are two groups of people who object tot this symbol.

Addressing the first group: This symbol also stands for History, and who Southerners are as a people, and that's where I think some people, though they do not realize the source, object to it. Some people would erase the past. This is especially common among the white, educated wealthy Southerner who doesn't want to be associated with redneck land, slavery and past abuses. They would take all the pain, all the death, the agony, the abuses, and throw it out, but they don't realize it runs in their blood, and they don't realize that it's a complete package. You can't have a past and have no pain, you can't have a future and have no values, and values are rooted in the past as they have to be. You can't stand for something - and destroy yourself so someone doesn't get angry at you or feel hurt.

Some people would lie, and demand that others do so. The minute they here a criticism, an idea they don't like, they demand an apology, surrounding themselves with yes men. They demand conformity, comfort, and what isn't theirs. They don't care what's inside the dish, they never did and never will. To them, there's no value to anything that can't be seen and therefore doesn't touch their petty hearts. As we lie and lie and lie, our enemies become clouded in fog, our up becomes down, our down becomes up, our anger becomes passive aggression, divisions become permaneant as people are too afraid to express them, and they pass them on to their children and their friends to express themselves the only way they can. Lawfulness becomes a joke, and the individual becomes condemned to a spiral of delusion, deceit, and paranoid back watching.

But there's one other group, those who have memories of their own, and those who believe they are standing up for them. These memories are sad, and true, and I deeply regret what has happened to those people. But to allow these racial terrorists to steal symbols that stand for the South, good and bad, is to let them win. See, to let them steal our values, our past, our lives from us by the inevitable rubbing out that accompanies this silencing is to ennoble them, to promote them, to give them free space in our hearts and minds, in our memories and in our soul. You take the symbols, the analogies, the stories, the way of living, and you push it out of public sight, along with those who still cherish it lovingly delivered to Satan for his evil use. It is to give them, our Satan, Southern history, to give them Southern culture, to give them the South, along with many of the people who reside in it.

You can't destroy everything just because of a flaw, for if you did, the fires would burn the entire Earth to ashes, for there is nothing that is flawless on Earth. There is still a lot that is beautiful about the South: the millitary tradition, the sense of honor, the hospitality, the delicate style and refinement of Southern art, architecture and design, an extremely open society that includes people much more readily then it excludes them, the sense of history and the deeper side of life, and a quiet stubborn strength that will not submit to anyone, under any conditions, often to the aggravation of Dixieland itself!

Those whose character is destroyed have no values, no roots, no sense of history or depth, no idea of who they are. Maybe they can discover it, but that takes years, years wasted, years lost, years never seen again. Why waste the youth of our children over pettiness? Especially since they may well turn out exactly like we did anyways.

We can't just abandon our past. It is part of us, and we are a product of our past more then anything else. The Confederate Flag will continue to be the standard of this website, for now and the future to come, exactly because I hope to promote its use as a symbol of the South and Culture in general.

9 comments:

Julio said...

To me, the Nazi flag is about standing up for yourself, especially national vs. international, the cultures of Germany, both refined and otherwise, rebellion from oppression, and standing up for the weak against the moneyed interest of Western European Industrialists, and a better, more honest America.

You can pretend slavery didn't exist, but that doesn't mean slavery didn't exist. The Civil War was about maintaining free labor, regardless of whether it was the only way they thought they could compete with the North. The fact is that you're just a stupid redneck from Georgia who doesn't think slavery was that bad of a thing anyway and that black people should just pretend that it never happened just like white people have been pretending for 150 years.

Julio said...

and since you're not as bright as you'd like to think you are, what I just said refers to the Confederate flag and all the "Southern Pride" bullshit that it represents. "Southern Pride" is a convoluted attempt to remove slavery from the forefront of the Civil War, and to further an underhanded attempt to pretend that slavery (which ended 150 years ago) and Jim Crow (which ended 60 years ago) never happened, or that we should FORGET it happened and to PRETEND that it's no longer relevant.

Also, what's up with the "Moneye'd interests" of the industrialized north? There wasn't money in slavery? You ARE about as dumb and backwards as I would expect from a Georgian college student.

Rene Monroe said...

It is rather strange the way that the confederate flag has been demonized. While yes the confederate flag may have a...colorful history that does not solely define it.

My family comes from down south, and I have always understood the flag to represent southern pride as you have talked about.

However my family has also said that while it may have a history that is tied with racism, so does the North but the north is no longer defined by slavery so why should the confederate flag?

Anyway, I feel that this was a wonderful blog. I really enjoyed it. I guess what I am trying to say is that though there are a small minority who may or may have utilized the Confederate flag to instill fear, that is not why the majority of Southerners fly this flag. They fly it because they are proud of their heritage as a Southerner and that is what should be looked upon, and not the actions of a select minority.

Jeremy Janson said...

@PJ:

"You can pretend slavery didn't exist, but that doesn't mean slavery didn't exist"

From my post: "We can't just abandon our past." But also from my post: "Those whose character is destroyed have no values, no roots, no sense of history or depth, no idea of who they are."

"The Civil War was about maintaining free labor, regardless of whether it was the only way they thought they could compete with the North."

That's part of where you're wrong.

It was also about trade policy and the way that the strict tariffs and controls of American Commerce held the South back for the profit of the North. That's part of what I meant by "greedy Northern Industrialists."

It was also about a nation that had far more centralized power in government then the founders intended, and could elect a president who didn't even appear on the ballot in some Southern States and didn't win a single Southern Electoral Vote, be elected to the highest office in the land. This wouldn't have been an issue if Andrew Jackson hadn't driven the Cherokee Indians off their land against the objections of the State Government of Georgia.

Criticize all you want, but the only place in the US I know of where a black man will be beat up or killed for just walking in to the wrong part of town is Boston, MA.

"The fact is that you're just a stupid redneck from Georgia who doesn't think slavery was that bad of a thing anyway..."

Well that's not bigoted! ;)

Although I will say PJ, this is no better then I expected from you. Your not going to make the world a more civil, just, liberated, openminded and equitable place by calling people who disagree with you rednecks and making fun of homeless people, like you do on your blog.

""Southern Pride" is a convoluted attempt to remove slavery from the forefront of the Civil War, and to further an underhanded attempt to pretend that slavery (which ended 150 years ago) and Jim Crow (which ended 60 years ago) never happened"

Since when? You're using a tiny, tiny minority and calling that the entire sample.

"There wasn't money in slavery?"

Not as much as heavy industry pal! All the wealthiest men in America at that time were Northerners. Your average Southern White was too poor to afford shoes! Even your average plantation owner would've been called "merely rich." The only reason slavery even still existed, against the far lower costs afforded by machinery, was because slaves gave birth to new slaves giving you a depreciation cost of nearly zero. New plantations weren't even being built. Even Alabama and Virginia saw most of their growth after 1820 or so come from industry and timber, Kentucky and Tennessee from small family owned farms, Georgia and Louisiana from railroads and banking, and Texas from beef which requires highly skilled (and well-armed) cowboys.

Jeremy Janson said...

@RM: Thanks for stopping by. It's not an easy thing to say. I had to rewrite this post 5 times before I got it right. It's so emotional, and it's easy to get angry. I guess some people just get lost in one part of the picture, but the world is just so much bigger then that, and so is human history.

lot 2 learn said...

Say what you feel J, thats the only way to do it.
The Jackasses that are destroying our country have re-written all the history books so that no one really knows what happened in the past.
I am a proud decendant of confederate soldiers and have had the guns, the money, the land, and the stories passed down to me from generations.
People do not know that the industrialists wanted to run out the small farmers and wanted to allow the government to take over the small farms. They do not know about the northern banks buying up notes using government money, and forclosing on farms and crops for no reason.
They do not know that when the decision to wage war was made, slavery was a propaganda tool
and one more thing before I waste anymore of your space,
Julio, KISS MY REDNECK ASS
Keep your flag my friend

Jason The Bald Guy said...

Hey good post! I understand that a lot of people will continue to misunderstand your perspective, but honestly that is their problem not yours.. oh and regarding my redneck comment on Blogcatalog... it was all in fun.. I am originally from Louisiana lived there 30 years ;)

Tiffany Marcotte said...

I was raised in Arizona and honestly didn't really give the Confederate Flag much thought. When I would see one I would wonder what it meant to person who had it. This post enlightened me and answered the question I wasn't bold enough to ask: Was it a Racist thing?

I've concluded that sometimes it might be but other times it might be a case like yours! Southern Pride!

I like the South and the Southern hospitality! Grear Post! I You gave such a dignified and valid answer back to the Negative Nancy :) Good job.

Anonymous said...

I grew up around Atlanta for over 12 years. I have seen plenty of Confederate flags around the places where I lived. Intresting enough that those places were diverse and that most people got along with eachother. The Confederate flag is offensive to alot of people, but it would also be offensive if the United States outlawed the Confederate flag.