18 August 2017

Heritage

Defenders of the Confederate flag and Confederate statues often claim that these are actually symbols of Southern "heritage" and identity, not of racism or slavery, and that they should therefore be accepted and respected the same way as any country's flag and statues of its heroes are.

Aside from the fact that most of the statues were actually put up long after the Civil War as an expression of dominance over the still-subjugated black population, there's another reason why this is a very odd argument.

"The South" as a culturally-distinct region dates back to colonial times.  Out of this quarter-millennium-plus of history, Confederate symbols represent only the four-year period (1861-1865) when the South was in active rebellion against the rest of the United States, not only practicing slavery but explicitly fighting a war to preserve it (and yes, the Civil War was fought to preserve slavery).  Why single out the most evil and embarrassing four-year period in that long history to commemorate with symbols?

To really see how bizarre this is, imagine if some Germans insisted on displaying Nazis flags and statues of Nazi leaders, but claimed that this was out of pride in their German heritage and nothing to do with anti-Semitism or fascism.  Germany as a culturally-distinct region is more than a thousand years old and can boast world-class achievements in science, technology, music, literature, architecture, and on and on.  To ignore all that, and choose symbols representing solely Germany's twelve-year lurch into the darkest depths of evil, would strongly suggest that what they were really commemorating was not German heritage at all, but rather that very evil.

So it is with the Confederate flag and statues.  To treat these as if they were the epitome of the Southern heritage, the symbols best suited to express it, actually demeans that heritage by presenting only its worst face as if that represented the whole.

4 Comments:

Blogger Mycue23 said...

An incredibly well thought out and rational argument. The stupid and willfully ignorant will continue to ignore reason and basic human decency because it's their "right" to do so.

18 August, 2017 07:51  
Blogger Dave Miller said...

Amen amigo...

18 August, 2017 17:53  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Their heritage is hate. As you make clear the time frame modern conservatives mythologise is the war.

18 August, 2017 19:19  
Blogger Tommykey said...

You wrote the post I intended to write! The only thing I would have added is that why do the people who fought to defend the Confederacy deserve to be honored more than the African Americans enslaved under it and the Southern whites who did not want to fight for the Confederacy.

20 August, 2017 07:03  

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