After the Colonies rebelled against England and won their independence, they operated for a time under the Articles of Confederation. This first attempt at founding an association of free states proved unworkable, and a new Constitution was created. That Constitution enshrined slavery, counted slaves as 3/5 of a person, and would not have been passed if it had not. At the time of its passage, the issue of slavery was already contentious, and one of the compromises necessary to see its adoption was that for a certain period, the new Federal government would not address the issue.
As time progressed, the northern states- largely industrial- became even less dependent upon slave labor (though many prominent Northerners still had slaves) and the South – largely agrarian – did not. As slavery became more repugnant to more people, it is perhaps not surprising that this caused a schism between the two groups. And perhaps this would have been handled diplomatically, but, for various reasons, it was not.
Now, it is important to understand that the Civil War did not start over slavery. Read the words of the people who were there. Even those in the North did not believe slavery was the reason for the war. Certainly it was a reason for the war. Certainly had slavery been abolished voluntarily by all parties, there would have been less reason for the war. But there still would have been reason for it.
The Southern States, already skeptical of the Federal Government, had 50 years of grievances about what they saw as Federal Overreach. The election of Abraham Lincoln and the still new Republican party – on a forced abolition platform – was a sign to the Southern States that the North no longer respected their sovereignty. They seceded. A war between the states was waged.
Now, this little history lesson is not a defense of slavery, which was and is a hateful institution. It is not a defense of the Republican party, which is and has been the party of Liberty and Union. It is a defense of Honor. Whatever you think of their motives – and, again, slavery in and of itself was not at issue – the Confederates were noble, honorable, and courageous. We in the south venerate those heroes who were willing to die for what they believed.
Fast forward to today. A crazy racist killed nine men and women in Charleston, South Carolina. A picture was found with him holding the flag commonly referred to as the Confederate Flag, more accurately referred to as the Confederate Battle Flag, and most accurately referred to as the Virginia Army Flag. And Progressives, some looking for anything to blame other than the criminal, others seizing main chance, immediately blamed the flag for the despicable act.
Showing an unfortunate lack of historical knowledge, Mitt Romney called for the removal of the flag from the South Carolina State House grounds. Reacting, I must hope, more on fear than on principle, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for its removal.
Were that all that had happened, this post would not exist, but it is not all that has happened. Since those two misguided announcements, the furor over the flag has grown. Stores like Wal-Mart and Amazon stopped selling renditions of the flag. Apple removed all games which contain the now-hated symbol from it’s app store. Apparently representing history is now a hate crime. People have called for the destruction of statues and monuments to Confederate figures.
This is sad and amazing to me. Forget the flag itself – the history lesson was only to show that there is proper reverence which can be shown for it – this “Ban All the Things” mentality is dangerous and un-American. Capitulation to these demands is even more dangerous and un-American. It sets a precedent – one I do not believe we wish to set.
Today it is a symbol which can honestly be viewed as a symbol of hate and racism (I do not deny that the flag has picked up those connotations). But more than that, it is calls to erase history. The Gettysburg museum has removed all of its merchandise with the symbol. Where does it stop?
For Progressives, it doesn’t. Today it is the flag and some monuments. What will it be tomorrow? There are already calls for more “gun control” laws, as though they would have done anything to stop this horrific crime. Karl Rove has said that the only gun control strong enough would be complete confiscation – and he is wrong, even that would not be enough.
They want to ban our Right to act on our beliefs.
They want to ban our Right to say what we think.
They want to ban our Right to defend ourselves – both from criminals and from tyrants.
The longer we wait to tell them, “no,” the harder it will be to do, and the more likely we will either be forced into silence, or be forced into violence.