Joseph Cotto, 5/16/2016 [Archive]

Trump, Confederate Flags and Truthfulness

By Joseph Cotto

So far, this presidential election has been a case study in making something out of nothing, especially regarding Donald Trump.

Whether it be unsubstantiated allegations of him inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars or absurd innuendo concerning his personal matters, much has been ado about zilch.

While this speaks no ill about Trump, it says a great deal insofar as the social climate of our country is concerned. For untold millions, truth stands an entirely relative affair; whatever narrative they prefer reigns supreme, irrespective of objective reality.

Such a sad situation existed before Trump became the GOP's shining star. The mayhem was apparent last summer, after a drug-addicted white supremacist slaughtered several black churchgoers in Charleston. Before his rampage, the assailant photographed himself holding a Confederate battle flag.

Longtime opponents of this flag — who despise Southern culture on general principle — used the tragedy for politicking. They called for Confederate flags of all stripes, as well as Rebel monuments, to be cleared off public property. Major retailers were bullied into dropping merchandise that depicted the Confederate banner.

Rebel national and military flags were blamed for the savagery of a young man whose mental disturbance reached lethal proportions. Not much was said about psychotropic drugs or easy access to firearms.

In their zeal to eradicate trappings of the "Lost Cause," anti-Southern bigots called attention to the flags of Mississippi and Florida. The former features a frank portrayal of General Robert E. Lee's military banner. The latter, meanwhile, does not even include Confederate symbolism.

What was the problem, then?

An amendment made to the Florida constitution in 1900 stipulated that "(t)he State flag shall be of the following proportions and description: ... The seal of the State ... in the center of a white ground. Red bars ... extending from each corner toward the center, to the outer rim of the seal."

Albeit Florida's seal having changed, the overall flag design remains. Anti-Southerners claimed the bars were holdovers from the Confederate battle standard. Even though nary a word of Florida law confirmed this, select 'history' buffs parroted it as gospel.

Eventually, the Orlando Sentinel set things straight. During an interactive online series about flags that flew over Florida, it was acknowledged that the red bars have nothing to do with Stonewall Jackson or Richmond.

Rather, they are the St. Patrick's Saltire; a representation of the Anglo-Irish people — English folks who settled Eire, mainly after Oliver Cromwell defeated the dissident Catholic Confederation. The bars symbolize Ireland being united with Westminster, not to mention the Protestant perspective on St. Patrick's life story.

Therefore, Florida's banner reveres the American Confederacy to the same extent flags of New York and Massachusetts do. It might well be an Irish republican's worst nightmare, however.

The Florida Department of State maintains that its flag depicts a Scottish St. Andrew's Cross, bizarrely described as having "diagonal red bars". Perhaps the bright lights in Tallahassee never met a Scot, let alone visited Alba. Whatever the case, their conclusion is far off.

To my knowledge, not a single mind was changed by the historical explanation of Florida's 'Confederate' flag. I never heard any apologies from those who pilloried it as a symbol of white supremacy, slave ownership, and domestic militancy.

Quite strange that the Confederate flags are derided for these things, yet little is said when Old Glory is unfurled — a banner under which considerably more white-on-black villainy, slave labor, and militia maneuvering took place.

Is consistency too much to ask for?

Social justice warriors care nothing for an intellectual debate. Instead, they harbor deep resentment — if not hatred — for certain types of individuals and cultures. Propagandist narratives are concocted to further their views. As a result, the public is both misinformed and manipulated by manifestly dishonest brokers.

This phenomenon has shifted from Confederate imagery to Florida's flag to Donald Trump. It finally reached, of all men, Bernie Sanders. After everything else was airborne, Hillary Clinton's cronies unhinged the kitchen sink and chucked it at his campaign.

Mass, instantaneous communication has brought many good things to America. On the flip side, it allows for bald-faced lies to run around the world in 80 seconds.

How can the truth compete? Concerned citizens beware.


Copyright 2016 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

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