Joseph Cotto, 6/30/2015 [Archive]

Political Correctness and the Confederate Flag

By Joseph Cotto

More and more people want the Confederate flag gone immediately. Before getting too hasty, though, some things must be considered.

First and foremost, anti-Confederate heritage forces have honed in on the battle flag flying at a war memorial on South Carolina statehouse grounds. While Dylann Roof is from the Palmetto State and unleashed his savagery there, no proof exists that the memorial site inspired his actions.

Second, remember this flag indeed flies at a memorial on the statehouse lawn, not over the capitol as erroneous reportage indicated. Generally speaking, all war memorials, irrespective of which military they honor, feature a standalone flag if one has not been chiseled into the focal statue.

Third, in Roof's wake, several prominent retailers have banned the sale of any items featuring the Confederate flag. It is doubtful that most Americans realize there were an array of official Confederate flags, and none of these other than the battle flag were displayed by Roof.

Anti-Confederate heritage activists believe that any Civil War flag linked to the South ought not be flown. This is chalked up to Southerners fighting for secession so their respective states could maintain slavery, in addition to how the battle flag was used during the Civil Rights Era.

The logic behind this argument is far from shoddy. However, if taken to its conclusion, we must also consider the Stars and Stripes a symbol of bigotry and oppression deserving immediate replacement.

Why?

Slavery was legal for much longer under Old Glory than it ever was in the Confederate States of America; not surprising as the Confederacy barely lasted four years. However, Union states that allowed slave ownership were granted a green light after the Civil War ended. The Emancipation Proclamation meant nothing insofar as Union slaves were concerned.

What about acts of genocide against American Indian tribes before and after the Civil War? Numerous tribes were massacred or pushed toward inhospitable lands while the U.S. flag flew overhead. Interestingly enough, American Indians were so infuriated that scores fought with the Confederacy; several becoming high-ranking officers.

On to civil rights: During World War II, Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were rounded up, shoved into transports, and left at various internment camps. They had done nothing illegal, but Franklin D. Roosevelt still wanted them behind barbed wire. All the while, the Stars and Stripes were unfurled.

When the Ku Klux Klan revived itself during the early twentieth century, national rallies in Washington, D.C. were conducted with the American flag waving about. Even some segregationists chose to ignore anything Confederate and spread their message with Old Glory each step of the way.

Quite often, we hear that the architects of the confederacy were traitors to the United States who plotted a fight so they could reap the benefits of slave labor. This is undeniably accurate. It is also true that America's founding fathers were treasonous to Great Britain and declared war against their motherland so slavery, among other institutions, could be preserved.

In spite of all this, no one is calling for the Stars and Stripes to be swapped. When looking at past events, no small number of people will see only what they want to see.

So, if certain individuals yearn for the Confederate flag's disintegration into the ash heap of history, that is understandable. On this note, however, they should be men and women of their word by admitting that the US flag is no less mired by tragedy. In fact, it cast a shadow over exponentially more heinous incidents.

From my perspective, a country's flag is simply that. It constitutes a piece of cloth with a specific design meant to signify a geographical area. A flag also can tell of this region's history and culture, but that's all; unless it depicts words or symbolism denoting cruelty.

Both the U.S. and Confederate flags have stars and stripes. They are not like the flag of, say, Nazi Germany, which centralizes an ancient sign twisted to have explicitly vile meaning.

We should all realize that history cannot be altered by contemporary doctrines of political correctness. Only by correctly observing historical data can we learn from previous generations' errors and build a better future.

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Copyright 2015 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 joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

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