Tag Archives: Confederacy

Swastika: most offensive symbol of all

America is going to look back a year ago this weekend as it marks the time a riot broke out in Charlottesville, Va. It started when neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

It got real ugly when counter protesters showed up. One of the counter protesters died. One of the neo-Nazis is accused of murder.

I want to call specific attention to one of the hate groups’ symbols: the swastika.

The Confederate Stars and Bars offends me, too. The swastika, though, takes me to another level of disgust and revulsion. It symbolizes a European regime that started World War II with the aim of conquering the world.

Adolf Hitler’s tyrannical regime flew flags with that symbol while it eradicated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. It sought to subjugate nations under that tyranny.

More to the personal point about why the swastika is so revolting. Men who fought for the Nazi regime in Europe while wearing that emblem sought to kill my favorite U.S. veteran: my father.

Dad served in the U.S. Navy from early 1942 until late 1945. He saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He endured more than three consecutive months of daily aerial bombardment by German and Italian warplanes.

He damn near was killed by men flying with that swastika painted on the wings of their aircraft.

The swastika has become the symbol to this day, along with that Confederate flag, of the Ku Klux Klan; the neo-Nazis, of course, salute the swastika in the manner that it was saluted during those dark days of World War II.

How any American to this day can swear fealty to such an ideology to my mind surrenders his right to be called an American.

But … I know we live in a society that protects political speech no matter how vile it is. The swastika is as vile as it gets.

Glad to see Confederate debate arrive

I am delighted to see that Amarillo, Texas — my current city of residence — has entered a serious debate that many other communities have already joined.

How do we remember those who fought for the Confederate States of America? Should we remember them? Should we forsake them?

This is an important discussion that erupted in August as a riot ensued in Charlottesville, Va. White supremacists, Klansmen and neo-Nazis marched to protest a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. Counter protesters emerged to challenge the first group. A young woman was killed when she was run over by a car allegedly driven by a young man with white supremacists sympathies.

The debate hasn’t really let up since.

Now it’s arrived in Amarillo. On Monday, the Amarillo public school system is going to discuss whether to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School. The Robert E. Lee school situation presents an amazing irony, given that the school is located in a historically black neighborhood. Think of that for a moment: That school is named to honor a man who fought to destroy the United States. And for what purpose? To preserve the enslavement of black Americans!

There’s more discussion about the status of a Confederate soldier statue at Ellwood Park.

A pro-Confederate advocate is urging the City Council to “leave history alone.”

I come at this from a different angle. I am a transplant who chose to move to Amarillo in early 1995. My wife and I came here from Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for nearly 11 years prior to moving to the Panhandle. Indeed, we have witnessed our fair share of racial strife since we moved to Texas in 1984 from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife lived for many years.

Do we honor traitors?

I see the Confederacy as an aftertaste of the nation’s bloodiest armed conflict. The Civil War killed more than 600,000 Americans. Why did they fight? The Confederacy came into being as a protest against federal policy that the Confederate States believed interfered with their own right of self-determination.

Let’s not be coy about what those states wanted to preserve: One of their goals was to maintain slavery.

They separated from the United States of America and then went to war. Where I come from, I consider that an act of treason.

Is that the history we want to preserve? Is that what we honor?

I don’t have any particular concern about those who plaster Confederate flags on their bumpers or fly the Stars and Bars from their car radio antennae. That’s their call. Do I question why they do these things? Sure, but I don’t obsess over it.

Putting these symbols, though, on public property — be they parks or public schools — is another matter.

Preserving and honoring history is fine. I’m all for it. The Civil War, though, represents a dark and grim chapter in our nation’s history that should be remembered, studied and discussed. But do we honor that time? That’s why we have historical museums. We’ve got a damn fine historical museum in Canyon, at the West Texas A&M University campus.

So, let’s have this discussion in Amarillo about the Confederacy. Keep it civil and high-minded.

‘Six Flags’ now all look alike

How about this?

Six Flags Over Texas, the noted theme park in Arlington, has made a fascinating decision about the flags it flies.

The Charlottesville riot and the blowback over symbols of the Confederate States of America has moved Six Flags to replace the various flags with just one: Old Glory.

Six Flags over Texas has removed the various colors it flew. The flags represented France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Stars and Stripes and, yes, the Confederate States of America.

Now all six banners will be the United States national flag, the Old Red, White and Blue.

The outrage over Donald Trump’s comments about the riot, the notion that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted, has prompted this change at the Six Flags theme park. The protest turned into a riot when counter protesters challenged Ku Klux Klansmen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park. A young woman was killed during the riot when she was run over by a motor vehicle allegedly driven by a young man with neo-Nazi sympathies.

Six Flags spokespeople say the park has sought to display flags that illustrate “unity.” Given the harsh response to what transpired in Charlottesville, the park has decided that unity should be displayed in the form of Old Glory.

Which begs another fascinating question: How about the flags that fly during the musical “Texas”? The Texas Panhandle plays host every summer to the acclaimed musical “Texas” at Palo Duro Canyon. The show concludes with horsemen and women riding across the set carrying the “Six Flags” that represented the governments of Texas. One of them is, you guessed it, of the Confederacy.

Will the “Texas” producers follow the lead provided by Six Flags Over Texas? I salute Six Flags for demonstrating remarkable sensitivity to the national mood.

And do I sense a name change at the theme park is in the making?

Confederate flag debate swirls on and on and on …

BBrGYBt

I’m pretty sure that for as long as the Confederate flag flies over official government property that the debate over its meaning will stay front and center on the national stage.

A Mississippi judge has ruled that the state flag — which includes the Confederate emblem — is “un-American.” The reason, said Judge Carlton Reeves, is simple: It represents an effort to break away from the United States of America.

I happen to agree with him. The judge, though, stopped short of ordering the Confederate symbol to be removed from the Mississippi state flag.

Reeves’ opinion came after he heard arguments from an African-American plaintiff who argued that the symbol violates his “dignity.” Carlos Moore, a lawyer, said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage protected citizens’ fundamental rights of dignity.

Reeves, who also is African-American, didn’t issue a definitive ruling on the flag, but said that the symbol of the Confederacy is inherently un-American.

An assistant state attorney general argued that the decision to remove the symbol ought to come from the state legislature, as it is a political issue. Perhaps it is.

I totally understand the anger that the symbol gins up in the minds of Americans. For me, the symbol suggests treason.

The Confederacy came into being by those who wanted to remove themselves from the United States of America. They wanted to create a separate nation. The Confederate States of America then went to war with the U.S. of A., seeking to defeat the United States on the battlefield and then form a sovereign nation that would sanction, among other things, the enslavement of human beings.

Can there be anything more un-American than that?

Stay tuned. This debate is going to fire itself up … all over again.

Strike the rebel flag in S.C.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has done what she had to do.

She signed a bill that brings down the Confederate battle flag that flew in front of the statehouse in Columbia, S.C.

Yes, it’s a mere symbol. However, it’s a powerful symbol … of hate, bigotry, tyranny and enslavement.

The South Carolina legislature debated the issue passionately, but decided ultimately to do what it had to do.

It needed to come down. The context, of course, is the horrifying massacre in that Charleston, S.C., church in which a gunman killed five African-American church members — including its pastor. A young man, Dylann Roof, has been accused of the crime and what we know about young Roof is that he is an avowed racist who waved the Confederate battle flag proudly as a demonstration of his intention to start what he called a “race war.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/south-carolinas-governor-signs-confederate-flag-removal-bill/ar-AAcLNgx

The flag is down and I’m glad about that.

However, one can take this campaign too far. I think it’s starting to veer into some tricky territory. TV Land has stopped showing “Dukes of Hazzard” reruns because the car that Bo and Luke Duke drove in the show had a battle flag emblem on its roof.

Now comes talk of removing Confederate military figures’ statues.

There is a certain historical significance in many of these monuments. These individuals were answering a call to duty. Yes, they were fighting to break up the Union. It’s good, though, to remind ourselves of our nation’s dark moments.

I have no problem with the battle flag coming down in places like South Carolina, where the Civil War started in 1861. The flag has become the emblem of hate; you see it flown at Klan rallies. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles banned the flag from appearing on license plates, and the Supreme Court upheld the state’s right to issue that prohibition.

The flag is a hateful symbol. But not all monuments dedicated to the Confederacy conjure up the same level of intense loathing among so many Americans.

So, let’s seek to dial back the knee-jerk responses to other symbols that carry historic significance.

 

There’s a silver lining in this flag debate

Wait! I think I see a silver lining beginning to shine through as the nation continues this debate over the meaning of a flag.

Americans — all of us — finally might begin to understand the meaning of the Confederacy, why it was formed in the first place and why its place in history has to be put completely in its proper context.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482/

The debate has ignited in the wake of the Charleston, S.C., church massacre. South Carolina legislators have agreed “to debate” whether to take down the rebel flag that flies on the statehouse grounds in Columbia. Let ’em debate, then take the thing down.

But the broader issue must be to determine the Confederacy’s place in American history.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Atlantic magazine: “The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.”

I’ll stipulate here, as if it needs stipulation, that I am not a Southerner by birth. I was born and reared in Oregon, way up yonder in Yankee territory. Oregon became a state on Feb. 14, 1859 and sent troops to battle to fight to preserve the Union. But for the past 31 years, my family and I have lived in Texas, which was one of those Confederate States of America, those states that committed the treasonous act of seceding from the Union and fighting tooth and nail to preserve something called euphemistically “states rights.”

It has been papered over by Confederate apologists ever since that the underlying reason for going to war in the first place was to keep black Americans subjugated. The individuals who governed these Dixie states wanted to maintain the right to flout federal law and that if state officials felt it was OK to allow slave ownership, then they would be willing to fight to the death to preserve that right.

They did. They lost that fight. Yet the justification for going to war remains central to this discussion of “Southern heritage.”

The article attached to this post lays out clearly the intentions of those who decided to go to war with the United States of America. Read the notations taken from that time and you’ll understand why this discussion is important to have and how the tragedy in Charleston has opened up this effort to remind us of why Americans went to war against fellow Americans.

The shooting has stopped but the battle endures. Those who keep insisting that the Civil War was about protecting state sovereignty are going to lose this one, too.

 

Confederacy debate picks up steam

This national discussion we’re having about the Confederacy, its symbols and its place in American history has energized a lot of Americans.

News came out today that Wal-Mart — a company headquartered in Bentonville, Ark. — is pulling its Confederate gear out of its stores.

I mention the hometown of Wal-Mart because it’s in Arkansas, one of the states comprising the Confederate States of America.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/wal-mart-pulls-confederate-flag-products-in-wake-of-shooting/ar-AAbXYMU

The catalyst for this discussion, of course, was that terrible tragedy in Charleston, S.C., where a shooter vented his rage against black people by killing nine people in a church as he reportedly was studying the Bible with them.

Dylann Roof is accused of the crime. Roof, 21, is all but known to be a racist hater, wanting to launch a “race war” in the United States.

The Confederate States of America — and its symbol, the flag that for now flies on the statehouse grounds in South Carolina — committed a treasonous act in 1861 by seceding from the Union and then starting the Civil War with its bombardment of Fort Sumter in, of all places, Charleston Harbor.

The Confederacy long has symbolized treason. Over time it has symbolized hatred of some white people against black people.

Now we see a corporate giant taking its Confederate gear off its shelves.

Yes, the let the discussion continue and let it make clear the things for which the Confederacy stands.

 

Flag = hatred, racism, tragedy

dylann-roof1

Can there be any clearer understanding of why so many Americans despise the Confederate flag and what it symbolizes to them?

Dylann Roof is accused of killing nine black members of a Charleston, S.C., church. He shot them to death while studying Scripture with them in the church. The picture here shows the young holding the flag symbolizing the hatred he reportedly holds in what passes for his heart.

Southern pride? Southern heritage?

I suppose so, if you believe that the Confederate States of America was right to secede from the U.S.A., and then launch the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history. And why did the CSA do that? Because it believed in that euphemistic “states rights” issue … which included allowing states to sanction the enslavement of human beings.

Dylann Roof’s fate has yet to be determined.

His past, as illustrated by this photograph discovered by his racist manifesto, includes this symbol of hate.

Court says Texas can ban Confederate flag

Did hell freeze over when I wasn’t paying enough attention to what was happening down below?

I’m trying to figure out what happened today at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Texas indeed can prohibit people from displaying the Confederate flag on their motor vehicle license plates.

What’s more, one of the court’s more rigid conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined the majority in upholding the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles policy allowing the ban.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/245401-justice-thomas-sides-with-liberals-in-blocking-confederate-license

Great day in the morning!

The court has ruled correctly.

The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans had brought the case to court after the DMV denied its request, with the backing of then-Gov. Rick Perry. The group contended it was a “free speech” issue, that it was allowed by the Constitution to make its statement of pride in the Confederacy.

Other Texans, though, objected mightily. Imagine that. The Confederate States of America seceded from the United States of America in 1861, declared war on the Union, launched the Civil War that killed 600,000 Americans. And why?

Because those states wanted the right to allow their residents to own slaves.

The Confederate flag in question has become a symbol for hate groups ever since. Go to a Klan rally and you’ll see the flag flying.

That is what drew the objection.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, said issuance of specialty plates is a form of “government speech,” not individual speech. Thus, government reserves the right to reject requests such as the one that came from the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans.

So, the state will get to keep making decisions on how folk can adorn their motor vehicle license plates. And if the DMV deems a particular symbol to be hateful in the eyes of Texans, then it won’t be found on our public streets and highways.

 

Supreme Court to hear Confederate plate case

This is going to be an interesting case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans think Texas license plates should carry a design that includes the Confederate flag. Millions of Texans are on their side. Millions of other Texans — as yours truly — think the design is offensive in the extreme.

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/03/21/supreme-court-consider-confederate-license-plates/

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has denied the design, citing a state law that says it can deny a specialty plate “if the design might be offensive to any member of the public.” Former Gov. Rick Perry opposed the design, citing its offensiveness to millions of Texans.

Cut-and-dried, yes? Hardly.

The Sons of the Confederacy think a denial deprives the organization of freedom of speech.

Here’s how the Texas Tribune reported the sequence of events: “The group challenged the DMV’s decision in federal court, but a district judge upheld the state’s decision to restrict what it determined to be offensive content. The Sons of Confederate Veterans appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the lower court’s decision. The court said the DMV had unlawfully discriminated against the Confederate group’s beliefs that the flag was a symbol of Southern heritage in favor of those who were offended by it.”

Southern heritage? I suppose it does represent one element of Southern heritage. That segment happens to include a Civil War that killed 600,000 Americans, a war that was fought over the South’s contention that states had the right to do certain things — such as sanction slavery.

The Confederate flag in the 150-plus years since the end of the Civil War has become a symbol of hate groups who fly the flag proudly whenever they’re protesting issues, such as granting all Americans — including African-American — the right to vote.

The symbol is offensive and should not adorn motor vehicle license plates.

I just hope the Supreme Court sees it that way, too.