Tag Archives: Confederate Battle Flag

Fly ‘that flag’ proudly … on your own property

battle flag

An interesting question came to me the other day on my first day back at work after taking a two-week trek through Texas.

“Did you see many Confederate flags on your travels through the state?” my friend asked.

Well, not “many,” but certainly more than a tiny smattering.

Which brings me to the point. I do not object to the sight of the Confederate flag on people’s personal property: their motor vehicles or on their RVs when they’re parked.

It’s the public-property display of the flag that irks me — and no doubt others.

We pulled our fifth wheel through North Texas, down through the Piney Woods of East Texas (which is about as “Dixie” as it can get in Texas), along the Gulf Coast, back to the Hill Country … and then finally home.

We stayed at state parks and at private RV campsites along the way. And while we were on the move along the highways and back roads, we saw our share of battle flags flapping from the back of pickups and even a few of ’em flying in the breeze at RV sites where we were staying.

Do I assume that anyone who flies the flag is a flaming racist intent on restoring slave ownership, which was one of the reasons the South went to war with the United States of America from 1861 to 1865? Not for one moment.

The whole Confederate kerfuffle was based on displaying the flag on public, taxpayer-supported property … such as at the South Carolina statehouse grounds in Columbia. The South Carolina Legislature voted earlier this year to take the flag down after a gunman killed nine African-Americans at the Charleston church; a young suspect in the shooting then was revealed to be a staunch supporter of the Confederacy and the issues for which it stood.

Flying the Confederate battle flag on the back of a truck? Or in someone’s front yard? Or from their RV? Not a problem, or at least not enough of a problem to raise a ruckus.

I was gratified, though, that we didn’t see too many of them on our journey through Texas.



‘Southern heritage’ surfaces yet again

Can there be a more profound demonstration of what the Confederate battle flag means to most Americans than what transpired recently at a famous Atlanta, Ga., church?

Surveillance video captured images of a couple of men placing the flag around Ebeneezer Baptist Church, where the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — one of the 20th century’s greatest Americans — used to preach.

Hmm. Very interesting, don’t you agree?


Why do you suppose the individuals seen on the video were doing that? Was it because they wanted to demonstrate their “pride” in their “Southern heritage”?

Or, perhaps they wanted to send some other kind of message to the congregants at the church, the vast majority of whom are African-American.

Here, folks, is why the Confederate battle flag has become such a symbol of hate.

It’s been in the news lately. Nine African-Americans were murdered by a white gunman as they studied the Bible together in Charleston, S.C. A young suspect arrested and charged with the crime is known to have hatred toward African-Americans and he, too, has been photographed displaying with great pride the Confederate battle flag.

The South Carolina legislature voted to take the battle flag down from the statehouse grounds where it had flown since the 1960s to protest landmark civil rights legislation enacted by Congress.

Now this, at Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

“To place Confederate flags on the campus of Ebenezer Baptist Church – after this horrific act in Charleston [and] in the wake of all that’s happening in our country – whatever the message was it clearly was not about heritage,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock said. “It was about hate.”

Do you think?

Klansman statement is soaked in irony

Time for a pop quiz, ladies and gentlemen.

You ready? Here goes: What comes into your mind — immediately — when you hear the term “Ku Klux Klan”?

Time’s up.

The answer should be: hatred, bigotry, violence, virulent and vicious racism and anti-Semitism.

It is with that context established that I must offer a brief comment on a statement offered this weekend at a clash between supporters of the KKK and the Black Panthers, who gathered in front of the South Carolina state capitol to protest the taking down of the Confederate flag. The flag came down as a response to the heinous murders of nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, S.C., by a white gunman. A young man is accused of the crime.


The KKK and the Panthers rallied today to express different points of view of the flag.

One comment stands out, at least to me. It came from a Klansman, who told CNN: “The Confederate flag does not represent hate. A lot of Americans died for that flag,”

Ah, yes. It “does not represent hate.”

Back to my question about the Klan: What words come to mind when you hear the term?

I’ve actually covered a couple of Klan rallies. Both were in Texas; one in Orange and one in Amarillo. They took place to protest government policies that helped African-Americans. What was the predominant symbol seen at both rallies? The Confederate battle flag.

Let’s recall — if we need reminding — that the Klan has a long and infamous history of violence toward blacks and Jews. Lynching? Shootings? Arson? Cross-burnings?

And they have performed these acts while standing next to or under the Confederate battle flag. They’ve wrapped themselves in that banner. They proclaimed proudly that they stand for what the flag stands for. And that would be … ?

The Klansman is right about one element of his statement. A “lot of Americans” did die for the flag. He didn’t say, apparently, that they fought on the side that sought to tear the country apart. Why was that? Because they fought that that euphemistic principle of “states’ rights,” which was to allow states to continue the practice of slavery.

So, let’s quit slinging the horse manure around on this issue.

Heritage? OK, let’s talk about it

All this talk about the Confederate battle flag has ignited a side discussion.

It deals with “heritage.”

There are those who contend that the battle flag doesn’t symbolize hatred, bigotry and enslavement. It symbolized people’s “heritage.” They say it’s a historical symbol that embodies a region’s pride.

Interesting, don’t you think?

The South Carolina Legislature’s decision to strike the flag from the statehouse grounds was a welcomed event to many of us. I cheer the fact that the flag is now down. It was put there to protest the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s.

The flag, of course, is displayed prominently at Ku Klux Klan rallies. I don’t need to remind you what the KKK stands for.

Heritage? Do we want to look at other elements of our nation’s heritage? Do we want to salute these chapters?

* Our heritage denied women the right to vote from the founding of the Republic until 1920. Do we celebrate that denial?

* U.S. heritage also contains the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during much of World War II after the Roosevelt administration decided it couldn’t trust these Americans to be loyal to their country. Hey, let’s celebrate that event, too.

* Native Americans had their land taken from them as settlers marched westward in their conquest of our continent. Oh, and those settlers slaughtered millions of head of bison along the way. Let’s honor that, too.

The word “heritage” has become almost a throw-away line in the discussion about the Confederate battle flag.

The flag that’s been part of this discussion flew over the Army of Northern Virginia, which fought with other Confederate forces to tear apart the United States of America. The Confederates State of America sought to form a new nation and sought to preserve the right of human beings to own fellow human beings.

That’s the heritage some Americans want to honor?

No thank you.

Gov. Haley is working through her pain


Gov. Nikki Haley, R-S.C., today ended a nationally televised interview with an extraordinary answer.

I think she has just emerged as perhaps my favorite Republican.

“Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd asked Gov. Haley how she felt about her probable rise in polling as a potential national candidate on a GOP presidential ticket. She called it “painful.”

She was on the broadcast to talk about the striking of the Confederate battle flag that had flown over the South Carolina statehouse grounds since the 1960s in defiance of the Voting Rights Act. The flag came down and Haley has become a national figure as a result.


Mentioning the slaughter of African-Americans in the Charleston church, Haley said: “Nine people died. We have been dealing with nine funerals.”

“That’s what I want people talking about – the Emanuel nine and how they forever changed this country,” Haley added.

Haley’s response to a question posed in good faith brought a visible response from Todd, who had asked the question. I don’t think he expected such an eloquent and graceful answer.

“We’ve already been moving in this direction,” she said of the flag removal. “We’re not the state that everybody thinks we are. “We didn’t have people getting out of hand – we had hugs,” Haley said of the flag’s lowering.“We love our God, we love our country, we love our state and we love each other,” Haley said of South Carolina’s people.

Yes, she was thinking of those nine men and women, one of whom, Haley recalled, begged the shooter to stop the carnage. The gunman killed him anyway.

It was an astonishing end to a gripping interview.

Well said, Gov. Haley.

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.”


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.


Down with the rebel flag … in most places

I totally understand the outcry and backlash against the Confederate battle flag in the wake of a recent massacre.

The flag has come to represent hatred, bigotry, bondage … all things of which the nation shouldn’t be proud. It has become the symbol of arguably the nation’s pre-eminent hate group, the Ku Klux Klan.


This weekend it became an attraction at a NASCAR race at Daytona Speedway, the Taj Mahal of the sport.

Racing fans flew the flag proudly, proclaiming it represents — to them, at least — Southern “heritage.”

Whatever. To many of us, it represents a lot of other things that have nothing to do with heritage.

But I’m wondering about why a certain television network, TV Land, has decided to discontinue showing “Dukes of Hazzard” reruns on its affiliate stations because it depicts a car driven by two redneck cousins that has a battle flag image painted on its roof.

If ever a show poked good-natured fun at some aspects of Southern culture, that TV show was at the top of the heap. Every one of the characters on that show was a caricature of sorts. The Duke boys, Uncle Jesse, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, all of ’em were intended to make fun.

I never recall anything remotely racist being depicted on that show.

Yes, the flag need not fly on the statehouse grounds in the very state where a racist murderer gunned down nine people with whom he was studying the Bible in Charleston, S.C. It need not be depicted on motor vehicle license plates, or should it fly on public property anywhere in this country.

But to target a light-hearted TV show?

I don’t get that one. Someone will have to explain that to me.

Court to ponder Rebel Yell

The First Amendment allows free political speech.

That might include hate speech. Does it include subversive speech? I doubt it strongly.

So … the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear sometime next spring an appeal to allow Texas license plates to carry a symbol of the Civil War and what many millions of Americans consider a symbol of hate. Oh, and the Civil War? That was an act of sedition by the Confederate States of America that declared war against the United States of America.


Texas had rejected a proposed to have its license plates featuring the Confederate battle flag. A Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate appealed, saying the ban violated the group’s freedom to make a political statement.

Now it goes the highest court in the land.

Part of me understands the First Amendment argument. A bigger part of me, however, is grossly offended by the battle flag.

I do not have any Confederate heritage in my background. However, I’ve witnessed the battle flag symbol waved proudly by Ku Klux Klan members demonstrating against the rights of African-Americans. If there ever was a more profound symbol of hate, I haven’t yet seen it.

Does this state — or any state in 21st century America — really want to sanction a display of this symbol with public money provided by Texans who have reason to be grossly offended by its presence on automobile license plates?

Texas said “no” once already.

Will the Supreme Court uphold the state’s refusal?

I am hoping it does.