John McCain on Wednesday [January 16th] sharply defended his opposition eight years ago to the flying of the Confederate battle flag over the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia, brushing aside protests that dogged him at campaign events and suggesting most people in the state don't want the issue reopened.Some may co-opt it as their symbol of hate. The only expression of hate it represents to me is for oppressive, tyrannical central government rule. This isn't some common redneck affection for the flag but an admiration for a symbol of the principles of liberty and honor which Confederates stood for. Being a New York Yankee, even Ann Coulter finds the right words:
Several protesters aggressively waved Confederate flags at McCain's bus procession as it arrived for campaign events in Greenville and Spartanburg and passed out literature recalling McCain's April 2000 call for removal of the flag from atop the South Carolina statehouse.
The Confederate battle flag today has nothing to do with race. It stands for a romantic image of a chivalric, honor-based culture that was driven down by the brute force of crass Yankee capitalism, which was better at manufacturing weapons than using them, and that shortly thereafter gave us the Grant administration and the Gilded Age....It stands for a proud military heritage shared by both blacks and whites in the South. The reverence for tradition and pride in historical antecedents are precisely what make Southerners, black and white, such stalwart patriots.It does seems strange that the Stars and Stripes, under which slavery existed years longer than the Confederacy, seems to have no such stigma attached as the Battle flag. Take a look at the picture of Klansmen marching in Washington D.C. in 1926 and note closely the flag used. (click to enlarge)
The Confederate battle flag controversy is a completely synthetic issue created by the same people who believe there is a burgeoning class of brilliant blacks graduating from law school every year, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refuses to hire them out purely out of racism. They are picking a fight in an election year to enable The New York Times to distribute daily reports on the superior Democratic response on the question of the Confederate flag.
It is also a completely illogical issue. If the Confederate battle flag can be tagged as a tribute to slavery, how is it that the American flag has gotten a pass so far? Slavery existed far longer under Old Glory than under the Stars and Bars.
The familiar H.L. Menken quote on Lincoln's poetic but twisted Gettysburg speech makes clear my view of what the flag symbolizes:
The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history...the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. - H.L. Mencken