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I wrote a piece this morning posted on my blog. One response in particular called up just the right amount of picayune snark to compel a reply. To those who already know all this, you can skip to the next adorable kitty vid.
The flag shown above is not the Confederate flag. This square red flag with crossed blue band and white stars is the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, he of unsullied reputation, and surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Also called the Virginia flag, Beauregard’s flag, even though it never historically represented the CSA as a country, was never officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol. It is also called the rebel flag, Dixie flag, and Southern Cross.
The first flag flown informally representing the seceded states was “the Bonnie Blue flag” of Gone with the Wind fame.
The so called “Van Dorn” flag, a hideous red orange with a crescent moon and stars strewn about randomly, was used by General Van Dorn and others in the Trans-Mississippi theatre of battle.
In March 1861, the hastily assembled government of the Confederacy took time from fomenting rebellion, treason, anarchy and terrorism to designate an official flag. This flew over the hastily designated capitol in Montgomery, before the Confederate capital was hastily moved to Richmond.
So in 1863, presumably after more thought, a new official flag was adopted, called “the Stainless Banner.”
A white flag, decorated by a canton in the upper left replicating General Lee’s battle flag, many hated this flag because they thought it would appear as a flag of truce or surrender on the battlefield. This remained the official flag until March 1865. The designer, one William T. Thompson, a writer and editor from Savannah, claimed that the white field represented the purity of the white race as well as the purity of the Cause.
For some reason, in March 1865, with only a month left in the war, (though the stubborn willful blindness of the Southern gentlemen who ran the war refused to see how near the end they really were) yet another new design was designated as the official flag. Called the “Blood-Stained Banner” this one served until the end.
To summarize, the rebel flag some want to defend as an historical symbol of their forefathers’ valor and courage was only correctly revered by those whose ancestors actually served with the Army of Northern Virginia.
Now that all that is clear as mud, please stop. Stop talking so reverently about a flag that never flew as the official flag of a country that never really existed, symbolizing grand ideas and un-besmirched honor and courage.
This flag belongs in museums, of course. It belongs in the back windows of pick-up trucks splattered in mud driven by people who don’t really know what they are so proudly displaying. It belongs in private collections, may be displayed on private property, on your body as tattoo art, anywhere at all you want to wave it, raise it, wear it, anywhere you want it to display your undying love for a lost cause.
It does not belong on public government property. It is an historical artifact and should never be presented alongside state flags, the United States flag, or any other real entity.
If your great great great granddaddy fought in the Army of Northern Virginia, then I understand your desire to have and keep this flag.
Otherwise, I fail to see how you cannot make the connection from the rise in popularity of this flag in the 1960’s to the civil rights movement.
I am one of those proud, stubborn Southerners, born and raised in Alabama. I applauded the governor for simply ordering the flag removed from the state capitol grounds. He said he did not have time for discussing, debating, writing and wrangling with legislative bills or constitutional amendments or public referendums. He had a budget to wrangle, bills to pay. In other words, he had some real work to do.
Ya’ll have a nice day, now. Go do something.
Everyone has been celebrating for almost a week now. The Supreme Court decided to include LGBT people in the legal protections under the law as granted by the Fourteenth Amendment. People have changed their Facebook profiles into rainbow shades. This past weekend there was a huge celebration at the Gay Pride events all over the country. It has been especially gratifying to see so many straight people who joined in the celebration. Thank you all.
A woman climbed the flagpole and took down the Confederate flag on the state grounds in South Carolina. Then she was arrested. About a gazillion people offered to post her bail.
The families of the victims spoke at the white supremacist-terrorist’s court appearance and forgave him for his hate and ignorance. President Obama delivered a powerful, beautiful eulogy urging everyone to act as if they are graced by God. Then he sang a hymn about grace written by a slave trader who got converted. By grace we are led. By grace we are saved. By grace we are better, stronger, more loving, more forgiving. Through grace we come together. That white supremacist was welcomed into the Bible study group at the historic AME church, he was included in prayer, and then hate and ignorance of the grace of God made him stand up and start killing people who had just prayed for his soul. The families forgave him.
Then several black churches were burned to the ground.
One step forward, two steps back.
The Supreme Court upheld the right of LGBT couples to marry. Then the state of Alabama refused to issue marriage licenses. Then a federal judge ordered the county probate judges to stop acting silly and comply with the SCOTUS decision. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/probate-judges-opposed-gay-marriage-stand-firm-32146429
It was posted on Facebook by someone close to me. Huh.
Herewith, my response:
So, this weekend I will be flying my American flag, not the rainbow flag, because the Supreme Court just validated me as a full citizen with access to equal protection under the law granted to every other citizen. This weekend, I fly the red, white, and blue, with more pride, honor, and celebration that ever. It’s nice to be included.
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
Thus endeth the lesson. And the people said.
Ya’ll stay safe and have fun.