Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Confederate Flag: Symbol of History or Hatred?

There is no doubt that one’s national flag is a great and strong symbol for the country in both times of peace and in times of war. Patriotic citizens fight and die for it. As stated in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance: 
            “I pledge allegiance to the FLAG of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands – One Nation under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.”

The Southerners who joined the secessionist movement in order to form the Confederate States of America pledged a similar allegiance not just to the FLAG but also to the Confederacy and its ideals – thus, precipitating the American Civil War. These ideals and causes that many of the Southerners fought and died for are reflected in the Confederate Constitution.

For this week’s column I decided to read and focus on the specific provisions of the Confederate Constitution on Slavery just to put it in historical context.

These slavery provisions are self-explanatory. They did not, do not, and should never have any place in the Constitution of any civilized, free, human, and democratic republic. No wonder the Confederate Constitution was described as the fundamental document that led to the founding of the “slaveholders’ republic”.
The Confederate Flag symbolizes these slavery provisions generating the false and extreme belief of white supremacy and racism – thus, evoking unnecessary and almost uncontrollable hatred.

Many of us thought that, in this day and age, racism and violence are long gone. Apparently, we are wrong. For as long as there are Confederate Flags in poles flying up high in the State Capitols or other government buildings, the memory of Whites owning and lording over Blacks as slaves will never be put behind us. It is a sad and grim reminder of a cruel past.

In the same period of the Civil War, dedicated soldiers were fighting and dying for the Flag of the United States of America and the U.S. Constitution.  While the leaders of the Confederacy were advocating to retain their rights to own, sell, acquire, trade, and auction Negros as slaves, U.S. President Lincoln reflected the abolitionist line in his Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

In Gettysburg where Lincoln spoke, were dead Confederate soldiers who fought bravely not necessarily to retain ownership of slaves but more for “Southern Pride”. We should not take anything away from them and their descendants who honor them.

But the Confederate Flag as a racist symbol must go!

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for its removal from the state capitol in the wake of the racially charged killings. Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton who had called for the removal eight years ago praised the Governor and other SC officials for making the same call now.
Republican Presidential frontrunner Jeb Bush agrees with the proposed removal as he had done in Florida. He removed it from the Capitol and moved it to the museum when he was governor. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich support the move of SC Governor Haley. So does Senator Rand Paul.

Other Republican presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum have no clear stand on the issue. The other Democratic presidential candidates such as Senator Bernie Sanders and former Governor Martin O’Malley are for the removal.

When I told my barber that the Confederate Constitution declared that the right of the Whites to own, sell, buy, trade, and/or auction slaves should not be impaired, he wondered what would have happened if the confederates won the Civil War?

Hearing that we would have to follow the provisions of the Confederate Constitution, he followed with these questions, “In the NBA, how much do you think would LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala go for? Would they be worth more or less?

Take it from my barber!

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