The Confederate Flag has come to mean many things to many different people. To many, it is an offensive reminder of many terrible things. To them, the flag represents slavery and is remembered more by its adoption by racist groups such as the KKK. To others however, it is a symbol in which they take pride. It is a representation of those before them who stood up for what they believed in, despite the powerful government that stood in their paths. To these people, it is often known as the “Rebel flag.”
I know many will argue with me, but please give me a moment to explain. The Civil War was not fought over slavery itself. To say it was is oversimplification at best. Instead, it was fought over the overarching concept of states rights versus federal rights. This was a huge point of contention at the time, and is still something we hear argued in politics today. Now, as an effort to redeem myself with some of you, the biggest single way that this was embodied in the Civil War was, in fact, through the issue of slavery. It is true that many states specifically mentioned slavery in their documents of succession from the union. Let’s not forget, though, that our first governing document was not the Constitution, but instead the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government was incredibly limited in favor of more powerful state governments. The federal government did not even have enough power to demand taxes. After our nation’s successful succession, the Articles of Confederation were replaced with the Constitution, which favored a more powerful federal government. It goes without saying, some people opposed this change.
But to get to the point. I see many people calling for such extremes as banishing the Confederate or Rebel Flag to the confines of museum use only. I simply cannot wrap my mind around how this is even feasible. America is a nation that offers freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to petition the government, and the right to bear arms. We cannot be forced to quarter soldiers and are protected from unreasonable searches. How, in any sense, does any of this lead to a government that tells me, or anyone else, which flags we can and cannot fly?
It is so easy to approve of the revocation or infringement of rights when it is done to someone with views that are oppositional to our own. It may seem trivial as it is easy to get caught up in what is ignorant, offensive and rude. But, I leave you with this:
Being ignorant, offensive, and rude is, in fact, ignorant, offensive, and rude. But, it is not illegal.