Karl Marx, European correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, saw the American war1861-65 as a struggle of workers versus capital. He was brought to the Tribune by socialist editor Charles A. Dana who became Lincoln’s assistant secretary of war, and it was Dana who ordered Jefferson Davis manacled at Fortress Monroe. Below, the late columnist Sam Francis writes of the effort to remove a symbol of South Carolina’s proud heritage in 1997 — David Beasley was a one-term governor of that State.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag
“A people separated from their heritage are easily persuaded,” wrote a correspondent for the New York Times during the American Civil War who zealously supported the Northern side in that conflict. If you erase the symbols pf a peoples’ heritage, you erase their public memory and identity, and then you can “persuade” them of whatever you want. For once the correspondent knew what he was talking about.
His name was Karl Marx, and his legacy lives on in the Republican governor of South Carolina.
Last month, Gov. David Beasley unveiled his plan to remove the Confederate Battle Flag that flutters on top of South Carolina’s State capitol, and he’s lined up an impressive coalition of former governors, white business leaders, black political activists and the antediluvian Sen. Strom Thurmond to go along with him.
This month, the State legislature will vote on his proposal to remove the flag to a more obscure location on the capital grounds, and the only thing between separating the people of the State from the heritage the flag symbolizes is the people themselves.
Why Gov. Beasley is so intent about his proposal is something of a mystery. In 1994 he supported keeping the flag where it is and has been since 1962, and his betrayal explicit pledges to retain the banner can bring him no political gains. Indeed, with several Southern heritage groups mobilizing against him, it seems more likely that he has committed a major blunder that will haunt his re-election efforts in 1998.
In a televised speech to the State in November, the governor came up with a number of transparently phony reasons why the flag has to go. “I have a question for us tonight,” he intoned to his fellow Carolinians, “Do we want our children to be debating the Confederate flag in ten years? . . . And the debate will not subside, but intensify. I don’t want that for my children or yours.”
But of course there would be no debate at all if it were not for the governor’s own proposal to get rid of the flag. Similar proposals were roundly rejected in 1994, and State law now requires that the flag continue to fly. The debate was settled. Only by reviving this divisive issue himself has Mr. Beasley insured that the “debate” will intensify.
And so what if the “debate” does live on? Why is it a bad thing for South Carolinians to think, talk and argue about the flag and its meaning? Maybe in the process of doing so, some of them – not least the governor and his allies – will learn something about their own heritage and why erasing it is not a good idea.
Mr. Beasley also maundered on about the evils of “racism” and alluded to several recent “hate crimes,” while denying that the flag itself was a racist symbol. If it isn’t, then why drag in the hate crimes, and why take it down at all?
“Hate-filled cowards cover their heads and meet under the cloak of night, scattering their seeds of racism in the winds of deceit about the flag and its meaning.”
The governor’s argument seems to be that since many blacks and not a few whites have come to regard the Confederate Flag as a symbol of “racism” and “hate,” then the flag is divisive and needs to come down. There is no question of trying to correct their flawed view of the flag’s meaning. The burden is not on those who invest the flag with meaning it never had but on those who want to retain the meanings it has always represented.
For the business elites, the flag and the controversy about it are “hurting economic growth,” according to the New York Times. How they do so is not quite so clear, nor is it clear why economic growth should take precedence over preservation of a cultural identity, but then Economic Man never likes to consider that question.
For the racial enemies of the flag, the goal is their own empowerment, a goal they know cannot be attained until the flag is removed and the heritage it represents and they despise is wiped clean. “That symbol only embraces the heritage of a particular people,” sneers one flag enemy, black lawyer Carl Grant. It’s not the flag but the heritage he seeks to destroy.
But whether driven by race or greed, the foes of the flag agree on one thing, that as long as the flag over the Capitol waves, the people of South Carolina will know that the heritage it represents retains some official meaning.
Only when it is removed will the people be separated from their heritage, and only then can they be easily persuaded to pursue whatever goals the enemies of their real heritage desire.” (published January 7, 1997)