Browsing "Flags and Culture Wars"

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

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)

 

Barry Goldwater Amid Rebel Flags

One of the most significant developments of the 1964 presidential election was the virtually solid anti-conservative Republican stand of black voters across the South, which resulted in the defeat of Barry Goldwater. In 1968, the GOP ended their brief friendship with white conservative Southerners and actively pursued black voters with civil rights promises and programs.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Barry Goldwater Amid Rebel Flags

“When Senator Barry Goldwater brought his Presidential campaign to east Tennessee in September, 1964, he spoke from the Knoxville-Maryville airport, in the solid Republican county of Blount. It is Parson Brownlow’s home country; at a rural cemetery a few miles away a headstone proclaims the death of a local patriot, “murdered by Confederates.”

When Senator Goldwater spoke, however, the Confederates were out in much greater force than one hundred years before. A large Confederate flag dominated the platform, and smaller Rebel pennants were waved throughout the crowd.

Here was a candidate who spoke of States’ rights . . . The first signs [of Southerners sensing they had allies] became evident when there was outspoken opposition to the Kennedy-Johnson civil rights law in other sections of the country besides the South. Governor George Wallace of Alabama made impressive showings in Democratic presidential primaries in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland. Stirred by the scent of victory, the Mississippi legislature financed a national lobby against the bill.

Racial violence flared in a dozen points in the North and reached the riot stage in [New York’s] Harlem. At the San Francisco convention all the South watched as the forces of Senator Goldwater, who had voted against the civil rights law, turned aside disorganized elements which attempted vainly to moderate the Republican platform.

The final Goldwater campaign effort was a television spectacular beamed over the old Confederacy from Columbia, South Carolina. Fabled movie stars from California came to join old-line Southern politicians being retreaded as Republicans. Across the old Dixiecrat belt the elixir worked.

Georgia was added to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Mississippians who had voted 90 percent for Strom Thurmond in 1948, now voted with him 87 percent as Goldwater Republicans.

Mississippi gave Goldwater a larger percentage of its vote than any of the 44 States carried by Johnson gave the President, but even majorities like this failed to give the Republicans the majority of the popular vote in the South as a whole. The electoral vote, of course, went two to one for Johnson.

Negro votes made the difference between Johnson and Goldwater in Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and possibly North Carolina. They also supplied the winning margin in several House and Senate contests in these same States. For the first time, Democrats in these areas are fully realizing the advantage of such an asset, and the local Republicans who deliberately set their course against soliciting Negro support now recognize the nature of the price they paid to prove themselves better [States’ rights advocates] than the Dixiecrats.

(Look Away From Dixie, Frank E. Smith, LSU Press, 1965, pp. 71-74)

In Defense of Symbols: Southern and Otherwise

Eminent Southern historian Sam Francis clearly saw that the demands to remove symbols of our Confederate past would not be confined to them alone, but “extends to symbols associated with other ethnic groups” and America’s Western heritage in general.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

In Defense of Symbols: Southern and Otherwise

“One of the most ironic aspects of the attack on Southern symbols is that what is really a revolutionary onslaught, an attack intended to erase the symbols of a regional and even national heritage and thereby to alter the meaning of that heritage, is now supported by not only far-left groups like the NAACP and its racial allies but also by the ostensible conservatives.

In the last battle over the Confederate flag in South Carolina it was the Republicans who had to be watched and it was they who eventually voted to remove the flag from the capitol dome.

During the primaries last winter, it was Republican John McCain who first denounced the flag as a symbol of “racism and slavery” and then backed away from that statement, only to return to it again after the South Carolina primary. It was President George W. Bush who refused to say anything in support of the flag other than it was really a State issue, which was the easy way out, but it was Mr. Bush’s administration in Texas that only recently ordered plaques commemorative of the Confederacy removed from the Texas Supreme Court building.

And it was the force of big business that demanded that South Carolina settle the flag controversy in a way that the NAACP would approve of because the continuation of the controversy, their spokesman said, would be disruptive to business.

[What I] would like to emphasize here today that the attack on the Confederate flag and Confederate symbols is merely a prelude, a kind of dress rehearsal, for a larger and even more radical attack on all symbols of American heritage and American civilization.

The attack on Confederate symbols is coming first simply because, given the demonization of the South and the Confederacy in recent years, they are easier targets. But make no mistake, these are not the last symbols that will come under attack, and already we can see the attacks beginning as those on the Confederate symbols succeed.

For example, in 1997 . . . the Orleans Parish [Louisiana] school board, with a 5-2 black majority, voted unanimously to change the name of George Washington Elementary to [black surgeon] Dr. Charles Richard Drew Elementary; the school itself is 91 percent black. [New Orleans “civil rights” leader Carl Galmon stated]: “To African Americans, George Washington has about as much meaning as David Duke.”

In 1996, white former Marxist historian Conor Cruise O’Brien published an article in the Atlantic Monthly arguing that Thomas Jefferson should no longer be included in the national pantheon because of his “racism.” And indeed, the [Jefferson’s] Declaration [of Independence] itself, supposedly the document that serves as the very basis for racial equality in this country, is also rejected by black extremists. In February, 1999 in New Jersey [a bill to require public school students to memorize parts of the Declaration was withdrawn after] angry attacks on it by black lawmakers.

Indeed, it would probably be hard to find a figure from American history who has not come under attack from black racists. [Black reparations advocate Randall Robinson writes that] “America must dramatically reconfigure its symbolized picture of itself, its national parks, museums, monuments, statues, artworks must be recast in a way to include African-Americans.”

It does not seem to matter to Mr. Robinson that the historical events many of these cultural monuments to the American past commemorate might not have included blacks; the past must be recreated to include them.

Of course, the major defeat for the flag so far has been in South Carolina, where the legislature voted to remove the flag from its place above the capitol dome and to put it on a monument nearby. That wasn’t enough for the NAACP, which has refused to call off its boycott of the State and wants the flag removed. Last week, when the flag was actually removed, the NAACP’s State director in South Carolina said, “The economic sanctions will continue until the flag no longer flies.”

(Shots Fired, Sam Francis on America’s Culture War, Peter B. Gemma, editor, FGF Books, 2006, excerpts, pp. 277-283)

"We Are All Southerners Now"

The late Southern writer and historian Sam Francis noted often the war against traditional American culture and that the Southern symbols were first because they were easier targets. He understood that “those pushing these attacks are driven by their own racial and class hatreds . . . [and] feels little identity with most of American history and regards it largely as a nightmare from which it is trying to awaken.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

“We Are All Southerners Now”

“What is also going on with the attack on the Confederate flag, on the part of the groups like the NAACP and the blacks it represents, is a kind of racial secession from American society. When blacks say that George Washington is the equivalent of David Duke or denounce or reject the major icons of our history as bigots and hatemonger, they are in effect saying that they are not part of the society that adopts these symbols.

What demonstrators in the NAACP’s march against the flag in South Carolina carried signs that said: “Your Heritage is Our Slavery,” they are essentially announcing that they rejected the heritage of the State and indeed the nation, and in rejecting the heritage they were also rejecting the nation itself.

But many of the blacks are not really announcing their secession from the nation. What they are announcing is their intention to reconfigure the nation, to use political power based on their own racial solidarity to redefine the nation and its heritage in terms that will be acceptable to them.

At the same time blacks also demand racial integration, affirmative action, and reparations, they are also demanding that the whites with whom they are to be integrated and from whom they are demanding special privileges give up their own symbols and heroes and actually adopt those of blacks – Arthur Ashe, civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, etc.

What we are seeing in this concerted and protracted attack on Southern and even national and other ethnic symbols, my friends, is nothing less than a crusade for the overthrow of any symbol that suggests white – dare I say the real – heritage and history of this country and their replacement by their own symbols and their own racial propaganda and mythology.

The slogans of “color blindness” and racial neutrality that lay behind the rhetoric of the civil rights movement have failed and have been abandoned by the blacks themselves. What is now being asserted is not the demand to be accepted into white institutions but the demand that white institutions be turned over to non-whites and that non-whites occupy the same positions of dominance that whites once held.

[In much] of the white South and the rest of the country, [blacks] are able to play on white guilt and cowardice to gain their demands. Hispanics also are increasing playing it, especially in areas like California where they will soon be a majority of the population.

Unless whites – Southerners as well as non-Southerners – learn to have the courage to demand that the symbols of their heritage and their identity be respected and honored in the places where they have always been respected and honored, what we can expect to see, as whites cease to be a majority in the country, is the continuing destruction of those symbols and with them the heritage and identity they symbolize.

It is really a war against the entire nation, and the entire civilization and the people that formed them, and we can win that war only when we make others in the nation and civilization grasp that they are next, that the symbols that define their identity are no more immune from being denounced as “racist” than ours are.

In a word, what we need to teach those who are now among our enemies but who should be on our side is that we are all Southerners now.”

(Shots Fired, Sam Francis on America’s Culture War, Peter B. Gemma, editor, FGF Books, 2006, excerpts, pp. 285-286)