July 7, 2009

My Take on the Latest Confederate Flag Flap

So since my theme of the week seems to be Atlantic Coast Conference news, I'll take this topic on. The Atlantic Coast Conference has moved the 2011, 2012, and 2013 ACC Baseball Championships out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, because of South Carolina's refusal to take down a display of the confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. The tournament will be moved to various locations in North Carolina.

The article on Fox Sports is a fairly good read, giving much of the history of the dispute, the positions of the various parties, and the ACC's rationale for moving the baseball tournament.

Indulge me in a post where I will speak plainly about my feelings on this issue. I'm certain that many will disagree with my position, including possibly some of my co-contributors on ECB. That, my friends, is the beauty of the blog.

For our loyal six readers, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I am a member of The Tribe... the Chosen People, if you will (I'm Jewish for those of you who are really dense and don't get those references). I really don't consider myself an oppressed minority. There were no shortage of Jews in suburban DC where I grew up. Hell, now I'm a lawyer... I'm not exactly a minority in my profession. I've put up with my share of Jewish jokes in my life. And, in fact, most of them I find genuinely funny. I may have even told a few of them. I think on those occasions when I laugh when somebody tells me a Jewish joke, I know that they are doing it with no hatred in their heart, and no true ill will in telling the joke. Stereotypes exist, maybe they shouldn't, that's neither here nor there, but that doesn't mean that they're not fodder for some good chuckles every now and again.

Now, we reach the issue of the Confederate Flag. This is an issue that is entirely different to me. To some, the Confederate Flag is nothing more than a proud symbol of Southern identity. I understand that. However, there can be no disputing that to another segment of people, probably smaller, the Confederate flag represents something very different - hatred.

Let me digress and tell a very personal little story, which is rare for this blog. Growing up in Montgomery County, Maryland, I wasn't too far from a rural area of the county (yes, they did actually exist at one time and they exist to this date, even though they are fewer and more far in between now). On my way to the field where most of my Little League games were held, there was a huge house, set back across a large field. In front of that house, a large version of the Confederate Flag flew proudly in front. There was no American flag. It was also a fairly open secret that Klan meetings took place there. Not necessarily in full white hoods with cross burnings like Tennessee in 1925. But meetings, nonetheless. Every time I drove past there, as soon as I was old enough to understand the fairly open secret and who the Klan was and what they represented, I could feel a pit in my stomach when I passed there. It wasn't a worried feeling. It was more just a sad feeling that there were people in the world, people who lived just minutes from my house, people whose kids went to the same middle school as I did and who likely played in my same little league, who I knew hated me for nothing more than the religion that I happened to be born into. To this day, the Confederate Flag flies in front of that house. To this day, when I drive along that same road and I see that Flag on that property, I feel that same pit in my stomach. To this day, when I see a Confederate Flag bumper sticker, I can't help but feel that same pit in my stomach - I have no idea whether the Confederate Flag represents identity or hatred to that driver - but the fact that it may represent hatred is enough for all of us to feel sorrow. And please believe me... I think Brien, J-Red, and Russell can vouch for the fact that I'm about as far from joining the Anti-Defamation League as you will find.

Alone it's not much of a problem...

But for those of you who want us to lay off your Flag, because it's only about your Southern heritage, so long as these guys use your Flag for their own symbolism, it's a problem:

Like it or not, to those people to whom the Confederate Flag represents nothing more than pride in being from well south of the Mason-Dixon line, you need to understand that so long as there exists a minority of people who grasp onto the Confederate Flag as a symbol of bigotry and hatred, the Confederate Flag will continue to be spurned the same way it is by the ACC, the NCAA, and most other professional sports leagues. This was a move that I'm glad the ACC made.

19 Responses:

Kevin said...

If the Confederate flag was flying you spoke of was the same type flag you show in the photos, you need to learn your facts. That is not the "Stars and Bars", the "Stars and Bars" was the 1st National Flag, similar to the Stars and Stripes, only a circle of stars in a field of blue, with 3 Bars, Red, White, Red.

You may also want to take a look at these sites, and see the Real Flag of the KKK



Jeremy said...

Kevin, thanks for the correction. I will adjust the post for accuracy's sake.

Grant said...

I don't think what you said was particularly controversial -- I expected some true vitriol. That's what I feel when I think that there's still a state and many people disgusting and bigoted enough in this country to fly that thing. The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of hatred, and every person flying that flag is endorsing and encouraging that hatred.

Curtis Tarver said...

In addition to the bigotry embodied in many who fly the flag, it must also be remembered: The Confederate States of America was an entity that seceded from, attacked, and went to war with the nation we love and in which we live. Forgive me for having no love for what was in essence a terrorist entity.

gpb said...

I'm fully in agreement with the second caption. I also have no problems with the ACC's decision to move. Besides, it's in the better of the two Carolina now.

However, I don't agree with either Grant or Curtis. I grew up in the South and the folks I know that owned one were folks proud of their Southern heritage. I'm not going to lie and pretend folks with hatred didn't exist but a heavy margin I grew up with was weighted in heritage, not hatred. I see the flag more as a symbol of states rights than hatred (but I'm supporting slavery or racism).

History allows the victor to write it with whatever bias they see fit to (still not a fan of slavery).

My take on history is the Civil War was brought around for a variety of reasons. I had a long post written discussing things I thought were major issues but the wiki article does a much better job (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_the_American_Civil_War).

The Confederacy left for reasons beyond just slaves. It was a combination of factors that pushed them into the corner, state rights being the biggie.

In my opinion (though I'm far from a legal scholar), the same rights that protected Southern slave owners in the Fugitive Slave Act in the 1800s also can be applied to the gay marriage licenses in the states that allow it now (not to debate this though).

In addition, the American Revolutionaries were an entity that seceded from, attacked, and went to war with their ruling nation. Perhaps we should no longer support what was in essence a terrorist entity. Funny how their victory puts them in a different light (again, not supporting hatred).

Curtis Tarver said...

gpb: I definitely agree with you that the tournament is now headed to the finer Carolina. :-)

And your comparison of America's secession and the CSA's secession doesn't go unnoted. I would not begrudge a British person if they felt the same way about the American flag as I do as an American about the Confederate flag--particularly the Confederate battle flag, which stands for the warring faction itself, not merely the flag of the Confederacy which I feel can more logically be argued to stand simply for the Confederacy and the states which made it up.

But I think a big difference in the two situations is because the US survived, it had the chance to move forth to amicable and even positive relations with the UK. Because the Confederacy did not survive, there was no opportunity to make good on "terrorist" beginnings.

"ben" said...

I guess the only thing I don't really understand is what the ACC Tournament has to do with the flag flying on top of the host state Capitol. It's not really the same as when the NCAA decided to not allow schools with American Indian mascots to host NCAA postseason events.

Brien said...

As usual, South Park summarizes my views:


As for the ACC, why aren't they kicking Clemson out of the ACC? It's a South Carolina public school, funded by the same state legislature that flies the flag. If they were really serious about the issue, that's what they'd do, rather than moving a baseball tournament 2 years from now that probably 10 people gave a shit about.

Nikhil Verma said...

I agree with Jeremy's stance exactly. I'm not exactly the most PC guy myself, but I understand where Jeremy is coming from.

I also went to high school in Montgomery County. I went to a high school where a significant percentage of the students were Jewish. My school was for the most part pretty progressive when it comes to race and religion. Nevertheless, it was shocking to me to hear the amount of bigotry and racism that some seemingly well educated people had towards those who were Jewish.

To me, that Confederate flag is offensive and should be taken down. I'm not saying that everyone who displays that flag is necessarily a racist. But what those who display/defend using this flag don't understand is that it is offensive to most minorities, especially African Americans. It is also offensive to some white people as well. It's a reminder to us of a painful chapter of this great country's history.

What Jeremy said doesn't just apply to those of the Jewish faith. All of us whom have ever been discriminated by someone else because of our race or religion, can empathize with what Jeremy's saying.

J-Red said...

I am glad to see Jeremy write this post. No matter what the Confederate flag now symbolizes, to many people it reflects a history of racism, segregation and maltreatment.

Just like the name "Redskins".

Jeremy, I'm glad you've finally joined my side against the Washington Football Franchise.

Anonymous said...

I would understand Jason's outrage with the "Redskins" if he was just as vocal about all offensive native American names, including FSU, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, etc... But it does seem like there is a part of you that is just offended by all things Washington, 'xcept the Caps.

Selective outrage because it's Washington's football team, and Balti-morons have an inferity complex to Washington. Would you be just as offended if it was the Baltimore Redskins?

J-Red said...

Those other names aren't the equivalent of the n-word for Native Americans. Those other teams don't have African-American men in feathers and headdresses whooping around in the end zones. Those other teams didn't take an extra half-decade to desegregate, and they didn't require pressure from Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall to do it.

So, yeah, I'm not as offended by those other teams.

William said...

I can understand some people's belief that the flag is racist. However, the fact that the flag has been misused by a bunch of cowardly vermin doesnt change the history of the flag. Originally, the flag was the battle standard of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was used to rally Virginia's soldiers in the confusion of battle. Battlefield were thick with the smoke of rifles and cannons, the screams of the wounded and dying, and during all of that, the flag pointed to a postition to rally.

Eventually, others adopted the banner.

The "men" in the photo you posted have nothing what-so-ever to do with the South. Forrest disbanded the original KKK when he saw that they were uncontollable. He also saw that they wernt fighting the parasites that came to the South to feed on her (the South's) remains after the war. Instead they had become a terrorist organization.

Whites, blacks, and natives all fought under that banner. Two of my own ancestors fought in Thomas' Legion. One was white, the other Cherokee. Whites and natives fought side by side. Whites were transferred to the "Indian Battalion" and Cherokee into the "White" Battalions. Why shouldnt they, many were of mixed heritage.

The victor writes the history and invariably writes it to portray themselves as the heroes. Read Licoln's letter to Horace Greeley. In it he expresses his true feelings about African Americans. He also states that if he could keep the South in the union without freeing a single slave, he would. Why? Could it be that the Federal Govt at that time obtained most of it revenue from tariffs on imported goods and property and the South was several times larger that the North and imported most of what it used? In fact, the South represented more than 80% of all revenue collected by the Federal Govt. That by limiting the number of slave state admitted to the union, the north would gain a voting advantage in the Congress. Try looking up the Morrill Tariff. Morrill was a politician who was also a steel magnate. Guess what he wanted to raise the tariff on? The South used alot of steel in agriculture.

Also, dont forget that other regions threatened secession long before the South actually did it. So it wasnt because they loved us so much, or that they couldnt stand to dissolve the "Union", that they wanted us to stay. Slavery was an excuse, not a reason for the war.

William said...

Take a look at those "klansmen". How American can you be to give the "heil Hitler" salute. Next thing you know, people will be saying that Hitler was born in Richmond, Va. Anything to smear the South.

I mean, we already have to contend with Jed Clampett stereotypes. Just watch Law and Order. It isnt enough to just put murderers and rapists on the show. Give the really vile ones, the child molesters/racists/sociopaths, a Southern accent.

In the movie Pulp Fiction the bad guy has a Southern accent, even though he was supposed to be from California according to the story the movie came from.

There are even some people in Florida calling the black guy, who shot the Jewish kid from Philly, a hero, all because the Philly kid was waving a Confederate flag.

Anyway, back on topic. I hope the ACC and the NAACP take the tourney completely out of the South. I for one wouldnt miss it. It has ceased being about sports and only about money these days.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am confused. What's all this talk about Jews. Don't these people know that Jews were fully accepted in the South. That Judah Benjamin was our Confederate Secretary of War. That many Jews were in the Confederate Army and were given their Saturday Service. Ezekiel Moses lost all his brothers to yankee fire, years later he a famous international sculptor made the famous Arlington Cemetery Confederate Monument with black and whites on it and is buried under it. Don't they know it was USA Grant who baned Jews?

The Confederate Army was the most DIVERSE Army in the world.

yea you guys on really biased.

Anonymous said...

I am Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.
I am of the opinion that, yes, there are those of us who recognise the harm done to the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF). Also, we are the ones who are endeavouring to remove the stain placed there by these groups.

100 years ago, all across the land, Black people were reviled by most of the people. But, through their resilience and patience, they made their way through it to become accepted and acceptable. We who champion the flag and what it means, endeavour to do the same thing. Would you deny us this? Once, Blacks were thought of as little above animals. Now, the CBF is portrayed as an object of hate, not by the silent majority, by the vocal minority. Why would they do that? What is their agenda that they would expend so much energy towards this?

I say, their agenda should be checked into. I say, "Long may the Confederate Battle Flag wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

Anonymous said...

To Jason......fair point on the "Redskins" being offensive. Not saying that the name isn't offensive. I'm saying that if we're going to change the name "Redskins", then we should also change all those other names we mentioned.

Also, the Redskins were a racist organization under George Preston Marshall. But Jack Kent Cooke and Dan Snyder have good track records on race. Say what you want about Snyder, but race isn't his problem. Shitty management is.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again with totally mischaraterizing the Confederacy. The flag is about heritage not hate A few hate groups have tried to using the Confederate flag for their hate and I completely condemn those hate groups for that. However, let us not forget that for most of the time these bigoted hate groups have used The Star and Stripes (American Flag) for their hate campaigns.

Why not ban the American Flag based upon the logic of your argument? Let me remind you that Lincoln was the one that was the dictator was Abraham Lincoln. The true racisr was mr Lincoln as he belonged to the Colonization Society who advocated for deportation of the slaves. It was Lincoln's administration who suspended alll civil rights. It was Lincoln through the Northern Army who had non combatants in the South killed . Lincoln's racist remarks could be found set forth in the Lincoln Douglas debates. Here is a novelty for all of you espousing this revisinonist history, why not read the Lincoln Douglass debates? Or is it that you may end up finding out the truth about America's first dictator? I know only too wel what dictators are like as I left a dictatorship in Cuba. Please do not insult my intelligence by trying to provide me with any baloney that I do not know what a dictatorship is like.

We also cannot forget that we have freedom of speech enshrined in the first ammendment to the Bill Of Rights. Or is it now that those of you only say it applies to one sector who opposes the Confederate flag. Now what part of what i said above do you all not understand?? Duh!! Also finally African Americans fought along side the Confederacy and were freed As a matter of fact the Confederacy abolished slavery one year before the North did. Additionally, gee now. in 1789 Virginia a southern state tried to abolish slavery. Of course it was politicians in the North who opposed the abolishing of slavery in Virginia.

Greg said...

This is bullcrap, there is no reason for a Jewish person to feel a "pit" of sorrow in their stomach by seeing a rebel flag. Maybe if it was a flag with a swastika on it, but the rebel flag was never representative of inhumane control of Jews.

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