After crossing the eastern half of the country and listening to NPR for at least 10 per cent of it, you’d have thought that the Confederate Flag shot those AME church members in Charleston (though it sure did knock Laudato Si below the fold). Nothing about Dylann Roof and his family or background, nothing about the families of the victims, or about the congregation itself and how it is going to go on. Instead, aside from the escaped convicts in New York State, the media is all about stories related to taking the flag down.
I have long suspected that the Confederate Flag stood not for slavery or white supremacy but signified a form of protest resolutely American. Most Americans believe in limited government. Even proponents of big federal programs don’t want government infringing on civil liberties. So if you see a Confederate Flag in a dorm room window at the University of Michigan, which I have, my suspicion is that here is a mid-westerner who has chosen the flag of one political body that tried to resist the centralization of the federal government.
Many people do not view the flag so innocently. And I can well understand why African-Americans object to it. But I have trouble believing that the flag is a means for vindicating homicide or starting race wars. David Duke is not Dylann Roof who is not Robert L. Dabney.
At the same time, the Confederate Flag could hardly represent well the political conviction of states’ rights. It is one flag that stood for the 11 states that fought the North. Each of those southern states had their own flag. That is why I, as a states’ rightser, have always flown the state flags of our several residences. When we had only lived in four states, I would change the flag at each season — Massachusetts in the winter, Pennsylvania in the spring, Maryland in the summer, and Illinois in the fall. The flaw in this plan came when a funny and cynical friend told our neighbors during the First Iraq War that the red, white, black, and gold flag we flew in the summer was the Iraqi flag.
But if you do want to show your loyalty to states, we have 50 options. And almost 48 of them communicate nothing offensive to the descendants of American slaves.