Dumping the Flag, Keeping the Racism

Politicians and retailers are tripping over one another to dissociate themselves from the Confederate battle flag, the Stars & Bars.

Source: Scenes from a Multiverse

The logic seems to go like this:

  • Dylann Roof murdered 9 black people at a bible-study meeting
  • Dylann Roof's web presence featured images of the Stars & Bars
  • The day after the murder the Stars & Bars was not at half-staff in South Carolina
  • The Stars & Bars is evil!  Get rid of it!

I will freely admit, I also fell into this trap.  The Stars & Bars is one of the most visible indicators of the racism on which the USA was built.  That racism may be closer to the surface in the former Confederacy, but make no mistake, it exists in Seattle and Boston just as virulently as it does in Charleston and Mobile.The arrows of causality are not difficult to discern, and they all point to the Stars & Bars.  None emanate from this flag.

Removing the flag from government displays is still important, because the governments should at least be paying lip service to equality for all citizens.  Lip service ain't much... but it ain't nothing, either.  Sooner or later someone will hold them to their words.  That cannot happen until the words are said. One other overlooked effect of making the Stars & Bars vexillum non gratus is simply, we will lose a visual indicator of who still supports the ideas on which it was designed.  William T. Thompson, who designed the version of the flag seen here, called it "the Stainless Banner."  Making his case for it, he wrote:

As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN'S FLAG.… As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism.

Knowing who those people are is valuable, and why we'd give it up without a fight is baffling to me.