The Charleston shooting last week was unfortunately another horrific example of our country’s inability to get our shit together. We can’t get our gun shit under control, we can’t get our violence shit under control, and we especially can’t get our racism shit under control. Perhaps the biggest indication of the that last element is that we can’t even agree that this was an example of violent racism.
Wait, did I say violent racism? Because actually we’re still having a problem admitting it was racist period.
South Carolina flies a Confederate flag in front of its State Capitol at all times. But that’s not about racism, it’s just a symbol of the Confederate past, right? Regardless of the reasons behind the Civil War, the War itself is a huge part of the South’s past, and that needs to be commemorated the official flag of the Confederacy, doesn’t it? Not so much actually:
The flag seen today on houses, bumper stickers and T-shirts - sometimes accompanied by the words “If this shirt offends you, you need a history lesson” - is not, and never was, the official national flag of the Confederacy.
The design by William Porcher Miles, who chaired the flag committee, was rejected as the national flag in 1861, overlooked in favour of the Stars and Bars.
It was instead adopted as a square battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee, the greatest military force of the Confederacy. It fast became such a potent symbol of Confederate nationalism that in 1863 it was incorporated into the next design of the national flag, which replaced the hated Stars and Bars.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the official flag of the Confederacy, but it’s come to represent the lives sacrificed for their beliefs. It’s had a long history in the South, and has flown in South Carolina since all the way back to … 1962. You know. That huge year for the Civil War. Or the height of the Civil Rights struggle. Either one.
But none of this really matters because the Civil War wasn’t about racism or slavery. It was about Northern Aggression and states’ rights and the freedom to live free. Anyone who said that the South rebelled in order to keep slavery doesn’t know their history.
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.” - Alexander H. Stephens, The Vice President of the Confederate States of America
Hey, pay attention, Founding Member of The Confederacy. You just don’t get Southern Pride.
But what to do with the Confederate flag after it’s finally been taken down? John Oliver has a suggestion: