Normally, I don’t get too political on here. I try to keep things positive and focus solely on music or travel for the most part. This side-steps a little from the norm here at Tune Up & Travel, but I’m writing it anyways, for two reasons: One, I feel like my opinions on these two matters have been heavily influenced by traveling to less-fortunate corners of the world and seeing how different things are there. Two, writing is my form of expression and this website is my primary outlet for such. So, here I am and here we go. I’ll try to keep both readers of both sides of this debate in mind, however it will be obvious which side I’m essentially standing on.
Is The Confederate Flag Offensive?
In short, yes. But not because it began that way necessarily. I have seen a few arguments here, so I’m going to address them all individually:
“But it’s not the Confederate Flag, it’s the Virginia Battle Flag, etc.”
You’re right. Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. It’s like saying “well the Swastika is actually a Buddhist symbol!” …Correct, but do you think that’s what people will assume when they see it tattooed on your arm or flying on your lawn? Absolutely not. Unfortunately for you, the Confederate Flag has the same problem. I know most of the people in support of the flag on my Facebook news feed are not racists, and their intentions are genuinely innocent. However, know that most people view it as a symbol of racism or general ‘redneckery’. There’s nothing you or I can do to change that. It’s the hard truth. No matter the origins of the flag, it’s representation today is not a good one, largely in part to the KKK and several other hate-groups which use the flag. That’s why people aren’t “calling you racist just because you’re white”, they’re doing it because you’re supporting a flag which has been heavily intertwined with racism. To reiterate–it would be like walking around with a big Swastika flag, going “why does everyone think I hate Jews ?!”
“I view it as a symbol of my heritage. To me it’s southern pride…”
This falls under the same argument as above. It’s interesting to me that a lot of people who say this are my readers from Ohio. You do know your ancestors most likely would have been fighting for the Union, right? And if your family is from the South, maybe participating in the largest treasonous uprising in our nation’s history, fought largely to save the institution of slavery isn’t the thing you want to remember them for. Which brings me to…
“The Civil War wasn’t about slavery… It was about States’ Rights.”
You are correct. States’ individual rights to own slaves. There is no mistaking this, and if you’re stating otherwise you are just plain wrong. I see people post, “you should have paid more attention in school!” …I did. We were taught that the war was started over slavery. There’s not much point in even debating this, considering that every single Confederate State’s article of secession specifically stated that it was almost entirely about slavery. Don’t believe me? Check them out for yourself. Here’s a little gem from Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession:
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.”
I don’t really think there’s anything more that needs to be said on that.
“People can burn the American Flag but I can’t fly a Rebel Flag?!”
Personally, here’s where we start seeing eye-to-eye. As far as everything I’ve researched, desecration of the American Flag is absolutely a crime and I think it should be punished to its fullest extent. I agree that it’s wholly unacceptable for our Nation’s Flag to be desecrated in any way. I also think you should be able to keep and fly your Confederate Flag. The good news? You can! As far as I know, no law is being introduced which will ban the Confederate Flag. I think it’s ridiculous that Dukes of Hazzard is being pulled, that Amazon and other retailers have banned the flag, and most of the other politically-motivated business moves that have went down. BUT, that’s what they are: business. No law has been passed to mandate these changes. So again, your rights are not being infringed. I agree it’s kind of whiny and ridiculous that some of it has went this far, but the fact remains that you can personally still fly your Rebel Flag. So, that argument is moot.
“Here’s a picture of a black man proudly holding a Confederate Flag… someone better tell him he’s racist!”
There are two problems with this argument: One, you’re ignoring the fact that this man may be unaware of the full history of the flag just as you may have been. Two, it’s another argument that falls under the same point I’ve brought up earlier—it may not be racist to this man, but to most other people it is. Even though a few ‘surprising’ individuals may show support for the flag—whether knowing its implications or not—it doesn’t negate the fact that the majority of the country doesn’t want it on their shared public property being flown proudly.
Here’s a great addition to this. You might recognize the man in the picture here being floated around Facebook with the same comment I mentioned above it. You can also find that man being interview by dozens of news stations. Why? For being a black man who supports the Confederate Flag. Why is that news-worthy, you’re asking yourself? The flag isn’t racist or representative of slavery in any way, right? So why would dozens of news channels feel they needed to question this man and ask why he would support it? I think you’ve answered your own question.
“Well we better ban the Pyramids, the American Flag, etc, etc if we’re banning the Confederate Flag—since they all supported slavery…”
The Pyramids were not built by slaves. Virtually all modern archaeologists agree that they were built by well-paid and highly-skilled Egyptian workers. But, I digress. It all boils down to this:
The issue isn’t banning the Confederate Flag. It’s having it removed from our State Houses. Since some of you can’t understand the race motivation for removing this flag, let’s address a different reason it shouldn’t be flown over our government buildings:
IT’S TREASONOUS. This flag represents a direct attack on the United States of America. Why would we fly a defeated enemy’s battle flag in our government buildings?! It’s ludicrous to argue for it in any way, in my opinion. Keep your flag, fly it high with pride, I don’t care. I really don’t! It’s your right as an American to do so. But if you love America, should you really support something that attempted to destroy it? The Confederates were terrorists who caused much more damage to the United States than ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any other modern terrorist group you can think to name combined. Think about that.
Now, The Other Thing Floating Around Facebook…
There are a couple of misconceptions that need cleared up. First let’s get the easy ones out of the way:
Irrelevant. Not your body, not your life, not your decision. This is fallacy anyways, but I don’t think this statement is even worthy of a lengthy rebuttal.
“It’s against my religion!”
I won’t go into this one too deep, although I easily could. Aside from the ubiquitous hypocrisy religions tend to have on subjects such as these, it comes down to this: Not your body, not your life, not your decision. Not everyone believes in your religion.
“Yea, but… now Christian pastors will be forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies!”
Absolutely NOT. Remember that handy First Amendment we talked about earlier? Your freedom of religion prevents you from ever having to house any unwanted wedding in your church. Hooray! Argument over, right? I hope so.
“First marriage, then it will be a slippery slope from there… America is doomed…”
This one troubles me. Are you insinuating homosexuals will start some kind of rebellion against America? …Like the… Confederacy did?
Now we’re about to enter bumpy territory…
“Whenever homosexuals express their thoughts it’s freedom of speech… but whenever I express mine it’s ‘hate speech!'”
No. It’s freedom of speech for you as well. You’re just saying something hateful, that’s all. I can make it very easy for you to understand why people might be thinking this about you:
1. When supporters of equal rights may say something negative about your religion or viewpoint, are they actually attempting to take away one of your rights or are they just saying something mean about it? We’ve already established that no one is saying you can’t say what you want about your feelings. Are they taking away a specific human right of yours?
2. When opposers of equal rights say something negative about marriage equality, are they attempting to take away someone’s rights? Like, say, the right to marry the person they love?
You have your answer. We’ll go into this more a little farther down.
“This country was built on Christianity, etc…”
It was not. Let’s allow some of our Founding Fathers to take the internet podium for a moment:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity” – Joel Barstow, US Consul General
“Every man ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” – George Washington
“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” – John Adams
“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” – James Madison
Here’s my personal favorite:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . .”
Where’s that one from? The United States Constitution. There you have it. Pretty cut-and-dry. Your religion’s laws do not apply to the United States as a whole. The beauty of our country is that you can still feel free to oppose marriage equality, and you can speak publicly about it as much as you want. No one is stopping you from doing that.
Lastly, we get to this. This is what inspired me to sit down and write this article:
“White Christian people are being oppressed in this country now”
Absolutely not. You’re not being criminally prosecuted for speaking your mind. That’s the HUGE difference. You can say what you want and feel free to do so without ever having to worry about landing in a jail cell for it. What the First Amendment does not protect you from, is looking like an asshole. That’s where you’ve misunderstood something along the way. We all have the same freedom of speech. Yours is still fully in effect. Do you know why you feel like it isn’t? Because everyone else is calling you out on being bigoted.
Most people say well I’m not bigoted just because I’m standing up for what I believe in! and here’s the thing—I’m kind of sympathetic to you there. I grew up in a very rural town, and I know that the vast majority of people who are saying most of these things genuinely are great people who don’t realize what they’re saying or doing. Yes, you are standing up for what you believe and that’s great! Unfortunately, when you feel that another group of people shouldn’t get the same rights or level of comfort as yourself based solely on their gender, race, or orientation… that’s the very definition of bigotry. It’s uncomfortable to hear or realize that you might be saying bigoted things.
Understand again, that the difference between you and those people you’re disagreeing with is crystal clear: They aren’t coming to your church and telling you that you can’t practice Christianity. They’re saying “Hey! This is my life, not yours! Let me live it the way I please, just like you!” You, however, are telling them that they can’t enjoy the right to marriage because it doesn’t fit your belief. You’re the one imposing on their life, not the other way around. They can’t force your church to marry them for the same reason you can’t tell them they can’t get married. You’re both protected, in theory. Isn’t great how the First Amendment works!
Here’s the worst part—do you know how insulting this is to peoples who have actually been oppressed? Do you know what oppression really means? I have a handy checklist for you to find out if you’re being oppressed. Just answer these simple questions:
1. Are you being systematically killed because of your beliefs?
2. Are you being forcibly relocated because of your beliefs?
No? Okay uhhh…
3. Are you even being arrested for your beliefs?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions? No? Then you’re not fucking oppressed. No one’s taking your rights away and no one’s saying you can’t fly your flag or hold up your picket sign. You’re doing just fine.
The Jewish People were oppressed during the holocaust. American Indians were oppressed right here in the United States for hundreds of years. Women are being oppressed in Middle-Eastern countries as we speak. Dare I say?—African Americans were oppressed by slavery.
You—as you scroll through Facebook on your computer or cell phone, sitting in your nice house with air-conditioning, with a fridge full of food and a warm bed, without fear of someone coming to murder, rape, or enslave you—are not fucking oppressed.
Get out and see a little more of what this world has to offer. You might be surprised when you notice just how similar humans are; regardless of race, religion, orientation, or what-have-you. 🙂
Peace and Happy Travels,