The Confederate battle flag that was taken down by Bree Newsome two days ago — and replaced by a black worker so a Confederate pride rally didn’t have to bear the sight of a naked flagpole — is now firmly in place. Maybe with chains. It’s kind of hard to tell…
Director of the Center for Civil Society and UCLA staffer, Bill Parent, thinks it is, though. And he Tweeted it out:
He may be mistaken. Have a close-up look:
What do you think?
Arguments to the contrary, the flag now considered the “Confederate flag” was not the actual flag of the Confederate States of America. That looked like this:
That design was the first. There followed three more designs, adding stars as states joined the insurrection. The flag that is at the center of the controversy in Columbia was, at first, only a part of the Confederate flag (see below). Because the original flag resembled the American flag, regiments carried a battle flag to prevent confusion. That is the flag we now know as the Confederate flag, even though it was never adopted as such. But that’s a moot point, really. Pretty much everyone accepts the battle flag as the Confederate flag now.
What is indisputable is what those flags represented. Though revisionists and deniers try to obfuscate the truth, that flag is about slavery and treason. Ken Burns, the man who brought us the award-winning documentary, The Civil War, spoke about this very thing on a recent appearance on Morning Joe:
“I think what happens is that we build up over time the sense of an excuse about why it came. If you read … South Carolina’s articles of secession in November — after [Abraham] Lincoln’s election of 1860 — they don’t mention states’ rights, they don’t mention nullification. They mention slavery over and over again. Those [Confederate] flags came in after Brown v. Board of Education. This is not about heritage. This is about resistance to civil rights.”
The second stars & bars — the battle flag on a field of white — was designed by William T. Thompson, a newspaper writer from Savannah, Georgia with the help of William Porcher Miles, the mayor of Charleston. Thompson often referred to it as “The White Man’s Flag,” saying that it represented the supremacy of the white man. He wrote, in a series of editorials in 1863:
“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. “
This is the flag Thompson and Miles designed. The “Stainless Banner,” which is available online.
If Confederate pride were truly the issue, this should be the flag on cars, belt buckles, shirts, etc. And flying above state capitols. But we know that the current flag isn’t really about pride; it’s about intimidation. It didn’t become popular until the 1960s, during the civil rights struggle. The KKK brought it out of mothballs, as it were, marched with it and waved it proudly as they committed acts of terrorism against African-Americans. The flag still flying above the capitol building in Columbia wasn’t put up until 1961, so the claim that it represents Southern history and heritage is disingenuous, at best.
That the flag may be chained to its pole in Columbia — and that nobody in the capitol building seems to notice — is beyond ironic. A hundred and fifty years ago, chains held slaves in place. Today, the symbol of their slavery is, perhaps, chained in place. It’s as if the flag itself is standing in for the slaves of old. Because some people just can’t let go of hate.