I have an interest in genealogy. Part of it comes from growing up Mormon. The other part comes from having a really shitty family. On my dad’s side, it’s loaded with narcissistic alcoholics, so it is extremely difficult to find any redeeming value in them, save for a few. I have to go even further back in my family tree to find a lineage to actually be proud to tell my daughter about. That being said, some research into my family revealed that my family can be traced all the way back to when they came over from Europe, which was before there was even a U.S. of A. My progenitors sailed over, fought in the French-Indian War, the Revolutionary War (so I guess that means I am eligible to be a DAR member), and the War of 1812. They settled down and established a foothold in Virginia where they flourished.
My family was among the original Americans!
A some point, a large group ventured off and settled in Tennessee. The Civil War came along. My direct family line split off and fought for the Union Army while the rest of them sided with the Confederates. It’s entirely possible they may have met on the field of battle on opposing sides, but I’ve not found anything to support it. However, I’m sure this difference of opinion and alliance made for awkward family gatherings.
My Redneck Brother, in all his NASCAR loving glory, always liked to show off the Confederate flag. When I would chastise him for it, he would regurgitate that cop-out line, “Heritage, Not Hate!”. Until I dug into our family history and discovered our black-sheep, Yankee-loving lineage and corrected him. He never again uttered that phrase to me, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have a romanticized view of the stars and bars and how it relates to our family tree.
I’ve always been puzzled by the South’s love affair of the Confederate flag. With the Charleston shooting bringing the flag to the forefront, even more so. No where in history will you find a group of people who worship the symbol of the losing side of a war as feverishly as those who do the Confederate flag. Oh sure, some argue that the flag represents an honor to those who lost their lives in the war, but you don’t see Germans flying the Nazi flag to honor those who died in WW2. We see the Nazi flag and remember all the horrific things about that war. The image of the Nazi flag evokes a strong, negative reaction to most everyone who see it. The Confederate flag has that same reaction to a lot of people, and yet there are others who think it’s something to be proud of.
Those who cherish their flag can defend it and fly it all they want, but it doesn’t escape the fact that the flag is not just a symbol of the white-washed version of Southern history, it is a symbol of hate, of oppression, and of treason. It is ironic that the flag-lovers would decry “Oppression” when their flag is threatened, when their stance in Civil War was oppression dressed up in the fancy wording of state rights. Yes, the Civil War was fought over whether the apostrophe comes before or after the “s” in States, as Southern apologists would have you believe that the federal government had no authority over individual state rights. But, they do tend to gloss over the fact that one of the sticking points of those state rights was the right to slavery.
Like the flags of Apartheid and the Nazis, the Confederate flag belongs in a museum. To be studied as history, a lesson not to be forgotten lest the past repeats itself. The South is too in love with its heritage of hate and oppression. To this day, they are still fighting the Civil War, and they still think they are going to win.
I can’t help but feel the fight over the flag is just a smokescreen when you think about the Charleston tragedy. Racism is still rampant in the South. Open and unashamed. You hear about it even to this day: segregated proms, for example. The Confederate flag is a diversion, and I am sure the NRA is thanking whatever gods they pray to that the focus isn’t even on gun control right now. The flag is an easy target, with no powerhouse lobby that owns Congress and has an unlimited battle chest of lawyers and money to defend it. I’m sure the flag will finally be taken town and put in a museum where it belongs, and people will feel a great satisfaction that they accomplished an historical victory. Until someone brings a gun somewhere and kills again. Then, we will be looking anywhere for another scapegoat. History repeating itself all over again. And we’ll be wondering we can do to prevent it from happening again, while the answer is as plain as the nose on our face.
We know what we have to do. We’re just too ignorant and too chicken shit to do the right thing. Our government is bought and paid for. The only color our government cares about is green. I’m tired of it, and frustrated that this is the society that my daughter will grow up in.
While I am very proud that my family had a part in establishing this country, I am embarrassed by what it has become. Heritage, not hate. Yeah, that sentiment can kiss my ass.