Thursday, June 25, 2015

Add Me to the List: No More Confederate Flag

Burn the damn things already, every last one of them except for those Confederate flags still in history museums. The lessons are deep, layered and still have messages for us today.

In Germany the Nazi flag is illegal.

Why on earth wouldn’t they allow that raging symbol of murder, torture, war and genocide to be publicly displayed by any citizen who likes it? I mean come on, it’s a part of Germany’s history!

Isn’t that the argument? That the Confederate flag is a part of the South’s history?

So because it’s a “part of history”, that should make it okay to be slapped on the front of your trucks, hung on the walls of your homes or garages, plastered on tee shirts, etched to the outside of your coffee mugs and baseball caps and, of course, to be flown from the top of your American state houses?

I think not. It’s a symbol of something slightly, if not deeply, similar to Germany’s Nazi holocaust.

Maybe we should start by talking about death. And slave labor. And acts of aggression against another country.

Half of all southern slave babies died within the first year (more than half the number of white babies at the time).

HALF OF ALL SLAVE BABIES DIED WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR.

By the age of 3-4, many slave toddlers were added to the work force. Take a look at your 3 year old child or grandchild; now imagine them being put to work. In the heat. With no shoes.

Imagine your 3 year old being taken from you and sold, like a dress or pair of shoes. Imagine all of your children being taken from you. Or your spouse. Or your mother, father, sister and brother.

Imagine being owned by another person.

Let me repeat that: Imagine being owned by another person. Say it out loud. Think about it.

Boys, by the age of 11 (my son’s age), had transferred to field work. Imagine your 11 year old being forced to work in 100 degree heat, for eleven hours straight while surviving on poor nutrition and unsanitary water.

The majority of slaves didn’t live past the age of 50.

Slaves suffered the effects of improper nutrition, unsanitary living conditions and excessive labor. This left them more susceptible to diseases and higher death rates. The water supplies were often contaminated and contained human excretions, leading to cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis, influenza and hepatitis.

But that flag? It’s just a part of history. You know, the grand old days of the South.

Oh, we know about the whippings, beatings and killings. Unless museums or schools deliberately exclude photos of the swollen and layered monstrosities of scars on the backs of slave men and women it would be hard to deny that these atrocities were associated with slavery.

There are ample photos of continued violence against blacks in the South even following the ratification of the 13th amendment. I’ll include photos of lynchings in case you don’t get the picture.

While we’re at it, how about some photos of the KKK eagerly wielding their sacred banner, the Union Jack, or the unrecognizably swollen and crushed face of young Emmett Till.

White supremacy groups still proudly fly the Confederate flag as a symbol of their hatred and bigotry (the Nazi flag is too obvious I guess?). They proclaim a mournful and wistful longing for the nostalgic old South. When fellow human beings were sold as cattle, ripped from the arms of their families, worked, beaten and crushed as if they were nothing more than an animal or insect and where that very belief, that these humans weren’t human, is singed into the depths of their souls, continues to fester and be transferred to their own offspring even as I type.

I don’t care who you are or where you live. Let’s not kid ourselves. The Confederate Flag represents violence, an economic patriarchy of the very few elite who were in power at the time, deep seeded racism and downright sedition and terrorism against the United States of America.

Yes, when the Confederates attacked America’s Fort Sumter in Charelston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, it was an attack on America. As a result of the South’s treason toward the United States roughly 620,000 people died.

But some keep flying their bastardized flag, the flag of a fabricated country. Some actual State Capitals still fly this flag, which completely boggles the mind. A flag that was never recognized by any other nation in the world.

Make no mistake, the Civil War was about slavery, pure and simple. Oh, for certain, it was about slavery as it related to the economic standing of a small majority. Slavery was the cash cow of only the wealthiest in the south; the fact that black human beings were viewed as stock in the minds of a deeply racist culture simply made it easier to suck in the majority of poor southern citizens to fight for the wealthy even though they benefited very little from the slave industry. In fact, slavery had a negative impact on the economy and hurt the development of industry and urban areas. It contributed to high debts, soil exhaustion and a lack of technical innovation while at the same time northern urban areas were expanding greatly. The south neglected industry, transportation and education. But the rich had free labor. And power.

Wealth was far more stratified in the south than in the north because large slaveholders owned nearly all of the slaves and wealthy plantations possessed the majority of land and slaves alike. In 1850, 17% of farmers held two-thirds of all acreage; in a population of roughly six million 7% of slaveholders owned three-quarters of the slave population.

These same plantation owners also held the political power. During this time, voting ballots weren’t secret and any white man who didn’t vote to support the wealthy slave owner’s agenda risked backlash (ah, yes, more of the golden days when only white men could vote; wasn't it a grand time).

Poor people and non-slave owners simply went along with the whims of the wealthy because of their deeply held racist views and because they had no understanding of the economics involved that were making their lives even harder.

As for the worn out “states rights” argument? The Southern politicians believed that states shouldn’t have the right to make slavery illegal, making their argument hypocritical at best. The federal government was a vital necessity after the Revolutionary War because the rag tag colonies were struggling on their own, fragmented and not aligned. Creating the American union is what effectively helped preserve it.

And any discussion involving the powerful Southern wealthy elite dictating political and economic policy at all levels of state government can't help but bring about a horrifying sense of irony for some of us currently living in deeply red states.

Today, in Kansas, voters continue to elect leaders who put the desires of a few small uber-wealthy businessmen ahead of the needs of the majority of normal citizens. The power wielded by these businessmen has led to politicians being put into office who are willing to enact laws that hurt the majority of citizens greatly and, in some cases, violate actual law. Ignorance and wealthy backing continues to put these people in positions of power.

To recap, there are Americans who continue to honor a flag that represents murder, slavery, child abuse, neglect and inhumanity. They want to continue flying a flag that represented an economy which supported a small number of massively wealthy men who relied upon the poor, often uneducated, racist and easily influenced citizens of the South to commit treason against the United States of American and to eagerly submit themselves and their sons to death and injury on the field of battle.

Let’s get real. Those who support the Confederate flag’s continued existence in our culture didn’t live during the tiny amount of time the South pretended to be its own country. You didn’t fight in the “war” (uprising). You call yourselves Americans...because you are Americans. The Confederacy invaded America in a blatant act of aggression, was defeated and ceased to exist on April 9, 1865.

So truly, what honest reason could any real American or patriotic citizen have to honor the Confederate flag?

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