By and large, on this blog, I have made an effort to strike a more or less reasonable tone when I disagree with something. An exception has been with respect to matters related to the Confederacy. I allow myself some intemperance on that subject. So, it’s somewhat gratifying to see the late storm of disapproval where the Confederate Battle Flag is concerned – a storm triggered by a white supremacist who murdered nine black people at church in Charleston.
It seems that a moderate tone on the subject has allowed people to remain in denial about what the Confederate heritage is about. It’s a heritage of treason, citizens of the United States taking up arms against the U.S. and killing its soldiers. They took up arms because they claimed a right to secede so that they could preserve their states’ rights to enslave other people. It’s heritage, but it’s not a proud heritage.
Tony Horwitz, who wrote a great book on the subject of present day Southern attachment to the “Lost Cause” mythology, Confederates in the Attic, has a piece at TPM on the latest controversy entitled “How the South Lost the War but Won the Narrative.”
I’m not very optimistic that the debate over South Carolina’s flag will bring a deeper reckoning. Furling the statehouse flag may bring temporary relief to South Carolinians, but what we truly need to bury is the gauzy fiction that the antebellum South was in any way benign, or that slavery and white supremacy weren’t the cornerstone of the Confederacy. Only then, perhaps, will we be able to say that the murdered in Charleston didn’t die in vain, and that the Lost Cause, at last, is well and truly lost.