Thursday, June 25, 2015

Racism and the Confederate Flag

I have a confession to make. My ancestors in Alabama kept slaves and I am a daughter of Confederate soldiers. It is easy to be self-righteous about an evil institution when one's ancestors were from a part of the world where slavery was non-existent. On my father's side I am descended from Irish Catholic agricultural workers who were having a devil of a time making a living, and were often treated as slaves in their own country. On my mother's side, I am descended from English and Scottish Protestants who had large land holdings in the South and used slave labor. But most of the population of the South did not have slaves. Slaves cost a great deal of money and most people in the South could not afford to keep them. So when they fought for the Confederacy, they were not fighting for slavery but for States' Rights.

Slavery is a sad fact of our national history but it is as much a part of our history as D-Day and the Gettysburg Address. America was built by the labor of slaves and immigrant workers who were often treated worse than slaves. To erase all memory of it is dangerous for it erases an evil which should keep us humble and vigilant as citizens of a free country.

Taking down every Confederate battle flag will not change what was. And I can assure you that no man who fought under that flag would have condoned the craven massacre of grandmothers and other devout people gathered to study the Holy Bible in a house of worship. Here is what the Sons of the Confederacy have to say on the matter:
On the night of June 17, 2015, an attempt was made to break the spirit of all South Carolinians.

The deranged mind of a horrendous individual, entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and took the lives of nine admirable individuals. This historic House of God became the scene of a brutal massacre beyond understanding. We all contemplate, why did this happen?

Perhaps this is a question that cannot be answered. What kind of a world are we leaving behind for our children, when you can’t go into God’s House without the threat of being gunned down? This is, in fact a crime of hate and an act of terrorism. It is reported that the culprit’s craving was to bring about “civil” war and division between Black and White citizens of the Palmetto State. This did not happen. We will not allow it to happen. South Carolinians will stand together hand in hand regardless of race, creed, or skin color to prevent it from happening. South Carolina will not cower to the evil deeds of one hateful being.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans extends our heartfelt sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. We stand with the citizens of Charleston as they come together to mourn the loss of these beloved individuals. We pray that God will grant them comfort and peace during this time of despair. Emanuel Church proclaims compassion, peace, and justice throughout the historic Grand City of the South. This congregation stands for what is right and is a force against evil. Hatred has reared its ugly face in our country masquerading as political correctness. What God has ordained as righteous and just will always be righteous and just. What God has ordained as evil will always be evil. No man, government, or principality has authority to change the will of God.

Hatred is evil. Recent acts in Charleston are just plain evil. South Carolinians have chosen to defeat evil by offering love and support of each other, rather than disobedience, distrust and destruction. Disobedience and destruction only breeds yet more hatred and evil.

Historical fact shows there were Black Confederate soldiers. These brave men fought in the trenches beside their White brothers, all under the Confederate Battle Flag. This same Flag stands as a memorial to these soldiers on the grounds of the SC Statehouse today. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a historical honor society, does not delineate which Confederate soldier we will remember or honor. We cherish and revere the memory of all Confederate veterans. None of them, Black or White, shall be forgotten.

The SC Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans has a stringently enforced Hate Policy. We will remove any member who expresses racist hatred sentiments. Anyone with ties to racist organizations will not be granted membership. The perpetrator of the vile act in Charleston has never been a member or associated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Unfortunately some other subversive organizations distort Confederate symbols in an attempt to make them stand for hatred and disillusion. The SCV vehemently opposes the ideals and actions of such organizations.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has both Black and White members. In our eyes there is no difference. Our membership is made up of descendants of Native-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Christians and Jewish who took a stand for the Cause they believed was right. The love and defense of the South’s symbols, culture, and heritage is not hate. It is knowing and understanding of the truth.

Not knowing your heritage is ignorance. (Read more.)


Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Slavery, though bad, was less evil in keeping men already slaves than in chasing free men to make them slaves.

Under Spain, for one thing slave traders were told to keep their business off the views of the great public of the New World (as with Britain I presume and France I know, slavery was not allowed in the Old World mainland), but also, in theory only black men caught in wars they had started to enslave others were to be accepted as legally slaves. In practise this may of course have been with varied observation. Anyway, such cases did exist.

And I hope your ancestors on the Protestant side treated slaves with sufficient decency not to have become their object of hatred once 1865 changed the power relations.

And I agree that Confederate Flag is not to blame for the actions of that man, though perhaps the ideas of some who have recently waved it are. Some, not most.

julygirl said...

The Holocaust was a horror beyond belief, but the Jewish people maintain the memory so it never happens again.

elena maria vidal said...

Good point!

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Funny Holocaust comes up in a post about slavery - I was making a parallel too, though not quite same way that juligirl (bows) did.

Here is my little essay:

That Priority is Not Mine
on New Blog on the Kid