10 Questions Everyone Should Ask Those Who Continue to Defend the Confederate Flag

confederate-flag-5Following the death of nine African-Americans at the hands of a racist animal who attacked a church in South Carolina, the debate has once again been refueled over the fact that the Confederate flag still flies at the South Carolina State House. In fact, according to state law, it’s illegal to remove the flag – which is absolutely absurd. It does appear that there’s enough momentum – and pressure being put on Republicans – that this flag which represents hatred might finally be taken down, but nothing is set in stone.

Naturally, there are still plenty of conservatives who defend this flag, claiming it doesn’t represent racism, hatred or slavery; rather, they say, it just represents “states’ rights” and their “Southern heritage.” I’ve already addressed those folks so I won’t get into that again. To believe that the Confederacy was just about “states’ rights” in general is absurd and blatantly misleading if you don’t specify that the number one “state right” they wanted to preserve was the right to own slaves. Just take a look at the Texas Ordinance of Secession or some of the other state ordinances and declarations from the time, then come back and tell me that racism wasn’t the primary focus of this treasonous act of sedition.

Well, I thought I’d list 10 questions I think everyone should ask these people who continue to defend the use of the Confederate flag.

1. While it’s true the Confederacy used several different flags, why is it mainly just this one – the one used by the KKK and many white supremacists all over the world – that many in the South have clung to so tightly?

2. Speaking of the KKK, if the Confederacy wasn’t about racism or slavery, why did this white supremacist hate group use a battle flag from that movement to represent their bigotry? They could have used any flag, or made one of their own, so why that one?

3. The state of Georgia literally changed their flag in 1956 to include the Confederate flag in its design. Now, considering the 50’s was when the civil rights movement really began to take off, do you think it’s really just a coincidence that a state with a very racist past decided to incorporate a symbol from the Confederacy in their flag at the moment that African-Americans began moving against Jim Crow laws, demanding real equality and equal rights?

4. Our Constitution determines how we elect our government and how it represents us. So, when the Confederacy seceded from the U.S., then fired shots at a U.S. military installation, that was treason. Why would you want to honor a flag that represented those who rejected our Constitutional law, declared war on this country and attacked the U.S. military?

5. Speaking of that, what would you call an Islamic group comprised of American-born Muslims who attacked one of our military bases because they opposed something our federal government supported?

6. Timothy McVeigh was very anti-government and believed it could no longer be trusted. It’s these beliefs which drove him to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people including small children. Tell me, what’s really different about him and those who joined the Confederacy and attacked one of our federal government’s military installations?

7. If racism and slavery weren’t primary factors driving the Confederacy and the Civil War, following the South’s defeat, why did these Confederate states then enact Jim Crow laws that segregated African-Americans and often treated them as subhuman?

8. Even if you want to believe that the Confederacy was just about “states’ rights,” you do realize that the main issue these states were fighting to preserve was the “state’s right” to own other human beings as property, right?

9. What exactly is there about “Southern heritage” that you should be proud of anyway? Aside from supporting slavery, most of these same Southern states supported Jim Crow laws, opposed giving women the right to vote and thought interracial marriage should be illegal – what the heck are you “proud” of?

10. Let’s imagine for a moment that Republicans took over an overwhelming majority of Congress and occupied the White House, then proceeded to pass bans on same-sex marriage, forced religion into public schools, legalized discrimination against homosexuals and stripped women of their equal rights. Let’s say this prompted several liberal states to secede from the U.S. claiming “states’ rights” and attack one of the country’s military bases. Would you consider those people patriots and heroes or cowards and traitors?

Well, I’ll wrap it up there. I hope you enjoyed the questions and feel free to hit me up on Twitter to let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • William Dean Woods

    First off, the north fired on Fort Sumter which is a base off the coast of South Carolina. Second, in Lincolns inaugural address he said that he would sign an amendment to the constitution to allow slavery in the United States forever. Third less than 10% of whites in the south owned slaves and 42% of freed black men owned slaves. Fourth if republicans took over the government and liberal states wanted to secede from the union, yes I would support them. In the 1800’s a state is what we call a country. The constitution starts out THESE United States. Which means these countries come together to form a government. It goes on to say that rights are left to the people and the states. So if the people want to secede from federal government, that is their right. Also, the north enforced Jim Crow laws just as much as the south. The American flag stood over slavery for 75 years and what you call the confederate flag,(actually it was the battle flag for Robert E. Lee’s unit) stood over slavery for 4 years and yet you still salute and pledge allegiance to the American flag. Today the American flag stands for a government who has killed tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of people.

    • Robin Heathen

      Very good points. they do make it sound like “the south are all evil racists” and by acting that way, they insinuate that the north couldn’t have done anything wrong. Yet, I know for a fact that a lot of notherners owned slaves.

      And you are absolutely right about Lincoln. he was going to allow slavery, so long as the states that had seceded at the time rejoined the Union. Tribune article in August of 1862. ONE YEAR after the beginning of the war, which was declared by Lincoln, NOT the south.

      We have ALL of this info at our fingertips. You can cross reference EVERYTHING you find on here to see what is true and what isn’t… and people still rely on articles that are mostly based on the writers opinions. And I do find it amusing as I run thru articles on my FB feed…. the people I see screaming about this flag, also have a fit when middle eastern people burn OUR flag. And when they do it, they are calling us demons, etc. People have become ignorant hypocrites who get angry if you don’t eat their crap.

      • Liz

        There was not an implication, by me, that the Northern States didn’t have slavery. Four Northern states were slave states, and 5hey were called border states.
        The point is that the South’s main goal in seceding was to maintain the institution of slavery and the plantation system. They declared war on the US, and therefore, treason.

    • RHB

      Your facts are wrong. 1) Confederate Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter after Lincoln announced plans to resupply the facility. The Union officer in charge of the fort deliberately did not fire back for hours to make it clear that the rebels fired first. 2) Lincoln’s inaugural address stated he had no inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery, but he also made it clear secession was illegal. 3) About 1/3 of southern families owned slaves prior to the Civil War, and those percentages went up states such as Mississippi or South Carolina. 4) Your statistics on black slave-owners are inaccurate or need refining. Less than 4000 blacks owned approximately 13,000 slaves in the United States in 1830, the year which we have the best statistics. (That’s out of over 2 million slaves owned.) Of those black slave-owners, 42% owned one slave, so perhaps that what you meant to reference. There were several states where the percentage of free black slave-owners reached 20-40%, but the free black population in the US was about 300,000. So you’re talking about a very, very small percentage of slaves being owned by free blacks. 5) Secession is not permitted by the Constitution and was deemed so by the Supreme Court in Texas v. White in 1869. 6) The United States was founded on principals of democratic rule and equality before the law. We have not held ourselves to those standards, and in some cases we have failed – miserably and tragically. However, the Confederacy was founded entirely on the principal of protecting white supremacy and the institution of slavery – and doing so by way of treason.

      • Dana Davis

        His statistics on actual slaves are way, way, off. It’s just blatant historical falsehood.

      • RHB

        Secession is not permitted by the Constitution – Texas v. White, 1869. SCOTUS ruled there is no mechanism for which the states can unilaterally leave the union. The southern states were in rebellion and attempted to undermine the rule of law, international relations, the American economy…so I guess if you don’t consider that betrayal or treason, you have a much lower standard than I do.

      • Dana Davis

        Did SCOTUS likewise rule that there was a mechanism contained within the Constitution that sentenced the citizens of these states in rebellion to death? Because that’s precisely what occurred during the Civil War. The President of the United States, Congress, SCOTUS – none have this level of authority. This is not Russia, this is “We the people.”

      • RHB

        What planet have you been spending most of your time on? The fed has no means whatsoever of forcing a state to either comply with federal law or remain in the Union? The federal government has a variety of means of compelling states to comply with federal law and does so all the time – the most effective being offering money or withholding it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t limitations to how far the federal government can go to compel action, but to say there is no way the federal government can make the states uphold federal law (or the Constitution) is outright laughable. I mean, sure I guess Texas or South Carolina could – again – try to leave the Union, but that didn’t work out for them a hundred years ago. I doubt it would work out for them a second time either. Especially because it is a matter of constitutional law that federal laws trump state laws.

        What would Lincoln have done if people had refused to send troops? I imagine he would have instituted conscription – which is what happened in 1863. We live in a country that has laws and those laws give the federal government authority over us and state and local governments. Don’t like it? Change the constitution. If you’re looking for a time when the central government was weak and states were supreme, you’ll need to go back before 1789 when the US was governed by the Articles of Confederation. You live in la-la land if you think the states are free to leave whenever they want and it’s perfectly okay for them to do that if the big, bad federal government forces them to do something they don’t wanna.

        Oh and last thing – the rebel flag stands for racists, slavery, and rebellion. Lincoln was constitutionally and legally elected. The southern states left because they wanted to make sure not only that slavery was preserved in the South, but that it had the freedom to expand to the west. It wasn’t about whatever lofty notion you seem to think – excess of tyranny or individual freedom or bootstraps. It was about slavery. It was about owning other human beings. That is what the confederate flag stands for. There is no mechanism in the constitution for leaving the union once you have joined it. Sure, I guess you can try to leave but it won’t be constitutionally sanctioned. It will be rebellion. If you want to argue the merits of that, sure. If you want to try and say it’s okay to do because the Constitution, you’re out of luck.

      • Dana Davis

        Don’t be so condescending. There is nothing contained in any law that compels any to involuntarily. comply aside from physical force. And the present federal government, precisely because of Lincoln’s heavy-handed response, no longer possesses the power to engage the citizenry of any state militaristically. Given current political sentiment, the states are entirely free to secede and/ or nullify. I completely disagree on both the symbolism and the vilification of the rebel flag. What’s worse is the evil propensity of mankind to command the minds of men; you are destroying ancient relics and idols in the same sense that the Muslims destroyed the Bamiyan Buddha. That’s all you will achieve.

      • RHB

        The tone you’re reading behind my words isn’t condescension, it’s utter bafflement and frustration. I’ve said this 3 times and I’m going to say it again – there is no right or privilege of secession/nullification in the constitution. None. Zero. Zip. Andrew Jackson settled nullification in the 1830s with South Carolina, and the Civil War/Texas v. White settled the issue of secession as a practical matter and a constitutional one. Federal law trumps state law. That is a basic tenet of the constitution…. I mean, sure…you CAN do anything you want, but there are consequences and doing whatever you want isn’t necessarily legal or sanctioned. I imagine if Texas or Alabama tried to secede today, the federal government would put a stop to that in a hurry.

        We give the government the power to physically compel us all the time – police arrests, imprisonment, search and seizure, mandatory vaccine laws for school-age children. There is a limit to how far the government – federal or state – can go in compelling us to act, but they have that right and it was given to them by We The People. In a national emergency, the National Guard can be called into areas and act as an order-keeping force, which includes preventing the destruction of life and property. The police can detain, arrest, and kill citizens (rightly or wrongly) who are suspected of crimes or pose a threat to others. One of government’s most basic functions is the legitimization of force. You can have an argument about whether it’s wise or moral for that to be true, but one of the reasons government maintains power because it gets a monopoly on physical violence as an institution.

        Slavery was not incidental or a side issue. The South seceded to protect slavery as an economic and social institution. The VP of the Confederacy and the secession declarations were pretty clear about that. Now I agree with your point in that the North also benefited from slavery, but the war wasn’t Republicans vs. Democrats. It was a sectional conflict. Northern Democrats didn’t leave in any significant number – they remained loyal to the Union. Slavery IS the context of the war. Whatever other issues there were, slavery underscored all of them.

        The battle flag might have meant something different to some of the men who fought in the Civil War – it might have been about protecting their homes from an invading army. Not every southerner who fought did so because they wanted to own slaves. But the Confederacy was entirely about preserving slavery. Entirely. When segregationists took up that flag in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, they firmly tied that flag to a heritage of hate and discrimination. Secession wasn’t about overthrowing an illegitimate or corrupt government – it was about protecting the right to own other people. That is not a noble cause.

      • Dana Davis

        Most of the world was about preserving America’s cotton slavery, as a tool of economy, and that included the Northern Democrats who financed it.

        Just as liberty meant different things to different people during the Revolution, it meant different things to different people in the Civil War as well. For many Northerners it merely meant doing their duty to community.

        Jefferson, you may recall, would have most vehemently disagreed with you. Nullification, secession, revolution – the “power” of the people – serve to limit federal authority. And today there is nothing the federal government can do about it because the American people will never again permit another WACO to occur in this country. The federal police forces are powerless. And it’s not a question of morality, of who or what is right or wrong, it’s a question of populist opinion. Again, vain threats, because that political entity that opts to murder citizens will not survive populist opinion or response.

        We have entirely, completely, skewed the focus, emphasis, of American history the result of African slavery. We completely ignore, for example, the millions of white poor sold into slavery by the British. They were sold in chains on the very same auction blocks; where are they in our history? We ignore the fact that slavery under the English was initially completely colorblind; why is that? We ignore this thing of “status” in Northern communities as people “associate” in elitist fashion; why is that? We ignore the voice of women in Congregational churches; why is that?

        And suggesting that the Civil War was entirely about slavery on either side is completely bogus; my ancestors of the North definitely did NOT fight to free the black man. And I don’t believe people of the South fought to keep in chains.

        There really is SOMETHING to this thing of liberty and it’s thousands of years old; it’s evolutionary.

      • RHB

        Indentured servitude in the 1600s was not the same thing as chattel slavery in the 1700-1800s. It was often abusive and exploitative, but it wasn’t hereditary. Indentured servants also had some modicum of legal protection because they were considered human beings while African slaves were considered little more than livestock.

        Jefferson might have urged caution in reactions to things like Shays’ Rebellion and he might have gotten all kinds of enthusiastic about the French Revolution – at least until they killed the king and started cutting people’s heads off in the street. He cooled off in a hurry after that.

        Northerners, like southerners, chose to fight in the Civil War for a variety of reasons. In 1861, abolitionists were a fringe minority in the North. Most people went to war to preserve the union – which had been torn apart by states who wanted to uphold the institution of slavery. Southerners who did not own slaves and might not have ever wanted to own slaves fought for a “nation” that was dedicated to preserving the institution of slavery. Whatever personal reasons someone might have had for fighting in the Civil War, the war itself was about slavery. After 1863, the reasons the North continued to fight began to include the abolition of slavery.

        I agree with you that popular support is important in a democracy, and I maintain that the federal government’s ability to compel action isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Because for the last two centuries, most Americans have seen their government as legitimate and consented to its use of force to compel action. Most Americans are okay with the federal government enforcing laws and upholding the Constitution because we like living in a (rather flawed) democracy.

      • Dana Davis

        Your history is absolutely false. England sold two and half million of its poor to the Muslim alone; the males were promptly castrated, only one quarter survived. Gangs roamed the streets of London, kidnapping the poor, hundreds of thousands were transported to the Americas, many opting for suicide rather than be transported. They were sold in chains on the very same blocks but because they were obtained for virtually nothing, they were of considerably less value than the African, therefore deemed unworthy of care.

        “Indentured” arrives by many forms but you’re absolutely mistaken that the servant was not a slave. Only one in ten survived to own property or leave descendants. And since miscegenation was so common, many of the children were born into slavery.

        Abolitionists in the North were NOT a fringe element. There were 120,000 abolitionist societies, every township had one. Membership in these associations was a matter of community status.

        I had dozens of ancestors on the Union side. The local townships having resolved to support, the choice was either voluntarily meet the quota or be conscripted. Those that volunteered did so in an effort to preserve friends and relatives; they fought for duty to community, never for Old Glory, either secession or slavery.

        These were cynics come undone, engaged in a “civil” war, just as we are now. All of these things were incidental to the issue of liberty.

      • RHB

        Seriously, what planet do you live on? England (England who? Parliament? The crown?) didn’t sell English citizens into chattel slavery. Indentured servitude was not the same thing as chattel slavery. I am not trying to say indentured servitude was some great, lovely experience. Sometimes people were forced into indentured servitude, but it wasn’t hereditary. The mortality rates were awful in the 17th century – for everyone, including indentured servants. Indentured servitude became less and less used in the 18th century and that’s when African slavery (chattel slavery with all its racist underpinnings) became preferred. Indentured servants were still treated as human beings by the law and not as property, which chattel slaves were.

        Are you talking about the Barbary pirates? There are a few historians who have done work on the kidnappings of white Europeans. That’s not the same thing as “England selling people into slavery.”

        Most northerners were not abolitionists – there were a couple hundred abolition groups in states like MA or NY, and at one point the American Anti-Slavery Society said they had 1300 associates and 250,000 affiliated members – sounds like a lot, until you consider the north’s population was 22 million. I have not been able to find any source that says there was 120,000 abolition societies or that every township had one or that people joined them for status.

        Lincoln wasn’t an abolitionist at the start of the war. The North didn’t go to war initially to abolish slavery. NorthernERS might have gone to war for different reasons, but the Union went to war to preserve the Union. Later, abolishing slavery became a goal. Since your ancestors were individuals with individual reasoning, they might have gone to war for all kinds of reasons. Which is confusing to me since you’re saying abolitionism was a widespread movement in the North and that every township had an abolition society and people joined them for status reasons but the real reasons people went to war in the North were related to community – not slavery.

        The US isn’t engaged in a civil war, despite what the conspiracy nuts in Texas say about Jade Helm.

        At this point, I can’t even tell what you’re arguing about anymore. The North, the South, liberty – which apparently, the civil war was a side issue to liberty and only the people have liberty and it plays no role in government? Or something. I think at this point it’s safe to say we’re not really doing anything productive, so…cheers.

      • Dana Davis

        By 1840 virtually every township in the North had an abolitionist society, yes. Membership in these various organizations whether it be the DAR, the poetry society, the abolitionist society, etc., was a matter of community status. In short, status was part and parcel of economic logic; community organizations served as elitist means. Because “economy” was a largely local affair and if one were not an esteemed member, or a member of the community in good standing, one simply could not conduct any form of business. It’s still largely this way in most rural communities. We call this local “politics.”

        The kidnappings of white Europeans? I was speaking of the English; gangs literally roamed the streets of London, kidnapping at will. These people were sold into slavery. There are literally dozens of books that have been written on the issue of white slavery in America, which I would add, continued in lesser form well into the early 1900s with child labor. The indentured “servant” – slaves were labeled as servants – had virtually zero rights because more often the judge sided with the landowner; and since they were worth considerably less than the African, they received less consideration. Your history is slanted to favor a political agenda, as a reflection of historical ignorance.

      • RHB

        You keep saying my history is wrong and ignorant, but you don’t really offer any proof or examples with verifiable information. I keep checking on the claims you make, and I can’t find much evidence to support your interpretation or even some of your facts. Indentured servitude, child labor, impressment into the British navy – all of these are examples of oppressive and abusive labor systems. They’re also reflections of social contempt for the poor and vulnerable. I have repeatedly stated that there were abusive labor systems, but they’re not the same thing as chattel slavery. The idea that indentured servants were property didn’t worm its way into the legal, social, or economic systems of the American colonies or the United States. It is a fallacy to assume that because some things share similar characteristics that they are exactly the same thing.

        Chattel slavery carried 12 million Africans to North and South America over several centuries, placed into law the treatment of humans as property based on the color of their skin, and established a social system that placed another group of people as superior because of their skin. If a poor white person was exploited, it was because they were poor – not because they were white. You can’t equate chattel slavery with indentured servitude, child labor, or anything else – that’s not to say those other things don’t warrant discussion, attention, and contextualization in history. But they’re not the same thing and they haven’t impacted American history the same way. It wasn’t the descendants of kidnapped white Englishmen who were still enslaved in 1860, and it wasn’t the descendants of kidnapped white Englishmen who were segregated and disenfranchised in the 1890s. It wasn’t the descendants of kidnapped white Englishmen who were firebombed on buses in the 1960s .

        There is a difference between being a member of social groups like poetry clubs or the DAR and being in an abolitionist society. Abolitionists were small in numbers (though I agree they had a powerful voice), and they were also not a monolithic group – black abolitionists complained about the racist treatment they received from white abolitionists, and regardless of how many or how powerful abolitionists were in the 1840s and 1850s, Lincoln didn’t go to war to abolish slavery even though slavery underpinned the causes of the war.

        Please list some of these books you’re referring to. And please, spare me the “historical ignorance” and “political purpose” crap. I am not ignorant, and you don’t know my political leanings or political feelings.

      • Liz

        The people in the south were not put to death. They had the choice in the beginning on which side to fight. The state’s caused the deaths by secession and war. The USA was trying to take back part of it’s country.

      • Liz

        Secession was made illegal after the Civil War.

      • Liz

        Thank you, RHB for accurate facts. If anyone spoke to their great grandparents born in 1800s they would tell you that a majority of people owned slaves; be they white, Indian, or black owners. The plantation system of the south relied on slaves while the north relied on new immigrants and indentured servitude and slaves. Maybe 10% of all USA citizens relied on slavery, but in the south it was a majority. Cultural anthropologists often listen more to what people of an era say, then the statistics and gov’t say. The people actually live it.

    • MGTOW dum moriar

      What they don’t tell you is that there were plenty of abolitionists in the South as well. Also, Lincoln had planned to send the freed slaves to Liberia. Another thing they don’t tell you about is Sherman’s march to the Atlantic, during which time he murdered, looted and burned.
      History is written by the victor and there are plenty of gullible people in this country who will believe every word of it. It’s really sad that so many people know more about the Kardashians and America’s Got Talent than they do about their own history.

    • Liz

      That 10% is bullshit!