Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's Talk About The "Stars & Bars" -- The Confederate Battle Flag

One of my first posts as a blogger was a short piece titled George Washington Banned From NAACP Rally.

In the article, I stated how the NAACP had instructed a box to be built around a statue of George Washington. This was an effort on their part to hide the statue from view during a Martin Luther King Jr. observance.

The NAACP felt that Washington's statue offended people attending the event. That particular Martin Luther King Jr. observance took place in Columbia, South Carolina, on the north side steps of the Statehouse on January 17th, 2011

When the NAACP had the event planners build a box around the statue of George Washington because the mere sight of Washington was seen as offensive, I knew then and there that we as a people are now in big trouble.

Why? Because, as sure as the sun rises each day, there is always going to be something in our world that will most definitely offend someone. 

You don't have to be my age to understand that people are offended by all sorts of things. You don't have to be college educated or a skilled craftsman to know that there is someone out there who will find offense with something which most others are not offended by. 

And yes, you do not have to be a brain surgeon to understand that there is going to be some person who has a problem with the United States of America, who will not like American patriotism, American history, symbols of America's greatness, of our past, or our freedoms as set fourth in the Bill of Rights.

Ever wonder about how we see the Confederate battle flag today? Is it racist? Is it just a representation of the Rebel spirit? Or frankly, is it an expression of one's Freedom of Speech rights?

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear an argument regarding free speech and the use of the Confederate battle flag on license plates in Texas. 

The Confederate battle flag, the "stars and bars," as my friends down South like to refer to it, has enjoyed a popularity of sorts as it has become a symbol of Southern pride. 

During World War II some U.S. military units with Southern nicknames, or made up largely of Southerners, made the flag their unofficial emblem. 

The USS Columbia flew a Confederate Navy Ensign as a battle flag throughout combat in the South Pacific in World War II. This was done in honor of Columbia, the ship's namesake and the capital city of South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union. 

Some soldiers carried Confederate flags into battle. After the Battle of Okinawa a Confederate battle flag was raised over Shuri Castle by a Marine from the self-styled "Rebel Company" which at the time was Company A of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. 

Believe it or not, it is said that it was visible for miles and was taken down after three days on the orders of General Simon B. Buckner, Jr., who was a son of Confederate General Simon Buckner, Sr.. 

Marine General Buckner Jr. stated that it was inappropriate as "Americans from all over are involved in this battle". It was replaced with the regulation, 48-star flag of the United States.

The 1979-1985 American television series The Dukes of Hazzard, set in a fictional Georgia county, featured the General Lee stock car with a prominently displayed Confederate battle flag on its roof throughout the series' run. 

Today, the Confederate battle flag can be found almost anywhere. From bumper stickers, to car windows, to flag poles at homes, the Confederate flag is actually all over the place. It is extremely accurate to say that the Confederate flag that one sees today has absolutely nothing to do with slavery or some sort of supposed support for slavery.

It may have everything to do with Southern pride, or even Redneck pride, but it certainly does not represent the 1.6% of the population in the South who actually owned slaves in 1865. 

I can swear to the fact that in all of my travels in the South, the Confederate flag is used as a symbol of Southern Pride. It is a symbol of Southern ancestry and heritage, as well as representing a distinct and independent cultural tradition.

I have read where some believe the flag represents an era of state sovereignty, but frankly that's a stretch. It is a symbol of the South but also of those who consider themselves "rebels" in one way or another. Because of my seeing the Confederate battle flag in places like California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and even Washington state, all in recent years, I don't believe the Confederate flag has anything to do with the Civil War or primarily the South anymore.

From what I can tell, Americans use the "Rebel Flag" to show that they are independent or are non-conformists in some way. The whole, "I'm a rebel" thing is embodied in the "stars and bars."

Of course the first "rebel" flag presented to symbolize dissatisfaction with the government was the "stars and strips" -- the American flag.
Yes, just the mere possession of an American flag during the Revolutionary War was enough for one to be jailed for treason.

Free speech? There was no such thing as Free Speech when we were a Colony. If one tried to wave an "American flag" to show displeasure with the British Crown, they would be in deep trouble with the government.

Yes, "Old Glory" was seen as the symbol of "rebels" -- but that's for another article later. The Confederate battle flag is seen in that way today -- to note a free spirit.

Yes, we can thank our forefathers for our having the ability to wave it from our home, put it on album covers, make it into bumper stickers, stick it on a windshield, sew it on a shirt or jacket or vest, or make it into a swimsuit -- and not be censored or arrested for doing so.

No, it is not out of the ordinary to see the Confederate battle flag at sporting events and even at political rallies.

It is said that some historical societies such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy also use the flag as part of their symbols. 

Yesterday, March 23rd, 2015, the Supreme Court wrestled with the Confederate battle flag to answer the question:

Does the state of Texas have to produce license plates bearing the flag revered by the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a symbol of Southern heritage while some see it as a symbol of racism and oppression?

Texas commemorates the Confederacy in many ways, from an annual celebration of Confederate Heroes Day each January to monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin. Among the memorials is one that has stood for more than a century, bearing an image of the Confederate battle flag etched in marble.

If you think the Left, Liberal Democrats, have the tolerance they preach about, guess again. Take the story of this good man below who really received the wrath of the Left for thinking for himself.

Mr H. K. Edgerton is an African-American activist for Southern heritage and an African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

He is a former president of the Asheville, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), he is on the board of the Southern Legal Resource Center.

It's true, the man in the picture above, at one time worked for improving racial issues through the Asheville chapter of the NAACP -- where he was elected as president. 

Mr Edgerton advocates sharing the true history of Southern heritage and attended rallies supporting the display of the Confederate flag. He is fully aware that Confederate flag historically represented dissension to government authority.

Because of his stand of recognizing the historical significance of the Confederate flag role in American history, in December of 1998, Mr Edgerton was suspended from the NAACP.  By 2000, Mr Edgerton was appointed the chairman of the board of directors of the Southern Legal Resource Center.

Now the Supreme Court will decide whether the state of Texas can refuse to issue a license plate featuring the battle flag without violating the free-speech rights of Texans who want one -- or offending others. 

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued over the state's decision not to authorize its proposed license plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by eight other states -- seven which were members of the Confederacy.

And yes, among the eight includes the state of Maryland which had absolutely nothing to do the Confederacy but recognized that people see the "rebel flag" as a sign of independence.

A state motor vehicle board rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans application because of concerns it would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression.

Before moving on to how hypocritical the board really is, let's remember that there have been a lot of stories in the news lately about how "Old Glory" is offending people because there are some ignorant bastqrds out there who see the American flag as being a racially charged symbol of oppression.

We live in an era when an Iraq War veteran is asked to remove his American flag to avoid offending someone, and where a school can order students to remove U.S. flag-themed articles of clothing because other students celebrating Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo could be upset by the image of Old Glory.

As sad a situation it is, this is the reality of today's Politically Correct world. As for "is there a little hypocrisy here?" You bet there is!

The board proved their hypocrisy on the same day that they rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans request. They did so when the board unanimously approved a plate honoring the nation's first black Army units, the Buffalo Soldiers.

They approved it despite huge objections from Native Americans over the units' roles in the slaughter of American Indian tribes in the West in the late 1800s.

A panel of federal appeals court judges ruled that the board's decision violated the group's First Amendment rights.

"We understand that some members of the public find the Confederate flag offensive. But that fact does justify the board's decision," Judge Edward Prado of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans wrote.

Texas' main argument to the Supreme Court is that the license plate is not like a bumper sticker slapped on the car by its driver. Instead, the state said, license plates are government property, and so what appears on them is not private individuals' speech but the government's.

They say the First Amendment applies when governments try to regulate the speech of others, but not when governments are doing the talking. So what the state of Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is saying is that the state, meaning the government, can say anything it wants -- but Americans do not have the same right.

Friends, they should check the Constitution because the law applies to all and not just selected races, religions, groups, institutions, persons, government entities, or political parties. Federal appeals courts around the country have come to differing conclusions on the issue, in part because there are few Supreme Court cases to guide them.

In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that people can't be compelled to display license plates that carry messages to which they object. The ruling in the Wooley v. Maynard case concerned New Hampshire residents who disagreed with the state's "Live Free or Die" motto.

Yes, from that challenge, we know there is at least one Liberal in New Hampshire who would prefer the motto "Be a Slave and Live."

And yes, New Hampshire is among 11 states that are supporting Texas because they fear that a ruling against the state would call into question license plates that promote national and state pride and specific positions on such issues as American pride or the 2nd Amendment. Issues which some in power is as controversial political issues.

A decision in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, 14-144, is expected by late June. So now, why wouldn't the Supreme Court be in favor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans request?

I believe the only thing stopping this is Political Correctness, and how far the PC police want to go in trying to govern the ungovernable.

Why do I say ungovernable? Because frankly, whether the Supreme Court says no to the Sons of Confederate Veterans or not, people will continue flying the Confederate flag. It is our Freedom of Speech right to do so!

Besides, it's just what Rebels do. And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

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