The debate over a flag


A recent editorial in the Wilson Daily Journal was titled, “Flag calls for debate, not censorship.”

I disagree. Debate between the misinformed and truth deniers has gone on for decades with nothing accomplished. The rectangular Confederate flag had two short but wide bars beside a blue square with a circle of stars, and one long wide bar beneath. The Rebel battle flag was square with colorful bars forming an X with stars contained. In the 1950s America’s commercial system successfully marketed rectangular revisions of the Rebel flag along with replicas of Davey Crocket coonskin caps, rubber (Jim) Bowie knives, and blue and grey Yankee and Rebel caps.

Unfortunately, in the early 1960s South Carolina raised a full-sized rectangular version of the Rebel flag to commemorate a nation that lasted only four years because it lost the only war it ever fought. In retrospect, wasn’t this obviously a political “finger in the eye” of the newly forming Civil Rights Movement?

Debate over the revised Rebel battle flag, erroneously named “the” Confederate flag, will continue until debaters learn enough U.S. history to know that the Civil War was not fought over cotton-raising-slaves, but slave-raised-cotton, and whether the northern industrialists or the southern planters would reap the most profit from slavery which benefited both.

Did northern troops raid southern plantations, rescue slaves, and escort them north, or blockade southern ports attempting to eliminate foreign trade? Did the Underground Railroad stop at the Mason-Dixon Line, or the Canadian border? Did the North welcome fugitive slaves, or enforce fugitive slave laws? Did northern industrialists want the slaves freed, or producing raw materials for their factories? Did northern factory workers want slaves competing with them for jobs, or producing job security in southern cotton fields?

The real Confederate flag stood for a newly formed nation reacting to the Morrell Tariff Act of 1861, which was designed to force southern cotton producers to sell to northern manufacturers at deflated prices, while simultaneously forced to purchase finished goods from the same at inflated prices. President Abraham Lincoln was a brilliant politician, not an active abolitionist.

For example, his Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the four northern border states that continued to practice slavery throughout and beyond the Civil War, and his own recorded words were for restoration of the Union, not emancipation. Unfortunately, descendants of the Southern Confederacy did not rise up in protest when white supremacists equated the rectangular revision of the Rebel Battle Flag with Hitler’s Swastika. As a result, in the minds of too many, the revised Rebel Battle Flag represents hate, rather than resistance to one faction of our nation gaining control over another.

The ending of the editorial began with: “Instead of trying to silence voices they find disagreeable, opponents of the Confederate flag should amplify their own.” Do such opponents oppose the Confederate flag, or misuse of the erroneous revision? And how can anyone amplify historical truth enough to overcome the hatred some in our nation obviously have not overcome?

Robert Currie is a Laurinburg resident and occasional contributor to the Bladen Journal.

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