Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's With That Middle Flag?

EDIT: Since the writing of this post, I have since come to hold a different opinion than the one expressed in this post. While it is still true that the Civil War was about many different issues, none of these issues would have been issues sufficient to start a war in the first place had chattel slavery not been in place.

Yes, it concerned the right to secede. Yes, it concerned the issue of states' sovereignty vs. federal centralization. But, in 1860, what it meant to be concerned about those issues was that you desired to secede and exercise states' rights in order to keep other human beings in bondage. Thus, while the issues of states' rights and secession continue to be viable political issues in some (small) corners of the country today, one should not and must not cite the CSA as some sort of heroic precedent regarding these issues; such a citation would and does only lead to an implicit, if not explicit, excusing of chattel slavery, which is now exclusively a moral issue in today's society, not a primarily economic one, as it was in that of the 1860s. Such a position is inexcusable in today's world.

Nevertheless, I am keeping the words up for posterity; I do hope that those who find resonance with what I wrote below would stop, reflect, and reconsider what waving the Stars and Bars, however culturally one might feel about it, says today. I continue to recognize that those who fought for the South (my paternal great-great-grandfathers included) did so mostly in a short-sighted attempt to defend their parcel of land and their immediate families, which they were told were being threatened by "Damn Yankees." Many of them did not own slaves (mine did at some point, I believe), and many willingly manumitted them once they saw that they could fight like the men that they were and are. Nevertheless, in our contemporary dialogue on democratic structure, let us allow the past to remain in the past, in a context that is wholly its own, and let us draw from it those lessons we can and should, without the unfortunate wholesale adoption of its truly lost cause, as many misguidedly do today. May God truly bless and save the South, and the North, and all mankind. ~ Fr. David Wooten, Sept. 7, 2012.

Some of you may be wondering about the middle flag of the three beneath my profile on the blog's main page, having easily recognized the American flag and (perhaps not as easily recognized) the Texas flag on the right.

The flag (seen here to the right) is the first national flag of the Confederate States of America, or the South ("Dixie") in the War Between the States. It's here on this blog for more than one reason.

First of all, it's here because I'm a person who has lived his whole life in OK and TX (not considered Dixie by some, but still) and who sympathizes with the secession of the southern states from the USA in 1861. In spite of the horrible stain of slavery--which is undeniably a reason, but not the only reason, WHY THE SOUTH SECEDED--the fact of the matter is that the North (which still held slaves before, during, and after the War) had absolutely no right to force a group of states to remain in a union whose Constitution it no longer had any desire to support. The North, then, left us no other alternative to dealing with its illegal and unconstitutional actions against us in many areas other than (and, alas including) slavery. I simply seek to remember and honor the brave men and women who supported and died in the ultimately futile struggle to preserve the actual ideals of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution itself. I think our country would do well to listen to all the other things the South was trying to say about how to run this country when she left the union.

Secondly, the "Stars and Bars" (the flag at the top of the post, under which is the "Bonnie Blue Flag") is much less controversial than the so-called "Rebel Flag," or, Confederate Battle Flag/Naval Jack, pictured here, and so the former flag is displayed instead of the latter. I have no problem myself with this symbol; fact is, this flag doesn't represent slavery nor does it represent KKK sympathies any more than the American flag. In fact, the American flag (which is the official flag of the KKK, by the way) has an even longer association with both slave trade and the Klan than the Confederate Battle Flag). However, the meaning of the Star Spangled Banner has changed--we've acknowledged the presence of genocide and oppression in its history and have sought to make amends while continuing to fly it for different reasons in this day and age, in spite of the fact that hate groups like the Klan might still want to use it for their ignorant purposes. For us to say that the American flag can experience this unquestioned redemption of its meaning, while groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans--which is about as close to an official voice of the now-defunct Confederacy as you can get these days--cannot be allowed by popular culture to acknowledge the sins of their fathers, while at the same time honoring and remembering what was and is good and right about these symbols and struggles, seems to me to be a double standard that has no basis in history or fact, but rather media hype and ignorance of that fateful time in our nation's (nations' ?) history.

Nevertheless--for the sake of charity and others' feelings, I've stuck with the more "neutral" flag so that people aren't turned off immediately by a symbol that, admittedly and unnecessarily, still angers many.

Picked the birthday of this guy to the right--Gen. Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate armies who, interestingly enough, freed every slave that was ever given to him (and that was before the war), while Gen. Grant of the North owned slaves even afterwards--to put this up.

Let's honor all history. Reject that which is evil, cling to that which is good...

(The Confederate National Anthem, "God Save the South")



Daniel V. said...

Here, here, It's reciprocal, and a great post.
In addition, I also believe it was General Early that disdained slavery and although Jackson had about 6 slaves, two of them begged him to buy them as the admired his Christianity and the compassion he showed them.

But, you're right on! It is not a message of hate

David Bryan said...

Thanks, Dan!

Gary said...


Nicholas said...

Amen, brother, amen. Nice to find a fellow Confederate Orthodox. God bless Texas (and our Archbishop Dmitri, in Dallas!).

Nice to see the Stars and Bars along with the Stainless Banner and 3rd National there. Too often all one sees is the naval jack surrounded by ignorance.

Deo vindice :)

PS- I enjoyed your conversion blog very much

Fr. David said...

aka "David Bryan" prior to ordination -- please note the disclaimer now at the top of the post.