Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Minor Musing About Flags And Language

I realize that I'm late to this issue. I tried to avoid it because it has made me angry and angry blogging doesn't work well. I try to follow the same rules with angry blogging that I do with angry email: wait 24 hours before hitting the publish button. So I waited on this flag story, but the language use and the fact that the VA director   distorts history still angers me.

Some omissions create a lies; some may create unintentional truth. Take for example Steve DiStasio. The Rapid City Journal reports:
Steve DiStasio, director of the VA Black Hills Health System, said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon that the [Confederate States of America] flags were being returned to the historic "Freedom Shrine" in the rotunda "as "a reflection of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for America."
One assumes DiStasio is using "America" to refer to the United States of America but the Confederate States of America could be considered "America" as well.

That nation, however, sought to establish a very different America. The Confederate States of America seceded from the United States, set up their own government, and sent an army to invade Pennsylvania and other United States territory.

South Carolina, the first state to secede, did so because other states had the temerity to declare "as sinful the institution of slavery." Further, those same states elected  a "man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery." (It should be noted that this same man asked the the nation be re-united with "malice toward none and charity toward all.") Further, this man was going to urge "that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States." A close reading of South Carolina's secession declaration indicates that the states rights arguments were inextricably linked with slavery.

Putting flags from a nation established to preserve slavery in a "Freedom Shrine" is repugnant as is DiStasio's assertion that flags are part of "our" nation's history:
"Out of respect for all of our nation's veterans, from every battle in history, we will maintain the historic Freedom Shrine in its entirety." 
The Confederate soldiers did not fight for "our nation" they fought to establish a different nation.

If the DiStasio wants to display the Confederate flags, he needs to set up a different display: Foreign Flags Flown over United States Soil. The display can include Great Britain, France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, The Kingdom of Hawaii, and The Republic of Texas. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few, and Native American banners should be recognized as well. In fact, they deserve more recognition than the Confederacy.

1 comment:

P&R said...

I concur - with one minor correction. The CSA was not a foreign power. As far as the United States is concerned, they were never a legitimate power, foreign or otherwise. The CSA was a domestic rebellion that was suppressed, not a foreign power that was conquered.

The South fought not for "states' rights" in general but for the specific right of states to permit slavery and (after Dred Scott) to take their slaves even into states that did NOT allow slavery - a violation of those states' rights that troubled our virtuous originalists in the Carolinas and elsewhere not a whit. The only legitimate reason for including the Confederate battle flag in such a shrine is as part of a display of other loot captured by U.S. forces.