A member, and hoping to stay that way, of the reality-based community
15 October 2013
For those of you curious about the "meaning" of this flag, I recommend this. Ta-Nehisi Coates is very eloquent about the meanings it holds for him.
I just see traitors. Ignorance of the history of this country is a kind of traitorous behavior, so if you were raised in this country and aren't aware of the extent to which the genesis of the Confederacy was about the preservation of slavery, I recommend going to the The Atlantic Monthly's Civil War issue (which hosts the linked article) and read its discussion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (which anniversary is itself ongoing). There you can also read the rest of Ta-Nehisi Coates's discussion of it. I then recommend you go to Civil War | The New York Times and read for yourself a kind of "live-blog" of the events of 150 years ago, beginning with the aftermath of the 1860 election (and note that Lincoln isn't even in office during the time that the Southern states which form the Confederacy announced their succession).
We can argue all we want about whether or not the Union should have let them go, whether or not it was worth the loss of life, whether or not the North's motives were pure (Seriously? Is there any motive that's close to as bad as, "to hold captive for their labor, to rape its women, and torture for any offenses a class of people based on the color of their skin."). But "Traitor" is the label that sticks in my mind. It's the label that belongs. The people who brought that flag into existence did so in support of an endeavor that was the nation-state equivalent of "if you don't do it our way (even though we agreed to the rules of the government), we'll take our stuff and go home." And only because they were afraid of what might happen, not because it *had* happened. These were cowards and traitors. They didn't get nearly what they deserved in the aftermath, and they were ungrateful for being spared.