Strange Politics: A Matter of Heritage

Emancipation Proclamation by Francis Bicknell Carpenter
Consider the following hypothetical scenario. Suppose that modern-day Jewish citizens of Germany were displaying the Nazi Swastika and claiming that it represented their German heritage.

The Nazi Swastika was created to represent people who tried to kill all Jews. It is one thing to display it in a museum or a history book as part of a history lesson. It is another thing to display it in order to honor the people it was created to represent. The former would be logical; the latter wouldn’t be.

Although the above-presented scenario is hypothetical, a similar scenario has become real.

The Confederate flag that Americans are most familiar with was created to represent people who fought to keep black Americans enslaved. During the Civil Rights Era, the same flag was used to represent white Americans who wanted to prevent black Americans from having the same rights as white Americans.

Jill Ogline Titus is associate director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. In a commentary for Real Clear Politics, she writes, “First and foremost, flags are symbols of governmental authority. Flying the Confederate flag from a statehouse, courthouse, etc. implies official state sanction of the stated aims of the Confederate government – preserving slavery and upholding white supremacy – and the intentions of segregationists who began flying the flag above Southern statehouses in the early 1960s as a symbol of massive resistance to desegregation.”

In a commentary for the Wall Street Journal, William McGurn writes, “When this [Confederate] flag flies on statehouse grounds, it carries the imprimatur of the state. This was its most noxious use, as the emblem of state-sanctioned resistance to equal rights under the law.”

Such is the heritage that the Confederate flag represents, despite what the defenders of that flag say.

So, would it be logical to honor a heritage of slavery and racism? It might be logical for white racists to do so. However, it is absolutely illogical for any Republican to do the same thing, because the Republican Party fought to eliminate slavery and racism.

So, why are some people in the Republican Party fighting to defend the Confederate flag? Yes, some say that the flag represents southern pride, but is a history of slavery and racial discrimination something to be proud of?

This writer sees three possibilities as to why any Republican would do such a thing. The first is that the Republican engages in the worship of ancestors, has ancestors who fought to keep black Americans enslaved and has ancestors who fought to prevent black Americans from having the same rights as white Americans. Those who worship their ancestors might honor their ancestors even if the latter are infamous for doing something ungodly.

The second possibility is that said Republican is experiencing cognitive dissonance, in which the Republican is trying to reconcile love for the Old South with the fact that the Old South was the epicenter of a great evil, an evil that Republicans fought to eliminate and that Democrats fought to preserve.

The third possibility is that the Republican Party is infested with closet racists and that said racists have come out of the closet in response to opposition to the Confederate flag.

Fortunately, the Republican Party’s leaders don’t engage in ancestor-worship, aren’t racists and don’t have cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance isn’t a conservative value or a Republican value. Neither is the defense of a symbol that was created to represent people who supported evil. Perhaps the defenders of such a symbol should call themselves what they appear to be – old-time Democrats who vote for Republicans because they disagree with liberal policies promoted by modern-day Democrats. That way the former wouldn’t be tarnishing the name of the Republican Party.

Thankfully, elected Republican officials are working to remove the Confederate flag from any inappropriate locations on government property, as seen in the recent decision by the U.S. House of Representatives “to ban the display of Confederate flags at historic federal cemeteries in the deep South.

Originally posted at The Moderate Voice.

Feature Image: Emancipation Proclamation by Francis Bicknell Carpenter

Featured Image is in the public domain and was retrieved from

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