I’ve never been sure of where I stand on the matter of the Confederate battle flag. On the one hand, I genuinely believe that it’s an important element of southern heritage that ought not be banned or restricted. If a kid wants to wear a Confederate battle flag on a t-shirt in school, that seems OK by me. On the other hand, there’s no denying that it can be seen as a symbol of hate by many groups, blacks not the least of them. I think that many of these people misunderstand the causes of the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression, or the Recent Unpleasantness, if that’s your persuasion), and I don’t think that people have a right to not be offended, but I still discourage its display. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike are free to display the swastika, and would be right to do so, but what with the Nazis, it might not be a hot idea.
All of that said, I must confess more than a little sympathy for Sen. George Allen in this little dust-up:
State leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have scheduled a news conference Thursday to criticize Allen’s recent acknowledgment that the Confederate flag can be seen as a symbol of hate.
“George Allen was a good friend of ours and we don’t appreciate him turning on us to get out of political trouble,” said Frank Earnest of Virginia Beach, commander of the Virginia division of the SCV. “He’s degraded us, the flag and our heritage.”
At issue is Allen’s apology to an association of black educators earlier this month for failing to grasp how his embrace of Southern symbols, including the confederate flag, could be offensive to minorities.
- Bumper sticker reads: “If I Had Known This I Would Have Picked My Own Cotton.” Spotted in Martinsville in July.
I can’t imagine what the SCV is thinking with this. They are — and I mean this with no malice — not going to find any Senator friendlier to their interests than Sen. Allen. This is the sort of fratricide that’s expected from Democrats, not from Republicans, if I may assume that a large percentage of the SCV is Republican.
But the SCV isn’t just wrong strategically — they’re flat-out wrong in their failure to acknowledge that the rebel flag can be a symbol of hate. Of course it can. The fact that people get so upset about it leaves no question that’s so. That hate may well generally be inferred, rather than implied, but it’s there just the same.
Good for Allen for being honest about the Confederate battle flag. He hasn’t done much right on the topics of race, religion, or ethnicity, but he got this one right.