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Yesterday I wrote a piece
questioning why presidential candidates were concerned about a states’
rights issue involving South Carolina’s posting of the Confederate flag
atop their own capitol building. In that same piece I roundly criticized
Veep Al Gore for using the flag and black animosity to the flag to stir
racially motivated unrest among only two of this country’s races for
purely political reasons.
Don’t get the idea that I’m going to apologize for making those
remarks. I will not only refuse to apologize (not that I’ve been asked
to, mind you) but I will expound upon them today in this column.
Thanks to the many WND readers who supplied much of the historical
information I’ll include here; you know who you are.
Regarding the Confederate flag itself, is it important to mention its
significance to a large group of mainly southern Americans who revere it
not for the liberal hate symbol it has become but for the
reverence of Old South traditions and fighting spirit it really
embodies? You bet it is.
The pop culture rendition of the Civil War was that the gallant North
attacked the evil South because the latter refused to give up slavery:
- Nevermind that the South was put in a precarious economic
position by the greedy North, in that federal trade policies benefited
Northern companies while unduly (and unconstitutionally) burdening
- Nevermind that the North put the South in this precarious
position without offering any alternatives; the North didn’t necessarily
abide slavery but didn’t mind using a partially slave-based economy to
- Nevermind that given alternatives, Southern economies would have
gladly acceded to Northern anti-slavery sentiments.
- Nevermind that, for as “anti-slavery” as the North purportedly
was, two Northern states — Maryland and West Virginia — officially
- Nevermind that for all the anti-slavery attitudes accredited to
President Lincoln, he still waited two years to “emancipate” slaves and
even said at the outbreak of war he would abide by slavery if it would
“preserve this union.”
- Nevermind that Lincoln’s primary goal was not freeing
slaves but prohibiting any state from seceding from his precious
- Few Southerners actually owned slaves in the first place; most
couldn’t afford to feed and care for them and didn’t want them anyway.
No, never mind all of these facts. Nobody cares about them.
Fine; let’s move to an issue everyone — especially in today’s
bankrupt moral society — can understand: Free speech.
A question was asked of me yesterday: If somebody put a Nazi flag up
across the street from a Jewish synagogue, would that incite me to
oppose the display? No, it would not — but that would not mean I
“supported” the Nazi or his/her concept of the Jewish religion. Does
that make me a bigot? No, it does not — any more than it makes the Nazi
a Christian or Jewish convert.
In fact, street vendors in my own small town have set up shop near
churches and among our own Jewish population to sell Nazi flags (or try
to sell them). Each time I drove by the vendor, he was the only
one there; nobody wanted them. So no sale — not for that vendor and not
for that argument.
In short, the people themselves decided what they did or did not want
on their own. No government “mediation” or “intervention,” no
presidential pandering or political bomb throwing. The people decided
by themselves — just as people all across this country do every day of
Pretty amazing concept, huh?
So it should be in South Carolina. Kwesi Mfume and the NAACP have
every right to be there to voice their opposition to the display of a
symbol they believe is offensive (though they should become better
educated about it). However, they do not have the right to
“demand” that it be taken down. Not in the Land of Equality and Free
Because I’ll tell you something: In a land where burning a U.S. flag
is officially recognized as “free speech” — no matter how reprehensible
to most people that sole act of defiance may be — there is no
precedent, cause or law that should forbid a state from flying a flag or
a symbol its people revere. And such reverence sure as hell is not the
business of presidential politics, especially when participants are
using it as a way to further divide people among themselves.
Free speech, brothers and sisters. You gotta love it — in all
its forms — or it’s dead. Period.
And so are the rest of your liberties.
So be offended if you must; adhere to misconceptions if you will;
shout your displeasure from the highest point. But don’t forbid
any of it; don’t go there.
If you do, sooner or later somebody will get around to forbidding
you from speaking freely as well.
By the way, speaking only from the “politically correct” point of
view might lead you to think you’re practicing “free speech,” but you’re
not — you’re practicing “allowed” speech. Some call that tyranny. Some
call it authoritarianism.
Some have even called it slavery.