It’s Time to Ban the Confederate Flag
June 03, 2009
The Confederate Battle Flag is tearing apart the very fabric of our society. Yet many Americans are ignorant of its impact and apathetic about the need to control this menace.
The Confederate battle flag is inherently anti-American. It was a symbol of an army that wanted to break-up the United States. Many Americans believe it is an act of treason to celebrate or display the Confederate flag.
The U.S. Constitution provides, in pertinent part, "Treason against the United States shall only consist of levying war or in adhering to their Enemies…" If a person adheres to something, they support it or hold a firm belief in it. Displaying a flag is probably the most fundamental form of support, or demonstration of a firm belief in something.
We must distinguish between dissent and disloyalty. Millions of Americans have served in our armed forces so that other Americans could have differing opinions. I don’t believe that one American ever served their country so that another American could be disloyal.
Defenders of the Confederate Battle flag argue that it is part of their heritage and is not harmful and thus should not be regulated or banned. But 9/11 has shown the profound effects Anti-American symbols can have on human behavior.
For decades, communities have struggled to define just what symbols are so offensive as to be legally obscene, and to delineate limits on the government’s ability to regulate such symbols.
Courts have ruled that speech having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox views, controversial views, even unpopular ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of public opinion — have the full protection of the Constitution, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests. But implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of allowing citizens to celebrate any act of treason against the United States as utterly without redeeming social importance.
Displaying a Confederate Battle flag is patently offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards relating to the description or representation of treason; and the symbol is utterly without redeeming social value.
While almost everyone would agree that merely categorizing of the Confederate Battle flag as "obscene" is insufficient justification for such a drastic invasion of personal liberties. Most people would discern that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what symbols he may display or worship. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds. However, that man does not have the right to display that obscene symbol in plain view of the entire public, if that symbol violates community standards.
Nothing in the First Amendment requires that a jury must consider hypothetical and unascertainable "community standards" when attempting to determine whether certain symbols are obscene as a matter of fact. … It is neither realistic nor constitutionally sound to read the First Amendment as requiring that the people residing in the city of Palm Coast accept public depiction of conduct found tolerable in rural and less sophisticated areas, such as Bunnell (where the Klan has historically had a presence).
Prohibiting the display of the Confederate Battle flag within residential zones or near churches, parks, or schools is justified, and would pass constitutional muster, because it is not primarily designed to prohibit the free expression of the content of the symbols, but rather designed to reduce the "secondary effects" of publicly celebrating treason on the surrounding communities, such as increased crime and terrorism.
Can you imagine children standing in a classroom citing the "Pledge of Allegiance" and then gazing out of their classroom window and seeing a symbol that violates that pledge of allegiance?
Many of the unpatriotic Americans who display the Confederate flag claim that they do so because they are proud of their Southern heritage and that it has nothing to do with slavery. These people never speak of Washington, Jefferson, Madison or Monroe when they speak of Southern heritage, as if the Civil War was when the South’s history began. It makes you wonder if a person who parrots this ever received any formal education.
George Washington was our first President and is known as the father of our country. Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and is known as the founding father of public education. It was James Madison who single-handedly constructed the US Constitution, arguably the greatest document ever written. Washington, Jefferson and Madison were all Southerners.
While many believe that Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis may have been good and noble men, they were definitely misguided in levying war against their own country, a country founded by mostly Southerners.
Since 1945 the Swastika has been banned in Germany, where symbols, songs, pictures, slogans and even greetings associated with the Hitler era can earn the offender a stiff fine or even a prison term. Germany is a free country, but the German citizenry recognize that the Swastika cannot be freely displayed because of what it represents. Those same citizens honor their loved ones who bravely fought for Germany during WWII and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Germans do not connect the Swastika to their ancestors’ bravery and sacrifices.
It is frustrating when "Southern heritage" is linked to the civil war, rather than Washington, Jefferson, Madison and other great men.
Below is a small sample of the proud Southern heritage of which they speak, the Declaration of Secession of the State of Mississippi:
A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union
In the momentous step, which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.
The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the Northwestern Territory.
The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than half the vast territory acquired from France.
The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory acquired from Mexico.
It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government of the United States had jurisdiction.
It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion.
It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.
It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact, which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.
It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.
It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.
It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.
It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better.
It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives.
It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.
It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to prostrate our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system.
It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of aggression, and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.
It has recently obtained control of the Government, by the prosecution of its unhallowed schemes, and destroyed the last expectation of living together in friendship and brotherhood.
Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.
Our decision is made. We follow their footsteps. We embrace the alternative of separation; and for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights with the full consciousness of the justice of our course, and the undoubting belief of our ability to maintain it.
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