Purging history isn’t going to do anything to spread tolerance or end bigotry because such actions constitute intolerant bigotry.
As I said before, it is completely appropriate for voters in a state (through their representatives or by some direct referendum depending on how the system is set up) to remove a Confederate flag from state property or to stop allowing a Confederate flag as a license plate option. The Confederate battle flag does represent racism in the minds of many citizens and they have as much right to vote or petition their government to stop displaying it as anyone else has a right to advocate for it. Even though the flag didn’t make Dylann Roof commit his murders, it is understandable that people who are offended by the flag are spurred into action by his posing with it.
But we are getting some crazy overreactions, like cancelling Dukes of Hazzard reruns. And my fear is that now Congress is participating in such an overreaction.
From the Hill: “House votes to ban Confederate flags at federal cemeteries.”
After just two minutes of floor debate late Tuesday evening, the House passed a measure to prohibit the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries.
Despite the lack of fanfare, the vote marked the House’s first entry into the debate over removing the Confederate flag from federal property that went beyond codifying already established policies.
Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-Calif.) amendment to the 2016 Interior Department spending bill seeks to end a policy that allows a temporary display of the flag in cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It sailed through on a voice vote after minimal discussion on the House floor that encountered no opposition.
The final vote on the Interior bill is expected on Thursday.
I would understand, if the Confederacy was overthrown yesterday, that people would want to get rid of its symbols. It would be the same as people tearing down a statue of Lenin right after communism collapsed. But the Confederacy was defeated over a century in a half ago. No one now alive even remembers it. I’m not sure anyone now alive remembers anyone who remembered it. It is gone. The Federal Government won. The states remained under its control.
So why censor history? Confederate soldiers lie in Federal graves that served under that flag. I wish they hadn’t, but that is just historic fact.
After the Civil War ended, both sides honored each other’s dead. The Washington forces did not demand some kind of humiliation for the white and black (!) soldiers who died in service to the Southern states.
Does one psychotic killer mean we have to revise that effort at peace and reconciliation?
I have read some extremely harsh words for the Confederate battle flag as a unique symbol for slavery or racism. Again, I’m fine with people voting to get rid of displays of the flag in public places in general. But for decades New England slave ships flew the Red, White, and Blue as they sailed with their human cargo. It is not clear to me why some people who preserved slavery during an insurrection deserve all the blame when Washington, DC, preserved and protected slavery just as long in the loyal slave states (in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri).
Flying the flag over the defeated dead hardly seems especially tied to racism. It seems more like an acknowledgment of history. And what Congress is about to do seems more like throwing history down the memory hole.
That is not how a free people would function. But I’m not sure what that has to do with the current people of the United States.