Attacks on Southerners, symbols unjustified

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2006

To the Editor:

Will Nevins’s article “A Nation’s Flag, a Banner of Hate” in the Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, issue of The Crimson White is an unjustifiable and insulting attack on Southerners and their premier cultural symbol, the Confederate Battle Flag.

The term “racist” is notoriously ill-defined, but we can all probably agree that racism at the very minimum refers to actions that involve race somehow and are clearly immoral.

Email newsletter signup

Thus, any act that is not immoral cannot be racist. A people, nation or ethnic group having their own flag is not immoral. Therefore, it cannot be racist. Furthermore, it is recognized universally that each people, nation or ethnic group has an inalienable human and civil right to its cultural symbols, including flags. This is the simple argument on which I base my defense of the Confederate Battle Flag and Southerners’ right to possess and display it.

The Southern people are an ethic group.

Because the Confederate Battle Flag is a Southern cultural symbol, Southerners have an inalienable human and civil right to possess it and display it. Because this is an inalienable right, it is not subject to the whim or subjective offense of anyone. In other words, our rights (i.e., the rights of Southerners) do not depend on the opinions of other people.

It is a universally-recognized principle that those who own a symbol are the only ones who have the right to define what that symbol means.

That means that non-Southerners and Southerners who reject the symbol (and thereby forfeit their share in the ownership of the symbol) have no right to re-define or mis-define what the given Southern symbol means.

The list of wrongdoings committed by every other racial and ethnic group at this university is just as long and just as shameful as the list of wrongdoings committed by Southerners, but only Southerners must endure the humiliation of having their cultural symbols stereotyped as symbols of immoral or evil things.

For example, Black Africans practiced slavery for approximately 1,500 years.

However, no single Black African or African American cultural symbol is stereotyped as a symbol of slavery.

Anyone who tries to stereotype a Black African or African American cultural symbol as a symbol of slavery would immediately and rightfully be labeled a racist.

In contrast to this, self-styled “anti-racists” can stereotype the Confederate Battle Flag and other Southern symbols as symbols of slavery with impunity, which is outrageous.

If the cultural symbols of another racial or ethnic group were stereotyped as symbols of hate, then the person making those statements would be attacked for being prejudiced and racist.

However, when Southern cultural symbols are attacked, Southerners are expected to simply endure the abuse. Southerners are not expected to be the ones who are “offended” or who are having their rights violated. Instead, they are automatically assumed guilty of so-called “racist” activity.

Why is this so?

First of all, the issue of the Confederate Battle Flag is not about the War of 1861-65 or even about the past in any way.

It is about contemporary politics. The attempt to ban the Confederate Battle Flag or to intimidate Southerners into giving it up as a cultural symbol is a way for non-Southerners and liberals to gain social and political advantage.

Southerners tend to be conservative, thus liberals like Will Nevins dislike them because they oppose liberal policies. This is part of an ongoing effort to intimidate Southerners and to dissuade them from standing up for themselves and demanding better treatment in American society.

The Confederate Battle Flag symbolizes Southerners.

Therefore, to say that the flag does not belong in society is to say that Southerners do not belong in society.

This fact points to the real reason why the so-called “anti-racists” do not like the Confederate Battle Flag: they want to make Southerners disappear from American society, which would remove a major source of opposition to liberal, Leftist and Marxist social and political programs.

All of this leads to one simple conclusion: Attacks on Southerners and their cultural symbols, like the one in Mr. Nevins’ article, are completely unjustifiable.

Richard Patrick Samples

University of Alabama