Simple Questions

I think it’s time for all this discussion about the proper display of the Confederate flag … which in some quarters appears to obscure the enormity of the massacre at Charleston … to get to the heart of the matter.

You tell me …

Should the Confederate Battle Flag [CBF] (including its versions as the ANV flag, the AoT flag, and the Confederate navy jack) be flown outside, period?

Do you favor the removal of the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the South Carolina State House? Why?

If you believe that the flying of the CBF on the grounds of the South Carolina State House should cease, are there any conditions when a CBF should appear outside?

Should the CBF be banned from public display elsewhere (t-shirts, bumper stickers, headgear)?

Are your restrictions limited to the CBF alone, or do they extend to other flags flown by the Confederacy (such as the trio of national flags)?

The comments section is open.

Charleston: White Supremacy, Black Lives, and Red Blood

I’ve watched and read the public reaction to the slaughter of nine people–nine African American people–by a white supremacist gunman who warrants the description of a terrorist. As I read that commentary, I wonder how people would react if the gunman was a black male and the victims were white.

Make no mistake about it: such a terrorist act is the logical if extreme outcome of white supremacy and intolerance. Apparently, reasons this particular white supremacist gunman, if you can’t own them, exploit them, or remove them, you kill them.

As one might expect, the gunman’s fondness for Confederate heritage has become a focus of discussion. We’ve had people calling for the banning of Confederate flags as symbols of hate while certain defenders of Confederate heritage, sometimes after offering perfunctory statements of regret, rush to disassociate their cause from this mass murder or to offer other explanations for the gunman’s behavior. That’s to be expected, and it is to be regretted. We’ve had far too much discussion of the Confederate flag, both by people who hate it and people who love it, that trivialize the whole matter by turning it into a screaming match between extremes. Thoughtful commentary flounders in such environments, precisely because both sides will assail it.

It’s Sunday. If you haven’t already done so, think about the victims and their families and friends. Pray for those who have suffered. And think before you respond … because if you think that this whole matter can be reduced to whether we should allow the display of the Confederate flag, you really aren’t advancing the discussion very far.

Crossroads Greatest Hits: What’s a Scholar to Do?

Several years have passed since the topic of blacks in Confederate military service was a hot button to push on blogs (it really isn’t any more, although some people are slow to grasp that). Whether one speaks of Confederate slaves or the Black Confederate Myth (or its close cousin, the Myth of the black Confederate) is a matter left to others. Whether professional historians needed to inject themselves in such arguments was nearly as heated a topic as the argument itself. I offered my opinions here and here … and then responded again here. Good times, eh?

Crossroads Greatest Hits: The 15th Amendment

In April 2011 I built on my previous posts concerning Republicans and race in the North to offer a reminder of why they advocated the Fifteenth Amendment, as you can see here.

All too often we hear rather simple descriptions of North and South, especially when it comes to political perspectives. It’s the internal divisions within each section that did as much to determine the outcome of events as it was the divisions between the sections.