Why Honoring Traitors Is Wrong for America
The Confederacy Does Not Equal Patriotism
With Memorial Day weekend upon us, I’d like to address a pet peeve of mine that transcends political lines. It is the topic of the Confederacy and of patriotism.
Over the past year or two there has been a debate about the removal of Confederate flags and statues of Confederate military leaders. Many people have voiced concern over the potential for denying history or condemning “the cause” based on the concerns of political correctness.
As a long-time student of history, I am personally happy to see their removal from our city streets and government buildings. My reasoning isn't a liberal position - God knows there are liberals who would disagree with my position - but one of patriotism and understanding for what the Civil War and the hundred-plus years have represented to America. It is something that I feel Americans have forgotten and whitewashed (pun-intended) since 1865.
First off, make no mistake, the Confederate States were traitors to our country. By brandishing a rebel battle flag or any such contemporary symbol, you are giving credit to traitors. Many times we will hear terms of the Civil War being called, “The War of Northern Aggression”, as if to place the blame upon the Northern States who resided within the Union. Most people don't realize that no one called the conflict that name in the 1860s, but rather the term was coined in the Jim Crow years of the 1950s. The southern states started to secede the Union during the lame duck period of James Buchanan’s presidency before Lincoln took office. Once again, they were traitors to their country. Flying one of their flags is akin to supporting Afghanistan or Iraq or ISIS today.
Secondly, memorializing generals like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford, or P.G.T. Beauregard is not a symbol of heroism and nostalgia. These statues weren't placed to represent honor, but rather terror in letting African-Americans know who the people in those towns respect: the one’s that fought to keep them slaves. By honoring these men, you dishonor the men who fought and died for the United States of America.
Honoring the Confederacy, in any way, isn’t patriotic. It’s the exact opposite. Patriotism is the support of your country and it’s people, regardless of whom they voted for in the last election, what color their skin happens to be, or what flavor of God, if any, they happen to worship. That applies to all Americans, conservative or liberal. Christian or Islamic. With English ancestors or Mexican. With white, black, or brown skin.
As I stated, I am not against preserving history. If the United States wanted to have a national museum dedicated to treason and have statues of traitors like the Confederacy leaders, Benedict Arnold, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and Aaron Burr, I say they should have at it and donate resources to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the NAACP, but aggrandizing treason for whatever reason, should not be a part of local, state or federal government.