Confederate Flag Still Relevant?


download (4)The South went to war over slavery. There was no other reason to dissolve the Union except over slavery.

“I’ve never heard of any other cause than slavery,” wrote Confederate commander John S. Mosby

However, most Southerners during the war were not the wealthy slave owners but for some reason were nudged into fighting for succession because of the few aristocrats who felt their way of life was threatened. Total throughout the slave states was almost exactly 26% of households owning slaves. For the majority of White Southerners succession from the Union was probably only in their interests if only because they wanted to be left alone yet still be included in the South.  Some leaders were outright opposed but were out-voiced.

To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country—the young men. – Sam Houston, then governor of Texas

Inevitably, at first, flag-waving nationalism led the non-slave owning rebels to fight on behalf of the rich slave owners –the 26%.  But into the war, though out of necessity, came the first military draft in US history.  Men ages 18 to 35  who possessed less than 20 slaves were ordered to fight to defend the wealth of the powerful white Southerners who had made themselves exempt. It became a rich man’s war, but a poor man’s fight.

The flag, or flags of the South, is not only a symbol of an economy based on racism and slavery, the flag is a symbol of support for Aristocracy–the few and wealthy.

One question for today is why do folks tend to support causes that are not beneficial to them in order to wave a flag for the 1%? Maybe it’s like believing a cargo myth–the rich are gonna come through. And in the 1860s, many subsistence farmers aspired to become large slave-owners so if they helped the rich folks out a little then perhaps the rich will help them one day own lots of slaves, grow a bunch of cotton, and so forth. Poor white Southerners supported slavery then, just as many low-income people support the extension of George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy now hoping that they soon will benefit from the rich getting richer at their expense.

The flag is relevant. I’m not saying I like the Confederate flag but what I am saying is that spirit of that flag still resonates– of support for the godlike wealthy. That longing still makes the confederate flag relevant to those who wish to worship up/ team up to the Aristocrat– someday maybe. Take that symbol down but, sadly, the things for which that symbol represents–racism, slavery and the enabling of the lifestyle and business practices of the 1% may be around for much longer still. The Confederacy was faithful to their 26%. The flag still represents that faithfulness. Even though, like all cargo myths, the reality of the super rich coming through for the flag wavers is just fantasy.

Terry Gresham

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