Progressives have busied themselves demanding the removal of Confederate flags and war memorials which serves the dual purposes of facilitating their historical revisionism and distracting voters from their destructive racial political agenda.
The Civil War is a deep and complex chapter in American history which is extremely nuanced and doesn’t lend itself well to the modern soundbite explanations so favored by progressives who wish to mislead voters by obfuscating historical details. The preservation of slavery is the underlying issue upon which states sought to exercise their right to leave the union, but somewhere along the way, the issue morphed from one of slavery to the question of whether states which had voluntarily joined the United States possessed the right to leave that union if they believed conditions warranted secession.
A proper understanding of the events which led to the Civil War must begin back with the Founding Fathers and the drafting of the Constitution. At the time, there was much debate over very significant issues such as the ability of small states to hold their own against much larger and more powerful states, and there remained the lingering effects of the colonies having been ruled by Great Britain with no representation in parliament or self-determination in their own administrative affairs. The Articles of Confederation were clearly not working, but there was still much trepidation over creating a powerful federal government that might end up as oppressive as Great Britain.
There was also the huge issue of slavery. having embraced the tenets of the Industrial Revolution, the more industrial northern states had little need of slaves, but the more agrarian southern states, extremely dependent as they were upon the manual labor required to operate their plantations, were not about to abandon the slave system which made their way of life both possible and profitable. The Founders had realized that adoption of the Constitution had to be unanimous to ensure its success going forward as a binding foundation for government. The issue of slavery inspired fierce passions on both sides and threatened the unanimity required for adoption of the Constitution. However unpalatable it might have been, compromise was necessary to bring the southern colonies on board, and the delegates reluctantly agreed to allow the institution of slavery to remain legal.
The institution of slavery is a stain upon our revered Constitution and a blot upon our history, but it was absolutely necessary at the time for its inclusion if America was ever going to move beyond the limitations of the Articles of Confederation and take her place as an equal among nations. It is a travesty of history that America could not produce a William Wilberforce to argue against the evils of slavery, or be allowed the time to develop the ability to mechanize its agricultural sector, or have the Industrial Revolution spread beyond the northeast with its abundant streams to serve as power sources. Alas, these were not to be and the issue of slavery, inflaming passions on both sides even more as time marched on, headed for a showdown which, unfortunately, only war could decide conclusively.
The issue of slavery simmered throughout American history prolonged by compromises that admitted new territories as free or slave states such as the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act, but these legislative solutions only prolonged the inevitable. The Supreme Court made matters worse with clearly unconstitutional and morally wrong decisions such as the Dred Scott case in which the Court recognized slaves as property and not as humans. As politicians danced around the issue of slavery, Americans became increasingly tired of their circling about the same point on the political spectrum. This situation allowed the formation of the Republican Party in 1856 with its platform dedicated to the abolition of slavery once and for all. Their nominee in 1860, Abraham Lincoln, swept to victory as Americans were finally offered a stark choice between the status quo and change.
Instead of pursuing a course of waiting to see Lincoln’s legislative plans to address the issue of slavery and working to adopt a legislative solution amenable to all, southern politicians allowed fear to overtake their senses and plunged headlong into secession with South Carolina leading the way. Lincoln was forced to act decisively to preserve the union as the time necessary to arrive at an effective solution through legislation was denied to him. It is entirely possible that Lincoln would have continued to work towards the abolition of slavery on terms acceptable to the southern states. In fact, Lincoln often lamented at having been dragged into a war which he did not want but which he was determined to win at all costs. Even after the southern states had seceded, it was still possible to avoid hostilities as Lincoln was only forced into a war when South Carolina impatiently fired upon Fort Sumter.
Between the time of Lincoln’s election as president and his taking office, there was fierce debate on the question of whether a state had the right to secede from the union for any purpose. Lincoln argued that states abandoned the right to secede upon joining the union while the opposition maintained that states which had freely chosen to join the union were also free to leave at their discretion. This all became a moot point once South Carolina voted for secession and attacked Fort Sumter, and the Supreme Court never had an opportunity to rule on this fundamental issue.
While slavery was the impetus for secession, there was also the very legitimate question of whether a right of secession even existed. It is this fundamental point which is continually obscured by the progressives with their soundbite insistence that the Civil War was only about the preservation of slavery. The right of secession has never been decided by the Supreme Court, and it is entirely possible that this right exists despite the outcome of the Civil War. It is this uncertainty that frightens progressives into distracting voters from its consideration by insisting that the Civil War was only about slavery.
Also, by obscuring the possibility that a right to secession might exist, progressives can continue to fan the flames of racial animosity existing in the black community as they seek to distract blacks from consideration of the very real damage their progressive policies of government dependence have done to the black family and the black community.
Confederate Civil War memorials have existed for decades in remembrance of that chapter of our American history honoring the dead who fought for their beliefs just as fiercely as did those who fought to preserve the union. The Confederate flag has long been associated by southerners as an emblem of the right of states to exercise self-determination and not as an icon of a slave system which no southerner either wants or believes could even exist today in America. Progressives continually assault this interpretation by insisting that they can somehow read the minds of their fellow Americans and determine their thoughts even as these Americans insist that these progressive interpretations are entirely without merit or basis. These same progressives become apoplectic when the tables are turned and conservatives impugn progressive motives on the basis of their supposed progressive thoughts.
On the question of a right to secession, consider the current situation of Great Britain’s upcoming vote on continuing its membership in the European Union. The European Union is composed of member states which voluntarily joined much like American territories voluntarily joined the United States. Great Britain is about to conduct a vote to decide if it wishes to secede from the European Union much like southern states voted to secede from the United States in 1860. While there is much angst on both the outcome of this vote and the consequences should Great Britain vote to secede, no one is raising the possibility of a European civil war because that possibility does not exist. All sides have decided that it is entirely within Great Britain’s province to decide if it wishes to remain a member of the European Union, and there is no contemplation of the use of force to compel Great Britain to remain a member. With the penchant progressives have for insisting upon subsuming America and the Constitution to international law, progressives are not about to accept Great Britain’s voluntary exit from the European Union as an international precedent applicable to American states. It is ironic that Great Britain figures so prominently in the right to secession, first on the side wishing to preserve their rule over the American colonies, and now on the side of wishing to sever their membership in the European Union.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown incidents, racial agitators took full advantage of the opportunity to arouse racial passions for two individuals who suffered the consequences of their own poor choices to exercise aggressive behavior towards individuals compelled to employ lethal force in defense of their lives. Neither Trayvon Martin nor Michael Brown deserved the outpouring of support manifested on their behalf by opportunists seeking to take advantage of their deaths to promote personal agendas assisted by liberals promoting the progressive agenda.
As the truth of the events surrounding the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown slowly emerged from the intense background static created by these racial opportunists, it became increasingly clear that their causes were not justifiable and attention was shifted towards the presence of Confederate flags and war memorials as a distraction from this truth. Suddenly, attention was directed at the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina Capitol grounds and calls rose up for its removal despite it having been flown there for 54 years. Establishment Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley caved in to pressure from the left and supported its removal without the least consideration of its importance in South Carolina history.
Buoyed by their success, racial agitators spread across the South to lobby for the wholesale removal of Confederate memorials castigating them as racist symbols whose presence was a standing insult to blacks. Not only are these agitators entirely ignorant of the historical significance of these Confederate memorials, but they have no intention nor any desire to become educated in their quest to slash and destroy history. Progressives who bemoan the cultural destruction wrought by ISIS think nothing of enacting their own scorched-earth policy to remove any vestige of the Civil War for nothing more than the sake of distraction from their agenda of destruction.
Racial agitators such as Black Lives Matter seek to carve out urban spaces where the rule of law does not apply so the criminal element in these areas need not fear interference from the police as they go about preying upon the residents of these areas. This is a situation which is entirely unacceptable if the rule of law is to survive intact in America. The law-abiding residents of these areas deserve police protection from the criminal element as taxpaying citizens in obedience to the law. They do not deserve to be abandoned for the sake of political correctness in a return to the lawlessness of the ghettoes of the 1970s. It took the dedicated work of police professionals supported by politicians committed to ridding these ghettoes of crime decades, but they are quickly sliding back into their former states of lawlessness hastened by the current crop of progressive politicians who know the truth about their policies but choose to ignore it. Instead, they employ the distraction of removing Confederate memorials abetted by the media acolytes with the constant drumbeat of their 24/7 news cycle.
As a Southerner, it astounds me that people who have never lived in the South and have not the faintest experience or intimate knowledge of the South can purport to know what we Southerners are thinking. These interlopers continue to reveal their ignorance of the South and Southerners whenever they dare to opine on any aspect of the South. We Southerners are an extremely nuanced group, and no outsider can ever know either what we are thinking or our motivations at any given moment. Not only are they ignorant of us and our ways, they are insulting to us by daring to imagine that they are all so superior to us. It behooves us as Southerners to take every opportunity to push back against the progressive narrative concerning the South and not fall victim to their chicanery of political correctness carefully constructed to stifle dissent. We know the South infinitely better than any outsider, and only we are qualified to decide what we think and what we believe.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley revealed herself to be nothing more than an establishment Republican incapable of resisting the onslaught of progressive guilt when she succumbed to calls for removal of the Confederate flag flown so long over the Capitol grounds. The Republican establishment believes only in the accumulation and preservation of its own power and has no allegiance to conservative ideas. They do not possess the ability to formulate conservative positions, nor do they have the ability to withstand pressure from the progressive left. Donald Trump effectively demonstrated the hollowness of the progressive left with his refusals to back down from politically incorrect policy positions, yet the Republican establishment is incapable of learning from his example.
A determined resistance from Nikki Haley accompanied by coherent conservative arguments for approximately one news cycle would have quelled the movement to remove Confederate memorials and prevented this unnecessary distraction from obscuring the larger issue of progressive incompetence. Her inability to do so by virtue of her being an establishment Republican means the issue will continue to distract and distort the historical record. Resistance has finally begun to form against the removal of these historical Confederate memorials, but if the progressives are successful in their efforts to shame gutless establishment Republican politicians into their removal, it will eventually be like the Civil War never even happened. Then the left will be free to rewrite the Civil War to fit its own narrative with no evidence available for rebuttal.