The failed rebellion against the United States should not be remembered with honor

[Editor’s note: The question of whether the Confederate flag has an appropriate place in modern American society has become the focal point of a widespread debate in recent days, following the mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina. The debate has spread to the NFL, with the Carolina Panthers sharing their perspective. After writing the following item this morning and spending the balance of the day thinking about whether it made sense to share it here, I decided to do so. To the “this-isn’t-about-football-you-idiot” crowd, I know it’s not about football. And I’m aware that I’m an idiot.]

Saturday was the 152nd anniversary of the birth of West Virginia, a state that seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the United States. I’ve lived here most of my life, with roughly 25 years in the Northern Panhandle and most of the last 25 roughly 100 miles farther south.

For five of the latter years, the office where I practiced law in Clarksburg was perched over the entrance to the Harrison County Courthouse. At the front of the plaza sits a large statue of Clarksburg native Thomas Jonathan Jackson. Also known as Stonewall. Also known as one of the most prominent generals in the failed rebellion against the United States.

Growing up in Wheeling and progressing through 12 years of Catholic school, I emerged with a very strong sense that the Civil War was just that: A failed rebellion against the United States, springing from the fundamental disagreement over whether the abomination of slavery should continue. Living for the past two decades in the community where Stonewall Jackson was born, that’s not quite the same message that comes through.

Beyond the statue honoring Jackson (as I once joked to a few locals, “Where’s the statue of Mussolini?”), there’s a nearby lake and a resort named for Stonewall Jackson. And Jackson’s Mill, the site of a sawmill and gristmill once owned by his family, is the site of the annual Stonewall Jackson Jubilee.

But what’s there to be jubilant about? Stonewall Jackson was a general in the failed rebellion against the United States, springing from the fundamental disagreement over whether the abomination of slavery should continue. Those who commit treason against the United States ordinarily are reviled; for some reason, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other key figures in a rebellion known far less notoriously (and far more romantically) as the Confederacy get a pass in some portions of a nation that was reunified a century and a half ago, after the rebellion against it failed.

Last Monday, while vacationing with my family at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I saw a pair of pickup trucks flying large Confederate flags from poles planted in their beds. With that same banner openly flying over the capitol of the state’s southern twin, it’s no surprise that the symbol of the failed rebellion against the United States is met with honor and not shame in some portions of the country.

The fact that the symbol of the failed rebellion against the United States is still embraced in South Carolina and elsewhere sends the subtle yet distinct message that the rebellion wasn’t shameful, but honorable. Which sends the subtle yet distinct message that the ultimate reason for the rebellion — whether the abomination of slavery should continue — was also not shameful, but honorable.

While the monster who slaughtered nine innocents in a House of God and traumatized millions of others of every race and creed quite possibly would have found a way through his warped and twisted brain to justify taking innocent life for whatever cause with which that warped and twisted brain connected, he didn’t have to look very far for one. With the symbol of a failed rebellion against the United States brazenly flying over the capitol of the state in which he lived, his warped and twisted brain connected the symbol of the rebellion to the reasons for the rebellion to the persons whom the rebellion, if successful, would have continued to enslave.

I’ve seen some justify the ongoing embrace of the symbol of the failed rebellion against the United States by pointing to the fact that their ancestors fought and died in the failed rebellion against the United States. I can’t relate to that concept, because my ancestors were living in Italy at the time.

But there’s a very good chance I had some lingering relatives who were on the wrong side of World War II. I have zero inclination to honor any of them. Today, 150 years after it ended, why don’t we feel the same way about the wrong side of the Civil War?

[Photo credit: Wikipedia]

140 responses to “The failed rebellion against the United States should not be remembered with honor

  1. Whats unfortunate is that the flag itself was never meant to be the symbol of the rebellion.

    The Confederate States of America went through three different flags during the Civil War, but the battle flag wasn’t one of them. Instead, the flag that most people associate with the Confederacy was the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

    Designed by the Confederate politician William Porcher Miles, the flag was rejected for use as the Confederacy’s official emblem, although it was incorporated into the two later flags as a canton. It only came to be the flag most prominently associated with the Confederacy after the South lost the war.

  2. Oh great, Florio is now branching out from his pro-union, anti-Redskin nonsense. I’m not calling him an idiot, and I’m not telling him to pipe down. This is his site and he can opine about all the political issues he wishes, no matter how lame it is.

  3. You’re right, of course.It was a bad plan by the south, and we shouldn’t be reminded of it at every turn.

    It’s somewhat comparable to the Colts hanging their “AFC Finalists” banner. Do you really want people associating you with this?

  4. Agreed, Mr. Florio. I am from Louisiana and never cared for the flag. People who like to brandish the flag love to say “heritage not hate”. Really? Because your heritage goes back much further than that, but I don’t see people flying the German, Italian or French flags. No Union Jack? Why not? Most likely your heritage comes from these other places.

  5. Only successful treasonous rebellions shall be honored! In early July with a four day weekend!

  6. Alright, lets see if we can jump on top of this before the good ole boys rush in to defend their precious hate banner.

    The flag at one point stood for things like Southern pride, states rights, etc. But, that is not what it represents in present day America. Today most people look at that flag and what they see is a symbol of racism, hate, treason; basically, for most people there is nothing positive that is associated with it.

    The swastika used to be a symbol for peace. I think we can all agree that it doesn’t represent peace today; which is exactly why you don’t see swastika flags being flown anywhere. The same line of thinking should apply to what flag(s) you choose to fly on government property.

  7. Another thing not to be remembered with honor is that more Americans died in the Civil War than in all other wars that the U.S. has participated in…combined.

    Over 600K soldiers, and another couple-hundred thousand civilians.

  8. The Civil War was fought over state’s rights, not slavery. The main principle of the Constitution is limiting the power of a federal government in favor of laws made at the state level.

    The Founding Fathers were smart enough to recognize that one nation does not mean everybody agrees. They set up a limited system where if you don’t like the rules one place, you can find another you do like.

    As a northerner, i think flying the confederate flag is stupid. You can display it as a matter of preserving history, but you should not fly it.

    Thats my opinion but i don’t live in South Carolina and if the people there want to fly it, they can.

    And if you want to vacation in North Carolin instead of South Carolina because of that the that is your right. If enough people turn away then the peop,e of South Carolina may change their mind.

    We are getting far to comfortable in this country going around the democratic process.

  9. The Blackhawks won another title. Native Americans everywhere are so happy.

    The democratic experiment includes certain rights, including the right to be offensive.

    Wait, just checked, your local neighborhood lawyer is currently working hard to eliminate freedom.


  10. Let’s be honest. Part of the reason the flag is still so prevalent today is because a lot of people think it looks cool and they grew up watching Dukes of Hazard.

  11. Yea the civil war was about states rights and those states had wealthy landowners who did not agree with abolishing Slavery. Those same men went on spending sprees to spread propaganda regarding other so called rights they would lose. They paid supporters at rally’s and newspaper editors so the poor whites in those states would have a dog in the fight. Just like the Koch brothers buying media outlets and spreading madly to rally strictly so Wall Street has no restrictions on how they operate. It is scary……

  12. Thank you for writing this, Mike Florio.

    Like you, I have not been able to understand why so many Americans, especially since legal segregation ended, think it is all right to honor treason — a rebellion meant to tear down the Union in order to preserve slavery. Some years ago, when there was talk of adding the name of the Confederate war dead to Memorial Hall at Harvard (which was built after the Civil War to honor the many Harvard men who died at the front of their units fighting to end slavery and preserve the Union), it hit me hard. I realized this is not an issue of “African American feelings,” as so many claim. It is a simple issue of honoring the United States of America — and acknowledging that some were on the right side, and some the wrong side, in the war about the Union.

    I have southern as well as northern forebears, yet I do not see it as dishonoring whatever personal bravery the southerners may have displayed to acknowledge that they were wrong in this pivotal struggle for freedom and national unity. Personal and public virtue are not the same.

    If this terrible, terrible murderous episode in Charleston has any good results, banishing pride in the Confederate flag must be at the top of the list. Time to send the flags to the museums, indeed.

    Theda Skocpol. Harvard University

    (And thank you again for writing this. I will send it to my sister and brother in law, the Hughes, in West Virginia.)

  13. Well stated by Florio.

    The Confederacy had no honor. It was a disgraceful, disgusting government whose reason for existence was the preservation of slavery. It’s not my opinion that slavery was what secession was all about — each Declaration of Secession proclaimed by every Confederate state said the secession was to preserve slavery as an institution.

    The Southern way of life for white plantation owners was based on the forced labor of black slaves. There was no honor in that white Southern way of life.

    Considering that more than 60% of NFL players are African American descendants of slaves, this is certainly a relevant topic for Florio to have addressed.

  14. Black on black slavery still exists in Africa today. Look it up. Research it. Usually it’s Muslims holding and torturing Christians.

    You won’t see it on the news, nor hear about it in hip hop songs.

  15. Very well put, Mike. And insightful. And I don’t mind that it’s not football related.

  16. The civil war was fought because of tariffs , taxes or whatever you want to call them ! The free the slaves thing was an afterthought ! Lincoln wanted to preserve the union , but slaves were not his concern ! The South was not wanting to share its wealth with the north eastern states ! As it is today !!!!!

  17. Born and raised in New Orleans, which technically makes me a southerner, nothing would make me happier than seeing the statute of Robert E. Lee disappear from the downtown circle bearing his name. Perhaps we could name the space after someone else named “Lee”.

  18. It’s about time we the people remove the flag of symbol for hatred and racism. Proponents can’t defend it, no matter how cleaver they try. As a white male, I’m offended by the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag symbolizes to me, Wealthy White Plantation Owners ordering naive white people to protect their wealth with racism and fear against minorities. Like nazism did for common/mass German people did in the 1930’s. Racism and hatred needs to stop.

  19. all states had and still do have the right to leave the union. The civil war ended any chance of that happening today. Regardless if you agree or disagree with the states reason for leaving the union they are (and still) allowed to leave the union. It is absolutely not treason to leave the United States by state vote. The founding fathers committed treason.

  20. If the war was all about slavery why were there portions of the union that allowed slavery? Second question: why did the Emancipation Proclamation only ban slavery in Confederate territories and not in Union territory that allowed slavery? Last question why did it take Lincoln so long to get around to that proclamation, why not do it early in the war?

    I think you Catholic education may have glossed over some of this but at least you seem no worse off in cognitive reasoning than anyone else…

  21. For many blacks in the south, slavery didn’t end after the Civil War, fact. Look it up “Slavery by Another Name”. PBS documentary on utube.

  22. It’s been right about 25 years now since a southern state voted by 1/3 of the state voters to elect a leader of the KKK (David Duke) as the states Governor.

    Luckily this forced a 3 way runoff and a former Governor of the state, an admitted crook (who served multiple prison sentences). Won the election for Governor over the KKK guy and the incumbent Governor, a Harvard law graduate.

    I can’t help but think of the 30%+’s (who voted for Duke) and the children of theirs that they influenced in thinking this way. Children that would just now be coming into the 35 to 50 year old age range today.

    How many of them have changed their opinion from their parents pro Duke viewpoints in 1990?

  23. tskocpol , have seen many accounts of the Hughs family in my family history in VA before the Rev . War ! Actually we are probably related ! Jacob Richards ?

  24. For the person who said the Civil War was over states rights, that is correct. The only right that they were worried about the Federal government taking away was the right to own slaves, however. They were worried about men like John Brown starting slave rebellions which started the militias. Then the election of Lincoln convinced them that the more populous north would elect officials that would eliminate slavery without the consent of those states.

  25. Based on Florio’s rant I guess it’s time we take down those Abe Lincoln statues too!

    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is NOT either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, “Letter to Horace Greeley” (August 22, 1862), p. 388.

  26. When two people divorce, you believe its a rebellion?

    Keeping someone joined in a union by force of arms is the same as keeping one on a plantation by force of arms.

    In fact, this country was started by the very same secession you condemn.

    West Virginia itself was started by secession.

    Only tyrants are against secession.

  27. You can talk all that you want about state rights over federal rights, but that doesnt explain why the confederacy bombarded fort sumpter.

    Slavery was the basic cause of the war when you strip away all the politics from it. Yes it was rooted in state vs federal, but thats not really viable considering that no one would have fought a war to deal with in country politics. You need the actual issues they are fighting over to be dealt with. Federal law says X issue is bad and they are getting rid of it, while state law says its good so they want to keep it. Eventually the issue that comes up is one that people are willing to die over. You can say in a roundabout way that state rights vs federal rights caused the war, but thats like saying the gun killed you, not the bullet.

  28. Florio, you forgot the part about how nearly all of the politicians and rebels in the South were members of the Democrat party. It was the Republicans that fought against slavery.

  29. Removing the flag will change nothing. If you try to erase everything that was wrong you r bound to repeat them. Not everyone is a redneck or raciest that is proud of the flag. Everyone should be careful when they start letting government have to much control,next time they might take something you like.

  30. I believe all men ( and women ) are created equal and should be treated so , but the civil war was not fought for that reason ! It was states rights and moreover taxation of the federal government !

  31. Bottom line is that flying the Confederate flag on State property is inappropriate.

    People can argue until they are blue in the face that the flag represents Southern heritage, and maybe to some extent it does represent the history of the south. But regardless of that, it is not deniable at this point that whether it was the original intent of that flag, it has become in modern times to be a symbol of racism. Symbols change meanings over time. The Swastika was originally a symbol meaning peace and prosperity, I am pretty sure everyone agrees it means something different now.

    Even accepting the argument that it doesn’t represent racism, it does represent treason and an attempt to dissolve the union and that is not debatable. I have read and heard the Civil War referred to as “the war for southern independence,” as well as “the war of northern aggression” and neither can be further from the truth. Without getting into all the root causes of the conflict, you by simple definition had a section of the country that committed treason. One of the things I also find so amusing is that the good ol’ boys who tend to try and make the argument that it doesn’t mean racism tend to be the same people who would help string someone up for anything even remotely close to treason to ‘merica and are some off the biggest flag thumpers you will ever meet.

    I live in Michigan- Some of the major border crossings with Canada literally require you to head southeast – it doesn’t get much more north than this. It’s not uncommon to see confederate flags here and there in Michigan and it becomes more common when you head to the more rural and less diverse areas of the state. So excuse me if I find it hard to believe that people living in one of the most northern states are celebrating their southern heritage.

    I am a history buff, and my favorite topic to research is war because I find intrigue in learning what can cause people to resort to killing each other. The Civil War is a fascinating topic to research and important part of American history. All history should be remembered no matter how ugly it is- I don’t think we should alter Huck Finn to eliminate the N-word because it is representative of a period of American history , and I don’t think we should try and pretend that the Civil War didn’t happen because it did. The Confederacy should be remembered in history books, not celebrated in memorials and the Confederate flag has a place in a museum, not state property.

  32. db36jp78 says:
    Jun 22, 2015 9:06 PM

    all states had and still do have the right to leave the union. The civil war ended any chance of that happening today. Regardless if you agree or disagree with the states reason for leaving the union they are (and still) allowed to leave the union. It is absolutely not treason to leave the United States by state vote. The founding fathers committed treason.


    Where in the constitution does it address the right of states to leave the union?

    The constitution does explicitly give power to Congress, under Section 8, “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.”

    and, in Section 10:

    “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.”

    Thus, the southern states that entered into the Confederate States of America violated Section 10 of the Constitution, and the US Congress had the power to suppress the insurrection or rebellion that was a part of it.

  33. So a nut job kills 9 innocent people and yet the leftist here go straight to the confederate flag. Put your energy towards the way of helping those who need help. This is a mental health issue. The prisons today are the only source of mental health available to those in need of it.

    The talking heads want to politicize the flag and make this their narrative towards all southerners. Amazing how a symbol can conjure up hate, even when your the ones that are hating those who believe in it.
    Are there racist who fly the confederate flag? Sure, but some racists even fly the American flag, the Irish flag, etc.

    I guess it’s only an issue when it fits your story line. Today it’s the confederate flag.
    Mr. Soros would be proud of you.

  34. I don’t have a southern bone in my body, nor any affection for the Confederacy. But aren’t the views expressed in this article the epitome of: “The winners write history.”

    Are the “winners” always more morally “justified” than the vanquished? Was Lenin better than Trotsky since he “won”? Stalin better than Hitler? This seems like a silly game to me.

    George Washington and the U.S. founding fathers also led a treasonous rebellion, if I remember correctly. As did Ghandi (arrested for treason by Brits). Nelson Mandela. So forth.

    It’s all well and good to revile the failed Confederate rebellion. But please don’t pretend that it is fundamentally different than any other rebellion.

  35. I grew up in South Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. I am a proud southerner. However, I never understood why the confederate flag flew on the state capital and I never met a person who paraded it around via bumper sticker, patch, etc., that wasn’t a racist. I’m sure I have ancestors that fought in the civil war, but I truly do not care.
    I despise the confederate flag and all its associated arrogance.

  36. Mike Florio, thanks for having the guts and the decency to post your thoughts, with which I agree. I live in Massachusetts and believe it or not I’ve seen a truck up here flying that banner also; it disgusts me.

  37. I always laugh at all the (refusing to admit to being racist) idiots that proudly display that confederate flag. It’s a symbol of DEFEAT guys! It’s like me wearing a 2004 Philadelphia Eagles NFC Champions shirt. Why would I even want to be reminded of failue? It’s pathetic. Why try to justify it? Just own it. You are what you are…

  38. a psychopath walked into a house of worship, and in a cowardly act assassinated 9 people. Who the hell cares about a stupid flag????? He came from a broken home, he was picked on, he was a weirdo, he had very few friends, his brain was messed up and he decided he would kill people. There are 100,000’s of people like him all over the world and they are going to continue to kill people. Bad people exist and have existed since Caine killed Abel with a rock. So what do we do? How do we react? We get into a debate over the confederate flag. protect yourself the best you can, protect your family and loved ones the best you can. Pray and weep for those unfortunate families and be kind to them and try to help them if you can, and hope your not there the next time some crazy son of a B decides he’s God and wants to end human life.

  39. Wasn’t the long running democratic senator of West Virginia a KKK grand wizard and who also filibustered again the Civil Rights Act? Shame that most forget that the Democratic Party is the true haters of those of different skin pigments.

  40. I’ve never cared much for the confederate flag, but I also understand and support the notion that this is a free country and it’s citizens have a right to choose to be idiots.

    I’ve always seen the confederate flag as more of a generic symbol against the American government rather than a symbol in favor of slavery.

    In some indirect convoluted way, I suppose the existence and display of this symbol MAY help to invoke irrational behavior that might have otherwise been suppressed, but the time spent trying to connect those dots would be better served focusing on real problems like global warming, poverty, a flawed education system, and getting money out of politics.

  41. Does the Confederate flag have an appropriate place in modern American society debate is right on par with the NFL team name in Washington debate…Pay attention Danny Boy & Roger Dodger….

  42. Ask anyone who defends the Confederate Flag as “just a symbol of southern pride and heritage” why you never see any black southerners displaying it.
    Call it what it is, a symbol of white southern heritage.

    And furthermore, why does it always show up at aryan nation and KKK rallies, as well as other hate groups?

  43. Good job Florio. I always considered it a symbol of losing, ignorance, and fear. In football, the winner gets the trophy. We don’t celebrate losers. If you don’t like America, move to another country. Don’t make the Yankees come down there and whoop your butts again.

  44. Playing the Ponzi–

    Are the “winners” always more morally “justified” than the vanquished?

    In the case of the north vs the south in America, yes indeed!!!

  45. I lived in the south, and the confederate flag was a symbol of hatred against blacks. Regardless of what some of those right wing politicians are admitting, everyone knows the truth. They are trying to hold onto votes from racists, and obviously, many still exist. And if you don’t believe that, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

  46. It should be noted that Albert Gore Sr, yes kids, Al “the astronaut” Gore had a daddy, whom filibustered The Civil Rights act of 1964 not once, but twice!! All the while, a member of the Tennessee KKK. And 30yrs later his son got 98.4% of the black vote. smh #usefulidiots

  47. mrsryansfamoustoejam says:
    Jun 22, 2015 9:30 PM

    Florio, you forgot the part about how nearly all of the politicians and rebels in the South were members of the Democrat party. It was the Republicans that fought against slavery.
    The Dixiecrat’s. So what’s your point and how does it matter in 2015?

    Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt got the black vote for president in 1936 after meeting with black leaders to push for specific programs that helped regain the grounds lost, due to centuries of servitude in the United State.

    Then Harry Truman grabbed 77 percent of the black vote in 1948, thanks to his issuing an order of desegregation to the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.

    John F. Kennedy used the civil rights movement to define the Democratic party as a liberal party for decades to come. Kennedy began pushing for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and after he was killed, Lyndon B. Johnson pushed it through.

    Johnson then got 94 percent of the black vote that year, then, a record for any presidential election. The following year he signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Ever since, no Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote.

    So now the Republican party is trying everything in their power to suppress the poor and minorities from voting over the last several years.

  48. Agreed. Taking the obvious racial argument out of it, it’s a symbol of treason and failure.

    Add in the fact that it wasn’t reintroduced to the south until we saw integration and civil rights progress in this country, as a thumbing of their nose to the federal government making them atone for centuries of slavery and oppression.

  49. Noffy, back to the history books for you. The GOP was once the progressive party while the Democrats were the conservatives. They did a complete 180 into their present ‘stances.”

    So, since you bring it up… are you saying that you are in fact a progressive, or that you intend to blindly follow the GOP no matter what they do?

  50. noffy32 June 22, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

    Wasn’t the long running democratic senator of West Virginia a KKK grand wizard and who also filibustered again the Civil Rights Act? Shame that most forget that the Democratic Party is the true haters of those of different skin pigments.

    Yes, that senator from WV was Robert Byrd and he was actually the Exalted Cyclops of the MidAtlantic chapter of the Kkk. He&Albert Gore Sr, also in the Kkk, hold the record for the longest filibuster in history, to this day. #democratshavebeensoldabillofgoods

  51. I was taught that the Civil War was a result of southern cotton producers selling cotton to European textile companies at cheaper prices than they were selling it to the northern textile companies.

  52. mediasloppy. Those are the same people that got us into wars that we shouldnt have been in. OH and Trumans desegregation got more black people to enlist than ever up to that point, so you could argue that whole thing was to get more people to fight the wars we shouldnt have been in. Most all of those things you pointed out was gimmicks to get elected anyway. Nothing changed. Any black man in the Armed Forces until very recently will tell you nothing changed. And if you look at what the government was handing out for nothing, at the same time will enlighten you on why the party that wasnt giving things away didnt get votes

  53. You know…I knew the comments were going to be all over the map on this one. And, I saw that once again the “states rights” argument popped up as a cause of that war even though there is no factual basis for the argument.

    Without taking a side on the flag issue, I hope that the majority of people can eventually come around to the factual understanding that the states rights construct did not show up until long after the war, and did not gain traction until the 1920s when the romanticism with the lost South and its leaders began.

  54. florioisanidiotduh says:
    Jun 22, 2015 9:24 PM

    Based on Florio’s rant I guess it’s time we take down those Abe Lincoln statues too!


    Your excerpt misses the point in regard to Lincoln’s personal views, which differed from what he saw as his official duty. Here is a more complete record from wikipedia:

    “On August 22, 1862, just a few weeks before signing the Proclamation and after he had already discussed a draft of it with his cabinet in July, he wrote a letter in response to an editorial by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune which had urged complete abolition. Lincoln differentiates between “my view of official duty”—that is, what he can do in his official capacity as President—and his personal views. Officially he must save the Union above all else; personally he wanted to free all the slaves:

    I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.[42]”

    Just one month after writing this letter, Lincoln issued his first Emancipation Proclamation, which announced that at the beginning of 1863, he would use his war powers to free all slaves in states still in rebellion (as they came under Union control).

  55. Anyway, lets ignore our history. Nothing will change, everything will stay the same. Pretty soon they will say we didnt land on the moon. I dont like tattoos of skulls because they look evil. We can get those outlawed too, right? Maybe not doing anything with the flag will remind us what not to do. But hey let the narrow minded who only focus on the hot topic tell us what to do.

  56. so the revolution led by slave owners like Thomas Jefferson is honorable, and the revolution with Robert E. Lee who didn’t believe in slavery and owned none is bad. Wait, what?
    If it was about slavery, then why did Lincoln offer to let the south keep their slaves if they stayed in the union? Why weren’t the slaves freed until years after the war started?

  57. Yes the confederates had honor.
    Yes they were fighting for states rights.
    Yes it is ok to look up to our heroes from the past and honor the memory of our ancestors.

    But, you have to remember who was in the right and who suffered.
    Slavery is wrong, Dying for honor is stupid, the federal government is sovereign and states are given their rights by the federal government who is intern granted its rights form the people, all the people. The union was fighting for just two things liberty for all and the United States of America. Flying that flag means you do not stand for those things, and you are a raciest or you are giving cover to racists.
    Those who fought for the lost cause have the right to fly it and to have it fly over their graves. You do not.

    Confederate Descendant and Union Supporter

  58. I’m from the north, and this may come as a surprise to you, but I’m young enough to say that the Civil War happened before I was born. So when I see the confederate flag, all I see is a symbol of a sub section of people’s heritage that they can call their own. I don’t see slavery or racism. The same way I look at the cross and not see antisemitism. What I see basically is the General Lee. Not the guy, but the CAR.

    In other words, I find it ironically sad that an issue born out of one radicalized individual’s beliefs incorrectly applied to a sub section of people has given life to another controversy were radicalized people incorrectly apply a belief to a sub section of people.

    Deal with the issue, flags make terrible scapegoats.

  59. 5 years of treason out of 230 years of unity should not be celebrated.

    The flag was never the official flag of the CSA. It was Lee’s battle flag. It never hung over any statehouse until the 1960s.

    Anyone arguing it’s about history and heritage, obviously doesn’t know their history, and have a heritage they should be ashamed of, not celebrating.

  60. But there’s a very good chance I had some lingering relatives who were on the wrong side of World War II. I have zero inclination to honor any of them. Today, 150 years after it ended, why don’t we feel the same way about the wrong side of the Civil War?
    You are only on the wrong side if you lose. History shapes our views. Don’t discredit your ancestors for fighting and dying for their cause, right or wrong.

  61. I agree with Florio. To hoist the confederate flag in deference to our ancestors is akin to raising the Union Jack in America to honor the pilgrims. Both flags may be part of our history but they have no place in the present.

  62. “pftcensor1 says:
    Jun 22, 2015 9:08 PM
    If the war was all about slavery why were there portions of the union that allowed slavery? Second question: why did the Emancipation Proclamation only ban slavery in Confederate territories and not in Union territory that allowed slavery? Last question why did it take Lincoln so long to get around to that proclamation, why not do it early in the war?

    I think you Catholic education may have glossed over some of this but at least you seem no worse off in cognitive reasoning than anyone else…”

    Are you serious? The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t “ban slavery” at all. It said that, upon the victory of the north (or their escape to the north) – slaves would be considered by the US government to be free people from that day forward. He was acting in his authority as President of the United States to proclaim that these men shall be free, but that proclamation only held in areas where he was the acknowledged President. If anything, it was written as a way to encourage black men to resist in the south and to try and escape to the north. He told them what was certainly waiting them in the north – their status as free men. It was not a “I ban slavery” message.

    As for those saying the war was about “states rights”, you’re leaving off a key part of the sentence…states rights to regulate slavery as they see fit. There were other secondary issues, but make no mistake, they were secondary. The drama escalated because the southern states wanted new states to be able to decide for themselves because they counted that around 50% of the states likely to be accepted (based on the knowns at the time) would probably vote to have slavery. They knew that if slavery were to be banned in new states their ability to control congressional votes concerning slavery would be reduced because they would become a smaller and smaller part of both houses of Congress. Eventually, they knew there would be enough non-slave states to pass an amendment and outlaw it altogether. So, stop. Just stop. You cannot suggest that the issue was states rights to regulate commerce without also acknowledging that the biggest part of commerce they wanted to regulate was their ability to get free labor from slaves. Ignoring that is either ignorant or obtuse…both are bad.

  63. There are many icons presented to us daily in order to divide us and make us easier to manage, this one is flag shaped and often made of cloth. The horrors of trench warfare, starting in Petersburg, Virginia just before the end of the civil war needed no particular flag to continue in Europe 50 years later, the only requirement for continued struggle was to have different flags. Only the officially approved icon is allowed on this side of trench.

    This particular icon is used to rally people to hate. It should come as no surprise, people are segregated by skin color and ethnicity in our prisons and this disparity in treatment continues in our society by law enforcement. People suffer economically because of the melanin content in their skin.

    Let’s recognize icons for what they are, they are symbols used effectively to control us, even though each individual will have their unique interpretation of any given symbol. Icons like this one, that are used to rally to hate, have no place on community property. And in a healthy society, icons should be given no more importance than one would give to spray paint on the side of a railroad trestle. Let’s make people our focus.

  64. Just saw an article about Wal Mart pulling all their Confederate themed merchandise. Maybe this time that flag, and others, will finally come down.

    BTW, people in 1850s era Kansas and Missouri were not killing each other over tariffs, and didn’t give a rap about State’s Rights. As many have noted, it was slavery alone that led to the killing.
    And, as others continue to demonstrate, even today many people use these to rationalize their fear and bigotry.

  65. So you visited the south and got a taste of real life here. Lol, try spending 20 years working a block away from the capital and seeing the clash of races that happens nearly daily. There is a large percentage of the population of SC that is proud of the rebellion and really believe the south will rise again. Its really something being a liberal Midwesterner in SC

  66. Remarkably well-written, Florio. There’s more than a half-assed football writer behind your words, I’d look forward to you branching out like this more often.

  67. Good article although the flag no longer flies above our state house. Its planted firmly in the front yard.

  68. noffy32 says:

    “… Shame that most forget that the Democratic Party is the true haters of those of different skin pigments.”


    Times change. Maybe racists and white supremacists at one time aligned themselves with the Democratic party, but that’s not the case anymore. Why do people today who associate themselves with white supremacist groups consider themselves Republicans or donate heavily to Republican political groups (see Tony Perkins)?

  69. Thank you Mr Florio for writing a great article. As a french woman who teaches business to a diverse student body, I believe that all cultures and races be respected and prejudice and discrimination should be a thing of the past. The Civil War was mainly about state’s rights and limiting the power of the federal government. However, part of that became the issue of slavery which became a state’s rights and economic issue. Honouring the Confederate Flag or rebels like Stonewall Jackson is un-American and no different than honouring the Nazis. It is not a left or right political issue, it is a human issue. It is a symbol of hate that is still alive in the south evident by the tragic shooting of innocent Christian lives in the SC church a few days ago. This country was founded on Christianiyt which is about love not hate. Remove the flag and honour the Christian spirit this country was founded upon.

  70. The war was not over slavery. You act like everyone in the south owned slaves. Simply not true. It was over Money like all wars. Quit trying to glorify it over saving a group of people. That is childish and ignorant.

  71. Do you think buddhists should scrape swastikas off their temples too. Just because a symbol is related to something vile doesn’t mean it is vile.

    Do you have any Italian flags in your house? Using your logic if you do that means you are supporting your ancestors who fought on the losing side of WWII.

  72. Che bravo, Michele; lei ha ragione. I would ask that you remind the few of your peers and the many other “sports commentators” that they, too, are allowed to address such matters as deliberately, maturely, and persuasively as you have done.

  73. The only people I’ve ever met to parade around the confederate flag with pride are racists. The end

  74. Obviously the confederate flag stands for pride for those who revere it, Rebel pride. Their ancestors fought valiantly against their sense of gov’t. injustice. Sure their ancestors lost, but they fought against formidable odds.— The gov’t then did not allow the rebels to secede yet allowed the now West Virginia to secede from Virginia. The Emancipation Proclamation meant to apply only for the slaves in the rebel territories. Free blacks owned slaves even in the South. Who do we think were the suppliers of slaves? It’s easy to pass judgment on the past looking through the lens of the present.— Florio… Your WW2 ancestors were asked to fight foreigners, the Allies. Easy to renounce them. The Rebels were asked by the gov’t to raise their swords against their home, friends and family. Gen. Lee and the other Southerners just can’t do it. It’s more than slavery. Most of those rebels don’t own slaves. Think of the time span between the American War for Independence and the Civil War. Those Southerners like the original Rebels won’t countenance tyranny by the gov’t. These new Southerners will fly their flag. They have their own meaning no matter how we define them.

  75. charger383 says:

    when you get rid of religious stuff on government property you can think about the Confederate Flag


    Agreed. Can we do both tomorrow?

  76. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to fly any flag that say “we’re number two!” be it a sports team or an army that was beaten to the point of starvation and mass desertion during its last days. Nope, can’t imagine hoisting a symbol of utter and complete failure, up a flag pole and claiming it as my heritage.

  77. I’m actually happy to see that flag flying in South Carolina. I like to know exactly where the racists are at all times. Just like your bumper stickers, flag t shirts, and wall hung flags in your trailers. They all assist me in finding which of you are racist idiots. Feel free to defend yourself with shallow platitudes about your “southern heritage”, I’ll smile and know which side of the fence you are on.

    Please identify yourselves with your flags so I can see them and take note. It’s so much easier than rooting out closeted racists.

  78. This was really well articulated and offered very sensible thoughts. Normally your unbearably preachy and pompous. Not here. I appreciated reading this.

  79. Others have acknowledged the article; I acknowledge the many comments that are educational and insightful. There has been slavery throughout most of known history, but America’s was one of the few based on the color of people’s skin.

    About 150 years ago Lincoln freed the slaves and preserved the union. He was then assassinated.

    About 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. crusaded for civil rights through peaceful protest. He was then assassinated for it.

    Now we have our first black president. Society has made significant progress, but as Obama indicates there is still work to do.

    I take issue with the term racism, but understand and accept it. As a society we will not be fully healed until the overall view is that there is only 1 race – the human race. Differences in skin pigmentation, the shape of a person’s eyes or nose are simply the result of thousands of years of regional genetic mutation.

  80. good article by Mike Florio, he hit the nail on the head by elaborating that most individuals who sport the confederate flag on clothes,license plates etc.. don’t do it because of the “stars & bars” pride in the old south rhetoric that was despicable both then AND now.. but actually buy into what the confederate flag really stands for now.. which is hatred,bigotry, and a reminder of a shameful past. all states still flying it hopefully will also be pressured to take it down once and for all.

  81. It’s utterly amazing how people have ZERO knowledge about history:

    – The General Government in 1788 was not given sovereign powers so it could tell the States what to do. The fallacy of “the federal government is sovereign and states are given their rights by the federal government who is intern granted its rights from the people, all the people” couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the General government is the almighty power, why did the States need to ratify the Constitution? Why now, if there is an amendment to that dead document, do the States need to ratify? Why have state governments if the federal government was supposed to be high and mighty?

    – Secession – The States were the parties to the compact, i.e. the Constitution, not the people. Why else do we have a bicameral Legislature? Before the 17th Amendment, the States had a seat at the table. It was well understood, at the time of ratification, that if one State felt the union of States no longer had it’s best interest in mind, IT COULD LEAVE. How many know about Timothy Pickering, a Massachusettan who thought that New England should, yes, secede in the early 1800’s.

    – Fort Sumter – When South Carolina seceded, it, correctly, said any LAND WITHIN IT’S BORDERS BELONGED TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA. Fort Sumter was not part of the federal union any longer, it was sovereign territory of South Carolina. When the Federal Army refused to leave, it was seen as an invasion.

    Treason / Rebellion – How was secession treasonous or rebellious? The States that seceded had a right to leave the Union. Once there were no longer part of the Union, there was no rebellion or treason committed. It would be like you getting a divorce, having sex with someone, and your wife coming back saying you cheated on her. You were no longer part of the compact (your marriage) so you didn’t need to abide by the rules.

  82. And one last thought for those who mistakenly believe the CSA was not a battle flag and not a symbol of “Dixie” may I remind you that the swastika was not a symbol of hate until it was co opted by the Nazi party. Your “battle” flag was co opted by the KKK and unlike the Coca-Cola Company or Xerox Corporation, your ancestors did nothing to protect your “heritage,” your brand. Instead, they embraced the rape and pillage of your heritage, leaving it soiled as a symbol of ignorance and hate in any context, except as a museum piece honoring those foolish souls who paid such a terrible price in defense of the indefensible. Slavery in America was not sustainable and would have ceased with or without the war.

  83. “The Civil War was fought over state’s rights, not slavery.”

    It absolutely was in fact fought over states rights INITIALLY. Very good. Most people only know what someone else told them or they heard it on TV.

  84. It’s a tragedy that it took the slaughter of those little old church ladies minding their own business by a hothead loser coward big-time white man to finally get that symbol of abomination removed once and for all.

    The stars and bars should no more be flying anywhere than the Nazi swastica flag. Both are symbols of brutality, not honor.

  85. If you pre-emptively seceded before Lincoln was even inaugurated, encouraged other people to join you in open rebellion, fired the first shot, and then refused his personal offer to send representatives back to Congress to work out your disputes like sane adults, you don’t get to call the consequences of your sedition the War of NORTHERN Aggression!

    It’s the War of Southern Treason.
    And treason, over what? “State’s rights”? They were interested in one particular state’s right, and that was the “right” to own slaves.

  86. mrsryansfamoustoejam says:
    Jun 22, 2015 9:30 PM
    Florio, you forgot the part about how nearly all of the politicians and rebels in the South were members of the Democrat party. It was the Republicans that fought against slavery.
    You are confusing social Conservatism/Liberalism with political party affiliation. More recently in the past 30 or so years social Conservatives have traditionally voted republican. It was social Liberals that fought for the civil rights act, that fought for school and military integration, that fought for women’s rights, that fought against prohibition, that fight for gay rights and equal rights for all Americans. Social Conservatives fight them on many of these issues to this very day !

  87. We’re going to make this horrible murder about a stupid flag now?

    Here’s an idea. Let’s make it about how we handle the issue of the mentally ill in our society and the effects of the drugs they take. We’ve had a bunch of horrible mass murders over the years connected by a common thread, and it wasn’t a stupid symbol.

  88. The Civil War was a complicated war. Slavery was clearly the cause of the war but it’s understandable that southerners, most of whom did not own slaves, didn’t like being invaded. The South fought valiantly against tremendous obstacles and it’s understandable for southerners to be proud of their heritage, which includes a lot more than the Civil War. Unfortunately, the Confederate flag has been hijacked by racists. Flags flown at state capitals should unify the people of the state, not cause friction between them. Many of the people that love the Confederate flag are not racists, but the flag should come down in South Carolina so its’ people can be united instead of divided.

  89. The treason aspect doesn’t bother me. Hell, our country was founded in rebellion and treason.

    I do think the flag is tied to southern culture and a romanticism for the “old south” for many people. I don’t think it’s a simple matter of it being a racist symbol.

    But, I do see why people want it removed. I just hate to see it removed because of this shooting. It’s basically like the left gave up on gun control and just went for the easy pickens Confederate flag.

    I see why it should be removed, but I also hate political correctness. Can we just replace it with something else. Equally offensive to everyone?

  90. The civil war was primarily about economics and that equated to slavery. To make it seem more honorable southerners have landed on “states rights”. It’s just not accurate. The biggest problem now with the confederate battle flag is that it has become a symbol of southern resistance to the civil rights movement. For example South Carolina didn’t start flying the flag over their capital until 1962. Sure the flag represents a failed rebellion over a vile and immoral institution. Just about as bad, it currently represents modern objection to civil rights for all citizens.

  91. jm2772 says:
    Jun 22, 2015 7:40 PM
    The civil war began as an issue over the Federal governments authority over individual States.


    You mean the issue of the Federal government's authority to abolish the enslavement of other human beings by certain "individual states"?

  92. randomcommenter says:
    Jun 22, 2015 8:03 PM

    “The Civil War was fought over state’s rights, not slavery.”

    The Civil War was fought over state's rights to HAVE slaves.
    There. I fixed it for you.

  93. I don’t disagree with you at all. I’ve just noticed that this is the second piece I’ve seen today where a member of the media just “happened to see” a confederate flag, and it seems like planned reporting. You also made exactly the same points. I’m not arguing with you at all. Just an observation.

  94. It offends most of the world that in 1776 a great Satan was created in the Western hemisphere: a land that just pours out pornography, hatred between races, and lacks any sense of moral fibers. We run to the doctor to get antidepressants because someone at work called us a name, we drink and smoke until we destroy our dopamine levels, we are fat because we are fortunate to get to eat 3000+ calories a day, and people get stabbed over wearing the wrong jersey at a football game. This nation, North and south, is whats wrong with the world. Spare me the financial aid bs to every other nation. If our soldiers aren’t committing unspeakable atrocities, why are we so unwelcome? If we are helping other countries so much, why does everytime we build a road or school we get to dip our hand further into their own soverign governments? We are more concerned with a man woman Bruce caitlyn jenner than even understanding NDAA or The patriot act? Is the Yankees score more important to find out? How come nearly everytime there is a mass murder event, Monsanto reps rush to the congress and they call emergency sessions to pass more treasonous laws to poison our own masses? Look up people. Its time to wake up. America can be saved, quit worrying about these trivial issues, embrace your fellow American regardless of color, and lets make this country what is was supposed to be. Take back our government!

  95. The US Civil War was actually primarily fought due to economics, and the role of government intervention in the economy. It was the culmination of the primary economic arguments in the United States since its founding. One one side you had those who favoured the mass industrialisation of the United States and believed that government intervention was required to achieve this.

    The original political debate in the United States with regards to government was between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. There were three major economic ideologies of the time. The free market ideals of Britain, as espoused by Adam Smith, was favoured by neither. Instead the anti-Federalists, led by the likes of Jefferson, Monroe and Madison, favoured a small federal government, with significant focus on the States, very little government intervention in the economy, and, most importantly, the dominance of agriculture. This is largely based on the economic thoughts of the French Physiocrats. This economic model failed pretty much everywhere because it was too expensive for agriculture to sustain an modern economy. The only way it flourished in the United States was due to cheap labour caused by slavery. On the other hand, the Federalists, led by Hamilton, Adams and arguably even Washington, favoured the mass industrialisation of the United States and believed that government intervention was required to achieve this. They did this through protecting industry through protectionist trade policies, government investments in infrastructure, and the development of a central lending bank. This school of thought is today known as the National School.

    The Federalists became the Whigs and then the Republican Party (slight simplication there but ach well). The anti-Federalists became the Democratic Republicans and eventually the Democrats.

    Every single economic argument between the founding of the United States and the Civil War was about the battle between the National school economics of the Federalists/Republicans and the Phyisocrat school economics of the anti-Federalists/Democrats. That was what the Civil War was about. The war was about the economics of slavery, rather than slavery itself. If the South were willing to abandon Physiocracy and use their slaves to industrialise America very few in the Republican Party at the time, or the predecessor anti-slavery parties, would have encouraged the abolition of slavery. So while the abolition of slavery is something to be celebrated, and the opposition to the abolition of slavery is something to be abhoured, it would be wrong to operate under the assumption that the US Civil War was fought over the morality of slavery, and not the economic and cultural underpinnings of it.

  96. I was born and raised in Michigan, but have spent all of my adult life in the south, some 40 years worth. There is a pride southerners feel to being “from the south” that is indirectly, but wrongly connected to the civil war and being a “rebel”. Charleston should be a wake up call to what the confederate flag actually represents. It is time for that flag to come down. It is incomprehensible to me that a young person, or any person, like this monster who killed this poor people in Charleston, can have such hate in him as to kill so many innocent people in cold blood.

    Well said Florio and thank you.

  97. By your logic the American Revolution (which you can argue was also fought to preserve slavery as the British had outlawed slavery everywhere else in the Empire) against the British crown was shameful & treasonous and the ‘heroes’ of that revolution deserve to be neither honored nor admired. The only difference I can see between the American revcolution and the Southern one is that the Americans won.

  98. blaming/removing the flag for the kid murdering innocent strangers is just a different kind of banner waving. Just a political shell game .
    The political mafia always treat the symptoms rather than the cause . Our government flushes billions of tax dollars away annually supporting rebellions and kingdoms in far flung deserts or rocky hellholes . Why do they do that ? …due to money or elite wealthy people or corporations interests. The same reason all wars are fought.
    The southern cause as it were was defending its home land and way of life and while the slaveholders suffered the average citizen suffered a great deal also unlike in the north which saw very little real war . The perspective is likely to change depending on where you live and how long your famiily has lived there.
    I would be far more worried about the growing trend of seeing other countries flags flying on american soil rather than a archiac symbol of a failed big for independence that was put down 15 decades ago. Walmart will stop selling confederates stuff …OK when will they start selling stuff that is made in america instead of propping up china to the tune of trillions of $. That my friends is many times more dangerous than the army of northern virginia ‘s battle flag.
    FOCUS or your decedents will have to FLY THE AMERICAN FLAG IN 100 YEARS AS A SYMBOL OF RBELLION in a nation that may have outlawed its existence or sold it to the highest bidder.

  99. My uncle was one of the SC State Senators who put that flag there in the first place. It was meant to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and the sacrifices and losses suffered by the South. It was only meant to fly from the dome for one year.

    He later supported the movement to take it down in 2000 during the presidential campaigns that year, because in the years since it had become a symbol of hate, and not one of heritage. By right it should have come down more than 50 years ago.

  100. Well we live in America so if they want to be ignorant and continue flying their flags they have that right. However, it has no business flying at any government building unless it is a museum.

  101. Florio, I agree with you on many points, but I also believe that it’s not quite as simple as you claim. The history of the Southern/Northern States relationship is complex, as is this symbol.

    Perhaps, instead of rushing – as some people seem to be suggesting – to ban the symbol (a symptom) of hate (to some people), the actual issue of racism could be addressed at the root cause – whatever that may be. If the illness is cured, the symptoms will disappear.

    If the people of SC want the flag removed from their state house/courthouses, let them speak via their representatives to do so.

    People seem very quick to ban things they don’t agree with anymore. I think that’s a dangerous path and precedent.

  102. Most are so binary over the issue of the Civil War.

    Yes, the state rights were the core issue. The southern states vested concern was slave labor as this was vital to the economy in that region. To say that it was one or the other is over simplifying this very complex war. Thus they wanted to secede with South Carolina leading the charge, however Lincoln was not about to let that happen on his watch after just being elected. His paramount concern was not Slavery. He hated slavery but was not about to force this at the time.

    But those that are saying it was not a state right issue is not looking deep enough. The 13th amendment absolutely infringed upon the rights of a state to self govern. Even to this day the Federal government has too much influence over each individual state. It was a precedent that was set, whether the subtext issue was slavery or not.

    The northern states also benefited from the slave labor in the south. Also, don’t forget the labor conditions of the Irish and Chinese during the Industrial Revolution in the north and out west.

    Unfortunately the Confederate Flag is associated with hatred due to hateful groups (see KKK) using the icon as their symbol. The flag itself does not represent hate as a whole. To some, certainly here in northern states it is more of a symbol of “I am who I am” and would see this along with the Don’t Tread On Me banners.

    At the end of the day all of those in power whether in the North or South, had money to be lost, this is was the ultimate driving factor. Let’s not be so naive to think otherwise…

  103. Let us not forget that this country was founded on what the British would call the same thing.

    An armed rebellion is how the colonies became america.

  104. The confederate flag in SC was placed there as a direct response to the Civil Rights movement that was happening in the US in 1960. It was racist then and it’s racist now. “States Rights” is a red herring. It was about the right to own slaves and the right to be able to force northern states to return run away slaves. Bloody Kansas (look it up) was a precurser to the Civil War because Kansas was a territory where some wanted slavery and others didn’t. All of the secessionist states and the articles of confederation clearly state that it was ALL about slavery. The period in the American south between the end of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act was Apartheid (look it up). Even 50 years later, we are still trying to end institutional racism. Do you think ANY black person looks at a confederate flag with anything but fear and disgust? Take a lesson, we should ALL look upon that symbol with a combination of fear and disgust.

  105. Agreed quite a bit (well, more than usual) with you Florio, but I really think the kid did what he did because he was addicted to various pain meds and anti-depressants (a classmate said he was a pill-popper), and the fact that he was a racist and likely a psycho just exascerbated the situation.

  106. @bonesawisready – very well stated.

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, ONE NATION under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

  107. Mike Florio, to compare the participants of the war between the states to those of WWII is shortsighted. The world was completely different in those times, as was the perspective of people living then. I also was born in the same area, except my family has been there since 1785. My namesake were of the Mennonite religion and were anti slavery since their coming to this country (Germantown, Philly, PA) from Germany in 1683. I also had other branches of my family tree from the area that fought and died on both sides of the war between the states. No population of people then or now want outsiders to tell them how to live or to govern them. Those who died in that war, on both sides, died for their country as they believed it to be. I don’t display the Army of Northern Virginia’s battle flag, but at the same time I respect the right of those who do in the name of their ancestors who died in defense of their homeland. As one of our countries great forefathers (Thomas Jefferson) said before his death in regards to slavery, “we have the dog by the ear and dare not let it go”. Many people in the south knew slavery was a crime against people of color, but fear of what would happen if it ended all at once was the overwhelming reality. Issues of that magnitude are never simple, Haiti fought a revolution to over throw the slavery of its people of color at the beginning of the 1800’s, yet to this day they still practice a form of bondage where people of color enslave their own people of color.

  108. If one party wants a divorce, and the other party beats them and refused to allow them to leave – what do you call that?

    apparently you call it a failed rebellion.

  109. It’s a frequent misconception that the civil war was fundamentally about slavery. It was actually about states vs federal rights. Slavery was just the state vs federal issue that Lincoln could use to bankrupt the south.

    Abraham Lincoln flip-flopped on the slavery issue. Lincoln repeatedly promised that he supported no interference regarding states rights including slavery before he was elected.

    Yet as a president, Lincoln knew that slavery was the backbone of the South’s economy. So he pushed the slavery issue hard against the south in order to bankrupt them and win the war.

    Slavery was the result of a more fundamental disagreement about the federal government’s level of control over the states, not slavery.

    Those who think the civil war was just about slavery have a warped, propagandized view of history.

  110. Here is the issue that I have. Where does the line get drawn? Is it enough to take down the flag in SC? What next? Do you now eliminate every and any building, statue, plaque, gravesite, monument, etc. that has ANYTHING to do with with the Confederacy? Because if you DID NOT, you would basically be saying it’s OK those things are defacing our country by supporting a failed rebellion, as long as we eradicate the Confederate Flag.

    Let’s take this a step further. I would assume there are well over 30 million Atheists in this country. Who believe that God doesn’t exist, that Jesus never died on the cross, that their is no Mary, no saints, no Koran, no religion at all.

    Because it causes them just as much dishonor to live in a country where religion exists, will we now require all churches to remove their crosses, all popes to be fired, all Bibles to be removed from hotel rooms, and no one have the freedom to practice religion?

    This is a VERY dangerous game to be playing, in choosing what we will allow and what we will not. I am NOT trying to diminish, whatsoever, the senseless and cowardly actions of one individual, nor the 9 lives lost, not to mention the thousands that are affected by this loss. But what I am trying to say is, our country is very prone to sensualism. We want to jump to the most extreme conclusion to make sure we don’t underreact, to the point where we end up OVERREACTING.

    We didn’t think alcohol was great…so we outlawed alcohol in the 1920’s. How did that work out? Do we now go back to that because we have over 25,000 people die due to DUI accidents a year?

    We’ve tried to all but eliminate smoking, cigarettes, etc. Yet people still choose to use them, still die of all kinds of cancer and other diseases.

    We are now trying to wage war against all fast food, junk food, soda and the like through taxation. And yet, people are still fat.

    Am I OK with ALL Confederate flags coming down across all government properties, as this should not be something we honor? Absolutely.

    But let’s make sure this doesn’t turn into a Pandora’s Box where we try to erase every iota of the Civil War from the loser’s side in this country. Maybe a historian can correct me if I am wrong, but that would be the first example I can think of in our WORLD history, not just US history.

  111. you wrote
    “The Civil War was fought over state’s rights, not slavery.”

    It absolutely was in fact fought over states rights INITIALLY. Very good. Most people only know what someone else told them or they heard it on TV.

    I know this about state’s rights because I am a college prof with four masters degrees, pursing my PhD and addition to my 22 years experience teaching business and economics, I also have 10 years experience teaching history and the only thing I watch on TV is sports. Slavery was a state’s rights issue. Yes the Confederate flag must go as it iss a symbol of hate and prejudice

  112. I’m offended by the Confederate flag, but I support the right to display it. Nobody is being physically harmed. Same with the swastika.

  113. jm2772 says:
    Jun 22, 2015 7:40 PM

    The civil war began as an issue over the Federal governments authority over individual States.


    Right. It was about the Federal government’s authority to end slavery. The crux of the authority question could not be more stark. Do we have the right, as a state that is protected by this nation, to legally and honorably enslave other human beings? Unpacking it a bit more, the question becomes whether a state has nearly limitless independence, even so far as to contradict the basic design of the nation it belongs to, or if the nation itself has the right to continue under the principles by which it was framed and agreed on by the states.

  114. Florio, you forgot the part about how nearly all of the politicians and rebels in the South were members of the Democrat party. It was the Republicans that fought against slavery.
    Yes you are correct, but it is well known that after the civil war the two parties essentially switched philosophies, making them the democrats and republicans we know today.

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