Don't Furl the Flag!
I have, on occasion, been called upon to defend our use of Confederate
flags and other Confederate symbolism. I make no apologies for their use.
The following article, which appeared in The Charleston News and Courier
on April 27, 1979, explains our position as good as any. It was written
by W. Earl Douglas in response to a movement that was then underway to
ban the official use of the Confederate Battle Flag. Some argued that the
flag offended blacks, reminding them of slavery. Mr. Douglas, himself a
black man, first addressed the heartburn that the proposed ban brought
to the descendants of Confederate soldiers, such as myself. He then proceeded
to set forth own his position in the following words.
Pastor Greg Wilson
Landmark Baptist Church
Donít Furl the Flag
by W. Earl Douglas
Alas, it has also brought heartburn to this black writer, who cannot
buy the socialist philosophy of the Garrisons and Sumners of yesterday
or today, and would rather wave a Confederate battle flag as a symbol of
striving for independence than a food stamp or welfare check, which symbolize
the hell of defeat more pronounced than that received in any war.
I cannot be convinced that Southern independence meant only the perpetuation
of slavery, because history of the truthful kind tells me otherwise. The
Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederacy forbade the
importation of slaves. How then was slavery the motivating force behind
the thrust for Southern independence? How did black and white slave owners
exist side by side in this region, which was painted by abolitionists as
one of black and white hostility? Why were there always more free Negroes
in the slave South than in the so-called free North of the abolitionists?
Such questions remain unanswered . . . Whites and blacks were partners
in the destiny of the South and not (as the Uncle Tomís Cabin mentality
of the abolitionists would have had us believe) only as master and slave.
Today over a century since that much heralded emancipation, it is here
in the land of the unfurled Confederate battle flag where Negro progress
stands above that achieved in any other region of the country. For it is
here, in the heartland of the old Confederacy, where over 70 percent of
all black-owned housing is to be found and where this nationís only viable
black economic middle class existsóthe Southern black farmer.
. . . The real tragedy of the Confederate battle flag is that Southerners,
white and black, have permitted it to be driven between them like a wedge,
separating them from a common goal. The racism so evident in this controversy
is not the flying of the flag but that weíve permitted it to be designated
as pro-white and anti-black. I am reminded that it was my grandfather and
grandmother who kept the home fires burning while the Confederacy waged
its war. Which is why I cannot view loyalty to the South or the desire
for independence as being monopolized by either race.
. . . If hate had been the prevailing emotion between the races, then
it is a safe bet that the Confederacy never would have been born. Fortunately,
there was love, understanding and compassion. And the two greatest lies
ever perpetrated by history [are] that the South instigated the war and
that it was fought by the North for the purpose of freeing slaves. The
Negro was merely used as the excuse for that war, while the real reason
for it is reflected in every area of our lives, where the tentacles of
government form the bars of a new slavery.
No! Donít furl that Confederate battle flag. Let it wave all across
the South to remind Americans that there exists here a yearning for liberty,
freedom and independence that will not be denied. Let it fly as a testimonial
to real men and real women who would rather work and fight than shed tears
and beg for government charity. Finally, let it act as a cohesive force,
drawing all Southerners together in the cause of freedom.Ē
The Confederate flag stands for individual and states rights, for
volunteerism, and for Constitutional government. It stands for self-determination
and freedom, for decency and the Judeo-Christian ethic. It stands for the
old paths and the ancient landmarks of our American forefathers. It stands
for those traditional American values that the United States (sic) and
its flag are increasingly standing against. The battle flag stands for
the morality and decency of men like, Lee, Jackson, Stuart, Kirby-Smith,
and Davis. Long may these principles survive and long may that flag wave.
Pastor Greg Wilson