To the editor:

I hear many reasons why people fly the Confederate flag.



“It’s not really the flag of the Confederacy.”

True.

In its square form, it was the Confederate battle flag, carried into battle as many Confederate units fought to preserve slavery. Originally, it was the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, but the early successes of that unit motivated other commands to make it theirs also. It was included as part of the second and third flags of the Confederate States of America. It has represented different organizations or ideas since the war, but ultimately, its origins and primary uses are in the quest for white supremacy.



“The American Civil War was about states’ rights, not slavery.”

When pressed, those giving this answer do not know what those rights were. If those rights were significant enough to warrant killing over 700,000 people in a civil war, they would be widely known.

Read the Constitution of the CSA. The Confederate States gained some rights that the U.S. Constitution had not granted. These included the right to a) “impeach federal judges and other federal officers if they worked or lived solely in their state”; b) “emit bills of credit” (promissory notes); c) “tax ships”; and d) “make treaties between each other concerning waterways.”

Do those states’ rights really seem worthy of starting a war that would result in the deaths of over 700,000 Americans? I think you will agree that they were not, even at the time, very monumental. However, add in these other newly gained states’ rights and it starts to make more sense — at least to the Confederacy:

Article 1 Section 9(4): No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro slaves shall be passed.

Article IV Section 3(3): “The Confederate States may acquire new territory … In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress …”

In March 1861, Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens made a speech comparing the two constitutions. He said that they had made an improvement that banned forever any “bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro slaves. The new (Confederate) Constitution has put at rest forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions — African slavery as it exists among us — the proper status of the Negro in our form of civilization.” He then admitted that this “was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” It cannot be stated much more clearly than that.

South Caroline, the first state to secede, did so by issuing a Declaration of Immediate Causes on Dec. 24, 1860. Each one of its grievances centered on slavery. Mississippi and Georgia, among other states, followed suit with similar declarations mostly focused on slave related concerns.



“It’s my heritage.”

Merriam-Webster defines heritage as “something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor: Legacy.”

Are you or your ancestors from the southern states that made up the Confederacy? If so, then show your pride by flying the flag of the state of your ancestors.

Or is your heritage the convictions of the Confederacy? Is that what you want as your legacy? If so, then recognize that it is the heritage of a treasonous rebellion. It had as its primary goal the enslavement of blacks and a belief in white supremacy.



“I’m just a good ol country boy/girl!”

What does that have to do with the Confederate flag? There are country ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ all over the United States. What does that have to do with a failed insurrection (that advocated slavery and white supremacy) against the United States? Not a thing.

••••••••••

My goal is not to motivate you to fly the flag in defiance of my words, nor to convince you not to fly it. My goal is merely to educate. If you choose to ignore the history of racism and treason in that flag, that is your choice. Either way, please be open and honest about its background and origins.

Much obliged,

Craig Ragland

Portland