The Confederate Flag Revisited

Now that, in my previous post, I noted that display of the Confederate flag (clearly an anti-USA symbol, though an historical artifact) is totally inappropriate in official government buildings, I find that an exaggerated version of the thoughts I expressed has led to the cessation of selling Confederate flag artifacts by many retailers. This appears absolutely ridiculous to me; I think it is time to come to grips with the Confederate flag in a sensible manner.

To put it simply: The Confederate flag is an artifact like any other; though it is inappropriate for a place in any official government setting, the freedoms guaranteed in the USA demand that it be available to the public. It DOES belong in museums, as I noted in my previous post – and also in private collections, universities where historical periods are studied, and the like.

I do not see why any reasonable freedom-loving American would want it to be otherwise. Like many historical artifacts, it has many unpleasant associations (many of which are opposed to the ideals which the USA holds sacred), but that is no different from historical artifacts relating to Czarist Russia, to give one example.

As I always understood it, the fact that an object has objectionable associations does not justify banning it in a free society. It does justify speaking out and noting those objectionable associations, and of course it makes such an object totally inappropriate for display in any official government setting (which would be like validating the objectionable ideals of which the object is a symbol). However, it does NOT justify making the object unavailable to those who wish to study it for historical purposes or to own it for whatever purposes they may have (such as collectors, or those who see positive things from the southern heritage in the Confederate flag).

Legitimate problems (like the display of the Confederate flag in state legislatures, etc.) should not drag us into extreme and exaggerated responses. Let’s just remove the Confederate flag from official government settings without getting hysterical over it!

About the Author
Catriel Lev, an "unconformist" halachic Jew/poet/philosopher defying standard categorization, born in Baltimore. MD (USA), living in Bet Shemesh, Israel, tries to view the issues without any “normative” biases (of any particular political/philosophical faction). His views are his own, and do not obligate anyone else, and may often be found on his personal blog.
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