A Confederacy of Dunces

A quick point ought to be made about confederate flags:

A lot of people enjoyed my photoshopped Nazi cowboy, and the parallel imaginary interviews I conducted between this man and his Confederate counterpart, in order to make the very obvious point that we talk about two different symbols quite differently despite similarities in their historical use.

But one thing might not have come across. It might seem, by drawing the comparison between wearing a Confederate flag and a Nazi one, that I am implying the Confederate is dishonest. If someone wore a Nazi flag this way, we would think he was lying when he said he wasn’t a racist, so the Confederate must be lying and really be a racist.

I don’t think that’s the case. I do believe that either of those people could be perfectly sincere in their ignorance of their chosen flag’s history. And in the case of the Confederate flag, I think this is very often the case. This point is important because many on the Left are attempting to argue that “Heritage not Hate” is a lie, that the flag is in fact a flag of hate, that the people who wear it are actually racists no matter what they say.

I believe that’s both wrong and unproductive. I believe those who wear the flag are often sincere in their belief that it is about their heritage. I believe they are ignorant of the flag’s ignoble history, and that they fail to appreciate the monstrousness of the cause for which the flag has always stood. I believe they are not a gang of malicious racists, but an oblivious confederacy of dunces.

This strikes me as crucial if the left, who oppose the use of the flag, are going to make progress. By automatically calling people who wear it racists, instead of recognizing that it is both the racist and the ill-informed who wear the flag, they give up a chance to educate many people who sincerely do not wish to be racist and think they are not. These people cannot understand the accusation that the flag symbolizes their hatred, because they do not actually feel hatred. The accusation rings false, because it is false. That is not why they are wearing the flag. They do feel a pride that is not linked to hatred. I think if we examine that pride carefully, we can see that it really is a kind of perverse white pride that is pernicious and linked to a legacy of barbarity. I think people who wear the flag without hatred, and honestly think it is about Southern pride, should ponder why black Southerners, equally fond of their home, don’t ever seem to wear the flag. But I do not think the Left is correct to say the flag is purely about hatred, when it is also about sincere, old-fashioned ignorance.