Monday, July 6, 2015

"You Are Being Lied To!" Yeah, but by whom?

Don't you just love it when a "you are being lied to" meme is itself an exercise in seemingly deliberate prevarication?

For example:

Aside from being a silly quibble (more on that below), it is quite selective with the truth. Yes, the flag on the right is the "first Confederate National Flag," and no, it does not exhibit the "Southern cross."

But what about the second Confederate National Flag (1863-1865)? Or the third one (1865)? Here they are:

The Second Confederate National Flag, a.k.a. the "Stainless Banner."

Look closely at this flag. Do you notice anything that distinguishes it from a standard-issue, plain-vanilla flag of truce? 

The Third Confederate National Flag, a.k.a. the "Bloodstained Banner."

In fact the Second Flag was sometimes mistaken for a flag of truce, so the Third Flag added a distinct element: a red stripe along the edge. Lacking any other distinguishing feature, that could mean that the Confederacy had developed a thirst for Jamaican beer.

But there is of course a distinguishing feature on both of these Confederate National Flags: the Southern Cross.

So the "fact" as reported is less than honest. It is also a silly quibble. The Confederate Battle Flag is the most important emblem of the Confederacy, because it was the flag that most of its soldiers fought and died under. Even if it wasn't the flag of the government, it was for them the flag of The Cause. And what was that Cause? It was to found a nation in which "no bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right to property in negro slaves shall be passed" and in which no dang-blasted Yankee states would be able to practice states' rights by refusing to send fugitive slaves back to their owners.

And if you don't believe me, you can read the Confederate Constitution.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

One flag to unite them all (Southerners in the U.S.A., that is)

If the South must have a flag, it seems like it ought to be a flag that doesn't divide people from the get-go. Say what you will about the current, supposed one--whether you're fer it or agin it--I think we can all agree it is divisive.

1. A Southern flag ought to be a flag that represents all residents of the South--old-timers and newcomers, people of every ethnicity, speakers of all languages (but learners of "y'all"). The South has moved on past the past that divided us. Its current identity maintains its distinctiveness even as it welcomes newcomers to participate in it and to belong. The new flag is for everyone who thinks of himself or herself as a Southerner.

2. It ought to be a flag that includes all of the Southern states, not just the ones that seceded in the Civil War--or were counted as "slave" states in sympathy with the secessionists' cause (e.g. Kentucky, which is included in the new flag, and Missouri, which is not). Thus, the new flag includes the traditionally-regarded Southern states of Delaware and Maryland; welcomes West Virginia back into the fold; and includes Oklahoma, where so many native Americans from the old South were relocated.

3. It ought to be a flag whose design confirms and strengthens the understanding that the South is part of the United States of America. The new flag design refer to the Stars and Stripes in a clearly symbolic way.

Here's my idea:

No, it's not upside down: "pole side" is the side with unbroken stripes.

The six stripes are for the six Southern states that ratified the original U.S. constitution and should be read top to bottom in order of ratification: Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina.

The triangular canton is in the lower right because that's like the south/southeast corner of the actual cartographical U.S., get it?

(A rectangular canton in that location would really look like an upside-down Old Glory from some 16-state time past).

The 16 stars represent the actual, real Southern states of (alphabetically) Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

While there are some similarities with the flag of Puerto Rico (which has five stripes and a pole side triangular canton with one star), they are coincidental. I didn't discover them until I'd already had the concept of six stripes and a 16-star triangular canton in the "cartographical south" of the flag. Furthermore, this flag furled or unfurled would have a distinct identity.

(Since writing this I've discovered another proposal for a new flag of the South. It has 15 stars and five stripes--no Delaware--and a design that to me suggests the Confederate "Stars and Bars." I believe that the times require a design that is a more radical break from the past.)