Politics surely makes bad historians of us all. Take Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani who recently addressed the Alabama State Legislature on flying the Confederate flag atop the state capitol:
"One of the great beauties of the kind of government we have, which is a national, federal government, [is that] on a broad range of issues, we can make different decisions in different parts of the country," the GOP presidential front-runner said after addressing the Alabama Legislature. "We have different sensitivities and at different times we’re going to come to different decisions, and I think that is best left to the states," Giuliani said.
Perhaps Rudy should have reminded the state legislature about when those Confederate flags were placed atop the state capitols in the South. In 1956, 82 of 106 southern congressmen signed a Southern Manifesto, denouncing the recent Brown v. Board of Education decision as a "clear abuse of judicial power," and calling for resistance to "forced integration" by "any lawful means." States took various measures, including banning the NAACP from operating within their borders. My own state of Virginia took the step of closing the public schools rather than have black and white children learn together. Finally, as a symbol of defiance, Georgia’s legislature incorporated the Confederate battle flag into its state flag in 1956, and Alabama and South Carolina soon began flying the battle flag over their state capitol buildings.
Hey Rudy, good luck courting those conservative white southerners.