Conservatives and the Confederate Flag

In this short video a black Republican argues against the Confederate flag. His understanding of the history of the Democratic and Republican parties is problematic, but the broader argument certainly complicates our understanding of the deep divisions that exist in this ongoing controversy.

[Uploaded to YouTube on November 25, 2014]

Civil War Memory has moved to Substack! Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe below.

23 comments… add one
  • Ellen Williams May 3, 2018 @ 7:31

    What I know is that the children of the Confederacy vote Republican most of the time, and people are faithful to mom and dad and grampa and grandma most of the time (This guy excluded). I also know that the defenders of the confederate flag and of the displaying of statues of confederate leaders vote Republican and any attempt to claim that the confederacy was Democrat as it means today is ludicrous. I also know that it’s the Republicans who defend war, social Darwinism, and merciless policies against the disabled and the immigrant. It’s interesting that they still uphold and defend the oppression of others and call it “freedom”.

  • Jack Dec 3, 2014 @ 19:21

    At least he agreed that anyone has the right to fly the Confederate flag. Flying the flag means we are enjoying the freedoms that identify us as Americans. I’m surprised that isn’t discussed here.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 4, 2014 @ 1:55

      Why do I need to defend an individual’s right to fly a flag on his or her property? Isn’t it understood? I have never denied such a right.

      • Jack Dec 5, 2014 @ 10:26

        Many southern state flags incorporate the battle flag. The Confederate flag is protected by state law in public areas in select states. Furthermore you can goto jail for desecrating the Confederate flag in several states.

  • Hugh Lawson Dec 2, 2014 @ 16:22

    Do most here agree with Eric’s comparison of Eisenhower and Nixon on desegregation?

    • Andy Hall Dec 4, 2014 @ 6:32

      Eisenhower was willing to use the muscle of the federal government when necessary to enforce the law (e.g., Little Rock). Earl Warren proved to be something of a shock to Eisenhower, though.

      One critical player in this that Eric didn’t mention was J. Edgar Hoover, who wielded unprecedented power behind the scenes, and who shaped the federal government’s response to the Civil Rights movement, especially regarding MLK.

      As for Nixon, his 1868 campaign brought us the Southern Strategy, that was largely successful in pulling southern whites away from the Democratic party, and helped created the national political landscape we have today.

      • Hugh Lawson Dec 4, 2014 @ 16:29

        Andy, are you saying that the Nixon administration did not use the muscle of federal law to enforce desegregation? Are you saying that Ike worked harder to bring about desegregation than the Nixon admin.? What is the relevance of the southern strategy?

  • Eric A. Jacobson Dec 2, 2014 @ 8:08

    Zo is hilarious…and edgy. I’m a conservative and feel exactly like he does about the flag, and plenty of other things. Kevin is right that his grasp of the history of the political parties is flawed, but he isn’t altogether wrong. One of things that drives folks like me nuts is when Democrats (especially the leaders) play the angle that is was they who were always at the forefront of equality and justice, etc. Dwight Eisenhower did as much to break down the walls of segregation in this country as anybody, but who really knows that? Unfortunately, he was followed by Nixon as a Presidential candidate (ugh), and he never trusted the civil rights leaders. He was especially leary of MLK for whatever reason. Oh yeah, Nixon was a paranoid nut so no wonder Dr. King and Malcolm X shook him up. Moreover, because those civil rights leaders internally believed that the Republicans had moved too slowly on issues of equality there was distrust in both directions. Introduce the Kennedys. It wasn’t JFK, but RFK who really saw the opportunity for the Democrats to shed their old skin and turn the issue around politically almost 180 degrees. And so they did, and the Republicans had only themselves to blame.

    I honestly don’t know how things shake out today and going forward. The Democrats proclaim themselves the only ones who really care about minorities and I find that offensive on so many levels. But Republicans can’t seem to get their heads screwed on straight and counter that message. People like Mia Love should be trumpeted as great stories, but since she is conservative that will never happen.

    It also sends me over the edge when a white liberals from exclusively white areas talk about the problems of the black community (or any minority community) like they have any real experience with what such people are dealing with. I grew up in Minnesota and know plenty of “liberals” who are so inclined but don’t have a clue about life outside a white society. That doesn’t mean they should be conservatives, but most of the people I grew up around (and were Dems) don’t support abortion, don’t spend money like mad, aren’t gay marriage activists, etc., and many were ambivalent about Clinton and Obama, but their father or grandfather was a Democrat so they think they should be. Yikes.

    Rand Paul has an interesting conservative message. Make honest and sincere outreach to the minority communities, especially the black community. Be fiscally conservative and stay the hell out of every foreign crisis that comes up. He is quite the opposite of the neo-cons like Bush and Cheney, et al, who did about as much damage to the Republicans and Obama as done to the Democrats.

    Anyway, I’m likely rambling. But in closing, I say yes, down with the flag and up with the pants!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kevin Levin Dec 3, 2014 @ 12:23

      It also sends me over the edge when a white liberals from exclusively white areas talk about the problems of the black community (or any minority community) like they have any real experience with what such people are dealing with.

      So, how do white abolitionists fair in this picture? They talked quite a bit about the injustices in black communities during the antebellum period in which they had no experience whatsoever.

      • Eric A. Jacobson Dec 3, 2014 @ 17:38

        Fair question. Yet the obvious problems with slavery and some guy in the whitest part of Minnesota claiming to understand what is going in, let’s say Ferguson, Missouri, and then passing judgment are two entirely different issues. The injustice of slavery are a self-evident fact.

        • Kevin Levin Dec 4, 2014 @ 2:00

          The injustice of slavery are a self-evident fact.

          Perhaps for us, but even a cursory understanding of the place of the abolitionist community within the broader society would suggest that this movement was as far from the mainstream as one can imagine. This was a relatively small number of white people claiming to know a great deal about the suffering in the black community at a time when the vast majority of white Americans (North and South) expressed little, if any, interest.

    • Andy Axel Dec 5, 2014 @ 7:48

      The Democrats proclaim themselves the only ones who really care about minorities and I find that offensive on so many levels. But Republicans can’t seem to get their heads screwed on straight and counter that message.

      Messaging. Pshaw. They need to get their policy in order first.

      Exhibit A: Immigration. If there’s one thing that brings out the GOP’s “ooga booga” tendencies, it’s when our neighbors to the south of the Rio Grande walk over the welcome mat laid out for them and decide to stay. And let’s make no mistake about that – for the most part, monied business interests that are core to the GOP base of support have zero problem with shuffling some paperwork if it means cheap, skilled labor (drywall doesn’t hang itself, after all) or competent child care. But suddenly it’s a “problem” when the new arrivals take a “mi casa es su casa” attitude.

      At the same time, the Latino population holds some promise as a bedrock constituency for the GOP. However, GOP strategists just can’t seem to figure out that it’s not messaging that’s the problem; it is rather the schizophrenic approach to immigration policy by the GOP. The messaging will be forever mangled until there is some clarity on matters of law, rather than the current game of a-nod-&-a-wink that’s going on. However, if the GOP reaction to Obama’s recent executive order on immigration is any guide, the party will not be getting out of its own way any time soon.

  • Hugh Lawson Dec 2, 2014 @ 7:28

    A question: What makes it important what others think of the flag-wavers’ display of their symbols? My opinion is that the flag-wavers should re-constitute themselves as a private heritage association, but they seem to reject this organizational choice. They seem at once to seek and to scorn respectability.

    • Andrew Raker Dec 2, 2014 @ 8:50

      While I’m not a fan of sagging pants (like other commenters), I also don’t think they’re on the same level as the CBF in terms of their negative impact on society. The equivalency between the two set up in the video troubled me. To me, a fashion style is not the same as celebrating an attempt to overthrow a republican government in an attempt to protect slavery.

      That, and I feel like I see the CBF more than sagging pants anyway. Is doing that even still a thing?

      • Kevin Levin Dec 2, 2014 @ 8:51

        It’s an idiotic comparison as is his politicizing of the concept of slavery itself.

      • James Harrigan Dec 2, 2014 @ 8:55

        I feel like I see the CBF more than sagging pants anyway. Is doing that even still a thing?
        alas, yes. I hardly ever see the CBF, even though I live in Virginia, but young black men, and to a lesser extent white men, where I live are still prone to SPS (sagging pants syndrome).

      • Eric A. Jacobson Dec 2, 2014 @ 10:30

        I’m not so sure Zo’s statement about sagging pants should be discarded. His point is pull up your doggone pants and look like a responsible person. I’ve hired hundreds of people thru the years and I’ll tell you this – anyone shows up wearing pants like that, a scheduled interview would be cancelled. Too many people, of all races, don’t see such attire as a problem. I’m not saying everybody needs to dress up in a suit and tie, but you aren’t going to get REAL respect looking like you’re going to the club. Also, respect is earned, not just handed out for free. Respect is about as misused a word as racism, in my opinion.

        • Kevin Levin Dec 2, 2014 @ 10:32

          I’m not sure a statement about fashion choice has anything to do with the history and meaning of the Confederate flag.

  • James Harrigan Dec 1, 2014 @ 14:13

    What a hoot! I can certainly get behind an agenda that opposes the Confederate battle flag AND sagging pants.

    All the gibberish about the “slavery agenda of the Democrat [sic] party” aside, this guy has a lot of smart things to say. I particularly liked the way he directly addresses the “heritage not hate” crowd: words to the effect of “When you display the flag, it doesn’t only matter what it means to YOU, it matters what it means to everyone else”. I think he’s giving the flag wavers a lot more benefit of the doubt than most of them deserve, but good for him for addressing them on their own [alleged] terms.

  • John Betts Dec 1, 2014 @ 9:44

    Partisanship and historical fudging aside, I’d like to hear more like this from those who identify as conservatives…

  • Andrew Raker Dec 1, 2014 @ 7:37

    But, we know he’s right. He says so in the video!

    I would agree with him that there’s a problem with Republicans who fly the flag, if one cares about the party’s formation. But the people who would fly the flag at political events who are Republicans are members of that party in spite of it being the Party of Lincoln, not because of that. So I doubt his argument would convince those he argues against.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 1, 2014 @ 7:40

      Your comment speaks to the fact that this guy doesn’t seem to understand that the political parties today do not easily align with the 1860s. A lot has happened since 1865.

  • Marian Latimer Nov 30, 2014 @ 16:38

    Oh. My. God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.