Saturday, July 04, 2009
To Liberty! Understood and Misunderstood!
Flags of ER's Fathers.
Go back far enough and one of your fathers undoubtedly served under this flag (or an earlier version of it):
Not sure it wears out. It would take near universal condemnation. That any KKK flag, for example. Can't imagine me voluntarily associating myself with anything like that, no matter what, or why a forefather did. Even a banner flown by the very, very, very first Ku Kluxers, those who saw themselves as a post-war insurgency against occupation of their defeated nation by foreign enemy troops -- whatever honor might ever could have been said about that original idea is forever lost.
As for the flag of the Holy See! Ha! Who knows? Somebody traced Daddy's side back to the Swiss cantons in the early 1600s. I've always like to think they were Zwinglians, but not knowing which canton the family was from, I can't say for sure.
But a shibboleth is a only a shibboleth unless it is a sibboleth and thus a death warrant. Can you go where you want to be carrying any flag at all?
Interesting question of iconography. Depends, I guessl on whether as flag is venerated oor worshiped -- although I'm not sure I know the difference.
These flags, rightly or wrongly, represented a striving for liberty by those who carried them. Even the CSA flags. Which makes as much sense as a government founded on freedom that negotiates institutional slavery and the subjugation of natives.
Naw, nope, no you don't get to cover you indiscretion of parading out the anti-American flag on the forth of July with faulty logic and history.
Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the one who blackmailed the founding signers of the Declaration of Independence into taking out the sections condemning slavery. It was the same South Carolina that fired the first fusillade of the Civil War. So what you are saying is that the Union was initially flawed because it had the South in it from the beginning.
In the South "Liberty" was only for white men from day one. If the Confederate banners were symbols of freedom then it was a Whites only freedom from day one.
Can you give up your defense of the indefensable for a "higher cause"?
You knew I would nail you on this, and I always will.
My great-grandfather lied about his age and entered the GAR and served as part of the garrison force in NW Washington, DC, in what is now the Tenleytown neighborhood, but was then a separate municipality in the District of Columbia. Does that mean there should be enmity between us?
Those who came before lived lives blinkered by prejudice and all sorts of limitations. As do we, who may be judged harshly by our great-grandchildren for being blind to whatever should have been clear to us but is not.
The past is gone. As dead as Jacob Marley, and less likely to come clanking chains and disturbing our late evening quiet.
Slavery, the Confederacy, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Struggle, Affirmative Action, the Incarcerated Generations, the hammer of economic collapse dropping hardest on the poor, disproportionately filled to the breaking point by African Americans, the terribly shallow accumulation of wealth of African-Americans in the face of such collapse...
... it is all of one, long, blood read thread.
That the best-meaning liberal white people can say it is past gives evidence to our maddening frustration at getting "past it."
One may as well ask Elie Wiesel to get over his memories when a nostalgic swastika is worn even in royal drunken parody.
But we wouldn't dare do that, would we? Us, I mean. Europe's attrocities, now those were the real attrocities.
American horrors were accomplished by nonexistent agents, apparently. For if my great-grandfathers owned slaves, surely it was well meaning and, when emancipation came, "Emma was treated so well, she decided to stay and work for the family." As if Emma's options were manifold.
Innocent nostalgia is our birthright. Like a Russian's hemophilia, it continues to bleed us terribly.