By Julianne Malveaux
On their Website, the Sons of Confederate Veterans describe themselves as preserving the “history and legacy” of the Confederacy. Their organization, they say, is “dedicated to ensuring that “a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.” I would suggest, instead, that the Sons of Confederate Veterans is guilty of rewriting history instead of preserving it.
They claim that the Civil War (they call it the “Second American Revolution”) was fought for the “preservation of liberty and freedom. Freedom for whom? Alexander Stephens, vice-president of the Confederacy, gave his infamous “Cornerstone” speech, in which he outlined the reasons for southern succession.
“Our new government is founded on exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro (sic) is not equal to the White man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
If you drive South on US 95, you can see some version of the so-called Confederate flag (there are maybe seven iterations of the flag, parts of which are still the official flag of Mississippi) is used to advertise everything from hot dogs to automobiles, some say as a tribute to their ancestors (hot dogs, really?).
The history of the Confederacy, as embodied in the Stephens speech, suggests that the flag, instead, is a symbol of White superiority. No wonder the coward who was welcomed into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church had draped himself in that heinous flag. No wonder racism is so intransient.
No wonder the sale of Confederate paraphernalia rose with the election of President Barack Obama. The implicit message – a Black man may be president of the United States, but this flag reminds us that White superiority still reigns.
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based author and economist. She can be reached at www.juliannemalveaux.com
Read entire editorial in New Journal and Guide, July 2-8, 2015