“I was never friends with people who still celebrated the Confederacy; I was raised to know better. When confronted with the obscenity that is this flag and what it represents, a majority of its defenders are likely to spout the tired cliché that the flag represents “heritage, not hate.” This is bullshit. It’s as much bullshit as anyone who begins their racist statements with the phrase “I’m not a racist, but…” It’s bullshit because the heritage those same defenders are supporting is founded on hatred. And I should know because it’s my heritage.”
What honor do we owe Confederate soldiers? They fought on the losing side of one of the most inhumane causes in human history, perhaps second only to that of the Nazis. I don’t believe this is an exaggeration. The Civil War—begun in earnest with a Confederate siege and bombardment of the US Army in Fort Sumter—claimed over half a million lives and destroyed numerous American cities, all so a minority group could be kept in chains. (Ever notice how proudly neo-Nazis in America display the Confederate flag? Does that not in itself put to rest any notion of “heritage, not hate”?) Why in the name of anything holy should the Confederate cause be memorialized at all? Why should we continue to esteem their hatred for and oppression of blacks by flying the battle flag of their soldiers? Especially considering how widespread their toxic and violent ideologies remain in America to this day.”
Do I hate my ancestry? No. Honestly, I feel too far removed from these people whom I’ve never met to feel love or hate. I admit I find it fascinating, but isn’t feeling fascinated by my family’s sordid history a form of privilege? The very fact that I know the names of my relatives going back that far is a privilege in itself, as I’ve learned in discussions with African-American or Jewish friends about their family histories—many of which stop much more quickly. But I am ashamed of this heritage. I understand that my ancestors and others who fought for the Confederacy were human beings, just like everyone else, complex and filled with good and bad qualities. But that doesn’t mean we are obligated to venerate the bad qualities, the loathsome parts of our heritage. My family tree has its poets, scientists, doctors, and teachers, too. I simply see no reason to honor the fraction of my heritage dedicated to white supremacy. And really it’s only a small fraction of American history, too. The CSA lasted four short years, over 150 years ago. How many more causes and political movements have come since then far more worthy of acknowledgment?
posted by f.sheikh