Seriously, isn't it time to call BS on the claim that the Confederate battle flag deserves respect for its "heritage"?
Oops, I don't know what this picture found its way here from my July 2 post, "As black churches burn, at least Ricky-Roo Santorum seems to be keeping his trap shut." We keep hearing white Southerners insist that there's no connection whatsoever between the flag and the epidemic of violence against Southern black churches.
Pretty much since the massacre in Charleston's Emanuel AME Church I've had a post of the above title on the drawing board. I imagined bringing in the numerous new and overlapping threads that have developed on top of the original story, including of course the surprising move in the South Carolina legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the statehouse.
It all became too much, however, and so I've decided just to go with the basic point: No matter how much white Southerners may try to obfuscate the point, there isn't any possible question as to what that flag stands for. It stands for slavery and a society built on it. Southerners are free to euphemize it as "Southern pride," or "pride in their heritage," but it's important that there not be any question what the heritage is that they're so proud of.
It doesn't matter all that much to me what white South Carolinians do with their flag of infamy. Is it really better off in a museum than flying over the statehouse? It matters a lot more to me that they, and we, be honest about what that flag stands for, and what they're "honoring" with it.
And since everyone loves game shows, I thought we'd intersperse a little DWT Quick Quiz.
QUICK QUIZ QUESTION NO. 1
1. The Confederate battle flag has flown over South Carolina's statehouse since:
ANSWER: (e) 1961.Oops! Apparently it only occurred to South Carolinians in 1961 that they had a long-suppressed need to remember their precious "heritage" -- by coincidence in the thick of the tumultuous civil-rights struggle. And by tumultuous I mean violent. Even if forgetful South Carolinians were legitimately late in recognizing the urgent need to remember this great "heritage," we might ask why they didn't choose one of several other flags for their commemoration, as for example the one that was actually adopted as the official state flag after South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union -- or one of these others.
From Wikipedia: The confederate battle flag was raised over the state house on April 11, 1961 at the request of Representative John May as a part of opening celebrations of the Confederate War Centennial according to Dr. Daniel Hollis, an appointed member of the centennial commission. Lawmakers passed a resolution in March 1962 directing the flag be flown over the state house in response to the civil rights movement .
45. SEANNA, ADCOX. "As SC honors church victims, Alabama lowers its flags". Associated Press.
46. BURSEY, BRETT. "The Day the Flag Went Up".
47. "It's Long Past Time For South Carolina to Stop Flying the Confederate Flag". Mother Jones.
So if today's heritage rememberers were simply intent on remembering their heritage, they have an assortment of flags they could have chosen from.
QUICK QUIZ QUESTION NO. 2
2. Can you identify these flags?
ANSWERS: (a) is the "palmetto" flag adopted by South Carolina in 1861 following secession.Aha, you say, (c) begins to look familiar, or at least the square portion at the upper left does. If the design seems otherwise to contain rather a lot of white space, it does, and for a reason. As designer William T. Thompson explained, all that white represents "the supremacy of the white race."
(b) is the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America, "the Stars and Bars," adopted in 1861.
(c is the Second National Flag of the Confederate States of America, adopted in 1863.
As a people we are fighting maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.So if South Carolinians actually wanted to honor the memory of their forebears, they have a perfectly usable flag -- the one that was in fact adopted after secession from the Union in 1861. Or these other flags, for that matter. As Wikipedia quotes "Southern political scientists" James Michael Martinez, William Donald Richardson, and Ron McNinch-Su pointing out in Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South (2000):
—William T. Thompson (April 23, 1863), Daily Morning News 
The battle flag was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans' groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK and used by Southern Dixiecrats during the 1948 presidential election.However, it's not as if only the white part of Thompson's original flag referred to race. As he also explained,
As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
—William T. Thompson (May 4, 1863), Daily Morning News 
QUICK QUIZ QUESTION NO. 3
3. The resurrection of the rectangular Confederate battle flag (whose only official use was as a battle flag adopted by Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia) in the South in the '50s and '60s was prompted by:
(a) A sudden desire to reassert the values embodied in the Second National Flag of the Confederacy (see above), as expressed by designer W. T. Thompson
(b) Um . . .
(c) Er . . .
(d) You know, uh . . .
Finally, Wikipedia quotes Gordon C. Rhea, a noted attorney (a former federal prosecutor) as well as Civil War historian (specializing in the Overland Campaign), now based in Charleston, SC, in "Why Non-Slaveholding Southerners Fought" (2011):
It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: 'that the negro is not equal to the white man'. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?"
NOW IT MAY BE THAT THERE ARE WHITE SOUTHERNERS
TOO IGNORANT TO KNOW WHAT THEIR HERITAGE IS
And truly all that they know is that they're dadgum proud of it. Well, now they know. In any case, this takes us back to the question we were just asking in a different context: Are they dopes or liars?
Either way they don't seem to be doing a really good job of respecting their heritage. Once upon a time Southerners were unequivocal and unapologetic about what they stood for.