The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Southern discomfort

Get up, stand up
 Southern discomfort
Southern discomfort

Southern discomfort

I spent the first semester of my university education at a verydifferent institution than this one, namely, The University ofMissouri, located in Columbia. I was intending to major injournalism, as do many of the non-Missouri residents who attend MU.I was placed in a freshman interest group, a co-ed group of a dozenor so students all majoring in the same thing. These students alsolive in the same hallway and have some classes together. Early inthe semester, one of the group members from a northern state askedthe southerners if the Civil War was taught differently in theSouth. I asked if she was referring to “The War of NorthernAggression,” but everyone understood I was joking. Ifrequently mentioned that despite growing up in Dallas I did notconsider myself a southerner.

The topic came up again some time later. Our peer advisor, asophomore from Illinois named Mark, mentioned that he had neverseen a Confederate flag out of a historical context. I was amazedand told him that where I’m from they can be seen on a dailybasis.

It always seems strange to me when a debate arises over whetheror not the flags of the Confederate States of America should appearin any official setting, whether flying alone or included as partof the design of some state flags. Those who want the Confederateflags removed almost always claim the flag (whether the battle flagor the CSA national flag) is a racist symbol. The flag’sdefenders claim that this charge is overly simplistic. In truth, ifthis is as far as the argument goes, then the flag’sdefenders have a point. The Confederate flag is a poor symbol forracism, since Jews, Latinos, Native Americans, and even some blackswere all involved in the Confederacy’s struggle forindependence. Of course, this position ignores a crucial statementby Alexander Stevens, vice president of the CSA, who declared in1861 that, “our new government is founded on the great truththat the Negro is not equal to the white man.”

Nevertheless, many of the flag’s defenders seem perfectlysincere when they parrot their rationales of “heritage”and “states’ rights.” As long as the opposingarguments are focused on racial matters, they can continue to dothis with straight faces, and therein lies the problem.

I oppose the official use of the Confederate flag for reasonsthat have nothing to do with racism. The Confederate States ofAmerica was basically a feudal oligarchy with a great deal ofwealth concentrated in the hands of a tiny aristocracy. When thesearistocrats saw the basis of their wealth in danger, they dupedmost of the poor white population into fighting for them, startinga horrible war that resulted in 650,000 deaths and left much of thecountry in ruins.

What is there to be proud of?

Spot the nonsense: Within a few blocks of SMU, there are schoolsnamed after Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. The United StatesNavy has vessels named after Confederate leaders. Last year, it wasnot unusual for pro-war contingents to confront anti-wardemonstrators and accuse them of treason. But at one protest inTexas and probably others elsewhere, some in the pro-war crowd werecarrying Confederate flags, in a striking display of hypocrisy.

I once saw a bumper sticker depicting the Confederate nationalflag flying over the U.S. Capitol building, with the caption”I Have a Dream.” All the lies that the southernaristocrats used to send hundreds of thousands of people to theirdeaths are still being believed, apparently. Regionalism is pettyin most cases, but nostalgia for the Confederacy is justpathetic.

 

Scott Charney is a senior history and English double major.He may be reached at [email protected].

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