The US Confederacy was the Islamic State of its time, and its flag is an affront to decency in ours
If ever a cause was unworthy, that cause was the US Confederacy. If ever a cause was righteously defeated in battle, it was the cause of the US Confederacy. And if ever a flag was and is an insult to human decency and dignity, it is the Confederate flag.
The mere fact this is still being debated in the United States, the fact there are those who continue to accord a nobility, valour, and romanticism to the Confederacy — regarded wistfully as the ‘Lost Cause’ by its adherents — this is evidence of the deep polarisation that divides a society yet to fully come to terms with its legacy of slavery, racial oppression, and barbarism.
The reason for this lies not so much in the legitimacy of the Confederate/southern cause — indeed, how could a cause defined by the right to keep human beings as slaves ever be considered legitimate? — but in the weakness of progressive forces in succumbing to the mythology that has been ascribed to the Confederacy and to those who fought and died for it. Indeed if ever a nation was crying out for the aggressive assertion of human rights, racial equality, and justice, it is the United States. Racial oppression, whether delivered from the gun of a mass murderer in a South Carolinian church, or the gun of a police officer, has yet to be expunged in the land of the free, even though 150 years have passed since the Confederacy was defeated in battle.
There are historical reasons why this is so, but one in particular: namely the decision of the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B Hayes, to end Reconstruction as a condition of his entry into the White House with the support of southern Democrats, a tawdry political deal known to history as the Compromise of 1877. It marked the end of a decade in which so-called Radical Republicans (referred to pejoratively as Black Republicans), in control of the US Congress, had driven forward a federal programme to promote and uphold the rights of former slaves throughout the South, according them the full civil and political rights that their status as free men and women…