Banning True Flag Desecration
In Washington, Congressional Republicans are waging yet another battle in their never-ending culture war. This time, the focus is on a constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the American flag. But if these hypocrites really want to honor and protect the symbols of the United States, they shouldn't be talking about Old Glory, but the Confederate Stars and Bars.
In the Senate, Bill Frist and the GOP leadership, aided by a few weak-kneed Democrats, are preparing for a very close vote. Over in the House, stalwarts like bribery suspect and California Congressman Randall Duke Cunningham are leading the charge to "protect" the flag.
An outraged Orrin Hatch, the Senate co-sponsor, summed up the Republican view, "It's important that we venerate the national symbol of our country. Burning, urinating, defecating on the flag - this is not speech. This is offensive conduct."
Leaving aside the obvious free speech implications of this debate, there is a much larger issue when it comes to honoring American ideals and venerating our national symbols. That issue is the display of the Confederate flag. And on that issue, the conduct of the Republican Party has been, to use Hatch's term, "offensive."
Only two weeks ago, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt ordered the Confederate flag flown for a memorial at a CSA cemetary. Across the South, Republican leaders have staunchly defended the flying of CSA flag and its variants in South Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia. Their ranks include Trent Lott, Jim Demint, George Allen, Haley Barbour and others who play racial politics by romanticizing the Confederate flag and symbols of the Southland.
So here's a new constitutional proposal, the Old Glory Protection Amendment:
No federal agency, state or local government may display the flag of the Confederate States of America over any building, facility, site or property of any kind. Similarly, no institution receiving funds from the federal, state or local government may display the Confederate Flag. The same prohibitions apply to any flag containing the CSA flag as a design element.
The Confederate flag is not a symbol of a proud, noble heritage, but of slavery, racial hatred, treason and secession. Over 600,000 Americans died in battle because of that banner. There can be no doubt that Confederate soldiers were courageous and even heroic. But their their cause was an abomination. To display and celebrate its symbols is an affront to all Americans, white and black.
In 1869, several Congressman sought to add to Capitol rotunda a huge mural depicting Lee surrendering to Grant at Appomattox. President-elect Grant would have none of it. "No, gentlemen," he said, "it won't do. No power on earth will make me agree to your proposal. I will not humiliate General Lee or our Southern friends in depicting their humiliation and then celebrating the event in the nation's capitol."
Today's Republican men of the South would do well to follow Grant's wise and sensitive counsel.