Recently a friend forwarded a link to me and asked me to comment on it. I’ll post the link here, so you can read the context. I hope you’ll return here when you’re done.
Now, please understand I have great respect and admiration for the general Anabaptist position. I’m in flux between Reformed and Anabaptist theology, and I find things I like and things I don’t like on both sides (if these are indeed sides).
But I do want to make it very, very clear that I completely disagree with this post, because it is doing something white people do quite easily – it is changing the subject from one thing of interest to black Americans to something white men want to talk about.
Yes, there are reasons to question our commitment to a political symbol when we are citizens of the kingdom. I’ll let you explore the complete theology of Anabaptists on your own and won’t argue it here.
And yes, it’s not the best issue for us to focus on. Poverty, war, crime, hate – these are far more real to people than a flag that simply flies overhead.
However – the real issues are that we white people are nearly entirely ignorant of our place in American culture, power, politics, society, business — you name it.
The Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is a symbol, and a powerful one, and not the only thing or even the main thing.
And getting rid of it is a fairly easy thing to do, an act that would send an EXTREMELY powerful message to our brothers and sisters that we are listening to their voices and empathize with their pain.
The CBF is a flag of white Americans that says to black Americans “If we get our way, we’ll put you back in chains,” because that flag represents a nation that was founded on and had its identity in slavery first and foremost.
The Confederate States of America (CSA) would kept African Americans as perpetual, eternal slaves. That was the primary focus.
States rights for the CSA was the right for a state to not only implement slavery in defiance of natural law and civil rights, but also to pursue that slave into other states to return him to his state-defined captivity — that was the essence of the Fugitive Slave Act that South Carolina politicians pursued, demanded, and passed. The signer of the Constitution Charles Pinckney, later Governor of South Carolina, demanded a Fugitive Slave Clause in the Constitution in order to protect slavers’ rights to pursue slaves anywhere within the United States.
States’ rights for the CSA was the right for the state to avoid federal laws that were inconvenient to state interests, voiding any sense of civil rights or the federal guarantee of those rights.
That flag represents a nation that wanted to profit from the stolen labor of black chattel slaves.
So yeah, it’s not the only thing, or the most important thing — but taking it down acknowledges the actual factual history and meaning of that flag.
It is a stain upon this nation that we were founded with the noble words of “all men are created equal” and then we inserted clauses into the Constitution guaranteeing the rights of slave-owners to keep as slaves those of African descent — the Constitution forbade changes about slavery until 1808, for example. (And the CSA Constitution forbade any changes to its constitution about slavery. An eternal slave union it was.)
So we don’t have to pretend that slavery never happened, and we don’t have to pretend that we never fought a civil war over this actual thing, slavery, and that nearly a million Americans on both sides died, civilian and military, because several states wanted to keep humans as slaves.
Nothing honorable, and nothing to honor in any of that actual history. We actually had people who wanted to keep other humans as property – and we actually have people today to whom that is not reprehensible.
Taking down the flag is something we should have done in April of 1865. It is a monstrous shame that we cannot admit the South lost and the South was based on slavery, and it is a monstrous shame to see monuments, roads, buildings, and schools that honor that slave society.
Take it down. It offends not just African Americans – it offends any American who believes in America, land of the free.