Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gratitude: Looking for Confederate Flag Compromise

One of several similar flags of the Confederacy.
Today, I am grateful for:

Efforts to reach a compromise on the Christmas parade flap that I wrote about last week. City Manager Chris Morrill and Downtown Roanoke Inc. Executive Director Tina Workman, along with Roanoke's city attorney have been studying ways to solve the complex dilemma.

In this case, the primary problem is freedom of speech/expression vs. a citizen's right not to be assaulted with insulting symbols--among other things.

Southern Cross: Confederate battle flag.
This came up because the Sons of Confederate Veterans displayed their Southern battle flag with unnecessary (in my opinion) prominence during the recent Roanoke Christmas Parade. There were other issues with the parade, as well (overt militarism in a Christmas parade and a shocking display of overt commercialism, especially by sponsor Haley Toyota), but the SCV Confederate battle flag display is probably the most serious and the most difficult to solve.

My suggestion to the organizers was for DRI to make the parade by invitation only and to set up a series of standards for entries that would be in keeping with the season of peace and joy--and not of guns, war and commercialism. DRI is a private entity and can do that. If the city ran the parade, it could not.

SCV would be invited to take part, but its display would need to be about Christmas, and not fighting. Christmas was celebrated by lonely, young, homesick soldiers in both camps during the Civil War and it would be historically accurate to portray the soldiers--with their wives and girlfriends, who often visited them in camp, sitting at a fire singing and perhaps enjoying a meal. There would need be no flags and no guns.

The display of the Stars and Bars is the most controversial issue and the one the SCV has battled localities over for years. It is the equivalent of the Swastika to many in our culture and its public display--and tacit approval by the organizers--is a slap in the face of those who believe it to be a symbol of the approval of slavery. Sons can tell us all they want that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, but that is simply not true on any level (a look at the various articles of secession by states will verify this), but even if it were, the symbol has made its mark, especially for our African-American citizens who have the right not to be insulted in a Christmas parade.

Stonewall Jackson's army's Christmas.
I would suggest that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have a very good alternative to the Southern Cross in the Flag of the Confederacy (which is the Stars and Bars, though the Cross is often incorrectly referred to as such), the official flag of that temporary nation. The Southern Cross was an impromptu creation (leading eventually to 180 different designs for various armies), drawn up to differentiate between two armies whose flags looked alike.

The Southern Cross came out of the First Battle of Manassas when Southern Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard (a flamboyant figure and noted actor before the war), cited the confusion in the similar flags. In a letter to Gen. Joseph Johnston, Beauregard said that "we should have two flags — a peace or parade flag, and a war flag to be used only on the field of battle — but congress having adjourned no action will be taken on the matter — How would it do us to address the War Dept. on the subject of Regimental or badge flags made of red with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally on which shall be introduced the stars ... We would then on the field of battle know our friends from our Enemies."

The Flag of the Confederacy is not dramatically different from the American flag, as you can see in the top photo. The fact, though, is that the Flag of the Confederacy does not come with the baggage of the Stars and Bars. Many people who are not Civil War buffs don't know its importance. Flying this flag--like a Christmas campfire float--would give the SCV historical accuracy and a Christmas theme all at the same time. It makes sense unless they are so entrenched and unwilling to accommodate the needs of others that they simply won't agree to compromise. And, of course, that would bring up another whole set of problems.

But let's hope they will agree to a small compromise to show how grown up they are in an increasingly divided country. That would truly be a cause for gratitude. An effort is being made to find an acceptable solution and for that, at least, I am grateful.

Confederate soldiers riding under the national flag.

(Drawing:; painting:


  1. Wait til next year.. there are going to be a lot of flags..

  2. Please, show me where as an American, we have a "Right" not to be offended? Your History needs much more studying before you speak of things you are quite ignorant of. A Christmas Parade is a Great Place to Fly The Cross of Saint Andrew's, seeing it is one of the oldest Christian Symbols. And the Southern Soldiers flying that Christian Battle Flag are showing how Christian Folks keep their God Given Liberty.

    1. Anon: I do wish you commentators who disagree with me would have the courage of your convictions and sign your names. Your public cowardice in this issue is puzzling, since you rattle your swords elsewhere. In any case, it appears that by extension, you would approve the flying of the Swastika--since it either wouldn't offend you or you wouldn't have the right to be offended--and the appearance of the KKK in the parade, which you also would not have "the right" to be offended by. As to "Christian Folks" keeping "their God Given Liberty," does that mean Christians of your persuasion support the institution of slavery (and don't give me the reasoning about the Civil War having nothing to do with slavery; all you have to do is read the Articles of Secession" from many of the Southern states.

  3. Here's an acceptable solution: Stop promoting a pro-white supremacists view of the Southern Cross battle flag. Stop legitimizing racism by accepting their misuse of that flag. How's that sound fella?

  4. Here's another suggestion: why not BOTH?
    Surely displaying one in proper context would diminish the misunderstanding that would come from the display of the other? It certainly worked in the parade I was recently involved in with a similar float.

    1. My suggestion applies only to the Christmas Parade, a parade celebrating the birth of a man who supported equality, peace and harmony. If the SCV wants to fly the battle flag in the Veterans Day or Memorial Day parades, that's another argument altogether. I don't care either way about those parades because I don't attend them anyway. If they want to throw their support to what the flag stands for, then that's their business. Christmas should not be bothered with it, though.

  5. Replies
    1. Have no idea what you are suggesting be gotten over. You might be more specific. Either side in this could claim your pronouncement as its own.