A little background
On June 17th of this year, a domestic terrorist walked into an evening church service in Charleston, South Carolina. After an hour of listening to Americans discuss their devotion to God, he opened fire on the room. Nine people died.
He chose one victim to spare and tell others of his motivation (five others survived). The white, 21-year-old man explicitly stated that he was killing black Americans to start a race war. Photos later surfaced of him bearing the flags of apartheid states, citing quotes from the founder of The American Nazi Party, burning the American flag, and--of course--waving a Confederate flag.
It's that flag that's become this tragedy's Easy Way to Preventing the Next One (TM). We always find something to blame and kick weakly in the shins after a white guy kills a handful of folks, but for once the target is a reasonable one. Making the Confederate flag a less common sight won't change the pervasive racism and cultural cowardice that filled this shitbag with the idea that murdering people would make him vaguely fuckable to women.
And some of that has spread further, to a desire to take down statues of Confederate generals which we apparently have aplenty down here. As a Southerner and a veteran of the US armed forces, screw The Confederacy. Screw their flag. Screw their generals. Screw each and every article of Confederate iconography.
But not the horses they rode in on; I don't think Traveller was racist.
You've got to work really hard to pretend that The US Civil War was not about slavery. Like, you can skip the gym on the days you do it. States' rights? The states' right to have slaves, maybe. The right to secede? Yeah, so they could make their own country to have slaves in. Lincoln's tyranny? The tyranny of acting on a popular mandate to begin a white nation's leisurely stroll to eventually ending slavery maybe one day perhaps. Hell, Lincoln was hands off until Fort Sumter, y'know, when Southerners fired the first shots of the...shit, what do we sometimes call it? Oh yeah, The War of Northern Aggression.
Hell, what The Confederacy lacked in industry, an American appreciation for freedom, and a basic understanding of Christianity, they more than made up for with bald-faced, Oceaniaic-levels of double-think and heapin' helpin's of racism.
The notion--and I've heard this bull so many times--that Confederate states split because of some principle of self-determination only evokes images of teenagers that stay up all night only because their parents told them they couldn't. Real world nations don't spend exceptional amounts of money, blood, and effort to enter into conflicts based in principal and childish defiance. Full stop.
There are always economic, political, and social reasons behind inter-state conflicts. Slavery, with its free labor, concomitant tax revenue, and good old fashioned mix of racism and white supremacy, meet all three of those criterion.
Romancing the Stonewall
I can understand wanting to romanticize The Old South. I get that. I get the appeal of big, fancy balls and hoop skirts. I get the battle against impossible odds. I get fighting just because someone told you "hey, calm down." I get the thick Southern accents, the sad stories told in letters from the front, and women waiting at home for their lovers to return. Hey man, Gone With the Wind is a classic for a reason.
But motherfuckers, even Omelas only had one suffering kid. The South systemized it. It was industrial-scale torture, use, and humiliation. Every romantic thing about the South was based from the foundations up on the knowing, methodical dehumanization of black Americans for economic and political gain.
They'd kill or torture folks for learning how to read, then take their ignorance as proof of their inferiority. They'd twist Christian scripture to justify rape and murder. Their numbers of congressmen in The United States House of Representatives were puffed up by a population of black Americans that couldn't even vote.
It's not Technically Illegal, but It Is a Dick Lifestyle
But no, take that slice of Southern heritage--five years out of a Southern history stretching back over three centuries--and cling to it. Wave the fucking flag. Have an antebellum ball. Practice your rebel yell. Gather 'round that small part of Southern culture like hobos around an oil drum fire.
I'm not inclined to stop you, but I will ask that my city, county, state, and national government don't support that culture. Given the option between a business that does cater to you and your allies and one that does not, I'll choose the one that doesn't.
I'll also think you're an asshole. I'll let folks know what you like. I'll give you every bit of consideration due you as a human and an American, but not much more. Because at the end of the day, you are hell-bent on romanticizing a period, demanding I remember it without the foundation of cruelty it was built upon, and accusing me of white-washing when I ask that you stop literally putting it on a pedestal.
You thought I was kidding about the pedestal, didn't you?
Like what you like, asshole.
Caveat for Assholes Called by Name
But--if your heritage is that heritage--if you erect monuments to slave owners and slave dealers who bamboozled young Southerners to fight their war with lies of Northern aggression--if you carve into a mountainside the faces of racists who lead soldiers against US troops--if you exalt politicians who were entreated to act with common, human decency and replied "No. You can't make me," then as a Southerner, you and your heritage can go to hell.
Smash every Confederate statue down to the tiniest porcelain figurine and turn them into monuments to real heroes from Southern history. If you have to ask "like who," as if the only Southern heroes were the ones who took arms up against America, then as an American, you and your heritage and go fuck yourselves.