As a radically conservative defender of liberty and states’ rights, I say that there is no good biblical, historical, or strategic reason to defend a state’s flying of the Confederate battle flag today. It is rather a sign of utter hypocrisy, sentimentalism, and misguided zeal. Every Christian of every stripe ought to be calling for the removal of that profound distraction in SC—and every other state-sponsored location—in the name of Christian integrity and the advance of true Christian values and culture.
I am quite cognizant of the appeal of “heritage not hate,” and I feel the power of it. It is too easy for liberals to exploit the crises and emotions related to them, and it is too easy to forget what was good about Southern values and to focus only on the bad.
In view of those much-lost and trampled values, I almost sympathize with the rhetoric of those who recognize that that flag is the Confederate battle flag (and not the national flag), and who therefore recognize that as long as the state flies that flag, it is essentially saying the war is not over, but we’re only experiencing the longest cease-fire in history. Almost.
But as long as the voters keep electing politicians to keep up that flag under such pretenses and for such reasons of “heritage” as states’ rights, honor, and freedom, they are engaging in what amounts to the biggest act of hypocrisy in history as well.
For starters, South Carolina takes in more Federal subsidies in comparison to taxes paid than any other state. Many studies confirm this status or something very close. According to one study, SC receives 5.38 times as much money as it pays in. That is, for every dollar paid out of the state, the heirs of those who fired on Ft. Sumter receive more than five dollars from the Federal owner/operators of Ft. Sumter. In this shining example of self-sufficiency, rugged individualism, and independence from those d**n Yankees, Federal subsidies make up almost a full third of state revenue.
When the same law makers who demand that flag remain up also start demanding that the state of South Carolina cut out the Yankee third of their budget—every single Federal handout—I will take their appeals to that battle flag seriously. Until then, take down that flag. You’re an embarrassment to everyone who has truly honorable aspirations for states’ rights, localism, fiscal integrity, true patriotism, and freedom.
Yes, Slavery was a cause
This states’ rights and cession, “on stand-by for war” issue is totally aside from the fact that the Confederacy’s heritage—yes, its heritage—can never be separated from institutionalized racism and oppression. Yes, I know that only a small percentage of Southerners owned slaves. Yes, I know that most of the men fighting were fighting for God and country, land and freedom, and had no direct concern for the institution of slavery. Yes, I have a copy of Dwyer’s textbook on America’s “uncivil war” and I know the chapters on “Southern Slavery As It Was.” I have read several of the defenders of the South. Yes, I know Lincoln was a tyrant and a racist himself, and I love DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln among others. Yes, I know that the vast majority of people in both North and South—even the abolitionists—were racists who believed blacks were systematically, genetically, and in most cases irreparably inferior to whites. And yes, I know that the liberals’ agenda is filled with fifty shades of hatred of their own. I get all that. I understand even the facts that the liberal media won’t broach and doesn’t want you to know.
Yet no matter how many facts we leverage to counter the systematic attacks—right or wrong—on the Confederacy, we will never get past the fact that as a civil government, the Confederacy instituted a wicked and godless form of racist, chattel slavery, and that the leaders and founders of said government enshrined this unforgivable sin into their founding laws and argued for it in their most foundational speeches and debates. This outstanding sin is perfectly separable from what was good about Southern culture and value, but it is permanently inseparable from that government and its flags. This is especially true of its battle flag under which it fought and shed human blood in order to continue that institution.
The Confederate Constitution enshrined the unbiblical and unspeakably wicked practice of owning slaves—and not just slaves in general, but specifically “Negro slaves”—as property, and it forbade any law to the contrary going forward: “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
Worse yet, the Confederacy was imperialistic in this particular evil, decreeing that “The Confederate States may acquire new territory,” and that “In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government. . . .” This overturns any narrative that the South just wanted to be left alone. Nonsense. It looked west with pretensions as imperialistic as anyone else, and it constitutionally reserved itself the right to expand its wicked institution as it went.
For those who need further proof, Gary North’s “Appendix D” in his Commentary on 1 Timothy relates the official secession declarations from several states showing that the official stated cause was in fact the protection of their institution of slavery. SC went even further, with one of its key voices, Lawrence Keitt, arguing explicitly that the cause was not tariffs, and separately that “African slavery is the corner-stone of the industrial, social, and political fabric of the South.” Let that sink in: “corner-stone.”
These official and institutional foundations of the Southern Confederacy, for whatever other good may have existed in it, render any appeal to its heritage absolutely indefensible. And for this reason, I unhesitatingly say, “Tear down that flag.” Christians have much to do in society and much ground to make up, and we don’t need the baggage of the greatest of the sins of our fathers hindering us as we endeavor to do it.
I say these things, loud and clear, as one of the most radically outspoken voices in our time in favor of states’ rights, radical decentralization, non-interventionism, radically free markets, private property, anti-taxes, anti-war, anti-tariffs, pro-life, pro-family, pro-militia, pro-gun, pro-nullification, pro-jury nullification, anti-administrative law, anti-Marxism—all backed up from a biblical perspective. As the Apostle Paul could boast against his Pharisee critics because he was a Pharisee and a Hebrew of Hebrews, and could outdo them all, so will I compare myself to anyone on those good things for which the South stood and for which many Southern partisans today continue to stand. And where I don’t measure up, biblically speaking, I’ll strongly reevaluate my position in order to get there. And yet I say “Tear down that flag, immediately.” This should not even be a question.
Abandon the Distraction, Fight for Reformation Where it Matters
There is not a single thing among all of the biblical principles and laws for which the best of the South once stood that can be brought back, regained, or advanced by protecting a monument to the Confederate battle flag. Not one thing. In fact, as long as your fight focuses upon that flag and upon the (partial) heritage which you invest in that symbol, it is actually a powerful distraction from the real work you need to do.
Since it’s indisputable that that battle flag is officially, governmentally, and foundationally tied to the unbiblical practice of Southern slavery, why would you fight for that rather than focus your energies, monies, and attention on the actual areas of life you hold dear. Maybe these great values have some tie to that battle flag, but to the extent they do, they are equally tied to the evil at its foundation. Why not shuck the evil and hold on only to the good? This would lead you to a renewed, refocused fight for biblical values, while simultaneously disarming your liberal critics of that for which they rightly condemn your heritage.
The truth be told, whatever “tie” there may be between that battle flag and the biblical values we wish to recall is purely an emotional tie. There is no good reason for defending it when there are sounder, more profitable ways to advance those values in society without the baggage. To continue to do so out of mere “Southern pride” is to think with your emotions and sentiments rather than biblical reason. That is, you are thinking like the very liberals you claim to despise; and let me suggest that not only is this unbecoming and dishonorable, but the liberals are far more experienced and more successful at it than you, and on these terms, they will beat you in due time.
The only reason anyone who continue to uphold that symbol once they acknowledge these facts can only be that they endorse the racism. There are indeed some who do, unfortunately. And for that, again, the liberals will beat you—only this time, they will be right to do so. Just do us a favor: if racial inequality is the real reason you defend the state flying that battle flag, just have the courtesy to say that up front. It will save us all a lot of time.
So it really is a no-brainer. If your fight to regain civilization from liberalism and godlessness continues to focus on that battle flag, the liberals will beat you. If you wish even to have a hope of seeing the values you hold dear exalted in our nation and states once again, we must separate our biblical ideals from all idols which hinder us from attaining them. That battle flag is one of those idols. We must separate ourselves from it. Only then will you be able to start afresh formulating programs based on biblical reasoning that will lead to true reform in the areas that matter—education, welfare, local government, free markets, the legal systems, executive power, and defense. Tear down the flag. Let it go. It will be the most freeing thing you could do for yourself. Then, start tearing down those subsidies and taxations as well. Wow! Imagine if South Carolina politics as so strong in this area as it is in support of that battle flag.
Don’t anchor yourself to a symbol that is inseparable from the greatest wickedness of its era. Anchor yourself to King Jesus who alone can rid our era of its own great evils.