• Chris Stanley

A Symbol of Divisiveness and Hate: the Confederate Flag

Yesterday, Republicans in the state legislature rejected a ban selling Confederate gear at county fairs. Let's review quickly, shall we?

Ohio was the home of U.S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip Sheridan. Ohio sent more soldiers per capita than any other state in the Union to fight against the Confederacy.

The South did not secede because of "State's Rights." In fact, they loved federal power a great deal, including the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that forced law enforcement in the north to form a posse in order to hunt down and return runaway slaves, against the wishes of those that lived in free states—a law that was enforced with federal power. And if you're still behind the "State's Rights" fallacy, let me ask you—what rights in particular do you think they wanted?

Luckily we have an answer to just that question in South Carolina's Declaration of Secession. It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage.

In fact, six states wrote articles of secession that mentioned slavery. Here is a snippet from Mississippi's that was passed on Jan. 9, 1861: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

White supremacy is what provided the rationale for slavery. Montesquieu observed in 1748, “It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures [enslaved Africans] to be men; because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians.” Secession would not only maintain slavery, but white supremacy ideology as well. Slavery has ended, but sadly that ideology is pervasive throughout our country to this very day.

Why on Earth would people want to glorify this civilization? The South was comprised of an aristocratic oligarchy that were the perpetrators of unfathomable human rights violations, so disturbing that I can't even tell my 8th grade students all of the details. No one is saying that a person should be thrown in jail if they have a Confederate Flag sticker on their car, but would YOU want fairs to have stand after stand that sells Nazi flags? Of course not. That would be an insult to humanity at large, but also personally insulting to families like mine who have relatives who gave up their lives to fight against Nazi tyranny.

So too should we feel about the Confederate Flag. For many people, that flag is rightly a symbol of racism, fear, oppression, and the greatest tyranny every perpetrated by a government in the United States. My third-great grandfather, Isaac Wright, died fighting for the Union. He had four children, just as I do. He died because people would rather burn down the government and slaughter 2% of the country's entire population than give up their reign of terror and supremacy over another group of human beings.

The Republicans in our legislature refused to recognize what even NASCAR knows: symbols of the confederacy are divisive and hurtful. I'm running to bring people together, and that's what I'll do not only with my words, but with action. #Onward