Consciousness and Symbols
The murders in Charleston South Carolina have ripped the scab of US history off and laid bare the festering sores and oozing puss of the consciousness and psychopathology of white supremacy for the entire world to see. That dastardly act exposed the real America. With that act one of the symbols of white supremacy, the Confederate battle flag that flies over the capital of South Carolina has come under increased scrutiny. The rebel flag has long been a bone of contention and conflict between Africans in America and whites. For Black people, the flag represents one aspect of racial oppression, slavery, terrorism, murder and injustice. I say one aspect because on many occasions US terrorists like the Klu Klux Klan and White Citizens Councils also used the American flag as their rallying symbol!
From an accurate historical perspective, the Confederate battle flag is not the flag flown by the original Confederate States of America, the first seven states that separated from the Union: South Carolina (the first state to secede), Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia. Later, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia withdrew from the Union and joined the Confederacy.
The Confederacy had several flags during its brief existence. The flag known as the rebel flag or the Confederate battle flag was not one of the series of Confederate flags adopted by the Confederate States of America. That battle flag was originally the flag of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia!
The rebel flag that flies over the South Carolina State capital was not an official symbol of the Confederate States of America! It became the symbol Southern resistance to the anti-apartheid movement also called “integration” during the twentieth century. In recent years especially during the “Civil Rights” movement, that flag came to represent a consciousness of racial apartheid and animus, political subjugation, socio-economic caste and psychological terror. South Carolina US Senator Strom Thurman popularized that flag when he ran as a presidential candidate in 1948 as a Dixiecrat. During this time the Democrats controlled the South.
It wasn’t until Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that Southern whites abandoned the Democratic Party in mass and switched Republican. So in actuality the rebel flag is a modern symbol of white supremacy.
Now in light of the Charleston killings, defenders of that ethos are trying to obfuscate and revise American history. They are attempting to deflect the truth about the real meaning of the rebel flag. Since the killings I have read and seen articles and posts on YouTube claiming the War Between the States was not about slavery, that it was about “states rights”, tariffs and finance, that the rebel flag is merely a symbol of family history, tradition and regional pride! There were posts about Blacks owning slaves and African chiefs selling other Africans into slavery; anything to take the onus off of whites to prevent us from seeing not only the individual atrocities like Charleston South Carolina but the systemic holocausts white supremacy has wrought not only here in this country but around the world!
If there was ever any doubt about whether slavery was the central issue in the War Between the States, I’ve included a picture of a one hundred dollar bill from the Confederate States of America. Look at the images on the paper. This piece of evidence alone will reveal just how integral the institution of slavery was to the Confederate States of America and its economy. Yes there were issues of “states’ rights”, there were conflicting regional cultural practices and interests, differences in economic philosophy but never forget the fact both the North and South were united on racism and warmongering. Both the North and the South profited from slavery, it’s just the North’s economy was more diverse and did not depend mainly on agriculture as did the South. The Northern financial elites had a major grip on the flow of capital and more access to money than their Southern counterparts.
If you look at Western and modern world history you find Europeans love war. There is rarely a year that goes by they are not fighting, killing and plundering somewhere, even today. So from my perspective the issues of tariffs, the fugitive slave act, the expansion of slavery into the territories were just excuses for them to do what they love to do best, kill and maim each other and people of color.
Bloody Kansas between1853-1861 is an example where whites used violence to decide whether Kansas would be a “free” state or a “slave” State. Many define Bleeding Kansas as a precursor to the War Between the States. If that logic is correct then the War Between the States was about slavery!
Remember slavery was enshrined in the original US Constitution. The original document that bound the former British colonies together was The Articles of Confederation. It said nothing about slavery from a policy standpoint and left it to the individual states to deal with the issue as they saw fit. But delegates to a convention called in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation conspired to created a totally new document that would enshrine their class as the ruling elite in the more centralized government they created! Since many of the delegates were slaveholders or profited from slavery in some form or other, slavery became a key issue in the new document called the Constitution of the Untied States of America.
“A final major issue involving slavery confronted the delegates. Southern states wanted other states to return escaped slaves. The Articles of Confederation had not guaranteed this. But when Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance, it a clause promising that slaves who escaped to the Northwest Territories would be returned to their owners. The delegates placed a similar fugitive slave clause in the Constitution. This was part of a deal with New England states. In exchange for the fugitive slave clause, the New England states got concessions on shipping and trade. These compromises on slavery had serious effects on the nation. The fugitive slave clause (enforced through legislation passed in 1793 and 1850) allowed escaped slaves to be chased into the North and caught. It also resulted in the illegal kidnapping and return to slavery of thousands of free blacks. The three-fifths compromise increased the South’s representation in Congress and the Electoral College. In 12 of the first 16 presidential elections, a Southern slave owner won. Extending the slave trade past 1800 brought many slaves to America. South Carolina alone imported 40,000 slaves between 1803 and 1808 (when Congress overwhelmingly voted to end the trade). So many slaves entered that slavery spilled into the Louisiana territory and took root.” The Constitution and Slavery http://www.crf-usa.org/black-history-month/the-constitution-and-sla…
Slavery (both European and African) was the driving force in both the colonial and US economies. Slavery was woven into the fabric of the US Constitution making it the law of the land! The roots of what we see/saw in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, Ferguson Missouri, Baltimore Maryland and Charleston South Carolina recently go back to colonial America when the European monopoly trading companies and their administrators decided to augment their white slave labor force (indentured servants) with Africans. The profit motive “the top priority is the bottom line” of capitalism forged a brutal system that exploited the white bondsmen and African captives using them both as cheap labor. That tradition continued after the Revolutionary War and up until the War Between the States.
White and Black resistance to the colonial administrators abuses (Beacon’s Rebellion and others) forced the colonial governors to make concessions to the poor whites/indentured servants so they would not side with Native Americans and Africans against the elites. They used divide and rule to undermine Black and White unity. They “freed” the indentured servants, allowed them to call themselves “white” then gave them a modicum of “rights”, privileges and mobility they denied Native Americans and Africans.
Those divide and rule tactics have allowed the ruling elites to still remain in power and control from colonial times, through the transition to the United States to the present. This is why incidents like Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston happen! Don’t fall for the okey doke. The rebel flag is not the central issue. It is only a piece of material. The real issue is the consciousness and values behind it! As vile as what that flag represents is, taking it down is only a symbolic concession as long as the consciousness of white supremacy, white skin privilege and domination remain.