Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Hundreds of people attended a South Florida rally in support of the Confederate battle flag on Sunday, August 16. A contingent of pickup trucks, motorcycles, and various other vehicles began a procession at Heritage Park in Plantation and traveled to Markham Park in Sunrise. Many of the vehicles were decorated with oversized American and Confederate flags and banners.

Participants were met by angry protesters. Tempers flared. Pro-flag demonstrators insisted they were simply displaying a symbol of southern tradition. Anti-flag protesters countered that the Confederate flag stood for racism and oppression. Local police and Broward Sheriff’s department deputies kept the volatile situation under control.

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The flag controversy came to a head after the recent massacre of nine African-Americans in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. The accused shooter was seen on social media posing with a Confederate flag. He said he wanted to provoke a race war. The South Carolina Legislature removed the flag from the State House grounds following the attack. Demonstrations for both sides of the dispute have been held throughout the South.

Last month, thousands participated in a rally supporting the return of a Confederate battle flag to a local government building in Orlando, Florida. The flag had been taken down in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and was now back and flying.

Despite all protestations to the contrary, the Confederate flag is quite contentious. It is the symbol of a confederacy based on the acceptance of slavery. It is the flag displayed by white supremacist hate groups like the Klu Klux Klan. These organizations are viciously racist and anti-Semitic.

The fact that a symbol started out innocently is no excuse when it becomes imbued with hateful connotations. The swastika, after all, began as a good-luck emblem and a sign of pride in Aryan culture. It later became the most hated icon in existence. Certainly, no official government building in the civilized world would fly a flag bearing a swastika. The symbol itself is banned from display in Germany.

Yes, there are many who tout their Southern heritage. Southern hospitality, manners, and gentility are just some of the many good traits that are spoken of with pride. However, a flag that stands as a symbol of racism and slavery should not be included in the mix.

It is time to retire the Confederate flag to a museum showing the history of the Civil War. There are many things that the South and the Southern culture should take pride in. This flag is not one of them.

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Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.

1 COMMENT

  1. Shelley Benveniste opined: "It is the flag displayed by white supremacist hate groups like the Klu Klux Klan. These organizations are viciously racist and anti-Semitic. The fact that a symbol started out innocently is no excuse when it becomes imbued with hateful connotations."

    Before the KKK hijacked the Confederate battle flag, its members hijacked the Stars & Stripes.
    http://tinyurl.com/psg23sr

    That flag has some serious splainin' to do.

    Only months after defeating the evil Southern states, Union-hero generals headed West to massacre Native Americans.

    I refer, of course, to Gens. Sherman, Sheridan, Crook, Pope, Miles and Custer who committed genocide against the Plains Indians, as well as other tribes, all under those Stars & Stripes — the same flag we all pledge allegiance to regularly.

    Native Americans who stood in the way of the transcontinental railroad — their treaty rights notwithstanding — were massacred or forced onto impoverished reservations in what Sherman termed "the final solution of the Indian problem."

    "They did not," he complained, "make allowance for the rapid growth of the white race … both races cannot use this country in common."

    To Pres. Grant he wrote, "We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children." In a letter to his brother John, he said: "I suppose the Sioux must be exterminated …"

    Black lives matter, Sioux lives not so much.

    To his troops, he ordered, "During an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be meted out …"

    In another time and place, those Yankee generals would have been hunting down Jews and forcing them into death camps. Come to think of it, Sherman, the anti-Semite, played an important role in General Order #11, expelling Jews during the war — all under the Stars & Stripes.

    Sherman and Sheridan — that's Phil Sheridan of "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" fame — were responsible for the near extinction of the American bison by 1882, its herds once numbering in the millions and the primary food source for the Plains Indians. Starvation was their goal — ecocide in the service of genocide.

    For whatever it's worth, Southerners, by contrast, did not starve their slaves. Just sayin’.

    I’ll leave it to someone far smarter than me — Ms. Benveniste, perhaps — to explain how Union generals, who allegedly risked their lives to free Southern slaves, could turn around and callously murder Native Americans. Ditto for the Buffalo soldiers who used their newfound freedom to crush America’s native people.

    Or do the grievances and sins of only certain groups count?

    I suppose, if the Stars & Stripes’ own stained association with slavery and the KKK could fade away, the Klan’s co-opting of the Confederate battle flag could be forgotten as well. But it won’t happen unless liberals, progressive, race-baiters and the politically correct stop their collaboration with the likes of Dylann Roof.

    Southerners aren’t raving racists. By and large, whites and blacks get along. Racial hatred from the past — which has its own Northern history — has greatly faded.

    Many Southern whites still hold onto a piece of cloth they revere as a link to their ancestors, their heritage. There are probably millions of items across the South with depictions of the battle flag on them. Are there millions of Southern whites shooting up churches? Are there millions of Southern whites waving that flag to intimidate? Yet, one evil individual takes a selfie with it, and the flag and those who love it are branded as racists, and the physical evidences of their history targeted for cultural cleansing — an anti-Confederate kristallnacht.

    Dylann Roof stole the flag from those good people, and instead of taking it back from him and returning it, the anti-Confederate crowd insists he gets to keep it … insists against all evidence he is the rightful representative of it. The little creep says he wants to start a race war, and the left says, sure Dylann, let us help you ramp up the hatred and division. They are post-Charleston collaborators.

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