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The bloodstained banner

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By John Pawlak

Once again, the Confederate flag is in the news. Washington and Lee University recently announced it would take down the Confederate flags, which had been displayed next to the university’s statue of Robert E. Lee.
Twelve African American law students protested the display as being “hate symbols representative of slavery and racism.”
Supporters of displaying the flag countered that “the Confederate flag honors freedom-loving Americans who fought against Northern tyranny” and that removing the flag “besmirched Lee’s military honor.”
You do have to respect freedom-loving people who owned slaves. I suppose they’re also proud that the university owned about 80 slaves who were used to build dormitories in the early 1800s.
The university’s website states, “The Washington and Lee University community thrives on an ethic of honor and civility.”
I’m sure that’s exactly how their slaves viewed it.
The university’s President Kenneth Ruscio did remove the flags, but refused to apologize for Lee’s actions during the Civil War. Ruscio said, “Lee was an imperfect individual living in imperfect times.”
Yeah, buying and selling humans as property, raping the women, whipping the men, selling the children at auctions like cattle. Now that I think about it, I do suppose that was a bit imperfect.
But before we further besmirch (I do like that word, you don’t get to use it very often) the memory of Robert E. Lee, let’s not forget that George Washington owned slaves. His slaves cooked his meals, cleaned his house, and there were a few little black Washingtons running around back then.
Some people like to credit Washington for freeing his slaves. Yes, it’s true he freed them, but he did it in his will. So basically, he said, “As long as I’m alive, you’re my property and you have to wash my feet. But hey, after I die, you can have your freedom.”
What a nice guy!
OK, so back to the Confederate flag controversy. What does it really represent?
Battle. It represents battle.
The so-called Confederate flag, often referred to as the Southern Cross, is in fact the “battle flag” of the Army of North Virginia.  The more elongated version is the “Confederate Navy Jack” and was used on Confederate ships. The Confederate Navy Jack is the flag most people today refer to as “the Confederate flag.”
Well it ain’t so, Jack! There were three official flags of the Confederacy. The first had a ring of seven stars in a field of blue (upper left hand corner) and three stripes (two red, one white). Since this was too similar to the Union’s stars and stripes, a second flag was commissioned, nicknamed “The Stainless Banner.”
This second flag did have the Southern Cross on it, but just a small version embedded in a solid background of white.
From a distance, it could be mistaken as a flag of surrender, and so a third flag was commissioned, “The Blood Stained Banner,” which also had a small Southern Cross embedded in a background of white, but with a wide vertical red stripe down the right-hand side.
Those people who yell about honoring the history of the Confederacy and the pride of its union don’t seem to know that they’re not flying the flag of the Confederacy!
Well, no one ever accused grits of being brain food, did they?
But all that aside, Lee’s commanding the rebels, Washington owning slaves, people with circular family trees painting their car hoods with the Southern Cross, and politicians yelling about the civil rights of proud bigots — what is this argument really about?
It’s about 12 snotty uppity black law students who don’t know their place, forcing a university to remove a symbol of historic pride.
It’s about hundreds of racists oozing out of the woodwork of burning crosses, spouting arguments of reverse-discrimination and pretending that the Southern Cross is a badge of time-honored tradition and heritage.
It’s about control. Who can tell who to do what.
Now of course, it’s not up to me to decide what’s best. But if I were in control, I’d tell them to stick that Southern Cross where the kudzu doesn’t grow.