Confederate flag

Virginia Makes the Right Call on Confederate Flag License Plates

The government should be able to control what its own documents say.

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“An increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery,” declared South Carolina in its articles of secession, “has led to a disregard of their obligations.” The declaration continued to upbraid the non-slave states on the subject: “They have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery. … They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes … (and have elected) a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”

Texas, too, complained in its declaration of secession that the Northern states had trampled upon its “beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color. … They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy … and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us.”

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slaveryâ€"the greatest material interest of the world,” said Mississippi in its own secession statement. Virginia’s complained of the federal oppression of “the Southern slaveholding states.” Georgia’s secession document referred to slavery 35 times.

Southern partisans who insist the South was defending only states’ rights are wrong in two ways. They were not defending states’ rights in the abstractâ€"but rather a particular state right: the right to maintain a system of slavery. More important, however, is this: They were not defending states’ rights at all. Individuals have rights. States don’t. The South was fighting to preserve state authority. Secessionists wanted to preserve the authority of state governments to enforce an inhumane legal regime.

Hence Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is quite right to direct that the Confederate flag be removed from Virginia specialty license plates. The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued to have the flag included on their specialty plates, and in 2002 the 4th Circuit ruled in their favor. But as a Supreme Court decision last week made clear, license plates are essentially government identification tags, like Social Security cards or driver’s licenses. The government should be able to control what its own documents say.

McAuliffe’s decision arrived a day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and some other Republicans called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in the wake of the massacre by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The flag originally had been placed on top of the capitol dome in 1962, partly as a symbol of defiance against the civil rights movement.

To Confederate partisans, the flag represents “heritage, not hate” because it honors the valor of ancestors who fought and bled for their homes and families. But people can fight bravely in defense of ignoble causes, and their individual virtue does not change the nature of the cause.

Now we come to the slippery-slope argument: Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves. The United States tolerated slavery for eight decades and the Constitution counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional apportionment. Should we tear down the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, strike the American flag, stop revering the Constitution?

Questions like those turn the slippery slope into a reductio ad absurdum; the fact that distinctions are not absolute does not mean the distinctions do not exist. If Jeffrey Dahmer and the Dalai Llama both run a red light, that does not mean the Dalai Llama is just another Jeffrey Dahmer. Washington’s slaveholding is a deep mark against him, but it is not his defining characteristicâ€"whereas slavery was the defining characteristic of the pre-Civil War South. Washington and Jefferson helped found a nation dedicated to the principles of liberty and justice for all. By contrast, as Max Boot noted Monday in The Weekly Standard, Jefferson Davis “helped to plunge this country into a civil war that left as many as 800,000 dead in a fruitless quest to ensure that slavery would remain legal.”

Monuments may honor the dead for their deeds without endorsing the broader cause for which they fought. But the Confederate battle flag is the standard of the Confederate cause, which was laid out plainly in the Southern states’ declarations of secession. McAuliffe could not have issued his directive until last week’s Supreme Court decision, and that is too badâ€"because the rebel flag should have been consigned to museums 15 decades ago.

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  1. I believe the redskin license plates are next.

    1. +1 Iron Eyes Cody

      1. Then they came for the second-generation Italians….

        1. And we laughed because that meant Epi was hauled away?

  2. Now we come to the slippery-slope argument: Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves. The United States tolerated slavery for eight decades and the Constitution counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional apportionment.

    More to the point, Abe Lincoln specifically disavowed any intention to interfere with slavery in the slaveholding states, and continued to maintain that position for more than a year after the War started.

    (And I’m tired of hearing the three-fifths clause cited as it it would have been a better thing if each slave had been counted as five fifths of a person, thereby increasing the voting strength of the Slave Power in the House of Representatives.)

    1. The 3/5 clause was a perfect example of hypocrisy over slavery, which insisted Negroes were property but yet somehow deserved to be counted as people. I can think of no better argument that all slaveholders are pure hypocrites.

      1. I think it shows they were 40% hypocrites, if I calculated it correctly.

        (I was told there would be no math!)

      2. Baby steps.

        In those days, Negroes were counted as 0/5 of a person in much of the world.

        3/5 of a person is a start, paving the way to being counted as 5/5 of a person.

        The only hypocrisy is between yer ears, buttercup.

  3. Who needs bread and circuses when we have flags and gender benders?

    what a fucking train wreck the US is

  4. herp a derp –

    Tiny American flags for everyone!

    1. + Cassius Clay in the ‘lympics

    2. Tiny American rainbow pride flags for everyone!

  5. The main culprits behind slavery, segregation and treason was the Democrat Party. All remnants of the Democrat Party need to be removed from government was well.

    1. ….and from the face of the Earth.

  6. Southern partisans who insist the South was defending only states’ rights are wrong in two ways. They were not defending states’ rights in the abstract?but rather a particular state right: the right to maintain a system of slavery.

    Oh, really? What about the NORTHERN states that kept THEIR slaves under the condition that they stayed in the Union? Because if we’re talking about objective truths instead of abstractions, then try to reconcile that truth with this moral crusade that you’re justifying.

    1. No one said anything about the North being on a “moral crusade.” He only said that the Southern states were seceding to defend the institution of slavery.

  7. Waaaah! They’re talkin’ bad about the Confederacy!!! Make those mean old proggies stop, ’cause only proggies could feel this way!!!!

    Bah. I’m beginning to think my homeboy William Tecumseh Fuckin’ Sherman was too easy on the South.

    1. Because deliberately targeting non-combatants/civilians is A-ok…

      1. I’ve always thought that artificial distinction between civilians and military was one of the sillier aspects of war. It’s ok to kill civilian crews by torpedoing their ships but not their civilian passengers? It’s ok to bomb factories producing tanks, warplanes, warships, rifles, etc, but not factories producing food which feeds soldiers? And how do you target a factory without also targeting the factory workers — is it ok to kill the war factory workers at work, but not at home?

        Sherman was right. War is hell. Anyone trying to tidy it up into neat little partitions is fooling themselves.

        1. I suppose Sherman taught those petulant secessionists what is really means to be an American. And war IS hell. Sherman did his best to ensure it.

          1. Speaking of petulant.

        2. Actually, “Unlimited Submarine Warfare” was considered as a War Crime by the those opposing Germany in WW-1 (See: Sinking of the Lusitania).

      2. Actually, Sherman did not in fact target civilians. What he did was target their property and any property that was useful to the Southern War effort. Intentionally targeting civilians and destroying enemy armies and supplies despite civilian casualties are different. It’s the difference between targeting a factory of civilians that produces ammo and targeting a church. There is a difference.

        Also, his reasoning for such is sound – avoiding civilian casualties and property at all costs only perpetuates the illusion that war isnt as costly as it is as well as extending the length of the conflict. He believed overall that this led to more destruction and death. In fact, before the war and after, he had many friends and much love for the South. He was a major supporter of a unifying rather than vengeful policy towards the South after the war.

  8. This whole discussion is getting too complicated.

    The flag is a symbol that is offensive to a fair number of people. It’s perfectly reasonable for a democratic republican government to respond to it’s citizens views on this.

    If lots of people view Confederate monuments the same way then maybe they should go, too.

    Views change, cultures change, it’s not the end of the world.

    1. If lots of people view Confederate monuments the same way then maybe they should go, too.

      We could get ISIS to blow those monuments up.

      1. Yep, it’s just like that. Totally.

        1. Fear of symbols is exactly the same. The difference is only in scale

          1. Destroying monuments wherever you find them and maybe moving some monuments that are on government-owned land to a museum or someplace, if that is what the local population is in favor of, are NOT the same thing.

        2. Yep, it’s just like that. Totally.

          Explain the difference to me, because I’m not seeing it.

          1. ISIS goes in and forcibly destroys anything it finds objectionable, regardless of the wishes of the property owners or, when the objects are on government owned land, the local population. ISIS wants to wipe these things from the history books.

            ASSUMING that there is a call for monuments to be moved, they would presumably 1) not be destroyed, 2) only be moved off of government owned land 3) in response to some popular demand, 4) while privately owned monuments or monuments that have popular support would remain. No one is talking about pretending like the Civil War didn’t happen. Some people don’t want governments to venerate certain people and symbols.

            There is a statue of Lee and Jackson in my city. They’re handsome statues in little public parks near the historic downtown area. I don’t personally find them objectionable and I would not agitate for them being removed. But I can understand why they might upset some people. If there was a popular desire to move them, I wouldn’t really have a big problem with it.

            1. “There is a statue of Lee and Jackson in my city. They’re handsome statues in little public parks near the historic downtown area. I don’t personally find them objectionable and I would not agitate for them being removed.”

              Don’t worry. Someone will surely demand that they be gone and melted down soon enough. At least’s that’s where we’re headed. It doesn’t matter to them that one was against slavery (and secession for that matter) and the other illegally educated blacks.

    2. What it really shows is just one more facet of the evil which is central coercive monopolistic government, whether run by military dictators or the tyranny of the majority.

      Every time I see one of these political tugs-of-war over some symbol or policy matter, I can’t help but think how much less contentious they’d be if it weren’t the single government we are stuck with, which everybody feels the need to tussle over rather than let anybody else dictate its whims.

  9. Hinkle pukes lies.

  10. So yes. Fuck the Confederacy and every fucking reminder of those fucking losers.

    “But…but…but.” No. If you’re going to defend the Confederacy in any way, shape or form, just shut the fuck up already. I’m sick of it. Been hearing it from so-called libertarians for 35 fucking years now. Go form a club and gabble among yourselves.

    1. Go form a club and gabble among yourselves.

      Lew Rockwell doesn’t allow comments at his shitty site. Alas.

    2. All: My post “The Confederate Leviathan” might be of interest.

      1. You SugarFreed the link, Ron. I’d like to read it.

        1. Thanks. You’ll die first.

          1. Remember when you said you would kill me last? YOU LIED

            1. Killing you first would be meant as a favor.

              1. “We long for the release that Death will bring”

                /Hit & Run readers

    3. Re: Citizen Nothing,

      So yes. Fuck the Confederacy and every fucking reminder of those fucking losers.

      And the Hungarians, circa 1956. Fuck them.

      1. We should erase every instance if the Saltire of Saint Andrew, just to be sure. So fuck you too, Scotland.

  11. To Confederate partisans, the flag represents “heritage, not hate” because it honors the valor of ancestors who fought and bled for their homes and families. But people can fight bravely in defense of ignoble causes, and their individual virtue does not change the nature of the cause.

    Do you think the American flag means something different to an Iraqi mother of a son shot by US Soldiers than it does to the American Soldier who fought and died in that war?

    By all means, take the flag off official government property. It is weird to have a rebel symbol on official gov prorperty. However, to declare that a symbol is racist because the government made up of rich, slave-owning, aristocrats started a war to protect slavery but the thousands of poor non-slave owning soldiers who died because they saw the Feds dictating to them and threatening to invade their home is willfully ignorant and anathema to what Libertarians believe about the difference between a government and a citizenry.

    1. This isn’t about what Confederate soldiers thought. It’s about what people today think when they see the flag. Different people assign different meaning to it (that’s how symbols tend to work). But a fair number of people see it as a symbol of racism, and not without good reason.

      1. Hence my first sentence: what does the US Flag represent to different people?

        I dont have one. I wouldnt put one up. I didnt lose ancestors in the war, though. Others did. I ddin’t grow up in the south. I have a neighbor that has a Saudi flag in their backyard. Do we even need to get into what that can mean to people who lost people in 9/11?

        How about the house on the way to work that flies an Israeli Flag? Palestinian?

        It BS though to declare a symbol as X when a person can only describe what it means to themselves. I expect better from Reason. I expect more from a publication that rightly supports the right to burn an American flag, but supports the shaming bandwagon that declares another flag evil and racist because exploitative people with political agendas see the murder of 9 innocents as an ‘opportunity” to push their agenda.

        I’ll reiterate, Im good and support the removal of it from governemnt property. However, can we now admit that wasnt the ultimate goal? Check out Amazon, ebay etc of you need further evidence.

        1. I think it’s important not to conflate the issues, though. And there seems to be a lot of that going on.

          What the Amazonians do is their business. I think it’s unnecessary to pressure them into not selling the merchandise, but that’s between them and their customers. And I don’t think you’d get any disagreement on that point from the writers or commenters. We seem to all be on the same page on that one.

          But yes, you’re right, the left doesn’t make the distinction we do.

          1. What the Amazonians do is their business. I think it’s unnecessary to pressure them into not selling the merchandise, but that’s between them and their customers

            . And I don’t think you’d get any disagreement on that point from the writers or commenters. We seem to all be on the same page on that one.

            In an ideal world this would be true… but the rapidity (hours?) with which amazon, e-bay and others have pulled and/or condemned all “stars ‘n’ bars” merch has been quite amazing. I doubt these companies polled their customers about their views.

            1. crap. html fail.

              What the Amazonians do is their business. I think it’s unnecessary to pressure them into not selling the merchandise, but that’s between them and their customers. And I don’t think you’d get any disagreement on that point from the writers or commenters. We seem to all be on the same page on that one.

              In an ideal world this would be true… but the rapidity (hours?) with which amazon, e-bay and others have pulled and/or condemned all “stars ‘n’ bars” merch has been quite amazing. I doubt these companies polled their customers about their views.

        2. They have a perfect right to fly those flags, since they aren’t part of the government. It’d be nice if they flew an American flag above it.

          1. Why? It just takes one look at the prison system to see that the American flag stands for keeping black people under lock and key as much as the Stars and Bars ever did.

          2. I agree, (as I stated), but Im asking if we are “supposed” to start shaming any individual or business that flies or sells symbols that some people find to be evil, racist, etc? (I personally look at it as redneck and think the bad far outweighed the good of the confederacy, so I don;t fly it and wonder about people that do.)

            I have a problem with people (and now Reason) stating that a symbol is X, Y or Z. IT is NOT. It cannot have any virtues or qualities because it is an inanimate object and the meaning can only ascribed by each individual based on how they feel. Therefore, it has myriad meanings and one person’s is no better or worse. Finding out what meaning people subscribe to a symbol is a great way to see how much you have in common with someone and you may think their view is outdated, ignorant etc. But that’s how opinions and symbols work. Collecting a mob to help you bully someone because they simply display a symbol is self-righteous and destructive to both your own cause and our society.

          3. Any case made that the confederate flag is “racist” can be made for the US flag, the Israeli flag, Palestinian flag, Gadsden Flag, the Cross, the Islamic star and crescent, etc etc.

            Fuck slippery slope, we are laying at the bottom of the gorge with this. It’s got fuck all to do with eliminating “symbols” of a racist past. It has to do with scoring points against folks you dislike and disagree with (over the cooling bodies of 9 churchgoers, no less). Take it off government property, and then tell everyone else to have a coke and a smile because symbols don’t hurt people, bad people, bad laws and self-righteous bandwagon bullies hurt people!

            1. Uhm, all I hear is a lot of racist-talk

              1. “Uhm, all I hear is a lot of racist-talk”

                Gil, my sarc detector is on the fritz today, so Im just gonna have to straight out ask if you are fucking serious or not with your comment.

                1. That was dipped in sarcasm and deep fried in parody of the worst kind of idiotic lefty dismissal.

                  I am ashamed

                  1. No, you are good. Just didn’t read your other comments before seeing that. Plus, the handle renames after ‘The Mulching’ makes it a bit harder to recognize the regulars from the Trolls.

                    Just a nod to your Prog Troll impersonation abilities.

            2. The case could be made, in a round-about, kind of.. finessed way. (referrring to your first sentence).
              The difference is, the Confederate Battle Flag was made and designed to BE a symbol of racism, hate and backwards thinking.
              The other flags were not designed to do this.

              You could make the argument that anything ever made is racist to someone, somehow, but the logic fails when you consider the intent of the symbol.

              1. when you consider the intent of the symbol

                Care to comment on the swastika then? Can’t think of a much more ‘racist’ symbol than that. Just seeing the flag makes me think of descriptions given by holocuast survivors of the horrors they experienced and those of the millions butchered.

                However, “It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism…It is known most widely as an important symbol long used in Indian religions, denoting ‘auspiciousness.’ …In many Western countries, the swastika has been stigmatized because of its adoption and use in Nazism. It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.” [wikipedia]

                Should buddhists be shamed for using this symbol? Are symbols not designed but appropriated less “evil” than ones designed by the people who do horrible things? They are pieces of cloth that have differing meanings to each person. People are racist and evil and good and virtuous. Flags are fucking dyed cloth. A flag is no more racist than my fucking toaster.

      2. They’re “triggered” so we should cave into their feelz. The flag outrage, like with Indian sports team names, is much stronger among privileged white progs than those they claim to speak for.

      3. Re: LynchPin1477,

        This isn’t about what Confederate soldiers thought. It’s about what people today think when they see the flag.

        A lot of people has made it clear that this has nothing to do with reason and everything to do with feelings.

        1. Little is more destructive than legislating based upon feelings.

          1. Yep. Where was the demand to take down the flag before the shooting tragedy?

            1. It’s been a simmering issue for quite a while now.

        2. Fine, what people today feel when they see the flag today.

          Some people don’t want the government to display a symbol that makes them feel bad. So what? That’s not wrong.

          1. Yes, and the people who feel like their place in history is being slighted also feel bad when the flag is taken down, so I guess them complaining isn’t wrong either.

            If the Chinese invade and the US loses, but to forestall insurgency, the Chinese allow Americans to keep American symbols, and then 100 years later try to crack down, it will produce some bad feelings. Is there something wrong with that?

            I’m sure the pro-Chinese at that time will point to all the horrible shit that America and American symbolism represents — nuclear bombs, drone murder, global surveillance state. They could argue that America’s very existence as a nation is only due to the displacement and eradication of native peoples, first through European colonialism, then through Manifest Destiny. The desire to expand into native land was one of the things driving a wedge between the colonists and Brits, so how hard do you think it will be with a dedicated propaganda apparatus to ensure that most educated people believe that the Revolutionary War was about genocide and conquest, rather than democracy?

            1. Yes, and the people who feel like their place in history is being slighted also feel bad when the flag is taken down, so I guess them complaining isn’t wrong either.

              Nope. I have no problem with the people in favor of keeping the flag presenting their side of the argument. But at some point some things relating directly to government are decided by elected officials, and there are going to be winning and losing arguments. It seems like the people opposed to the flag are winning right now. I don’t have a problem with that. No one’s rights are being violated here.

              Now if they try to ban private displays of the flag, well, that’s a whole other story. I’d oppose that vigorously. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

      4. But a fair number of people see it as a symbol of racism, and not without good reason.

        Well, maybe it’s time people use their heads.

        Slavery was something that was rooted in the privileges and political corruption of wealthy Brits transplanted into the American South; these people looked down their noses at anybody, black or white, who they didn’t consider their social equals, and they didn’t care about who they could enslave or exploit.

        The racism we are seeing today has little to do with slavery; it is rooted in the scientific racism of the early 20th century, which spawned the eugenics movement, segregation, forced sterilization, and other racist policies.

        This focus on the confederate flag is really attempt at rewriting history. Racism today isn’t a legacy of slavery, it’s a legacy of 20th century progressivism. Far more important than taking down the Confederate flag is taking down progressive icons and racists like Sanger, Keynes, Alexander Graham Bell, etc.

  12. “now we come to the slippery-slope argument”

    Your view of this argument is entirely defined by where you sit on the larger issue. There are huge numbers of people outside the US who view the US flag as a symbol of treason, hate, racism, greed, violence, and ignorance. But you easily dismiss them. Why? Maybe because the flag (and country) symbolizes something else to you. Much like confederate flag-waving rednecks dismiss their critics. Telling them that you think they are racist slavery-apologists isn’t going to help convince them.

    You say that holding slaves wasn’t George Washington’s defining characteristic. I’m willing to bet that his slaves disagreed. You say that slavery is the defining characteristic of the pre-war South. I think the 95% that didn’t own slaves would disagree. You say Jefferson Davis helped to plunge the country into civil war. But, the southern states didn’t secede so they could fight the US; they seceded to create a country with laws that wouldn’t destroy their economy (yes, this includes slavery). The US forced the war by refusing to allow them to peacefully exit the union. As other pointed out, the US wasn’t acting on some principled objection to slavery. The (non-slavery) system of involuntary servitude used in the north seemed to be working well enough for them.

    1. “people can fight bravely in defense of ignoble causes.” Do you really believe that hundreds of thousands of people fought and died to allow a small number of rich people to own slaves? Or can you maybe consider that the people who fought did it for some other reason?

      All that said, lets be clear: I don’t support the civil war; slavery is inexcusable; racism is inexcusable; I don’t wave a confederate flag; the people who do tend to be very unsympathetic; I’m not defending some confederate family history (I’m from PA and MI). But, smearing all people who wave that flag with terms like racism, hate, and treason is bullshit. It is ridiculous stereotyping and is the same thing as arguing that all libertarians are Ayn Rand-worshipping, poor-hating, pot-smoking anarchists with a moral opposition to lifting a finger to help their fellow man. It’s bullshit.

      Taking it off license plates? Sure, but then the State has to stop giving other groups (religious, anti-abortion, etc.) a platform to express their belief. Regardless of the SCOTUS ruling, these license plates are not the State’s speech (which they could rightfully moderate). It’s not a form or sign that they post in a neutral manner. It is a billboard that they sell to people who want to advertise and they are approving/denying advertisements on the basis of content. That’s not acceptable.

      1. Taking it off license plates? Sure, but then the State has to stop giving other groups (religious, anti-abortion, etc.) a platform to express their belief. Regardless of the SCOTUS ruling, these license plates are not the State’s speech (which they could rightfully moderate). It’s not a form or sign that they post in a neutral manner. It is a billboard that they sell to people who want to advertise and they are approving/denying advertisements on the basis of content. That’s not acceptable

        Agree 100% with this part. The particular example of license plates is not a good one. The SCOTUS ruling was stupid.

      2. , smearing all people who wave that flag with terms like racism, hate, and treason is bullshit. It is ridiculous stereotyping and is the same thing as arguing that all libertarians are Ayn Rand-worshipping, poor-hating, pot-smoking anarchists with a moral opposition to lifting a finger to help their fellow man. It’s bullshit.

        Oh but curt. Its *popular*

        And your betters will explain to you that your discomfort with it is actually ‘anti intellectual populism’, not your actual capacity for reason talking. Humor them. They have tenure.

  13. I’ve been reading up on the Iconaclastic Riots.
    Good times.

    When does the next round start?

  14. More important, however, is this: They were not defending states’ rights at all. Individuals have rights. States don’t.

    Well, one starts with something, Hinkle. First the states and then the emancipation of each individual. But I guess it is OK for a Federal government to trample on states’ and individual rights at the same time, murdering non-combatants, destroying the property of the other non-combatants and treating them like pariahs, all in the name of getting rid of slavery, which Lincoln didn’t on those states that stayed in the Union.

    A freakish gnome murders 9 people and, all of a sudden, everybody starts having this moral trauma regarding the Confederacy. Nobody seems to remember that when the States seceded from Great Britain that they were also a Confederacy, and that it did include slaves.

    As a Mexican I find your traumas very entertaining and pathetic. Our history as told in schools is mostly an invented one, but you seem to have invented for yourselves a Fall from Grace for which to atone forever. You’re all idiots.

    1. Seconded.

    2. More important, however, is this: They were not defending states’ rights at all. Individuals have rights. States don’t.

      That argument is in wide circulation for being so fucking dumb. Yes, individuals possess natural rights and states do not. But states for their part possess contractual rights with other states and in the case of federalized entities, contracts with it’s constituent polities.

      1. The Constitution enumerates Federal, and States, Rights.

  15. I can agree with repealing laws which require the flag to be flown, but that’s about it.

  16. “The government” should stop using its power of speech to advance particular viewpoints, preferences, or agendas. “The government” should limit itself to only essential activities.

    If you want to put a bumper sticker or specialty license plate holder on your car, go ahead. All government-issued license plates should be plain.

  17. I usually love me some culture war, but come on!

    I don’t know about Virginia, but in general this situation should be analyzed for the politics, which is all this is: the Democrats have decided it would be a nice and tasteful idea to attack Republicans because of the act of a homicidal maniac, and the Republicans are deciding they don’t want to be the punching bag for a bunch of demagogues. So they’re pulling their support for the Confederate flag.

    I would do the same thing in their position. Why give the Democrats an issue to exploit by which they can distract from the economy, health care, foreign policy, and other Democratic failures?

    Of course, once the Republicans get the flag off public buildings, the Dems will try to maintain the outrage by looking at other angles to exploit. Maybe a Republican candidate said something nice about the flag a few years ago. Maybe a county library in Alabama still carries Little Black Sambo.

    And the media will keep up the pressure on this Vitally Important Issue:

    “Senator Paul, what do you think of the remark of the vice-chairman of the platform committee of the Mississippi Republican Party who said that the confederate flag is part of our heritage?”

    “Senator Cruz, will you be asking Scotland to take the St. Andrew’s Cross off its flag?”

    1. I mean, they’re going after Paul, Cruz and Santorum because a racist guy donated to their campaigns, and the media is trying to tie this guy to the murders.

      It’s not going to stop until the economy improves or Obamacare starts working, when they can turn their attention to that. Which will be when pigs fly.

      1. Yes it is happening at the state level as well. You gotta love the headline.

    2. It ends when Republicans learn that you can’t play defense. Make sure everyone knows about Che’s views on gays and blacks, demand that stores pull Che shit. Demand that Planned Parenthood drop any association with Sanger. As the Democrats were the party of the Confederacy and (up until a few decades ago) militant racism in general, demand they change their name to cut all ties with the CSA. Make these assholes pay for their hypocrisy by making real sacrifices for a cause they don’t truly believe in.

  18. I suspect that the battle flag will be flying over more lawns, and decorating a good number more bumpers before too long.

    The most sure fire way to get people to do something is to tell them not to. This is especially true of harmless acts that don’t require much expended effort.

    1. Well then that’s just proof that the liberals were right to hate everyone they suspected of being haters

    2. “The most sure fire way to get people to do something is to tell them not to.”

      This seems especially likely considering that, for supporters who aren’t really into the white power thing, the flag pretty much symbolizes the failure to appreciate being told what to do (even, granted, if that something is fairly laudable, like “don’t own slaves” or “don’t treat blacks like second class citizens”).

  19. Look, the elephant in the room here is actually whales. No, not the part of England where they talk funnier, but the sea-mammal. And its historic symbolic exploitation. Because they’ve actually been excluded from flags for generations. We should be outraged. Outraged! I for one insist south Carolina be the first to rectify their whalephobia forthwith.

    1. I for one insist south Carolina be the first to rectify their whalephobia forthwith.

      Gilmore, SC may be third in rectifying their whalephobia.

      Florida

      California

      1. This just proves my point. Progressive states are fixing things!

    2. Meh. I preferred the New England Whalers logo – a weapon. sans whale iconography.

      1. State-sanctioned symbolism of whale slaughter is like problematic in 8 dimensions and clearly needs regulation and education or something. Because progress.

      2. State-sanctioned symbolism of whale slaughter is like problematic in 8 dimensions and clearly needs regulation and education or something. Because progress.

  20. I note that the Virginia flag is unchanged since the Civil War.

    How is the flag of one of the leading states of the Confederacy, that sent more soldiers to fight than any other, not at least as objectionable as Robert E. Lee’s battle standard (which, by the way, is what the Stars and Bars actually is)?

    Seems to me like McAuliffe needs to tend to his own business here. Unless and until he proposes replacing the Virginia flag with one not associated with the Confederacy, he needs to STFU about how evil flags associated with the Confederacy are.

    1. Not only that, but most of the Civil War was held right here in Virginia!

      We should be given a time out from America to think about our, like, privilege ‘n’ shit.

      (Also, the Virginia flag has a booby on it, which might be triggering to some people)

      1. . the Virginia flag has a booby on it,

        The most sexist of birds. Its conception should be banned

    2. Get the terminology right: Stars & Bars refers to the Confederate Flag, not the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

  21. Go to http://www.dmvnow.com and see what specialty plates are available. There are a number that could be considered political or controversial. If VA wants to arbitrarily eliminate a design that went through the full vetting and petition process, they should get out of the specialty plate business altogether, even if it does make money for the state. Of course, that would be the fair and honest thing to do, so never mind.

  22. On ‘Rebels’, and banning their likenesses =

    The school banned the sale of all merchandise featuring Colonel Reb’s likeness this summer, and while supporters of the original mascot are petitioning to revive him, a student mascot committee is working to select a replacement. A suggestion made in jest, Admiral Ackbar, the leader of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars VI, garnered so much support that it was featured in an ESPN commercial

    – See more at: http://m.mentalfloss.com/artic…..PQkpc.dpuf

  23. I think the underlying premise is that Natural Law allows one sovereign entity to invade another for the purposes of emancipation. Individual rights of the slaves trump sovereignty.

    This is consistent with the British Naval policy that ended the trans atlantic slave trade.

    1. Does it also specify that the power can continue to occupy the other nation until the end of time even if the casus belli is long gone? I’m not even talking about the CSA here, but Germany, Japan, etc.

  24. The southern states were defending slavery by trying to secede. Somehow we seem to skip over the problem of how the federal government got the right to force the states which created it to remain in a union of sovereign states . Lincoln fought to preserve the federal union and prevent states from leaving, not to free the slaves. He so stated quite explicitly and did not free the slaves until the war was over. Freeing the slaves was be no means universally popular in the north, blacks were lynched during the anti-draft riots in NYC. Today the absolute supremacy of the federal government is accepted fact, an the idea of sovereign states is quaint and outmoded. The idea that the civil war was fought to free the slaves is at least partially statist propaganda since it makes the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands to achieve an aim almost every other country in the world achieved without bloodshed seem somehow noble arther than the result of political failure, and it bypasses the interesting question of whether individual entities can be forced to remain members of a collective they wish to leave.

  25. The war was fought over state SOVEREIGNTY. Before the war everyone said, “the United States are”, after they said, “the United States is”. People today don’t understand how at that time citizens identified with their states first and the US second.

    1. Lee turned down command of the Army of the Potomac offered to him by Lincoln because he felt a higher loyalty to Virginia.

  26. This shit is getting out of hand.

    Now they are banning the General Lee

    1. I’m starting to enjoy this. When things become this obviously insane, you can bet there’s going to be a backlash. And that backlash is gonna be one hell of a bitch.

    2. Well, we should ban all Mini’s that have the Union Jack painted on the roof – after all, the “jack” has the Cross of Saint Patrick in it too.

      1. No, really

        Then again, easy call to make. Next will be my precious Lynyrd Skynyrd.

  27. has it occurred to anyone at Reason (Barton Hinckle) that slavery died out in the civilized world at about the same time – and only in America are we told that a war that resulted in the deaths of 2% of the population was necessary to end it?

    Lincoln didn’t end slavery. The industrial revolution ended slavery for the civilized world. (It i still practiced in the Middle East and Africa.) What Lincoln did, via his War of Northern Aggression, was murder more Americans than any other president in an effort to keep the federal boot heel squarely on the necks of the agrarian states of the South. The Confederate flags were the flags of freedom. “Old Gory” was the flag of the oppressors and aggressors. If the Nazis had won WWII, our history books would be filled with the evils of America, Britain and Jews. In the same vein, because the North won Lincoln’s War, our history reflects the Northern view – which is that the Nazis – er – Yankees – did nothing wrong.

    1. Lincoln didn’t end slavery.

      What was that emancipation thingy I keep reading about?

      1. “Lincoln didn’t end slavery”, is macro; Emancipation is micro.

      2. The emancipation proclamation only ended slavery in confederate land. He was trying to incite a slave revolt and/or trying to get slaves to leave the south in hopes of hurting their war effort. It didn’t really free any slaves, especially when most slaves that did leave their plantations suddenly ended up on another in Union land.

  28. a Supreme Court decision last week made clear, license plates are essentially government identification tags…

    …a decision written by Stephen Breyer, and joined by Clarence Thomas.

  29. The intolerant left were the KKK and Dixiecrat racist of Woodrow Wilson’s party. I still find their intolerance palpable. Maybe they shift it from one thing to another, but the emotionally crippled progressive simply can’t help themselves. How come only now is the confederate battle flag so offensive? It always was. Bandwagon brigade. . . Let’s go!!!!

  30. “They were not defending states’ rights in the abstract?but rather a particular state right: the right to maintain a system of slavery.”

    This is not entirely accurate. When states rights are enacted, it is typically to resist action by the Federal Government. But prior to the Civil War, there were no Federal anti-slave laws enacted. So there was no need to use states rights to resist legislation which did not exist.

    In addition, when discussing states rights in the era of slavery, one should keep in mind that it was northern states nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act that protected escaped slaves. This was also a motivating factor in secession.

  31. Mr. Hinkle, Excellent article, but slavery existed in the North, and Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley indicated his desire was to preserve the union, not end slavery. Your point about a state not having rights may have been influenced by a post 17th-Amendment education. No disrespect is intended, but the election of Senators by state legislators created a sense of state rights at the time. States had representation in the Senate, while the people were represented in the House. Having representation is an interesting component of possessing rights. Do you agree? Finally, since I have brought up the Constitution, you’ll notice something special about it. We keep constitutional amendments in place, even after they are modified or superseded so we can see our past mistakes. Forgive the term, but white-washing our history of past mistakes is wrong. Finally, as we look back on our first amendment freedoms, we’ll notice a common theme. The most offensive speech at the time was highly contested and routinely shut down. In some cases, that very speech was the speech that led to women’s suffrage, or freedom from slavery. In this case, we don’t see an activist cause other than history or tradition. I’m sure there are some awful racists flying that flag too, but this freedom of speech must be protected and government censure of the confederate flag has demonstrated a slippery slope fallacy can sometimes come true as we see retail stores end sales of these flags.

  32. “The government should be able to control what its own documents say.”
    Are you freaking serious, Hinkle… who the hell makes up the “government”? Isn’t it suppose to be the people they represent? It’s correct that five states named slavery as a cause when they succeeded but you seem to be totally dismissive of the other six. Why is that… is it because they don’t fit in to your narrative? Listen, if the “government” is going to force me to place a number on my vehicle, so that they can tax and track me with it, the least they can do is let me choose the damn picture behind it!

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