No, Salon, There's No Reason to Think Frederick Douglass Would Agree With You on Banning the Confederate Flag as Hate Speech



Library of Congress

Over at Salon, Nick Bromell argues that the Confederate (battle) flag is a symbol of nothing but "pure hatred" that all Americans should recoil in horror from. Bromell quotes heavily from Frederick Douglass, who warned during and after the Civil War that the malignant racism that contributed to that conflict hadn't ended in America. The massacre at a black church in South Carolina by a white supremacist, for Bromell, proves that that "pestilence" hadn't abated yet—that little has changed. Never mind the reaction to the massacre—universal outrage and condemnation coupled with the taking down of the Confederate banner not just at the South Carolina state capitol and at other state capitols in the South but from online shopping sites , TV reruns, and even, briefly, video games.

In making the argument that the U.S. ought to ban the Confederate flag as hate speech, Bromell doesn't mention the First Amendment but does say he feels confident Frederick Douglass would agree. The First Amendment and the Confederate battle flag, of course, both existed when Douglass was alive. Racists in the South were already adopting specific symbols to broadcast their beliefs. There's no record of Douglass calling for any of these emerging symbols to be banned.

More importantly, there's no evidence Frederick Douglass had as wishy-washy and relativist attitude toward the First Amendment and free speech as many liberals today do. In 1860, Frederick Douglass made a "plea for free speech" in Boston after some Northern "gentlemen" broke up an abolitionist meeting. Unpopular ideas deserve protections of free speech too, argued Douglass, and that they applied to all people not just "a particular description of persons."

 To Douglass, the right to free speech was a "sacred" right, one that filled tyrants with dread, with horror. "There can be no right of speech," Douglass argued, "where any man, however lifted up, or however humble, however young, or however old, is overawed by force, and compelled to suppress his honest sentiments." It shouldn't be surprising for people who understand Douglass valued liberty as a principle and ideal and not just as an ends for himself.

Related: A reminder about free speech for Bromell and other partisans, on the left and right, who don't yet understand how that deceptively simple concept works.

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  1. CatBlog fight!

    1. I believe the term is, surely, “punching down”.

      1. nice

  2. Why is THAT AMERICAN HERO not on the 10 dollar bill?!

    1. Because The Man kept him off it, my bruthah.

      1. I keep hearing that it is a woman’s turn.

        1. Just another plot by The Man to keep my people down.

          /Nat X

    2. I asked the same thing a few weeks ago.

  3. If we’re going to start banning hate speech, articles at Salon would be some of the first to go.

    1. I’m OK with people voluntarily throwing Salong articles in the rhetorical “woodchipper” any time.

      When’s Salon going to start setting the “WWFDD?” bracelets?

      1. I hate Salon so very much that irl I refer to it as ‘Schlong.com’.

        1. So you DON’T like “schlong”…

          *nods head – makes note*

    2. It’s OK because Salon only hates the ‘right’ people.

    3. Hate speech is judged not by what is said, but by who says it.

      1. Yeah, this is what I’d expect an anarcho-capitalist libertardian pig like you to say….

        1. Piss off, statist pigfucker.

      2. Sadly, this seems to be what many people believe. It is certainly how many of them speak and act.

    4. Well, Nick Bromell sure did expend a lot of speech on how much he hates the rebel flag, hates the fact that people claim a free speech right to wave that flag. I call upon Salon to take down this hateful article and issue an apology for providing a forum to such hate speech.

  4. I’ve also heard Proggies claim that the man who said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” would support Affirmative Action. Think about it, Affirmative Action is the exact opposite of what Dr. King asked for. They truly live in the Bizarro World…

    1. To be fair… I don’t think he meant it.

      1. Let’s get Frederick Douglass’ Ghost to weigh in on this…

        He disagrees.


        1. I tried contacting Spooner but it didn’t work for me. I’m not sure why.

          1. needz moar Ouija board!!

        2. Socrates thinks you’re being irrational

      2. What makes you think he didn’t mean it? King may have been rather unlibertarian on a number of issues, but as far as I can see he genuinely wanted all people to be treated simply as humans and not as members of special classes.

    2. Why do the left have this need to reach back in time and try to channel such men as support for their bullshit?

      1. Love how the Proggies have lately been using Jesus to support their causes like welfare and big government. As if people with guns taking people’s property and giving it to others is the same as charity.

        1. I think Jesus’ spokesperson on earth has contributed a bit to that lately.

          I don’t think this strategy is new so much. I seem to remember the left using Jesus to support the welfare state back in the 60’s and 70’s.

          1. Let the coercive power of Christ compel you…

        2. As if people with guns taking people’s property and giving it to others is the same as charity.

          Voluntary charity isn’t fair because people can get away without contributing. It’s only fair if everyone contributes. That’s why all charity should be done by government, because government makes it fair. Besides, government is The People. It says it right there in the Constitution. So government charity is simply The People administrating charity. That makes it good and wonderful. Duh. Everyone knows this.

          1. It’s just common sense really

        3. People with guns, and before that swords, have been using Jesus to justify all kinds of stuff since at last 380.

          1. people forget that the last word in the sentence “In hoc signo…” Is “conquere”.

        4. They have been doing that for nearly a hundred years. Every time a progressive Christian calls for instituting a “kingdom of heaven” on earth, collectivists perk up their ears as though they’ve heard a dog whistle audible only to utopians.

          1. Strike the nearly. Much older than that.

        5. Progressive Christianity is nothing new. I don’t think that anyone gets to claim Jesus is on their side politically.
          While welfare state programs are not charity, Jesus also did say to shut up any pay your taxes and not to complain about the government. Christianity worked much better as a religion of the oppressed. It seems to me (not a Christian) that no good Christian could ever seek or hold political power.

          1. Jesus also did say to shut up any pay your taxes and not to complain about the government.

            Not really true at all. Where did he say that? “Render unto Caesar”? The coin was inscribed with “son of the divine”, in other words “Render unto Caesar” would mean give him what he deserves, as far as he actually is “son of the divine” (he said this in the temple of God, where one shouldn’t bring idols of blasphemous statements… so the coin already didn’t belong there.)

            In fact, the only positive statement on paying the temple tax, he said “But so that we may not cause offense…” and had Peter pay the tax with the coin found in the fish’s mouth.

            As for holding political office or holding power of any kind, the advice was always to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). If you do good with it, meaning not to violate Christ’s extension of NAP (do unto others) and to actually ensure justice is done, then yes, one could hold political power.

            The odds of actually being legally able to be just and good and hold political power are very small in modern America, but it isn’t impossible. I do believe the best example of this would be… Ron Paul, actually.

        6. Generally speaking, if you want people to believe something, you just say “it’s for Jesus” and lots of people will listen. This is because the majority of people who call themselves “Christian” are Biblically illiterate.

          (From a Christian Fundamentalist libertarian.)

      2. Because they KNOW he would disagree with them and they think calling him a retroactive “Uncle Tom” might generate blowback…

    3. King was not exactly a moral paragon wrt many things political or personal. If he had not died young, I suspect people would view him in more or less the same light as Jesse Jackson rather than a martyr.

      And King was all for the special measures for politically oppressed classes, which is to say he supported the state oppressing someone else to make amends for past oppression. He was exactly the sort of person who would respond to state-backed Jim Crow by supporting state-backed CRA cutouts.

    4. “Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic.”

      “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”


      1. Shame your people killed him.

    5. Actually, he did support Affirmative Action. He also wanted blacks to be prioritized when buying houses. It’s a shame, but he’s got a lot of flaws that don’t make it into the modern history lesson.

  5. Free speech is far more important than our fragile emotional state these days. We’ll miss free expression a lot more than we’ll be glad we can’t be offended. . .except in officially approved ways, anyhow.

    Not a tragedy can go by these days without it being turned to political purpose. It’s obscene. There’s barely a word spoken about those poor people who got murdered by a whacked-out fuckface.

    1. But we’ve pulled down the confederate flag, so mission accomplished.


      p.s., the flag stuff was never about the dead, it’s about the agenda. That’s all that counts.

      1. They’ve done so much of this sort of nonsense that I think it’s not working on most people anymore, and I think the new normal goes back to the old normal fairly quickly. I don’t really give a fuck about identity politics at all. That’s a direct result of the “politics” part of the term.

        1. What amazes me is how quickly the focus changed from the dead in that church to this flag shit. I mean, these poor people weren’t in the ground and the confederate flag was taking national attention. The left turned our attention to it and now it’s what everyone is still talking about. How the fuck does that happen?

          1. It’s the media. So many reporters and commentators are lefties these days that they take up the flag–so to speak–as soon as it becomes apparent that that’s the political issue du jour. While I think some of that is organized and intentional, a lot of it is just people deferring their own judgment to their political leaders. . .such a bad and, frankly, unethical idea.

            1. I agree that the media plays a huge role. I think what gets me more is that the people on the right reactively and often defensively just follow along, including those in the media (Fox News and Rush LImbaugh come to mind, but I am sure there are many others). It’s as though they don’t know how to initiate and push their own narratives. Or at least counter that of the left.

            2. Additionally, there are those who believe in the “Never let a crisis go to waste” camp, many of whom I doubt actually care about people as individuals. Here it would seem that the agenda is their focus, and anything which can be harnessed to further the agenda must be used/misused.

              1. My comments were in response to Pro, but I think they tie in with the Wizard’s as well.

          2. My theory on how it happened:

            -gun control dog wouldn’t hunt, and so they couldn’t clamber on corpses to grandstand on the issue
            -but, they figured, if they go for SC capitol flag, GOP would get into culture war fight
            -Stupid Party for once decided to not be stupid and went “yeah, let’s take it down”

            So, now they would look stupid if they stopped, so it was time to go full retard to see if they could get any pushback they could wage war on. Which left them looking even more stupid, but it’s in Emperor’s New Clothes territory now – you can’t stop for fear of looking dumb, so you keep going, knowing you’ll look even dumber if you stop.

      2. The thing about the flag, at least over here in my part of SC, is the only people who really give a shit are the upper middle class white people I went to school with and their parents. People with other things to worry about don’t care. Probably because we’re all so dumb and poor.

        1. Oh yeah, signalling, that’s what it’s about. #OneSC

  6. “Over at Salon, Nick Bromell argues”

    Ed’s being too generous by half. This is an exercise in particularly lazy bomb throwing (bomb lobbing?), not an argument. Even if the flag were a symbol of hatred or if Saint Douglass would not have liked it, it does not follow that it should be banned.

    I look forward to Bromell’s next article explaining why Korea’s national flag is a symbol of hatred and repression to right-thinking Japanese everywhere or his subsequent assertion that the star and crescent should be outlawed via etatist violence as pernicious hate speech.

    1. Almost always people on the left that want to ban free speech… wonder why that is….

      1. “DON’T BURN THAT FLAG!!!” – Team Red

        1. They’re pyrophobic.

      2. Because they’re deeply insecure about their own beliefs and are afraid of opposing viewpoints. Most of what they believe is based on whims and feelings that don’t hold up to scrutiny. But everyone here already knows this…

        1. Well said.

      3. There’s plenty of assholes on the right who want to do the same. Don’t kid yourself.

    2. The Democrats were the party of segregation for over a century. Is the Donkey symbol a form of hate speech that should be banned?

      1. Yes, but those were Southern democrats, who were really Republicans in disguise, not good and educated people like modern Obama voters.

        And let’s just skip over the part where we talk about eugenics, prohibition, and the progressive “melting pot” of the early 20th century that was intended to stamp out immigrants’ cultural identity.

        1. I am pretty sure anyone who is handicapped or has a handicapped friend or loved one can claim the Democratic Party needs a trigger warning, since they endorsed the state sanctioned sterilization or outright murder of your loved one.

      2. Yes. And black people should all be required to vote Republican since Lincoln was a Republican.

    3. I think anyone wearing a “Che” t-shirt should be punished by summary execution…

  7. To Douglass, the right to free speech was a “sacred” right, one that filled tyrants with dread, with horror

    That can’t be right. Nick Brommell is filled with dread and horror about people expressing themselves in certain ways. And he couldn’t possibly be a tyrant.

    1. Shhhhhhhhhh!

  8. “Donald Trump – your thoughts?”

    1. No Mexican flags?

    2. Mexican’ts, amirite?

  9. The article is BS and sinister, however, a lot of the comments are encouraging for a Salon piece.

    1. Thank you for bravely wading in and saving the rest of us the potential exposure.

      1. You know all hyperbole aside, it’s true, I actually do kind of have to brace myself before heading over to Salon, there really should be a trigger warning for the whole site…do others feel this way or am I just some kind of delicate hot-house orchid?

        1. I agree. I stopped visiting that cesspool long ago, mostly due to the predictably stupid pieces of shit that pass as journalism and its proglodyte commenters.

          1. Damn, now I want to buy the flag and watch Dukes of Hazard reruns…but where!

    2. Look, I’m as northern as they come. Great grandfather was fireman on the Lincoln funeral train.

      And I have no love for the Confederate battle flag.

      But I’m not Southern.

      It’s a symbol of “home” in a way that is not imaginable to anybody who didn’t grow up there. It has gained a life and a symbolism of its own far separate from its battle origins.

      Yes, it’s a symbol of treason. Yes, it has no place over government buildings, or in them–unless displayed in Northern state capitols as having been captured in combat from Southern units.

      But it doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. And you, sir, in declaring this thing to be an “American swastika,” merely want to demonize perhaps a hundred million of your fellow countrymen.

      Put a sock in it. Or better yet, a rainbow flag.

      My god, you guys! Apparently symbols have multiple meanings that shift with their historical and cultural relevance!

      Also, is there anything more historically illiterate than someone trying to argue that a symbol has only one interpretation, and cites the swastika as an example? Would Bromell demand Jainists, Hindus and various Asian cultures be arrested for their obvious use of hate symbols?

      1. Yes, it’s a symbol of treason.

        No, it isn’t. Not even a little bit. This person needs to read what article 1 section 13 *actually* says.

        1. If they consider the states’ departure from a union they explicitly created to be an act of treason, they must be well and truly pissed at Jefferson, Washington, and co. Owning slaves might be the least of their sins, what with their explicit treason to the Crown. They didn’t even have an old piece of paper to justify their belief in self-determination, unlike the CSA treason.

          1. The Founders were traitors to England. They expected that England would defend its claim to the colonies by force of arms, and they knew that unless they won, they would be hanged.

          2. Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
            Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

        2. Also, as a member of the Commonwealth, it’s hilarious seeing Americans throw around the accusation of ‘treachery’. I mean, your entire country was founded on being (whether justified or not) traitors to the Crown. How is the American flag not equally a symbol of ‘treachery’? Oh right, it’s arbitrary attempt at name-calling, it’s not meant to be consistent.

          1. No. King George was the traitor to the heritage of English common law with his usurpation of powers that weren’t rightly his. Through revolution, the American colonies preserved the legacy of rule by law, and ultimately caused reforms in the rule of the British Empire as well. Or so my public education had led me to believe.

            1. So is it too late for *us* to have an unwritten Constitution?

              1. Really? What do you think we have now?

                (The unwritten part is in the penumbra.)

            2. I should qualify that I don’t really see being a ‘traitor’ to a villainous shitbag as a moral problem.

              I assume at least some of America’s founding fathers swore oaths in favour of British rule at some point in time (if not I’d love to be corrected, but I seem to remember Washington really wanting a commission in the British Army pre-Revolution, for example). It’d certainly make them treasonous, but that brings up the moral standard of treason. I don’t think you can really fault, say, the July 20th plotters as traitors.

              1. You’re right; Washington never got a commission as a British Army officer, but he really wanted one and did fight under General Edward Braddock near the start of the French and Indian War. Washington was pretty loyal to England pre-Revolution.

  10. As much as I hate seeing Che T-shirts, I find them useful for identifying idiots. Those shirts might as well have an arrow pointing to themselves that says, “I’m with Stupid.”

    1. have an arrow pointing to themselves that says, “I’m with Stupid.”


    2. +AMEN to that. *dons tie dyed mushroom people shirt and goes looking for a job

  11. Those Duke boys were so hateful.

    1. Aside from being an almost perfect archetype for rednecks, the Dukes also dared to challenge the Kingsmen. You know progs just hate Bo and Luke with the heat of a thousand sun’s.

    2. Didn’t they have a very special episode where they lynched some blacks? Or did they exhibit no racism at all on the show? I can’t remember which, it was so long ago, and I have trouble remembering anything, because of the PTSD I have from seeing that flag.

    3. Roscoe P. Coltrane just wanted to wet his beak a little. Those Duke boys should have shown him some respect.

    4. Aw, they weren’t never meanin’ no harm.

  12. All speech is free, or no speech is free. That is all.

  13. It’s been just over seventy years since V-E Day. I can remember seeing Nazi symbols blown up, torn down and generally defaced in old newsreels. Europe was cleansed of just about any symbol of National Socialism by the end of 1945 and any evidence of its recurrence was hated, mocked and despised.

    Somehow, this failed to stop the rise of skinheads, other Neo-Nazi groups and the perpetration of horrors like the mass murders committed by Anders Breivik.

    Yeah, flag-banning really works, doesn’t it?

    1. “Yeah, flag-banning really works, doesn’t it?”

      Well, I don’t know. Show me an example of a banned flag. I bet you can’t, therefore the ban worked.

  14. Let’s make the Confederate flag a hate crime: It is the American swastika and we should recoil it from it in horror

    Surely Mr. Bromell realizes that swastikas and nazi flags are perfectly legal and protected by the first amendment?

    1. Anti-Semite!


    2. But not in Germany, and the Germans are far more enlightened than us. Especially now that they have a minimum wage.

  15. “More importantly, there’s no evidence Frederick Douglass had as wishy-washy and relativist attitude toward the First Amendment and free speech as many liberals today do.”

    Well, his attitude on the Constitution sure did waver. That’s kind of evidence!

    Is it, here me out now, just possible that Salon just puts out bombastic articles for the attention?

  16. Aside from being a pussy, Bromell plainly has no understanding of human nature. This stupid cultural jihad isn’t making people “recoil in horror”. They’re going to be louder, prouder, and more in-your-face with it. His smug arrogance may play well in his favorite progressive coffee shop, but he should try meeting some regular folks and getting to know them. It would be an educational experience for him.

  17. “Over at Salon, Nick Bromell argues that the Confederate (battle) flag is a symbol of nothing but “pure hatred” that all Americans should recoil in horror from”

    On the other hand, Soviet Union flags, Che T-shirts and various other assorted symbols of the communist ideology that have killed more people than any other belief system on earth are perfectly A-OK.

    1. Which is ironic, because if the Soviet proles were dark-skinned, and the Party elites were light skinned, the USSR would basically just been the CSA taken to 11.

  18. As I understand it, the government is taking the Confederate flag off government buildings, and private actors are taking the confederate flag off of their products.

    Is there a case of the *government* banning that flag on *private* property?

    1. They’re removing the flag from (public) war memorials and from (public) national and state parks. Imagine going through Arlington and chiseling off all the crosses as a symbol of hate and religious persecution and you have an idea of what this means to those who have war-dead in their history. It’s a latter-day book burning.

      It’s also an excellent reminder that public property belongs to everyone but you.

      1. I hadn’t thought of it that way before…

      2. You can also make a case that if libertarians want to get anywhere politically it’s important to not just promote libertarianism politically, but also culturally. This entire series of events have been an exercise in cultural totalitarianism. They’re commanding from on high that a symbol has only one interpretation and that it is impossible for it to be anything but that. No subjectivity or individual interpretation, only the apparently objective truth they peddle. Not only is this nonsensical in regards to actual history and the use of symbols/flag/etc., but its about enforcing a specific mindset that cannot be questioned.

        The other element of this is the ‘slippery slope’. People are freaking out about the Confederate flag now, but this shit show iconoclasm, if applied consistency, would go after a lot more than that. Notorious’ own faith uses a symbol that was originally purely one of torture. Should we strip it from the memorials it’s on for its past history as a subjective icon of terror? Or because of the subjective interpretations of what it means, by say, New Atheists? There’s zero consistency to the application of this ‘objective interpretation’ of symbols that people are demanding on the Confederate flag only.

        1. A cross is closer to the American Swastika than a confederate flag, anyway. Provided that it’s on fire.

          1. A Star of David is closer to a Satanic symbol than a confederate flag, anyway. Provided that it has five points instead of six.


    2. Is there a case of the *government* banning that flag on *private* property?

      Possibly, depending on how the gift shops that it is being removed from are set up and run.

      If they are run by private concessionaires, as I’m pretty sure many of them are, then the feds demanding the removal of the Confederate Flag from their shops is probably banning the flag on private property.

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  20. The Progressive mindset is to remove and rewrite history rather than redeem it. There are two groups that I am aware of that view the Confederate Flag as a symbol of racism: Those opposed to it, and the KKK. Obviously the Klan is stuck in the past. They view the flag as a symbol of white supremacy and “The South Shall Rise Again!” as we all know, but of course they see it in a positive light. Those offended by the flag see it as a symbol of white supremacy and hate as well, but of course in a negative light. Both groups have essentially refused to move forward. The only people being truly punished by removing the flag from state grounds and shaming others to not wear it or fly it, are the people who are supportive of the flag. The flag supporters talk about the South, and Southern Heritage, and a Rebellious spirit…not about racism. I could talk all day about this. I did write an article on this situation in more detail. Any feedback is appreciated: No Sinless Flags – http://wolfandiron.com/no-sinl…..edemption/

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