Is the Confederate flag racist?
Debate Rounds (5)
Round 1 is for acceptance only. The fight starts in Round 2.
1. I do not believe any flag is inherently a symbol of racism, or, for that matter, an inherent symbol of anything.
2. The Civil War was about much more than just slavery. That is a fact, not an opinion.
Let me elaborate.
1. I believe that by their very nature, a flag in and of itself cannot be racist. A flag is an animate object, it cannot be racist, only people can be racist. Can the Confederate flag be used in a racist way? Absolutely it can, but so can any other flag. Yes, the Ku Klux Klan have used the Confederate flag, and they did use it as a symbol of hate, but they have also used the American flag, the Gadsden flag, and various state flags, but I don't believe any of those flags are racist either. I believe all those flags were used in racist ways, but I do not believe those flags by themselves were racist.
Let me give even more examples; I do not believe the old South African apartheid era flag is inherently racist, but I believe Dylan Roof (along with various other white supremacists) have used it as a symbol of racism(*). Nor do I believe the Rhodesian flag is racist, but Dylan Roof also used that flag in a racist way(*)
2. The American Civil War was about much more than just slavery. Trust me, when you've done as much research on the Civil War as I have, and trust me, I've done a lot, this becomes obvious to you. Just look at this quote from Robert E. Lee, leader of the Confederate army; "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil." (**) Here's another one; "I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South." (***) Lee was very against Slavery, there was no way he would have lead his state to war to protect slavery.
No, all of the Confederates, especially Lee, were fighting for states rights, their constitutional rights, for a government they could trust, and most importantly, their homes. Here's yet another quote from Lee to prove my point; "I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South its dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I did not pray for them." (****)
And thank you @raskuseal, for making another great point. The Confederate flag is also a Christian symbol. @winnerchickendinner, read the comments, if you haven't already read them.
1. What the flag represents
2. The flag supports racism
Something is considered racist based off how it affects the general population.
Now to elaborate
1. We must look to the inherent differences between the North and the South at the time in which the Civil War occurs. The obvious difference that comes in mind to the general population is the fact that slavery is legal in the South during the time of the Civil war while it was illegal in the North. According to the Civil War Trust, slavery was mentioned as a major reason in every state's declaration of secession from the Union. Doesn't it also seem strange that Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. Obviously slavery was a major issue for both sides, and the Proclamation would not have been issued had slavery not been a major, pressing issue. The South was on a mission, just like the comments said in a, "Christian fight for Liberty". First off, slavery doesn't seem very Christian to me, hopefully not to you. Liberty is certainly not embraced in the south. The definition of Liberty from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:
: the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice
The South certainly did not embrace these values for all people simply based off one thing, race. To me anytime somebody is punished for their race, the person or thing dishing out the punishment is to be considered racist. Obviously slavery was a portion of Southern culture at the time that was not intended to be changed had the south won, and the flag is a symbol for all of this, therefore making it racist.
2. Regardless of what the colors on the flag mean, or anything of that nature, we must look to the true meaning of the flag in order to understand what it means. The flag stood for racism. Nobody can contest that point. Slavery was a southern value at the time. I don't see slaves being emancipated if the North hadn't won the war. Racism is also deeply embedded in the south i.e. the Jim Crow laws. Even after slavery ended, the south was not ready to accept blacks as equals racially, therefore making them still racist well into the 1960s by nature. The flag certainly stands for these values if not worse because the north winning the war certainly expedited the phasing out of racism in the south.
Now for my rebuttals
"Something is considered racist based off how it affects the general population."
It's a flag, it has little to no affect on the general population. Besides, according to a national poll conducted in 2015, 57% of Americans say they believe the Confederate flag stands mainly for Southern pride, 10% said it could be Southern pride or racism, and a mere 33% of Americans view the flag exclusively as a symbol of racism (*)
"According to the Civil War Trust, slavery was mentioned as a major reason in every state's declaration of secession from the Union."
The state legislatures who wrote those ultimately had little impact on the events leading up to the war, or the events during the war, not like Robert E Lee did.
"Doesn't it also seem strange that Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War."
Well, he didn't have a chance to do it before; the Civil War started before he was even inaugurated. Or much of a chance to do it after; he was assassinated. Doesn't it seem a little weird that the South seceded before any federal action to restrict slavery was done?
"...it (slavery) was illegal in the North" Not in all states. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri (all slave states) remained with the union, as well as several territories where slavery was legal(**)
And if you still think the Civil War was a racist cause, you should look up the Corwin amendment, and more importantly, why the South didn't agree to it.
You should also read about the Black Confederate soldiers. Seems a little weird that men would fight to keep their own race enslaved, doesn't it?
Doesn't the flag represent the South? After all it was their flag that they used. Systematic racism existed in the South. Unless you want to argue that slavery didn't actually occur in the south. Regardless of what Robert E. Lee says his opinion doesn't matter unless he did anything to abolish slavery. He fought for a cause, the south being an independent country, which did embrace racism BECAUSE of slavery. Slavery is a form of systematic racism and the South stood for these values.
If the south was going to at any time abolish slavery, why did they not abolish it at the same time as the north?
Now to challenge a few points my opponent has made.
"You should also read about the Black Confederate soldiers. Seems a little weird that men would fight to keep their own race enslaved, doesn't it?"
You completely fail to realize that these black soldiers were slaves who were forced to fight in the war by their masters. They had no say in the war. If you are a slave, you are forced to do what your master tells you. That is it.
My opponent also fails to realize that Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky should not be considered full members of the Union because they all sent volunteers to the Confederacy. The states themselves were split. All that they actually sent volunteers to the Confederacy. Because like you said the state legislatures have "little say" in reality t is all about the people.
"Doesn't it seem a little weird that the South seceded before any federal action to restrict slavery was done?"
This statement is completely incorrect.
Founding of the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, a joining several state and regional antislavery societies into a national organization to promote abolition. Conference held in Philadelphia.
The first independent black churches in America (St. Thomas African Episcopal Church and Bethel Church) established in Philadelphia by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, respectively, as an act of self-determination and a protest against segregation.
Congress enacts the federal Slave Trade Act of 1794 prohibiting American vessels to transport slaves to any foreign country from outfitting in American ports.
The Republican Party, newly formed from various groups opposing the extension of slavery, holds its first convention in Philadelphia.
There indeed had been federal action, and there was a press to abolish slavery by many senators and house members from northern states.
YOU STILL DO NOT REALIZE THAT SLAVERY WAS LEGAL IN ALL OF THE SOUTHERN STATES, THAT WAS A VALUE THE CONFEDERACY STOOD FOR AND THE FLAG REPRESENTS THE CONFEDERACY
It's a symbol, it can stand for anything you want it to symbolize. If you want it to symbolize racism, it can. But it can also symbolize Southern pride.
" Slavery is a form of systematic racism and the South stood for these values."
You are aware that slavery and systemic racism once existed in the North too, right?
"You completely fail to realize that these black soldiers were slaves who were forced to fight in the war by their masters."
Not all of them. In fact, many of them were free men who fought for many of the same reasons their white neighbors did; state's rights. I'm not denying that slavery was a cause of the Civil War, but to say it was the main cause is absolute lunacy.
"My opponent also fails to realize that Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky should not be considered full members of the Union because they all sent volunteers to the Confederacy. "
Yes, they actually should. They did not secede from the union, therefore, they were part of the Union. There is no halfway point when it comes to being in the Union, either you are or you aren't. And volunteer fighters throughout history from gone all over the place. By your logic, America should be considered part of Spain because we went volunteer fighters to Spain in the Spanish Civil War. (*)
"This statement (about slavery) is completely incorrect."
Actually, it is.
The Emancipation Proclamation: Issued January 1st, 1863, during the war. (**)
The 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery: Ratified December 6, 1865, after the war had already ended. (***)
If you think the end of slave importation counts, it doesn't; there was still slavery long after that.
"YOU STILL DO NOT REALIZE THAT SLAVERY WAS LEGAL IN ALL OF THE SOUTHERN STATES, THAT WAS A VALUE THE CONFEDERACY STOOD FOR AND THE FLAG REPRESENTS THE CONFEDERACY"
Yes, I am fully aware that slavery is legal in the Confederacy. But just because it was legal doesn't mean the Confederacy fought for it. It just means it existed.
You've posted two rounds so far, and you've said nothing relevant. You have failed to provide any evidence that the South fought exclusively for slavery, or given valid points as to why you think the Confederate flag is a symbol for racism.
We judge things based off the values that they stand for.
Slavery was a value that the South stood for in the Civil War. (It was legal in all of the Confederate States of America)
Therefore because the flag stood for a country that stood for a racist value, the flag is racist.
How is a flag that represents a country in which slavery exists not racists?
What does it even matter if slavery wasn't a main cause of the civil war?
What does it matter what Robert E. Lee said, he wasn't making the laws by himself.
The fact that everybody can relate to is that the South ALLOWED SYSTEMATIC RACISM. Unless you can prove that slavery was illegal in the South, I will win this debate.
Also, remember that this debate is not about the American Flag, it's about the Confederate Flag. It took a war for the South to abolish slavery.
RACIST VALUES WERE ROOTED IN THE SOUTH AND THAT IS WHY THE FLAG THAT REPRESENTS THE OLE' SOUTH IS RACIST.
THE OLE' SOUTH ALLOWED SLAVERY.
The South considered slavery to be part of their "fight for liberty".
I think that I have already proven in Rd. 2 that slavery doesn't fit the definition of liberty.
Yes, actually it is. In fact, the title of this debate is "Is the Confederate flag racist?"
"ALL THAT I AM SAYING IS THAT THE CONFEDERATE FLAG STANDS FOR A RACIST VALUE, SLAVERY."
First off, capitalizing things doesn't make you right. More to the point, what you says defeats what I've been telling you the whole time; that flag can mean whatever the bearer of the flag, and only what the bearer of the flag, wants it to mean. I'll go back to my South African flag example; some people think it's just an old flag of a nation halfway around the world, other people, like Dylan Roof, thinks it stands for apartheid and white supremacy.
"Slavery was a value that the South stood for in the Civil War. " Slavery existed in the South, but by no means did the South stand for slavery.
"How is a flag that represents a country in which slavery exists not racists?"
The Confederacy no longer exists, nor does slavery in any of their states, so why are you using present tense?
"What does it even matter if slavery wasn't a main cause of the civil war?"
Um, because the Confederate flag stood for the men who fought for the Confederacy, so it absolutely matters why they fought.
"What does it matter what Robert E. Lee said, he wasn't making the laws by himself."
Um, because Robert E. Lee led the Confederate army.
"Unless you can prove that slavery was illegal in the South, I will win this debate."
Again, read the title of this debate. It says "Is the Confederate flag racist" not "Was slavery legal in the Confederacy?"
And if you still think that slavery was the South's only cause was slavery, you should do some research, and find out that very few white Southerners owned slaves. 95% of all the slaves in the South were owned by a mere 5% of the population (*). Slaves were a luxury item. Going to war over slavery would be like the modern United States going to war over diamond rings and luxury cars.
Closing Statement: Like all flags, the Confederate flag is not inherently a symbol of anything. What it symbolizes is up to whoever waves it; whether or not they mean it as a symbol of racism or a symbol of Southern pride is entirely their own decision, and no one else's. Besides, even if we can assume that a flag can be inherently racist, the Confederate flag would not meet those qualifications, because the Civil War was about much more than just slavery, many of my arguments have proven that. If my opponent still disagrees, I advise they read a history book on the Civil War, or American history in general.
Winnerchickendinner, thank you for debating with me. I greatly enjoyed this debate. If I could shake your hand right now, believe me I would.
- This statement still disproves yours on federal action. There was a faction that indeed wanted to get rid of slavery and the South knew it. i.e. The Republican Convention in 1856.
"Civil war was about more than just slavery"
-You still do acknowledge that even in the slightest, slavery was somewhat a reason for war. Even if somebody is a little racist, they are still considered racist. Racism is racism, and the idea of being enslaved simply because of your race, well.... the idea of saying that is not racism is just preposterous to me.
Final Focus: The Confederacy was in complete violation of the first amendment. The slaves (47 percent of the population) certainly had no liberty in their lives. That being said the reason why these people were not able to live up to their potential, and restricted was because of the fact that they were discriminated and punished due to simply their race. There were no white slaves in the confederacy, only black. Slavery itself is not automatically racist but slavery due to race in the case of the Confederacy absolutely is. A flag is the true representation of your country. Not everyone in the world knows exactly what the stars and stripes on the American flag mean, but everybody does know the true ideals of America. Perception is key, and America is perceived as the land of the free. The Confederacy at the time however was perceived incredibly unfavorably in the world because systematic racism still existed there. My opponent throughout this entire debate has tried to combat all of my arguments by reverting back to the simple principle that southern culture is what is truly represented by the flag, but this is false. Like I stated earlier, it is not culture; it is ideals. One of the chief ideals that was perceived by the rest of the world was that slavery due to race was legal in the South. Whether you may belittle this, or say it doesn't matter, SLAVERY WAS A VALUE THAT THE SOUTH STOOD FOR or else they would indeed have abolished it like the North did.
This debate is about the ideals of the country, which is what a flag represents. Slavery DUE TO RACE was an IDEAL of the South, and that is why their flag is racist.
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