Monday, November 2, 2015

The Confederate flag as symbol of US militarism

This is an interesting article linking the Confederate battle flag to the militaristic strain in US history and foreign policy.  It challenged a simplistic vision I've long held of the Confederate flag, and helped to answer a question I've always had about my people and my country.

My simplistic vision of the Stars and Bars has long been that it is a symbol of the greatest treason in the history of the US, the only serious existential threat we have ever had to our existence as a nation.  So it was always difficult for me to understand how anyone could wave the Confederate flag and declare themselves a loyal patriot of the Republic, especially while also declaring themselves vehemently opposed to what they perceive (and I do not perceive) as existential threats to the US (Islam, immigrants, human rights for blacks, etc.).  This article helps me to understand why not everyone subscribes to my cut-and-dried condemnation of the Confederate flag as totally incompatible with loyalty to the US.

The question I've long held is how to reconcile the ideals and the promise and the nobleness of the US, all the things I love about my country, with the many cynical and destructive actions we've taken or supported in the world, which I cannot support personally.  I think many people, both inside and outside the US, share this frustration and bewilderment with the simultaneous combination of noble ideals and immoral nihilism that the US sometimes seems to possess.  Anyway, the article's discussion of external expansionism and imperialism (what the author describes as a policy of endless war) as a means of responding to internal tensions and constituencies helped me to understand these contradictions a bit better.

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