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Opponents of flag misrepresent nature of the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Opponents of flag misrepresent nature of the Confederacy

I have closely followed the recent attacks on the Confederate flag flying over South Carolinas capitol, (In S.C., a clash over race, heritage, Jan. 16). The arguments for taking the flag down are based upon misunderstandings or misrepresentations of what the Confederacy originally stood for.

The Confederacy did not stand for slavery. The Confederate nation valued individual rights, liberty, state sovereignty, and self-determination. Most Americans still cherish these values.

The history of the period of the 1861-1865 affirms the courage, honor, sacrifice, and sense of duty of the Confederate soldier and the southern people.

It is unfortunate that certain extremist groups have misused the Confederate battle flag. These same groups also occasionally misused the American flag and the Christian cross.

But the misuse of the Confederate battle flag by a few does not change what it originally stood for.

It would be a mistake if South Carolina takes the flag down based upon misrepresentations about the Confederacy. And those who are so fervent in their demands to remove the flag are would in no way be satisfied if this were done.

Next would come demands to remove Confederate names from streets, schools and parks and probably an attempt to ban private citizens from flying Confederate flags.

My great-grandfather fought under the Confederate battle flag. I am proud of my Confederate ancestor, of the southern people and of everyone who honorably served in the Confederate army.

We should not give in to those who distort and besmirch Confederate symbols to achieve their own political goals.

Alan Sutherland

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Maryland division.

Confederate flag stands for honorable values

I was infuriated by Michael Oleskers comments about the Confederate flag and the Confederate cause (Maryland too has reminder of racism at State House, Jan 20).

Mr. Olesker wrote: . . . as if there was some kind of honor in defending slavery, implying that southerners only fought the Civil War to preserve slavery.

In fact, in 1860, the great majority of white southerners did not own slaves.

In addition, many Confederate officers freed their slaves years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Gen. Robert E. Lee even called slavery a moral and political evil.

If the average man was fighting to defend his home, and the leader of the Confederate army was fighting to protect his home state of Virginia, then how is that not an honorable cause?

Kevin Rodkey

Ellicott City

Since when is the Confederate flag a shameful anachronism (Hiding behind a flag, editorial, Jan. 21)?

Flying the Confederate flag is not a hateful or despicable gesture.

The idea of the flag being out of place, from a former time and not conforming to todays social standards is ludicrous.

The idea that Your heritage is my slavery is an excuse. Slavery is illegal in most of the world. None of the people in the groups protesting the Confederate flag is owned by another person.

I was born and raised in Virginia My family came to the United States in the 1840s. Weve never owned anyone.

Why should I have to give up part of my heritage just to appease someone else?

David Michael OBeirne

Relay

Flag can be a reminder of evils weve surmounted

I loathe the Confederate Flag as much as any other African-American, but I say, let the flag fly.

The Confederate flag is just as symbolic to African-Americans as to white Americans. It is a reminder of where we have come from, and how much we have accomplished since slavery.

It is a catalyst for African-Americans to continue to strive to achieve, so that we can enjoy the fruits of this great country.

The flag can instill in African-Americans the need to promote brotherly love among races, so the bigotry and hatred this flag represents will not again become the countrys accepted norm.

Let the flag fly. It will be a constant reminder that African-Americans have overcome segregation and slavery, and with the help of God, we will also overcome the enslavement of drugs.

L. J. Beal

Baltimore

D.W. Griffith: a racist who doesnt merit an award

I believe Sun film critic Ann Hornaday missed the boat in her discussion of the Directors Guild of America renaming its D.W. Griffith Award (Taking the easy way out, Jan. 16).

Contrary to Ms. Hornadays representation, Griffiths classic movie The Birth of a Nation did not just reflect the racial stereotypes of his era. Griffith helped shape those stereotypes into a larger interpretation of American history and the Reconstruction period.

Griffiths movie suggests the federal government unwisely attempted to force the South to change its social system and accept racial equality. Southerners who fought this through the Ku Klux Klan are the movies victorious heroes.

The movie unites a racist ideology with a political philosophy of states rights, creating a vision of politics and society that is still a powerful and corrosive force today.

To suggest that Griffiths work should be praised for encouraging a discussion of social issues is similar to suggesting that Joseph McCarthy should be praised for stimulating a debate about the number of Communists in American government.

It is completely appropriate for the Directors Guild to rename its highest award. Their decision is not an example of political correctness gone awry. It is merely common sense.

Alexander O. Boulton

Stevenson

The writer is a professor of history at Villa Julie College.

Dont blame Justice Taney for slavery or the Civil War

Michael Oleskers smug column, Maryland, too, has reminder of racism at State House(Jan. 20) demonstrates an ignorance of history as well as a cloying self-assurance that comes with the considerable benefit of historical insight.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney may not have been the finest chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but neither was he the worst. To chastise him for what was clearly a difficult decision legally and politically in the Dred Scott case does not add much insight into the temper of the times.

Given that constitutional law in the 1850s was tolerant of the institution of slavery in the states where it was legal, the Fugitive Slave Act most likely would have spelled bad news for Dred Scott, regardless of who ended up writing the decision. It would take more than mere abolitionist sentiment to deliver a knock-out punch to the Fugitive Slave Act.

To trash Taney, or his statue, by putting it in a graveyard somewhere, as suggested by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., misses the point.

Chief Justice Taney was a man of his times, perhaps no better than many but no worse than most. He should be judged on the totality of his career as a lawyer, public servant and chief justice.

His statue should remain on the State House lawn and continue to serve as a memorial to a dedicated son of Maryland.

His statue should also stand as a reminder of Marylands conflicted status as a loyal-to-the-Union border state, where the evil institution of slavery was protected by law, and only the outcome of a great Civil War would abolish it forever.

James Denny

Catonsville

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