The historic takedown of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capital has been portrayed as a reaction to racism due to the murder of the nine people in Charleston.
No doubt the Stars and Bars represents racism in the nation’s history. No doubt it represents a history of slavery and human subjugation in our nation. No doubt it represents more than slavery and racism in the nation’s history. The Stars and Bars primarily represented a national, political, and constitutional identity.
The heart of the Stars and Bars was constitutional, whether the states of the United States could/should/would determine their own affairs with minimal federal involvement. Slavery was already an issue in the Constitution. The Confederacy seceded over states’ rights, and the United States sought to reverse secession — to preserve the Union.
Lincoln said, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it.” Slavery was a subset in a much bigger Constitutional crisis.
My fear is the taking down of the Stars and Bars indicates far more than a symbol of ending racism.