Shelby Foote on the Confederate Battle Flag

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Shelby Foote explains his thoughts on the Confederate battle flag:

The flag is a symbol my great grandfather fought under and in defense of. I am for flying it anywhere anybody wants to fly it. I do know perfectly well what pain it causes my black friends, but I think that pain is not necessary if they would read the confederate constitution and knew what the confederacy really stood for. This country has two grievous sins on its hands. One of them is slavery — whether we’ll ever be cured of it, I don’t know. The other one is emancipation — they told 4 million people, you’re free, hit the road, and they drifted back into a form of peonage that in some ways is worse than slavery. These things have got to be understood before they’re condemned. They’re condemned on the face of it because they take that flag to represent what those yahoos represent as — in their protest against civil rights things. But the people who knew what that flag really stood for should have stopped those yahoos from using it as a symbol of what they stood for. But we didn’t — and now you had this problem of the confederate flag being identified as sort of a roughneck thing, which it is not….

I don’t object to any individual hiding from history, but I do object to their hiding history from me. And that’s what seems to me to be going on here. There are a lot of terrible things that happened in American history, but we don’t wipe ’em out of the history books; we don’t destroy their symbols; we don’t forget they ever happened; we don’t resent anybody bringing it up. The confederate flag has been placed in that position that’s unique with an American symbol. I’ve never known one to be so despised.

(Hat tip to Foseti.)


  1. Adam says:

    Well, I’m generally a big fan of Mr. Foote’s, but I just can’t go there with him on this one. I’m familiar with the arguments, and I also recognize that there are lots of smart folks whose views are diametrically opposed to my own, but it seems to me that the secession documents, and many, many, many statements made by confederate leadership, support the view that “what the confederacy really stood for” includes, at its core, the preservation of slavery. Yes, tariffs, yes states’ rights, yes imperial presidency (yes, I read “emancipating slaves, enslaving free men,” too) but I just don’t see how to get around slavery at the core of this. And furthermore, this was a flag (and yes I’m aware that what most of the public thinks of as “the confederate battle flag” isn’t precisely the confederate battle flag that was actually used) that was used to mount an insurrection. Against my country. Nobody asked me, but if any body did, I would say, have done with it.

  2. Coyote says:

    Sir, some further research and study will reveal to you that you are “almost there” in admitting that “other factors” were at the heart of the war which began several years before President Lincoln had to capitulate to bankers (funding abolitionist terrorism in the North) to bring the Abolitionist movement into the war on behalf of the Union. The South at that time could compete economically with slaves; slavery would have been unviable even in the South in less than 50 years. The North press ganged Scots-Irish immigrants into the war on the Union side; it was, perhaps, fortuitous that the English aristocracy were forcing their landholders off their holdings so that they could buy sheep to raise instead of crops. The “merchants” who were becoming politically influential in Parliament and in the City had much to do with this drastic change in England at the time. England always vowed to regain the colonies; with the establishment of the “Fed” in 1913, several Lords were quoted as remarking that the colonies were once more “back in the proper hands.”

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    Everyone is over-thinking this, when it’s rather simple really. Attacking the Dixie flag is merely a way of indirectly attacking whitey.

    After all, we have to somehow collectively repent for the recent church shooting. And you can’t be not racist even if you’re only symbolically standing upright, so bend over!

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