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Ban the Confederate Flag

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California takes a significant step in what I think should be a movement to ban the Confederate flag:

Starting next year, the Confederate flag will no longer be available for sale or on display at government agencies in California. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law that prohibits selling or displaying items that have the flag on it.

The law was introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton after his mom saw a replica Confederate at the Capitol gift shop. As a person of color, Hall says the state should avoid promoting symbols of racism. The gift shop no longer displays or sells the item.

This only applies to sales in places owned by the state, so racists will still be able to buy their Confederate flags at shops off the highway in Needles or whatever. But the state officially designating the symbol as racist and thus moving it in the popular mind as a symbol of hate speech that should eventually be banned nationwide is a really positive move here. Other states should follow California’s lead.

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  • rea

    Free speech would be violated by a general ban, though certainly not by a ban against the government selling or displaying it.

    • Alan Tomlinson

      Excrement.

      Alan Tomlinson

      • Tyto

        No, actually. Given the current state of Con Law and (in my view, correct) normative notions regarding free speech, you’re just wrong.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      A ban?

      This is a horrible violation of my 1st Amendment rights!

      How can I have a Confederate Flag Burning if I can’t get a Confederate flag to burn?

      PARTICULARLY since 15 Nov 2014 is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Sherman’s March to the Sea, and would be an AWESOME occasion for a mass Confederate Flag Burning event!

      Who’s with me?

      • Lee Rudolph

        No one (yet) has suggested that you can’t sew one of your own!

        Failing that, crayons and Manila paper might be your little friends. (Just stay out of the library paste, okay?)

  • DiTurno

    You mean banning the Confederate flag in state operated stores, right? The last two sentences sound as if you’re arguing for a blanket ban, which wouldn’t be constitutional. (It would also make the battle flag an even more powerful symbol of “rebellion” to the mouthbreathers.)

    • Alan Tomlinson

      More excrement.

      Alan Tomlinson

      • DiTurno

        Thanks for that thoughtful reply.

    • I am arguing for a blanket ban, equivalent to the Nazi flag in modern Germany.

      • rea

        Oh, good–we’ll only ban evil speech, as determined by a vote of Congress! That will work well! Problem solved!

        • The anti-Nazi flag laws work well enough in Europe, where they have been generally successful.

          • busker type

            if a confederate flag ban were somehow deemed constitutional (which would never happen, thank goodness) it would open the floodgates for laws banning speech about abortion, homosexuality, climate change, vaccinations, military operations etc. etc. I don’t know which laws would pass and in what form, but some of them would and all of them would be horrible.

            does the dictum “don’t feed the trolls” apply when it’s a blog author who’s trolling?

            • Where trolling = “an author taking a position with which I disagree.”

              If you can’t use terms correctly, don’t comment.

              • The Dark Avenger

                There is this little thing known as the 1st Amendment, which has no equivalent in German law…………………..

                • I understand the Constitutional issues that make a widescale ban presently impossible. What I am saying is that they are a problem to be solved when it comes to the Confederate flag.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  How would you ‘solve’ this problem, short of a new Amendment to the Constitution?

                • daveNYC

                  The First Amendment is a ‘problem to be solved’?

                  Yeah, lets go there, what could possibly go wrong?

                • The 5 conservative justices on the Supreme Court already see it this way and are succeeding in solving it for themselves.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  If you think the present 5 will rule to ban the Confederate flag, I have a bridge over the Tule River I’d like you to take a look at………

                • Obviously. That’s not my point. This is beginning to remind me of a lot of conversations here, where if something isn’t a short-term political possibility, it is seen as irrelevant.

                • Schadenboner

                  Eric, I think the real issue here is that you’ve decided that the banning of the Confederate Battle Flag is of such raging importance so as to morally justify putting the First Amendment in jeopardy, without even a pretense of an argument as to why this flag, among all the other ones beneath which the forces of tyranny and oppression have marched, is such a dangerous object that it should be given such power.

                  To say that this is an unproven assumption gives you too much credit as you haven’t even tried to prove it.

                • Malaclypse

                  This is beginning to remind me of a lot of conversations here, where if something isn’t a short-term political possibility, it is seen as irrelevant.

                  Personally, I’m against it not because of the difficulty of amendment, but because I see 1A as a genuinely Good Thing.

                • sibusisodan

                  This is beginning to remind me of a lot of conversations here, where if something isn’t a short-term political possibility, it is seen as irrelevant.

                  What? What? All I suggested was that we reinstate the British monarch as head of state in the US.

                  Jeez, just because it’s not a short-term possibility don’t get all grumpy at me…

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Banning the Confederate flag outright isn’t going to happen, short-term or long-term politics.

                  One doesn’t have to be a constitutional scholar to realize that.

                • Neither is socialism but am not supposed to fight for that either?

                • rea

                  Bans on red flags were enacted into law in many jurisdictions, but are now generally regarded as unconstitutional.

                  So, yeah, it’s legal to advocate socialism

                • daveNYC

                  So your plan is to fight to have the First Amendment not apply to things you don’t like?

                • Ah yes, the idea that the Constitution somehow actually protects our abstract freedoms as opposed to the beliefs of the people who are able to access enough power to control its interpretation.

                  When the 4th Amendment still exists as anything more than words on paper, I’ll take seriously the argument that the Constitution shouldn’t just apply how we want it to apply.

                • Malaclypse

                  So your plan is to fight to have the First Amendment not apply to things you don’t like?

                  In the list of banned ideas and words, the “vodka martini” shall be first up against the wall.

                • You are lining yourself up for a sweet position as director of homeland security in my administration with these ideas.

                • SIS1

                  When the 4th Amendment still exists as anything more than words on paper, I’ll take seriously the argument that the Constitution shouldn’t just apply how we want it to apply.

                  Well perhaps we should be trying to ensure that the 4th Amendment is more than words on a page, as opposed to deciding to dilute the other Amendments similarly.

                  Also, if you were to dilute the 1st amendment as we have the 4th, its certainly not symbols of racism and segregation that would get banned in most places.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  Nothing in the Constitution against socialism per se, Prof. Loomis, vs. the 1st Amendment’s simple clear language about freedom of expression.

                • Lurker

                  What do you mean? Every European Union member country has a constitutional clause guaranteeing freedom of speech. In fact, such clauses are better written than the US 1st Amendment. The US 1st Amendment guarantees, literally read, only the freedom of press and the freedom to assemble for the purpose of petitioning the government. Its wide interpretation is a result of 200 years of jurisprudence. The 1st amendment did not prevent the enforcement of Alien and Sedition Acts.

                  In Europe, the clauses are defined better. For example, the Finnish constitution states:

                  Everyone has the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech means the right to reveal, publish and receive facts, opinions and other informational data without anyone setting a priori obstacles. Detailed ordinancies for the use of freedom of speech shall be made only via acts of Parliament. An act of Parliament can set such limitations for distribution of visual programs as are strictly necessary to protect children.

                  This defines the content of the freedom of speech much better than the 1st amendment, and it protects the individual not only against the government but also against private actors.

                  Then, the democratic process decides how the freedom of speech is regulated. Here, we ban incitement against groups of people, but allow Nazi symbols and don’t criminalize Holocaust denial. But we do criminalise blasphemy, against any religion that has at least 20 adherents and bothers to register.

                • wjts

                  The US 1st Amendment guarantees, literally read, only the freedom of press and the freedom to assemble for the purpose of petitioning the government.

                  No, it doesn’t: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

              • joe from Lowell

                Accusing you of trolling is being kind.

                The other option is that you actually mean it.

                • Schadenboner

                  #Loomispitch ?

                • Oh, I absolutely mean it.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Nah, trolling.

                • I’m glad this post made your day.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Way to knock down the “trolling” charge.

          • Ronan

            afaik most of europe doesnt have a ban on the nazi flag, or (by extension) an issue with large scale nazi flag waving.
            I dont see what the measure of ‘successful’ is for countries that have banned it. In Germany it appears to be primarily an outgrowth of de-Nazification, so makes some sense(as the laws were implemented in the wake of ww2 not 100+ years later)
            Whether it’s a ‘success’, beyond catering to alan tomlinsons aesthetic preferences, I dont know.

            • Ronan

              ..or to put it another way, isnt the problem that people dont associate the confederate flag with slavery to the same extent that they do the nazi flag with the Holocaust and Nazism.
              Thats the solution, educating people what the flag represents. The reason most sane people in Europe dont fly the Nazi flag is not for fear of prosecution, but because they dont want to be associated with Nazism (even the more ‘moderate’ extreme nativist right don’t)

              • djw

                isnt the problem that people dont associate the confederate flag with slavery to the same extent that they do the nazi flag with the Holocaust and Nazism.

                No, I don’t think so. (Fans of the flag like to say they don’t associate it with the generally unspecified good ‘cultural heritage’ things about the society which it celebrated, and some of them may even have convinced themselves, but we’re not credulous idiots so we don’t have to take them at their word.)

                • Ronan

                  ah okay.. i thought it was more some not particularly thoughtful manifestation of regional pride

              • so-in-so

                Someone needs to inform Golden Dawn.

                • Ronan

                  I don’t know what flags Golden Dawn use.. one seems to be a butchering of the Nazi flag, plausibly to get by the law on a technicality ? i was thinking more of the west euro (politically active) far right, who appear to distance themselves from nazism (for obvious reasons, but also beacuse they have alliances with extremist jewish groups in opposing muslim immigration)
                  Golden Dawn is a good example, though, of how banning flags and holocaust denial has seemingly done very little to limit the popularity of fascism (although that claim could be told the other way of course. I dont know how important such laws have been in limiting the influence of fascist parties/thought .. id assume not very,though)

                • Ronan

                  .. though it doesnt seem greece has a flag ban.. anyway, who knows.

          • joe from Lowell

            The anti-Nazi flag laws work well enough in Europe, where they have been generally successful.

            Which country has a larger neo-Nazi movement, Germany or the US?

            Erik doesn’t always think these things all the way through.

            • Hogan

              Or he has a non-standard definition of “success.”

        • busker type

          exactly.

        • mikeSchilling

          The Israeli flag would be next, of course, since it’s a symbol of oppression and violence.

          • Ronan

            jesus get over the self pity, Mike

          • witlesschum

            Okay.

      • Schadenboner

        Could you attempt to lay out a framework under which such a law would be constitutional?

        Or are you proposing a constitutional amendment for this purpose?

      • DiTurno

        Let’s say that we could somehow ban the sale of the confederate flag in a way that didn’t fundamentally weaken (or eliminate) the first amendment. What would be the advantage? We would remove the most powerful symbol of treason in defense of slavery. That’s not nothing, but I don’t think it really changes much in American politics or culture.

        However, it’s obviously impossible to ban that flag without weakening the entire first amendment, so that seems like a pretty radical step to remove a symbol.

      • PSP

        If you think it is unconstitutional to bar burning the flag, what rationale distinguishes owning a treason in defense of slavery flag?

        Of course burning confederate flags outside the republican national convention has got to be protected speech, right?

  • MAJeff

    Wouldn’t it be fun of the apologists for treason in defense of slavery, and other advocates of this worthless rag, were actually capable of shame?

    • Ahuitzotl

      Personally I’m glad they are able to identify themselves – it’s an advance warning for the rest of us, a dickhead alert if you like

      • Tyto

        This is exactly right and the same reason I oppose any ban on Nazi flags or symbols. If those idiots want to wear a beacon, more power to them–I’d rather be able to spot them from a mile away.

    • Jackov

      I am with Ahuitzotl on this and a bit disappointed in Loomis.

      First, we start by removing all monuments* to treasonous slavers from all federal land. Then we rename every military installation with a confederate moniker to Fort Sherman, Fort William Carney, etc. After that we move on to federal and state highways and and then schools. Only then do we ban the traitors’ flag.

      * we leave the high-water mark of Treachery but add disparaging comments about the Confederates.

      • Matty

        I 100% cosign this. First, the damnatio memoriae, then the flag banning.

        • Jackov

          Welcome comrade,
          To be clear, I want the “South” to remember they committed treason to defend slavery and then were destroyed by an army that was composed of farmboys, immigrants and a bunch of N!&&@#$.
          We will re-educate them so they realize there was nothing heroic about their treachery. Monument Avenue will be forcibly renovated and Foote will be edited out of “The Civil War.”

          • MAJeff

            Don’t you mean “Jagoff”?

      • BubbaDave

        I want to see a bill in Congress to rename at least one military installation with a Confederate moniker to Fort Arnold, as in Benedict, because at least he made a huge difference in support of the future United States before he turned traitor. Also, to my knowledge he never kept slaves, so his treason was not compounded by that even fouler failing. So, far more worthy than any of the 19th-century traitors.

  • rea

    Displaying a Confederate flag has a lot in common with burning the American flag . . .

    • Richard Hershberger

      How so? Burning is the proper, respectful, and legal way to dispose of a worn out American flag. Displaying a Confederate flag is a celebration of treason against the USA. I don’t see the comparison.

      • rea

        Context is everything.

      • Joe_JP

        The guy in Texas v. Johnson was disposing of an American flag in a “proper, respectful” way? Does the American Legion know?

    • Alan Tomlinson

      Once again, we do not agree at all. Burning the US flag is an editorial expression of disenchantment with one or more policies of the US government. Displaying a Confederate flag is either: a public display of ignorance or a statement of allegiance with an institution that actively supported the forced labor, rape, torture, and mass-murder of other human beings. Rather like displaying a Nazi flag which is thankfully, at least where I live, absolutely forbidden by federal law. And don’t go all, “that’s oppression right there, thank God I live in the US of A motherfucker”; you would have to joking to make that argument, or fantastically obtuse.

      Cheers,

      Alan Tomlinson

      P.S. Apologies to Godwin.

      • Malaclypse

        Yes, and displaying a Nazi flag is repulsive, but not illegal.

      • Murc

        I had somehow thought you were an American, Alan. If I might ask, where do you hail from, or at least currently reside?

        Also, I’m not ashamed at all to say that I’m against the regulation of speech by the citizenry, no matter how vile it is, in any way, shape, and form. That includes Nazis, pedophiles, or any other rightfully despised group. This is the only way I can sleep comfortably at night secure in the knowledge that my own speech is protected.

        I simply do not trust the state to regulate speech in a fair and equitable way, period. I live in a country with the most robust speech protections in the world and it still managed to sneak the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, along with assorted other violations of common sense and human decency. Better to not walk down that road.

        • Malaclypse

          I simply do not trust the state to regulate speech in a fair and equitable way, period.

          This.

          • Pat

            Don’t forget the Patriot Act! That godawful law needs to be gotten rid of.

        • djw

          I had somehow thought you were an American, Alan.

          I don’t agree with Erik and Alan on this, but this response is just trollish. Why does every American have to agree that the American approach to hate speech is exactly perfect and always preferable to, say, the German one? Would it be reasonable to question the patriotism of a German who preferred an American 1A approach?

          • Ahenobarbus

            You’re misinterpreting. Alan said “at least where I live, the Nazi flag is banned.” So he’s not a Yank. That’s what the comment refers to.

          • Murc

            Uh… what?

            I… genuinely thought Alan was an American. Like, I thought he lived in… America.

            Only that would appear to not be the case, as he references living somewhere the Nazi flag is banned by federal law, something impossible in the states.

            Hence, he either isn’t an American and/or lives overseas somewhere. I do not know where that is! So I asked.

            That seems very straightforward to me.

            • djw

              Bah, I see it now. I the context that made the question make sense as a literal one, but I shouldn’t have. My apologies.

            • Alan Tomlinson

              Native US citizen living in Germany.

              Cheers,

              Alan Tomlinson

      • J. Otto Pohl

        What about displaying the Soviet flag in places like Estonia? Do you agree with the representatives to the European Parliment from Estonia and Latvia that the Soviet flag which certainly was a symbol of forced labor, rape, torture, and mass murder for a number of people should also be banned in Europe? Or is this the point where you argue that the Soviet forced labor, rape, torture, and mass murder where not nearly so bad as compared to the CSA and Nazi Germany and therefore the Soviet flag is different?

        • The Dark Avenger

          If the Estonians had a 1st Amendment, it would be illegal there as well.

          Are there idiots and fools flying the Soviet flag in those countries, J. Otto? Or is this just another way for you to try to say something relevant in a thread that isn’t about your academic ‘specialties’?

          • J. Otto Pohl

            There are some members of the Russian communities in the Baltic States that do wave the Soviet flag. The Estonian delegation to European Parliment under the leadership of Tunne Kelam has been actively seeking a Europe wide ban of the Soviet flag for years now.

            • The Dark Avenger

              Since the EU doesn’t recognize free speech the way the American government and judicial system does, it should go through without any trouble.

              • J. Otto Pohl

                No, the European Commission rejected the appeal to even ban the outright denial of communist crimes. Not for free speech reasons, but because unlike Naziism opinions on communism remain controversial in Europe. That is there are still lots of communists and former communists around with political clout. So denying the Holodomor in print is perfectly legal in most of Europe, but denying the Shoah gets you a prison sentence.

                http://rt.com/politics/european-commission-communist-crimes/

                • Ronan

                  you dont get a prison sentence everywhere in europe (or even in most of it, afaik) for denying the Shoah. The reason west European populations dont particularly care about issues surrounding the Soviet flag is because it isnt their history. They werent as affected. Whether that’s right/wrong/good or bad I dont know, but it is what it is.

                  On the extent to which ex communists have sway in the European parliament, id say perhaps it’s plausible on these relatively insignificant hobby horses(in the context of policies that the eu institutions care about), that soviet sympathisers might have some influence, but thats about as far as it goes.
                  If you want to argue that the Soviet Union was as great an evil as the Nazis, then I wouldnt object neccesarily .. but writing off complex policy making processes and issues of EU jurisdiction (and the political influence of small eastern euopean states) on ex communists in the commission is too much.

                • Ronan

                  ..it seems holocaust denial laws are more prevelant than i thought. Though it seems they came from domestic laws rather than the EU.

                  edit:

                  people can read it here

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial

                  to get more complete pic than i can give

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  Ronan, it is not because the EC is controlled by ex-communists, but rather that they don’t want to upset the still existing Communist Parties and Left Parties over this issue. That is in the European Parliment and other vocal although not powerful forums they have enough strength to make a lot of noise over this. I thought that was clear from the RT article I linked to.

                  Holocaust denial can theoretically get you a prison sentence in the following European countries which is most of Europe in terms of the population of the EU.

                  Austria – up to 20 years
                  Belgium – up to one year
                  Czech Republic – up to three years
                  France – up to five years
                  Germany – up to five years
                  Netherlands – up one year
                  Poland – up to three years
                  Portugal – up to five years
                  Romania – up to five years

                  In contrast the only European countries outlawing the denial of communist crimes are the following.

                  Latvia
                  Lithuania
                  Poland
                  Hungary
                  Bulgaria
                  Romania
                  Moldova
                  Czech Republic

                  In Germany denying the crimes of Stalin against your Russian-German neighbors is perfectly legal and not considered a hate crime. There are millions of Germans whose families were victimized by communism in the USSR, Romania, Poland, and East Germany. There are far more of them then there are Jews in Germany today. Denying the Holocaust can get you five years in prison in Germany and up to 20 in Austria.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial

                • Ronan

                  according to that wiki though a lot of those laws double as ‘denying any genocide’ law.. so surely for Soviet cimes that were recognised as genocide they would be applicable ? It also says something about the difficulty of getting pan European agreement (and this was when those pushing it were the core – France, Germany) so the politics of it is *more* than just not wanting to upset communists and leftist parties (though it might be part of it)

                • J. Otto Pohl

                  Ronan,

                  The term “Genocide” legally runs around the word intent. So other than the Holocaust where Hitler left Mein Kampf and other documentation of his intent it is extremely difficult to legally prove and easy to deny. So much so that even something as clear as the Armenian genocide had a lot of deniers on this point not only in Turkey, but in some cases among Amercian academics. There are far more people claiming that no Soviet crimes rose to the level of genocide due to the absence of intent. So no those laws actually don’t apply to communist crimes as it stands now. There has never been an international or EU court that has convicted the USSR of any genocide. It is very unlikely there ever will be given the continuing popularity of communist ideology in some sectors. In contrast Naziism was completely discredited already in the late 1940s.

                • DocAmazing

                  You want to be careful equating the horrors of the USSR (and of Communism generally) with the Nazis. First, if we’re going to argue that famines and starvation campaigns are equivalent to the Shoah, then the British are due for some attention thanks to their outstanding work with the Great Irish Famine and the several Indian famines of the Raj. Second, there are presently forces on the Right seeking to diminish the crimes of Nazis and Fascists (Ukrainian rightists celebrating Stepan Bandera–and getting AID funding for it) by equating them with the WWII-era USSR.

                  Worth a read on the latter subject:
                  https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/timothy-snyders-lies/

                • SIS1

                  Scholarship on the Holodomor is nowhere near where scholarship on the Holocaust is. Estimates of the number of victims in Ukraine, for example, vary immensely depending on sources, and there isn’t scholarly agreement on whether the famine constitutes an act of deliberate genocide. Conversely, the Nazi regime left mountains of documentary evidence essentially saying: “we intend to exterminate the Jewish populations under our control and other undesirables as well, and this is how we planned this and did this.”

              • Ronan

                depends how much authority the EU has over this specific issue. I dont know, but Id assume very little (or at least it wont be a hill worth dying on)

            • Hogan

              Have they banned it in Estonia?

              • J. Otto Pohl

                It is banned in Latvia and Lithuania. In Estonia the Communists had enough power to block it in the Riigikogu.

                • Hogan

                  So “Estonia” wants the EU to do it for them.

    • Aimai

      For the sake of argument what if displaying the Confederate Flag is more like displaying a noose in a threatening manner, or burning a cross on someone’s lawn? Why can’t it be banned as a form of hate speech/threat?

      I’m on the fence as to whether this is a good idea or a bad idea–human beings are absolutely capapble of transforming an outright ban on X into a set of strategic euphemisms which enable the to still communicate the banned idea. IIRC the Stuart loyalists used to drink toast “to the king” while holding or passing their glasses over a basin of water thus symbolically allowing them to toast the “king over the water” i.e. the deposed Stuarts without risking the charge of treason to the Hanoverians. And of course the White Police in this country have been finding and using all kinds of euphemisms for the word “black person” so that they can say whatever the fuck they want about AA citizens on the radio. Banning the Confederate flag doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me. Dismantling and defunding the state memorials to the confederacy and attacking the textbooks and teaching of pro-confederacy history seems like a more important act.

  • Richard Hershberger

    Now if we Marylanders can just get our state to change that damned state song!

  • rea

    The bands of Lee’s army played it while the army crossed the Potomac into Maryland in 1862. They notably did not play it when the army crossed back.

  • Nobdy

    This isn’t really so much a ‘ban’ as a ‘refusal to sell.’

    There are many things I think the government should not sell. Symbols of treason are on that list.

    You don’t see government shops selling Sinn Fein memorabilia in Northern Ireland, and Sinn Fein is a heck of a lot less horrible than the confederacy.

    • witlesschum

      Yeah, ban is the wrong word.

      It’s especially bizarre for the state of California to be selling the symbol of treason in defense of slavery given that it had fuck all to do with the War of the Rebellion. It’d be gross when South Carolina did it, but at least less what the fuck?

      • burritoboy

        Just because there were no real battles in California doesn’t mean that it wasn’t involved in the Civil War. There’s a reason San Francisco’s most famous plaza is named Union Square.

      • rea

        California . . . had fuck all to do with the War of the Rebellion

        Not quite true. Much of southern California was pro-Confederate, and had to be occupied by troops to prevent it from joining the Confederacy.

        • mikeSchilling

          Worse still, now much of it is pro-Dodger.

          • Schadenboner

            Paging Zombie General Sherman. Zombie General Sherman to the white courtesy phone, please…

          • And pro-Raider. Is that worse?

        • The Dark Avenger

          And the gold from the gold mines of California helped pay for the Civil War. There were even attempts by Southern sympathizers who sought to raise money for the Confederates by banditry, the westmost of those attempts taking place in San Jose, my birthplace.

          • The Bobs

            Actually, the silver from Nevada’s Comstock Lode was the most important source of funds for the war. The only time Nevada was more important than mighty California.

            • Brian

              This is patently false. Nevada is still the most important place in the U.S. for setting lines for sports gambling!

        • witlesschum

          Interesting things I did not know. Thanks, rea.

        • Emily68

          Thomas Starr King (December 17, 1824 – March 4, 1864) was an American Unitarian minister, influential in California politics during the American Civil War, and Freemason.[1] Starr King spoke zealously in favor of the Union and was credited by Abraham Lincoln with preventing California from becoming a separate republic. He is sometimes referred to as “the orator who saved the nation.

          From Wikipedia

          Plus, I think Starr King’s statue was one of California’s two statues in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall until the California legislature replaced it with (shudder) Ronald Reagan’s statue in 2009.

          PS–Erik, you’re wrong on this one. Flags, no matter how evil, shouldn’t be banned. However, I’m cool with gift shop owners deciding not to sell whatever flags they find offensive.

      • joe from Lowell

        Yeah, ban is the wrong word.

        That’s the point: he wants to make the absurd proposal to use the police power against people who fly the wrong flag seem less batshit-insane by semantically linking it to the perfectly ordinary, appropriate action of deciding not to sell it in government gift shops.

  • Schadenboner

    I’m having difficulty coming up with a reason that CA state stores (presumably gift shops at parks?) would have been selling such flags in the first place.

    • Pat

      They probably stock all manner of flags that people might want to buy. If a customer is looking over the flags and tells the clerk, “I wish you had this one,” then they might start to stock it.

      There’s also a serious redneck culture in many parts of California, and if a manager belonged to that culture then he may have ordered them for his own satisfaction.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    This weekend I saw a motorcycle owned by a Black Ghanaian decked out with Confederate (CSA not Fante) insignia on the main road joining Madina to Adenta. In the past I have seen Black Ghanaians wearing shirts with the Confederate Battle flag. I can’t speculate as to their motives, but I doubt it is either out of racism or ignorance. It might be to take the piss out of American “progressives.” But, that might be too much to hope for.

    • Otto’s back and he’s as narcissistic and weird as ever!

    • Barry Freed

      No, it’s pretty obviously just a bad ass biker symbol to them and they’re bad ass bikers or wannabes.

      • Schadenboner

        Heh, would-be hog riders decked out in full leather regalia.

        …on 500cc putputts.

        • Ahuitzotl

          if you think 500cc is a putputt, you’re really struggling with a reality gap

          • Schadenboner

            No, just stuck in Milwaukee during Harley season. :(

      • sparks

        Bikers (the kind that ride choppers, not the cafe racer crowd, I must be pedantic since J.Otto is here) have sported Confederate regalia since I can remember in CA. Some sported Nazi symbols, but that’s fallen out of favor AFAICT.

    • Murc

      Never discount ignorance, Otto. Back when wearing Che shirts was still a thing, I saw a lot of people with them on who were, presumably, not willingly showing support for a child-abandoning mass-murderer who advocated nuclear war as a positive good. These guys could have no idea beyond a vague one as to what the emblem they’re sporting actually means.

      Or it could be an irony thing, I suppose.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        I am pretty sure almost everybody wearing a Che shirt is aware that he was the number two man in the Cuban Revolution of 1959. They just think that the revolution was more good than bad. Wearing Che shirts is still a thing here and it is largely because of the close relationship between Cuba and Ghana established by Che himself. Among other things the Cuban Spanish language instructors at the university, the Cuban doctors brigade which is particularly important for Ob-Gyn care in the north, and the Cuban engineers here are all a result of agreements signed back in the 1960s as a result of Che’s visit to Ghana.

        • John F

          I am pretty sure almost everybody wearing a Che shirt is aware that he was the number two man in the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

          I’m absolutely sure that you are wrong, at least with respect to the college kids in the US who tend to wear those shirts.

            • rea

              Che: I have no idea who this is.

              He’s the male lead in Evita

            • njorl

              A t-shirt with Che wearing a t-shirt with the Confederate flag would be something. It would need a statement equally incongruous to both, “Mine eyes have seen the Glory, baby!” or something like that.

      • DocAmazing

        I imagine it’s on par with people who display images of George Washington while knowing nothing of his slaveownership or Indian dealings.

    • Malaclypse

      I can’t speculate as to their motives, but I doubt it is either out of racism or ignorance. It might be to take the piss out of American “progressives.”

      Yes, it is unpossible to spend a minute on google to answer this.

      But, that might be too much to hope for.

      Narcissism remains a hell of a drug.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Nobody forces people in Ghana to buy and wear any particular shirt even if it is second hand. They are choosing to buy and wear that particular shirt over other options. In one case the person I saw wearing the shirt was a student here at the university. Which would argue heavily against his being ignorant of the US Civil War.

        • The Dark Avenger

          Really, Ghanians are taught about the American Civil War as a part of their degree or requirements for such thereof?

          • J. Otto Pohl

            It is covered in a number of classes including some required ones here.

            • The Dark Avenger

              And you know he got a good grade in the subject and understood it because…………….

          • wjts

            Really, Ghanians are taught about the American Civil War as a part of their degree or requirements for such thereof?

            Here in the USA, I learned about (off the top of my head) the English Civil War, the Russian Civil War, and the Irish Civil War in high school, so Ghanian university students learning about the American Civil War doesn’t strike me as particularly far-fetched.

            And like Barry said above, the Confederate flag has long been entwined with biker culture. Unfortunately, like Mal said above, it’s unpossible to Google this shit, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

      • so-in-so

        I assume this is a joke, or is pissing off progressive Americans a big thing in Ghana; outside of J Otto’s class that is…?

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Well the pissing off of progressives was just wistful thinking to amuse myself. But, the presence of some CSA insignia in Ghana on motorcycles and shirts is certainly real. The biker explanation is probably correct.

  • Joe_JP

    Should all Confederate flags be not sold in gift shops now? What other memorabilia should be banned? What reenactments? Isn’t a Confederate uniform — as we have been told (correctly) around here worn in a rebellion in promotion of slavery — also a possible symbol of hate? So, uniforms perhaps should go too, as well as patches or any other insignia. Toss in Dukes of Hazard memorabilia.

    A historian supporting the banning of “hate” or “evil” speech is a bit troubling. And, someone mentioned the “five conservative” justices. Justice Brennan wrote Texas v. Johnson. Justice Alito is possibly the only one who might vote to uphold broad bans (government speech is more complicated) unless school kids were involved, where Thomas might vote for it given his “school kids don’t have rights” rule.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Should all Confederate flags be not sold in gift shops now?

      In government gift shops? Why on earth should they be sold there?

      Obviously, ban on sales of the Confederate flag (as opposed to a refusal to sell them at public gift shops) would be unanimously held to be unconstitutional and properly so.

      • rea

        Possibly we should make exceptions for little plastic figurines of Grant and Sherman on horseback, trampling the Confederate flag under foot . . .

        • Joe_JP

          nah … they might be altered and then you still allow the flag

          • Lee Rudolph

            I had been wondering about Confederate Flag toilet paper, and had rejected it because, you know, someone might just buy it and put it on display instead of using it.

            But then (and I swear this had occurred to me before, albeit just before, reading your “might be altered” caveat) I realized that it could be made something along the lines of those tests physicians use for occult blood in a stool sample, or gift shops use for coffee cups decorated with Adam and Eve who lose their fig leaves after the coffee warms the ceramic.

            Who wants to get in on the ground floor of this new blockbusting idea? Toilet paper that is just plain white UNTIL it’s smeared with shit, at which point it reveals the underlying Confederate Flag motif!

            • Aimai

              I for one am pretty sure there should be a ban on Duke’s of Hazzard memorabilia.

      • Joe_JP

        What other historical memorabilia shouldn’t be sold in government gift shops? At the gift shop at a Civil War battlefield, e.g.? I’m thinking there isn’t a big need for such flags to be at the NYC public library gift shop, but “government gift shops” generally?

        • Scott Lemieux

          Generally, any memorabilia that isn’t a symbol of treason in defense of slavery and lawlessness in defense of apartheid is fine with me. I’m guessing gift shops won’t have trouble keeping their shelves stocked.

          • Joe_JP

            Seriously, you don’t see a problem with CIVIL WAR gift shops not being able to sell material that in some way might be used as a “symbol” in support of one side?

            A Confederate Constitution, e.g., would be such a “symbol,” but selling them would seem acceptable. Only selling Union related materials just might be problematic. It is not a “fill up space” issue.

            I find comments like this from college professors a tad bit sad but the union will survive either way.

            • Evidently, college professors are all supposed to hold certain beliefs.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Some exceptions might plausibly be made for actual Civil War gift shops, yes. Confederate constitutions do not have the same symbolic meaning as Confederate flags.

            • I haven’t been to many gift shops, but do gift shops at World War II memorials sell Japanese and German memorabilia?

              • Aimai

                Yes, I’m sure that at the Pearl Harbor gift shop you can buy pro-Hirohito memorabilia. (I’m not sure you can’t buy certain kinds of japanese memorabilia at those gift shops, especially given the long connection between Japan and Hawaii in the form of immigrants. I’d also be willing to bet that you can buy model Japanese bombers or other war memorabilia but it is assumed by the seller that you are buying them as mementos of the war as fought between “us” and “them” and not out of a romantic fixation on “them.” If every penny of Confederate memorabilia sold at Civil War battlefield giftshops was sold with the proceeds explicitly going to pro-Union (pro US people!) education, slavery education, and anti-Confederate propaganda I’d have no problem with it.

                For example every Confederate Flag sold in a giftshop should have “Warning: This Flag Flew For Treason and in Defense of Slavery.” printed on it.

    • L2P

      It seems odd to mention “memorabilia” of traitors from the civil war as a problematic thing the US shouldn’t be able to prohibit. It doesn’t seem particularly troublesome to draw a line at “this is a reproduction of something used by traitors, so no, you can’t have it.”

      I’m trying to find a reason to think a government can’t ban displays of treasonous intent, and can’t think of one.

      • Mellano

        Start by considering that it isn’t arson to carry a box of unlit matches to a haystack.

        • Aimai

          Maybe its Arson to offer a lighter and lighter fluid to a drunk dancing near a haystack?

  • Hm.

    Considering that the good ol’ Stars and Stripes is associated with the genocide of Native Americans could that be banned as well?

    .

    • Feel free to make the argument.

      • sibusisodan

        Well, could you make the argument that a blanket ban on the Confederate flag is, on balance, a good thing for the US, rather than just assume it? Then we can go from there.

        This morning, at the Conservative Party Conference, our esteemed, meek and mild Home Secretary announced plans to prevent people from speaking ‘hate speech’ in public (possibly even in advance of them speaking – I haven’t checked the details).

        Now, you clearly aren’t Theresa May. But how can I differentiate your policy proposals from hers without you putting out the detail which would differentiate it?

        I can, of course, charitably and reasonably assume that your proposal is both differentiable and justifiable according to criteria we’d probably both share. But I don’t think it’s my job to make your argument for you.

        • so-in-so

          I would think the preferred solution would be to require the education of all Americans as to what the flag means, and let the recidivist knuckle-draggers display it all they want as the rest make it very clear as to what it represents. If they want to fly the Rebel flag and Nazi flag side by side, more power to them! Let’s just all be absolutely clear what it means.

          The day care center in Alabama that quoted Hitler in an ad earlier this year makes it clear we have a long way to go in education on both subjects.

      • I’m asking you.

        .

  • tsam

    Confederate flags are like right wing bumper stickers. You know when you see one that the person under it is a subhuman piece of grabasstic shit, and you don’t need to put any effort into finding out if he/she is worth your time. It’s like those Mr. Yuk stickers on poisonous household products for *humans.

    *Humans by technical definition only. Other values for human do not apply.

    So I say leave the flag. Nazi flags too. If people want to express their abject stupidity and shittiness, that’s their right.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      Does this apply to the Black Ghanaians displaying them as well?

      • so-in-so

        Did this really need to be repeated?

        • TribalistMeathead

          Have you read Jotto’s posts before?

      • tsam

        Um, no. I don’t live in Ghana, and I don’t recall Ghana having any involvement in the Confederacy or the Civil War.

        When Americans fly that flag, they’re shitty people who need to be kicked die-rectly in the buttocks.

        • MAJeff

          When Americans fly that flag, they’re shitty people who need to be kicked die-rectly in the buttocks.

          What about JOPTrolls, though?

          • tsam

            K. I’m down.

      • SIS1

        Symbols can be hijacked by other culture and be given different meanings: the swastika is a very good example of that.

        • njorl

          I remember getting a letter in a fancy envelope with a swastika on the back. It turned out to be an invitation to a Hindu wedding.

          • tsam

            OR WAS IT????

  • rewenzo

    It honestly did not occur to me that the State of California would possibly be selling Confederate flags. It’s mind boggling that any action at all needed to be taken to get them to stop doing that. It is of course bizarre that the State of South Carolina would sell them, but okay, they’re officially a traitor state, forcibly repatriated, with petty delusions of grandeur, but California selling Confederate flags is like the Province of Manitoba selling Confederate flags.

    • so-in-so

      I suppose the 150th anniversary of the Civil War probably was sufficient cause. Most gift shop managers would then choose to carry merchandise from both sides without necessarily thinking about the racism aspect. I know most local museums in New England that had a Civil War related exhibit carried both Union and CSA related items.

  • tsam

    Erik;

    How do you differentiate flying a Confederate flag or Nazi flag from other types of speech? You seem to be arguing that Congress *shall make a law, but how does this not restrict speech? Haven’t we had the free speech also means speech most of us despise debate enough in this country?

    • Schadenboner

      It’s all hand-waiving, all the way down.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Waive the hand and spoil the child?

    • The practical effect of a majority of the SCOTUS enacting the Loomis exception to the 1st Am would be:
      1. Nationwide ban on desecration of the American flag.
      2. A few liberal states banning the Confederate flag.
      3. Many conservative states banning Muslim symbols, communist flags, Che T-shirts, Atheist symbols, etc.

      Fuck that.

      • xq

        I don’t actually think any liberal states would ban the Confederate flag. I think most US liberals genuinely prefer free speech.

        • You may be right. That only weakens Loomis’ argument.

      • tsam

        I agree. I hate that fucking flag and I hate anyone who owns it, other than printed in a history book (and where does a ban go with this, anyway?), but banning it, to me, is close enough to book burning that I’m just not going to allow it. Judge rules: NO.

  • McAllen

    One thing I worry about is that a nationwide ban could end up making the confederate flag more popular, turning it from something associated with rednecks and racists to a symbol of rebellion (I mean, it is a symbol of rebellion, but a different kind of rebellion).

    • so-in-so

      Right, one more item on the list of martyrdom. Actually, they already have that every time people complain about that flag at state capitols and schools.

    • Ronan

      there seems to be a lot wrong with it.. why dedicate all this time and political capital to a meaningless symbolic victory, how would it be enforced in areas where it is most likely to be used, what would the blowback be, would *anyone* actually learn or grow from the experience .. as you say, itd prob just give racists more political ammo (and piss off people who dont understand the context)
      what the point would be, i dont have a clue

      • Pat

        I’m with you on this one, Ronan. We should choose battles carefully. I’m good with letting them die with the rebel flag. I mean, isn’t that traditional?

    • It’s not a symbol of rebellion. It’s a symbol of racism and treason.

  • Gregor Sansa

    Eric is trolling, taking the piss, being contrary… whatever you want to call it. His insistence that that’s not what he’s doing is an adorable and necessary part of the schtick.

    But rather than letting his reductio preemptively derail the conversation, I think it’s worth talking about practical and constitutional measures to move the confederate flag into nazi flag territory: something that’s not illegal, but is clearly beyond the pale in polite society. Banning it in government stores is one step, but a small one. It should also be banned at all public schools (obviously, this doesn’t apply to in-context, non-celebratory pictures in a textbook or what have you). Any parking permits for federal property should not apply to vehicles with the flag. What else?

    • You can ascribe meanings to what I am doing. Or you can ask me. One is going to be more accurate.

      • Lee Rudolph

        Yeah, but which one? We might be living in a Raymond Smullyan logic puzzle!!!

        • Pat

          You see here the real Erik Loomis, and then the one that I have projected from my mind. One of them always tells the truth……

          • Lee Rudolph

            [S]ome of them may even have convinced themselves, but we’re not credulous idiots so we don’t have to take them at their word.

      • rea

        You can ascribe meanings to what I am doing. Or you can ask me. One is going to be more accurate.

        Heck, I’ve read Barthes and Derrida and SEK. Authorial intent isn’t dispositive (or even, all that indicative) of meaning. :)

      • joe from Lowell

        Why would we assume you’d answer honestly, given what you just wrote?

      • joe from Lowell

        If you weren’t trolling, Erik, you wouldn’t have responded to Gregor’s comment by deflecting away from everything substantive he had to say about the Confederate flag into blog meta.

      • tsam

        Please see question above thread…

        Or upthread, I guess I should say…

    • Happy Jack

      If you get rid of Confederate flags, how would the US know who its allies are in Ukraine?

      • Would Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Dukes of Hazard be outlawed too?

        • Malaclypse

          One can only hope.

  • TrexPushups

    I’m curious as to the best date and method for me to start an annual desecration of the confederate flag.

    It would be a fun tradition to start and share with my son.

    • so-in-so

      April 9th (Appomattox Court House) or Sept. 2nd (the fall of Atlanta)?

    • joe from Lowell

      I love it.

      The answer to offensive speech is more speech.

      According to liberals, anyway. There are other ideologies out there besides liberalism, obviously.

      • so-in-so

        More speech or more restrictive laws, which to choose…

        • Schadenboner

          And in so doing, casting a die across the Rubicon.

          • njorl

            George Washington threw a silver die across the Rubicon, just before agreeing to lead the continental army.

            • Schadenboner

              And on the spot where that die landed there grew a cherry tree that no axe could fell!

      • So, the Germans shouldn’t have a ban on Nazi symbols?

        • joe from Lowell

          In 2014? Hell, no.
          In 1946? Good idea.

          Similarly, I’m perfectly fine with bans on Confederate flags in 1870, not in 2014.

          • Schadenboner

            Question because I’m interested: were there proposals for this sort of thing in the more radical of reconstruction plans?

    • Sherman’s birthday, Feb 8.

  • CaptBackslap – YOLO Edition

    If anyone can come up with a seriously-intended LGM blog post that’s more illiberal than this, I’d love to see it.

  • DrS

    I recently saw a pickup, in suburban Sacramento, flying two huge flags. One Confederate flag, one Gadsden flag.

    For extra cognitive dissonance, there was also a US Army bumper sticker. Actually, there’s a very good chance that this person was a member of the US military.

    At least he wasn’t also rolling coal.

  • Why would you want to fly the loser’s flag anyways? I’m going to fly the winners flag.

    (hums Marching Through Georgia)

    • tsam

      Losers tend to identify with losers, maybe?

  • Roger Ailes

    Confederate flags should be emblazoned on the bottom of every urinal and toilet bowl in every public place in the State of California.

    • so-in-so

      Who wants to invest in my new venture; urinal sanitizer cakes/mats emblazoned with the rebel battle flag?

  • Denverite

    Setting aside the “Erik’s journey to becoming the Skip Bayless of LGM is almost complete” point, I do have a question.

    In what non-educational context were Confederate flags ever being offered in government-owned shops in California?

    • Schadenboner

      Probably Civil War 150 stuff, Barbie-sized flags, maybe insurrectionist forage caps (I remember from years ago those were a thing)?

  • Is there any obligation to fly another state’s flag if their representatives are meeting in California? i.e. if the governors of Mississippi and Florida were visiting, would it cause a stink that they flew the latter’s flag, but not the former. Assuming that’s even done in the first place.

    • Schadenboner
      • Halcyon

        Just to check, I’m not the only one who wants to print up a hundred or so of those to put over top of bumper sticker TIDOS flags, right?

  • As a native son of the golden west I am anxious that the Capitol Gift Shop stop selling the Ronald Reagan “Peace Through Strength” ballcap.

    Ronald Reagan Hat
    Price: $15.95
    What a great way to remember our beloved President from California. This hat has the President’s Seal and his name embroidered on the front and the US Flag on side and back of Hat.

    100% Cotton
    One Size Fits Most

    • Hogan

      I can’t tell whether the Pennsylvania Capitol Shop sells a James Buchanan “War Through Indolence” ballcap.

    • MAJeff

      This might be where the confederate battle flag comes in. It might be on some commemoration of the beginning of Reagan’s 1980 campaign in Neshoba County. The day Dixie rose again!

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