For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:26-29
Generally, this blog is heavily slanted in the direction of devotion. The title – Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion – clearly predisposes me to write about the beautiful path of following Jesus. I only approach topical issues when they fall within that framework.
Last week, my post “An Act of Terror Against the Witness of Love” garnered a lot of attention, both locally and nationally. This week the national conversation has shifted to the Confederate flag, and the way that it has become a symbol representing racism, oppression, inequality, and discrimination.
The symbolic association is a fait accompli – it’s a done deal – in the same way that the Nazi swastika, once simply a version of the Christian cross, morphed into something pointing to hate and repression.
ARTICLE IN THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: But this is not a new conversation. In 2008, an obnoxiously huge Confederate Flag was raised in Tampa, clearly visible from both the Interstate Highway and MLK Jr. Boulevard. It went up – coincidentally? – when Barrack Obama accepted the nomination for President. Likewise the flag on the capitol grounds in South Carolina was raised in the early 1960’s, as a direct “in your face” endorsement of segregation in response to the Civil Rights movement.
In 2008, on June 18, I published the following column in the Tampa Tribune. You can be sure that I received some mail. I think you will find the words timely for June 23, 2015.
I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag
– DEREK MAUL (Tampa Tribune, 6-18-2008)
In case any of us remain unclear regarding the philosophical underpinnings of the group who raised the colossal Confederate flag at the junction of Interstate 75 and US 92, I’ve copied the following introductory words from the home page of “scv.org”, General Headquarters for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.”
Over the past two weeks a lot has been written regarding the giant flag raised June 3.
The unfurling, initially scheduled for July, was ostensibly moved forward to mark the birthday of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis. I couldn’t help but notice that the timing also coincided with Barack Obama’s victory in his party’s nomination for president.
Under such a flag, a flag easily visible from Martin Luther King Boulevard, an American such as Obama would not have been able to vote, let along run for office. But then again neither would Hillary Clinton.
Fact is, when the Confederate States of America was formed – and adopted its now controversial battle flag – inequality, subjugation and repression defined life for both black men and white women; and the same was true under either flag, the Confederacy or the United States.
But we have come a long way since 1861, and I guess that’s the point of this column. Because while the Stars and Stripes has marched resolutely forward into this Twenty-first Century, the flag the Sons of Confederate Veterans are so proud to fly is firmly rooted in ideals that have failed to improve with the passage of time.
We can romanticize times-gone-by all we like, but the genius of our founding ancestors was to anchor our future in principles that allow for constructive change. The Confederacy did not want any part of such a constitution, and its flag reminds us of how close we came to losing our national soul.
Feb 15, 1985, I stood in front of a federal judge and made the decision to swear allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
I grew up English, and the U.K. recognizes dual citizenship, but I voluntarily gave up my British passport because – as a citizen of these United States – I disavowed loyalty to any other “prince, potentate or power.”
The Confederate flag is an interesting museum piece, but flying a 50 by 30 foot flag atop a 139 foot flagpole suggests an allegiance, a commitment to what the Sons of Confederate Veterans define as “The best qualities of America.”
The best qualities of America are those that allow for people such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain to run for president. The qualities the Confederacy stood for were division and oppression and discrimination; let’s not forget that. The Stars and Stripes is the only flag with the authority to fly over our community.
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” – DEREK