The Confederate battle flag, the ole "stars and bars," stands for all the things that a rebellion long ago asserted as its just cause. Yes, a few of those things -- particularly as they relate to resistance to urban, federal power, and to a "lost cause" literally memorialized over much of the country -- exert a certain gauzy and romantic attraction even today, even to me. We are allowed a certain attachment to the traitors of the Confederacy -- who we dignify as "rebels" instead -- because in the binding of our national wounds we decided not demonize a people who, after all, were but a generation or two behind many northerners in their attitudes about slavery and racial supremacy. But there cannot be any doubt that today, in 2015, and for many decades now, most Americans perceive the Confederate battle flag to stand for white supremacy and slavery, without which there would have been no rebellion and no civil war.
This is an especially treacherous subject for politicians in the Republican Party, which has since 1970 or so tried to be both the "party of Lincoln" and the heir to the traditions of the Old South, some wonderful and worth preserving and, unfortunately, some deeply malign and simply unworthy. You see certain Republicans struggle with this when they point out that Democrats were the great segregationists back in the day. Well, that was true, but none of those Democrats would be Democrats today, and everybody knows it.
Loathe as I am to quote a tweet in the making of any argument, this today from an apparently black conservative makes the point most eloquently:
We can either be the party of Lincoln or the party of Confederacy... But please don't insult my intelligence by acting as if we can be both.— ConservativeBlackMan (@Thomasismyuncle) June 20, 2015
Exactly. The Republican Party not only needs to end its support for the Confederate battle flag on those rare occasions when the controversy arises, but it must also stop justifying or defending any of the symbols and legacy of the Confederate States of America. There are far better ways to resist urban and federal power than by romanticizing a slave state, which conservatives have long understood when they correctly denounced liberals who defended the slavery of Communism as the mere failure of good intentions.
And if you need a lost cause, root for the Cubs.