Okay all you giant Alberta 4X4 driving rebels out there. I know you’re under a lot of fire right now for that Confederate States of America license plate you’ve got on the front of your truck, or that flag hung proudly in the back window. With the massacre of nine black Americans in a church in South Carolina by a white supremacist lunatic, there’s been a huge backlash against the “Southern Cross” which said lunatic lovingly clutched, along with his 9 mm handgun, in disturbing photographs before he murdered a bunch of total strangers last week based solely on their skin colour.
Far be from me to question the close emotional and historical attachment of some of my fellow Albertans to the rebellious southern states who betrayed their country in the early 1800’s (purely for money), kicking off the American Civil War. However, my fellow Albertans who have that close emotional attachment must surely know that the “Stars and Bars” represent the south’s obsession with human slavery. The civil war was instigated by the secessionist states to protect the “peculiar institution” of slavery.
Why, you ask, would the southern states fight a war for slavery? As noted above, the answer is money. At the time, the early 1860’s, the southern states produced two-thirds the world’s supply of cotton, plus many other agricultural products. These highly profitable products came from southern plantations owned by white businessmen who, if they freed their slaves, would actually have to pay people for the sweat of their brows. Apparently, freeing the slaves and paying them was not an option for said plantation owners.
This isn’t the first time there’s been a backlash against the Confederate battle ensign (the “Stars and bars” flag was simply carried into battle by the CSA, the actual Confederate flag appears similar to the Texas state flag). Traditionally, apologists defending the flag state, “The American Civil War was fought by the Confederacy for state’s rights. The Confederates were all a bunch of heroes and rugged individualists.”
The civil war was, technically, fought for state’s rights. And the primary right they fought for was the right to own other human beings as property, something which we all know is wrong. Period.
In the aftermath of last week’s massacre, it appears apologists will have their hands full trying to defend the Confederate battle ensign. Retailers like Walmart, Sears and eBay have already stated they will not sell anything related to the flag because of its connection to the massacre and white supremacy. But whether that will sway my fellow Albertans who display the battle ensign on their vehicles, only time will tell.
Admittedly, I have no idea why grown men and women from Alberta would feel kinship to a group of southern dandies who lived about 160 years ago on the other side of the continent, who subscribed to a white supremacist philosophy and who committed treason by taking arms against their own nation.
Stu Salkeld is the editor of the Pipestone Flyer and feels his fellow Albertans should display the provincial flag on their vehicles instead.