Letter: Darien neighbors were right to question Confederate flag display

To the Editor:

Last week, you were good enough to give a Darien resident an opportunity to respond to the folks who wrote in to question his motives for prominently displaying a Confederate flag in his window. His explanation was nothing if not honest and enlightening.

He wrote that he’d “succeeded” in “offending.” His sole purpose was to give offense. While that’s sad, it’s also Constitutionally protected, as some of his supporters pointed out in the comments section of the Times’ website. Let’s be clear, though: our neighbor didn’t choose to offend with words or an idea, he chose a very specific symbol.  The Confederate flag was born in the part of the country that would rather kill Americans than give up the right to enslave Africans. That flag gained special prominence (as did statues to Confederate leaders) during the Jim Crow era, as a way for communities to let their black residents know that they would never be considered equal. It’s a sign of intimidation and bigotry. His neighbors have every right to question his motives for flying a flag that sends an ugly message, especially to any African-Americans who might happen upon it.

I chuckled at the homeowner’s insistence that removing symbols from public life is somehow “erasing history.” As if. Crack a book. Go to one of our many fine museums. Take an eighth grade U.S. History course. Our history — warts and all — is found in all of those places, and requires neither the glorification of traitors to our nation nor the flying of symbols of hate. Perhaps the most enlightening thing about the flag-flyer’s response was what it lacked: his name. Like most of the folks who wrote to your website to decry some non-existent call for censorship, the homeowner didn’t want his name attached to his words. How telling that his supporters hurled the same old “snowflake” and “political correctness” charges from behind similar cloaks of anonymity.

Thanks are due to the letter writers who did sign their names, and rightly questioned why a neighbor would choose to adorn his home with a symbol of racial hatred.

Philip Van Munching

Stamford

 

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  • James Ronnie Green

    This is in response to Mr. Phillip Van Munching.nnMr. Van Munching, as someone who’s from “that part of the country”. please allow me to point out how wrong you are. First of all, we weren’t fighting to “kill Americans rather than give up the right to enslave Africans”. The overwhelming majority of Confederate soldiers were poor farmers who never owned a slave and thought of the enemy as “Yankees,” not Americans. We were fighting to keep our states/ rights from being usurped by Lincoln’s and the Radical Republicans’ over-reaching Federal Government. And before you reference the Secessionist Articles and Alexander Hamilton Stephens’s Cornerstone Speech to bolster your slavery argument, let me point out two things. First, only four of the eleven seceding states list slavery as a reason for seceding in their articles. What were the others seceding over. Second, Mr. Stephens in his second volume of A Constitutional History of the Late War Between the States says that what he meant in his Cornerstone Speech was that whether or not to keep slavery legal was an issue for THE STATES, not the Federal Government, to decide. As for the Jim Crow laws, you Yankees had them long before we did and probably still do.

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