The modern conservative movement was founded on the fusion of two political philosophies: traditionalism and libertarianism. The outcome was that conservatives like President Ronald Reagan believed Americans should be given freedom so that they could pursue morality. This informs the debate that began (again) over the weekend about the appropriateness of South Carolina flying the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol after a white supremacist killed nine black churchgoers the Wednesday before. For many blacks, the Stars and Bars represents an era of oppression and a denial of civil rights. But for many white Southerners, the flag also represents pride in Southern culture, the ideals for which the South seceded from the Union. The flag at the capitol can be taken down only with the consent of the legislature and the Left is renewing a fight to get it removed.
Red State’s Erick Erickson wrote about the push against the Confederate flag, “I think compromising with the left on this issue is not worth it because the left is only politicizing this issue to advance their agenda. … Once the flag is gone, the left will advance to the next issue then the next issue, etc. They won’t compromise. There is no compromise. There is only conversion or censorship with the left.” But it’s not enough to simply be anti-Left on this issue (and Erickson points this out).
Is the Left advocating for legislation to bar the display of all instances of the Confederate flag? If so, then conservatives should fight for a robust First Amendment. But the second branch of conservative thought compels us to also consider the moral aspects of flying the emblem. As Rod Dreher (also a Southern writer) opines, “To take down the flag is not a sign of disrespect to the South, but a recognition that ‘the South’ includes all Southerners, including black men and women. The flag is a symbol of our deepest and ugliest division. It’s time for us to leave that heavy baggage behind.” In other words, Americans have the right to fly the Confederate battle flag but must consider the moral implications of doing so.
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