Tea Party Activist: ‘Confederate Flag Was Never Meant to Be Racial’

by Dan Quinn

It looks like Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) members aren’t the only ones confused about the history of the old Confederacy during the American Civil War. Tea Party activists in New Mexico are defending the placement of a Confederate flag on a float in a Las Cruces parade marking the 100th anniversary of statehood there.

Jo Wall, secretary of the Las Cruces Tea Party, says the flag simply represented part of New Mexico’s history. The Confederate flag briefly flew over Santa Fe when rebel troops occupied that city as well as Albuquerque. From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

“The parade float was not intended for anything other than to show a spot in our history. We would never call attention to something that is distasteful to anyone,” said Wall, who argues against the notion that the Confederate flag is inherently offensive.

“I don’t see why anyone should have an objection to it. The Confederate flag was never meant to be racial. I know it’s been presented that way, but we don’t see it as racial,” Wall said.

Wall’s defense is as misleading as claims by Texas SBOE members in 2010 that the American Civil War was more about states’ rights than anything else, including slavery. In fact, the secession of the southern states was based almost entirely on their defense of the right to enslave millions of people based on race. Consider, for example, what Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said in a speech in March 1861:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Or consider this passage from the Declaration of Causes of Texas secession:

“We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”

And never mind, we suppose, that openly racist groups across the country proudly display the Confederate flag (and the Nazi swastika) as a symbol of their extremism.

“The Confederate flag was never meant to be racial”? Please. It sounds to us like some folks don’t know history very well. Or, at least, they hope the rest of us don’t.