More of the public continues to call for the swift end of official and institutional activities promoting the Confederate flag and symbols of hate, which have disgraced the great United States of America for too long. Patriotic Americans condemn the Confederate symbol of white supremacy racism and its promotion of human slavery, because it is an offense to our nation, to our support for shared human rights, and to the equality and dignity of African-Americans and all of our fellow Americans.
But is it more than simply offensive and degrading to African-Americans and American patriots? Patriots and public activists must examine how such official promotion of Confederate flags and symbols conflicts with the Constitution of the United States, and determine what we need to do in terms of the actions of public citizens, including citizens’ arrests, and class action lawsuits, in the event that government officials continue to fail to enforce the law. We need more than passionate views and statements; we need passionate action on behalf of this great nation.
Is the government display and honoring of the Confederate flag and Confederate symbols legal? An examination of the white supremacist Confederate cause to enslave, degrade, and intimidate African-Americans, as well as an examination of the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws clearly indicate that official and public honoring of Confederate flag and symbols is not simply disgusting, it is clearly against the law.
Many Americans have ignored this question, because of widespread misunderstanding over the true intent of the law and the criminal message of the white supremacist Confederate States of America (CSA) “culture,” as well as because of the mistaken belief that the Confederate enemy threat to this nation ended with the formal ending of the Civil War 150 years ago. As we have seen, the Confederate cause of white supremacist hatred, intimidation, and violence continues to this day.
The flag and symbols of the Confederate States of America were specifically associated with a promotion of white supremacy and the contemptible practice of human slavery. Many Americans simply view this as shameful and disgusting. But a careful examination of our Constitution and federal law shows that such institutional white supremacist intimidation is more than simply disgraceful; it is against the law – it is criminal.
To understand this, we need to dismiss with the nonsense that the Confederates were fighting some courageous war for “states’ rights,” but rather they sought to create an unyielding institution to degrade, deny human rights and dignity, kill, and abuse African-Americans based on their goals in defense of human slavery of African-Americans. This can be seen by an examination of the Confederate’s own words on their views, goals, and objectives.
In the Confederate States of America’s own Constitution, the Confederates, who declared open treasonous insurrection and rebellion on the United States government and its Constitution, created a “mirror constitution” of their own, except that in that document of shame, the Confederates openly promoted the use of human slavery. The perverted Confederate Constitution called for laws defending the “institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States” (CSA Const. Article IV, Section 3(3)), “denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves,” (CSA Const. Article IV, Section 2(1)) and calling for Confederate Congressional control over the business of “slavery” from any states outside of the CSA. (CSA Const. Article IV, Sections 9(1) and 9(2))
The Confederates did not view African-Americans as human beings, only as property. The Confederates sought to enforce this twisted view in defiance of all natural law into an institution, states, regulations, and even their own “Constitution.” So for the Confederates, the right of white supremacist’s free travel became the right to travel “with their slaves and other property.” (CSA Const. Article IV, Section 2(1))
The Confederate States of America’s individual states declarations of secession define their goals as seeking to protect their white supremacist institution of human slavery. As described in the individual secession statements, the Confederates viewed that “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery” (Mississippi), in defense of “African slavery” (Georgia), defending a white supremacist culture of “slaveholding States of the South” (South Carolina, Alabama, and Virginia), and “that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity” (Texas). The mission and values of the Confederate States were to defend only white supremacist governance, viewing “the African race…as an inferior and dependent race” (Texas), rejecting “negro equality” (South Carolina), rejecting “political equality between the white and negro races” (Texas). The Confederates viewed African-Americans “beneficial and tolerable” only as slaves who were “an inferior and dependent race” (Texas).
What government official, military individual, court, law enforcement individual, or any person representing any part of the United States of America should be legally allowed to promote the symbols and flags of such criminal and despicable positions? How could we allow anyone in a position of government of any type to “honor” and commemorate such institutionally criminal views and values? How can the government enforce its obligations under the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law, while allowing this “honoring” of Confederate flags and symbols?
The Constitution of the United States has been amended to be crystal clear that such despicable actions and institutional oppression against African-Americans were against all national law. It was changed consciously and deliberately and in full knowledge of the actions of the Confederates so that Americans could state, regarding this African-American Holocaust, “Never Again.” U.S Constitution Amendment 13 (ratified December 6, 1865) stated that slavery was not permitted in the United States. Amendment 15 (ratified February 3, 1870) stated that the “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 law states that it is a federal crime (18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(2)) to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone …by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”
The United States federal law makes it a CRIME for such white supremacist intimidation to interfere with lawful participation in “speech or peaceful assembly,” voting, “participating in or enjoying any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility, or activity provided or administered by the United States,” “applying for or enjoying employment,” enjoying any federal government or state benefit or service, attending college, using any public goods, services, facilities or accommodations (from foods, restaurants, gasoline, theaters, restaurants, etc.), traveling by any means, serving on a court, and many other activities.
The intent of this U.S. federal law and the amendments to the Constitution in the light of the white supremacist Confederate insurrection and rebellion was to make it clear that such racist activity was CRIMINAL, not simply deplorable. The intent is clear that the changes to law were enable CRIMINAL PROSECUTION of such white supremacists denying basic human rights, not simply to shake our heads in disgust and dismay.
So in view of these aspects of the U.S. Constitution and federal law, why would it be legal for government and government-funded institutions to display such symbols of white supremacist hate to create a “culture” of intimidation in our government offices, in public places, in colleges, in restaurants, and in other public places where federal law specifically makes it a CRIME to intimidate people from using? In fact, it is clear that the law of the land intended to criminalize such actions by government agencies and institutions intimidating African-Americans in public places.
It is against the law for our government agencies to create such a culture of intimidation against African-Americans in government offices and facilities with Confederate flags and monuments to such white supremacy. Our United States Congress should know that it cannot legally permit the South Carolina Confederate flag or any symbols of the white supremacist Confederacy in any Congressional or government buildings to create an atmosphere of intimidation to American people they represent. It is against the law for the government of South Carolina to fly this Confederate white supremacist flag on capital and public grounds.
It is against the law for the United States military and armed forces to create a culture of intimidation against African-Americans by honoring the white supremacist Confederate flag, their treasonous leaders, and military leaders, including “honoring” of such Confederate leaders in government military institutions.
It is against the law for state government agencies to have issued and still issue “Confederate license plates” to create a culture of intimidation against African-Americans and contempt for the law on our highways and public places.
It is against the law for any college, including the Citadel, to display such Confederate flags and symbols of white supremacist intimidation against African-American in violation of this law.
It is against the law for African-Americans to be intimated and forced to attend schools and educational institutions with names honoring white supremacist Confederate leaders, with intimidating white supremacist Confederate flags and statues at such educational institutions. The law clearly shows this applies to any university, school, or educational institution.
It is against the law for parks and other public places to promote this white supremacist Confederate flag and symbols to intimidate the African-American public from the use of these parks and public institutions, and to intimidate their public speech or peaceful assembly in such areas. It is against the law for our park administrations to sell, promote, and honor white supremacist Confederate flags, monuments, and other items to intimidate African-Americans from using such facilities, and to license commercial vendors to sell such white supremacist Confederate items, as well.
Regarding highways, travel, and “any facility of interstate commerce,” it is against the law for government organizations and institutions to designate names of such public facilities based on white supremacist Confederate leaders and to adorn them with Confederate white supremacist monuments to intimidate African-Americans from using such facilities of interstate commerce. The “Jefferson Davis Highway,” named after the notorious Confederate white supremacist leader, is in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and California; this includes direct avenues of interstate commerce in clear violation of federal law. Furthermore, the Federal Highway Administration maintains a friendly “history” of this disgraceful abuse of our interstate commerce, named after a white supremacist leader who led the campaign to kill 400,000 American soldiers and enslave at least hundreds of thousands of African-Americans.
In addition to all of these other laws, our U.S. Constitution has another legal obligation to enforce, specifically to all those in any government, under U.S. Constitution Amendment 14, Section 3, which states: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
We have seen numerous terrorist attacks on our nation, associated with those allied to the “insurrection” and “rebellion” by the Confederate white supremacist movement. This does not include only the Confederate terrorist attack in Charleston by Dylann Roof, but also other recent attacks by Confederate terrorist Wade Michael Page in Wisconsin, the terrorist shooting of African American churches in Tennessee by Confederate terrorists Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, and the plot by such Confederate terrorists to kill 102 African Americans in an attack on a church, as well as an attack on then Senator Barack Obama.
The idea that the Confederate enemy threat ended with the legal end of the Civil War is a misguided and incomplete view of history. The reality is that Confederate enemies chose to use other tactics to promote their policies and views of white supremacy against Americans, including terrorist tactics of insurgent warfare. This enemy is very much still alive in this nation.
So in view of all of these facts and the law of the land, it is clearly against the U.S. Constitution and against the law for members of our government who “hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State” to give “aid or comfort to the enemies” of our nation and those enemies who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” This legal standard clearly applies to those members of our federal, state, or local government who would honor, promote, and praise such Confederate white supremacy symbols and leaders, giving “aid” and “comfort” to a very real enemy that still exists among us today.
When we start with an understanding of RIGHT AND WRONG, and we are educated on THE LAW, it is not difficult to see the many, many violations of the law by institutions seeking to create a culture of public intimidation against African-Americans in this nation.
I grew up as a child seeing the rawness of this white supremacy hatred and sickness in our nation. I vividly recall a visit to Virginia Beach, Virginia, asking my father what a sign meant that was in front of a hotel there that read “White Clientele Only.” My father went on to tell me how he learned of how his African-American co-workers would be intimidated and denied the rights to eat in public places that were also viewed as exclusive for “white clientele only.” I saw the disgrace of the white supremacy hate against Americans directly with my own eyes. I saw the contempt of Confederates for our nation, as they tore down an American flag that my father had in Virginia.
We have come far from those dark, horrible days, but we have not come far enough. We have changed much, but we have not changed enough. Most of all, we have enforced the law, but we have not enforced the law enough, and it is PAST TIME for our REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT and OUR RESPONSIBILITY to get the law of the land enforced against the Confederate white supremacist movement in this nation.
This is a call to action directly to the U.S. Department of Justice, to the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on this epidemic of criminal behavior by those “giving aid” to Confederate white supremacists, as well as a direct call for action by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. This is not just the responsibility of protesters and activists, this is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TOO – we are looking for your leadership to enforce the law of the land. But while we seek our Department of Justice to act, this does not reduce OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT one bit – we are responsible for awakening our government, our institutions, and our businesses to ENFORCE THE LAW. If they cannot act swiftly through our calls for justice, then our calls for Class Action Lawsuits and other actions to ensure justice are required.
Today, in Charleston, South Carolina, an American patriot, Brittany “Bree” Newsome, took down the Confederate flag of white supremacy over the Charleston capitol grounds. She was arrested for the misdemeanor of defacing a monument, and a campaign of “#FreeBree” has been started. But who has broken THE LAW? Clearly, the law has been broken by the South Carolina government, and Bree Newsome’s actions were truly to ENFORCE THE LAW OF THE LAND, which is being broken by such government representatives. Bree Newsome was making a CITIZEN’S ARREST against the criminal symbol of Confederate white supremacist intimidation and hate being illegally honored on the public grounds at the Charleston capital.
After 150 years, it is truly past time for Americans to find the courage to enforce our laws.
If our representative government and our great nation is afraid and unwilling to enforce THE LAW in these blatant issues of honoring and promoting such white supremacist Confederate symbols, especially when such Confederates commit acts of terrorism on this nation, then let us not be such incredible hypocrites when we judge other nations who fail to act on extremists in their midst. Our support for the law, for our universal human rights and dignity is not simply a goal for the rest world, it is an imperative for the United States of America.
Some will want to debate this as a matter of “free speech” versus “civil rights” as if this was some philosophical matter detached from the urgent needs for safety, rights, dignity, and equality of Americans today. Some will want to argue this as a matter of “history” versus “legalities,” when the history they want to ignore is the enslavement, oppression, and mass murder of African Americans. The history they want to ignore is the hundreds of thousands of American patriots who died to fight such slavery. The history they want to ignore is the white supremacist contempt for human rights and dignity and the mutilation of our nation’s soul by the white supremacist atrocities, which we continue to see today.
But at some point, the American people must take a stand to show we understand the difference between right and wrong, that we have respect for the laws of this land and the human rights of this world, and we will not let that crimes committed by Americans in the past define us as Americans and as nation – today or in the future.
Some things are worth fighting for. In Arlington National Cemetery and in graves around this nation, 400,000 American patriot soldiers, including freed African-American slaves and many patriotic white Americans – GAVE THEIR LIVES and DIED – to defend our Union and to defy the cause of white supremacist HUMAN SLAVERY. When our children, the world, and each other see America, we must remember that.
We must remember, when faced with terrible wrongs, we can and we must have the courage to do what is RIGHT.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It has been stated in contexts around the world, as it should. But let us not forget that it was written from by Dr King while he was in the Birmingham, Alabama jail to urge Americans to work for justice everywhere throughout this great nation. We must heed these words today, and end the criminal injustice of the Confederate white supremacist intimidation in our public places.
We need to remind the enemies of this nation. We need to remind those whose twisted values would honor white supremacy. We need to remind those who are fighting for democracy in foreign lands. We need to remind our children, who are looking for our leadership in this hour of decision. But most of all, we need to look to each other, eye to eye, hand to hand, heart to heart, in every race, religion, gender, and identity group, that makes up this great, integrated, and diverse nation of America.
We need to look to one another and remind ourselves, not just of our rights, but also of our RESPONSIBILITY… as WE ARE – the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. This isn’t someone else’s fight. This isn’t someone else’s problem. This is our RESPONSIBILITY – to defy the enemies of our nation and the enemies of our human rights. It is our responsibility to continue to work to make this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It is our RESPONSIBILITY for American Equality and Liberty – for all.