Too late to complain about Confederate flag being co-opted
9/29/2017, 7:41 a.m.
Many people do not know that the swastika is actually an ancient Sanskrit symbol denoting good luck and prosperity. It is sort of an ancient Indian-Asian four leaf clover. A lucky charm. A rabbit’s foot.
It is unlikely anyone in the current civilized world can ever again look at the swastika and think of good luck and prosperity. It’s a symbol has become forever associated with the Nazis, death camps, World War II and the death of millions of Jews, Russians, Poles, French, Belgians, Dutch and minorities like homosexuals, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the physically and mentally handicapped, dissenting clergy and Slavs.
Men, women, children, babies in arms, the elderly, the infirm and the disabled were starved, gassed, worked to death or shot before the eyes of their mothers in trenches, after being made to dig their death pits. It has been reputably reported that the Nazis were directly responsible for more than 50 million deaths.
The swastika has become the most recognized symbol of hate. Those two crooked lines have been co-opted, usurped, appropriated, assumed, commandeered, filched, hijacked, swiped, purloined and confiscated. Every time a swastika is shown, it will bring to mind hatred, murder and racism more than any other symbol. It is hard to imagine any other symbol so associated with malignancy and cold-blooded malice.
Many Americans argue the symbols of the Confederacy are history and not symbols of hatred and slavery. The Confederate flag, the statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis and the streets named after lesser Southern generals represent and remind them of a glorious time in the past and their ancestors. They want to protest any comparison or similarity between the history of the old South and slavery, the Klan, systematic voter suppression, Jim Crow and Reconstruction. They loudly and passionately protest the efforts of many to dismantle those symbols or to see them as testaments to the basest evil.
If you object to any association of the Confederate flag and the statues to hatred, where were you when the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis claimed them as symbols of hatred? Were you a counterprotester as the Klan, under Confederate flags, shouted their hatred for Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics and any other minority?
Google images going back over a century is replete with hooded Klansmen parading down the nation’s thoroughfares outfitted in sheets and surrounded by Confederate flags. These images can be found dating back to the 1910s and 1920s.
Most recently, Charlottesville and Richmond have seen the Confederate flag, always accompanied by the Nazi flag, supporting and protecting this racist ideal and statues of the old South.
Rarely have devotees of Southern history and culture demonstrated, complained, bemoaned or even objected to the Klan and Nazis embezzling or misappropriating their sacred historical and cultural icons and symbols.
If you are one of the people who, in 2017, protest and proclaim the Confederate flag as a symbol of history and not hatred, you blew it. That day is gone like the 10 cent Coca-Cola.
The hate groups and Nazis stole the rebel flag and the history and culture of the Civil War South for their hate-filled statements. They openly and notoriously took it as their trademark. You sat by and let it happen. You supposed history buffs raised not one voice in objection. Your protestations now are too little, too late, as hollow as an old wooden bucket and as phony as a three dollar bill.
DAVID P. BAUGH
The writer is a former federal prosecutor and longtime criminal defense attorney and legal expert.