the Confederacy…and Liberty, Too
once again that the greatest threats to heritage are often indigenous,
County in Georgia has banned students from wearing t-shirts with
the Confederate Battle Flag.
its credit, the ACLU has sued the school district for violating
students’ freedom of speech, albeit on federal grounds instead of
Bill of Rights.
Larry Bryant justifies the prohibition since "Wearing inflammatory
symbols does not promote…respect and tolerance." A better distillation
of ahistorical political correctness would be hard to find.
Douglass observed that "Liberty is meaningless where the
right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist."
He knew whereof he spoke, having encountered physical hostility
for his abolitionist advocacy. (See James H. Cook’s "Fighting
with Breath, Not Blows: Frederick Douglass and Antislavery Violence,"
in Antislavery Violence: Sectional, Racial, and Cultural
Conflict in Antebellum America.)
a liberal society with a marketplace of ideas conceptual
capitalism, so to speak individuals exchange views vigorously
and sometimes venomously, but they remain free to engage in citizenship
without preclusion of particular opinions. There is no ideological
central planning where the State dictates what visions of society
will be permissible for public debate.
the State practices ideological interventionism, i.e., the abridgment
or prohibition of certain discourse, it stigmatizes a brand of speech
or seeks to liquidate it outright. This forecloses pluralism with
philosophic homogenization, each predicated upon coercive ugliness.
70 of the Soviet Criminal Code operated on this paradigm, criminalizing
"agitation or propaganda carried on for the purpose of subverting
or weakening the Soviet regime." Article 62 of Cuba’s current
constitution similarly prohibits the exercise of liberties "contra
la existencia y fines del Estado socialista" ("against
the existence and ends of the socialist State"). Being ideological
monopolists, totalitarians don’t like alternative ideas.
conversion of Confederate apparel into a transgressive act constricts
freedom of expression, making it inimical to the very tolerance
he affects to value. Moreover, this commissar has besmirched and
banished the heritage of copious students in his capacity as a public
official, and as I
have noted elsewhere, that is inflammatory.
in the eyes of many the Confederacy was an American Satan presaging
the Third Reich, its banishment from spheres such as public schools
is hardly repugnant. In their parochial fury, the anti-Confederates
are blind to the censorial implications of such policy.
Robert Byrd said in 1996, "We live in an era in which tolerance
has progressed beyond a mere call for acceptance and crossed over
to become a demand for the rest of us to give up beliefs that we
revere and hold most dear in order to prove our collective purity."
That era endures; Seminole County’s purge of the Confederacy exemplifies
it; and while this Stalinist obscenity doesn’t belong anywhere,
it’s especially obscene in our purportedly sweet land of liberty.
thanks to Rob Moody for apprising me of the Seminole County story.
Kantor [send him mail]
and lives in Boynton Beach, Florida