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False flags, false causes


False flags, false causes

HICKORY, North Carolina—The huge flag whips and twists in the stiff breeze.

The Confederate battle flag hangs from a high flagpole on I-40 just west of Hickory. The flag is big, perhaps the size of a wall, so it can be seen by passing motorists coming from the east or the west from quite a distance.

Other flags—the U.S. flag, state flags, even flags of sympathy for Ukraine—fly at half-staff in mourning and sympathy for the victims of the mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Not this flag of insurrection, though. It unfurls from the top of the tall pole. It is a flag that acknowledges no shame, no tragedy … no truth.

I’m not surprised to see the stars and bars staining the landscape.

It is a symbol of the determination on the part of Americans to forget history—to rewrite reality to make it palatable for people who are too tender to gaze upon the world with open eyes. They embrace comforting falsehoods because veracity can be prickly, even painful.

The Confederate battle flag embodies the spurious notion of the lost cause, a belief structure held together by one untruth after another.

It is the emblem of what has been, until now, America’s great forgetting.

The lost cause’s adherents argue the South’s undertaking was a noble one, a resistance to tyranny.

In truth, it was a march into treason, fueled and fed by one dishonesty after another.

Confederate sympathizers long have tried to label the Civil War “the war of northern aggression.” It was no such thing.

When Abraham Lincoln became president, he promised the South he would not act to end slavery in their states. In his first inaugural address, he pleaded with the South not to tread the path that would lead to war, his conclusion almost plaintive:

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Lincoln’s words had no effect.

Southern state after Southern state seceded.

Then the South fired the first shot in the bloody civil war that within four years ended up claiming the lives of a quarter of the American men between the ages of 18 and 45.

The other great distortion in the lost cause myth is that the war wasn’t about slavery.

It was.

When the Confederates drafted their own constitution, it aped the U.S. Constitution in almost all ways. The only significant substantive difference between the two documents was that the Confederate charter firmly, clearly stated that one group of human beings would be entitled to enslave other human beings.

That’s why Southerners went to war, why they started the fight they could not finish, and why they took up arms against a nation many of them had taken oaths before God to defend.

They wanted to continue enslaving other human beings.

And they tried to obscure what they were doing by prattling about liberty, self-determination and about Union aggression.

The truth was too painful, so they took shelter behind a great lie.

We’re in the middle of another great forgetting now.

Apologists for former President Donald Trump now would have us believe that the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol wasn’t an act of insurrection.

An act of treason.

They want us to see it as a legitimate protest, despite the fact that many of the members of the mob the former president incited wanted to murder the then vice president and rape and slaughter the then-speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives simply for performing their constitutional duties.

They want us to forget that Trump, the man who screamed “stop the steal” at every opportunity, was himself trying to steal the election by any means available to him, legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional.

On Jan. 6, 2021, many of Trump’s followers carried Confederate battle flags, symbols of one great lie in service of another great lie, as they assaulted the temple of the American republic.

That was no coincidence.

FOOTNOTE: John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College.


  1. I don’t doubt that slavery was part #100 of the issues with the Northerner government. I would point out there were more issues than just slavery. History is always written by the Victorious side. The battle flag of the Southern States was meant as a symbol the same way that the flag of the United States is a symbol. Judging the past by our modern standards is not the way towards seeing the issues of the past. The right to vote for women was one such issue that has been lost to history. Education is another issue which has persisted to this day.

    • .
      May I be 100% clear:

      The CIVIL WAR, was fought over SLAVERY.

      The Confederate States, flying the Confederate Flag, ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES.
      That CONFEDERATE FLAG is a symbol of advocating for slavery, racism and terrorism against the United States of America.

      Philip Schneider’s comment is peeing in the wind.

  2. This doesn’t surprise me at all. The crisis in America is not guns, drag queens, woke culture, or abortion. The true crisis is the inability to take others into account. The flying of the confederate flag is in poor taste. The lack of civic decorum in refusing to lower it is heartless and completely faithless.

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