Friday, January 18, 2008

Huckabee and the Confederate Flag

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made some comments recently about flying the Confederate flag in South Carolina.

The remarks concerned the practice of flying the Confederate flag over the capital building in South Carolina. Though South Carolina recently ended the practice (the flag was moved to a Confederate memorial), the issue still exists. The issue also concerns a general respect for the Confederate flag among South Carolinans.

According to United Press international:

"You don't want people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee told an audience in Myrtle Beach. "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole."

Later, he said that it is not an appropriate question for the President of the United States to address.

At a news conference Thursday night, Huckabee said the flag issue is not one the president "needs to weigh in on," and did not say whether he considered it offensive to fly the Confederate battle flag, The New York Times reported.

Yet, I strongly suspect that if some state were to fly a Nazi flag, that Huckabee would not be saying, "I find the question of whether to fly this flag to be an inappropriate question for a President to address." Rather, he would say (or he should say) something like, "Any state, and any person, who would fly or show respect to a Nazi flag is worthy of condemnation."

The case against the Confederate Flag is not much different. Whereas the Nazi flag was the flag of the concentration and exterimation camps, the Confederate flag was the flag of the slave plantation and slave ships that were nearly as effective in killing off blacks as the Nazi concentration camps.

Somebody who nitpicks over details might want to argue that the Confederate flag does not deserve quite as much disrepsect as the Nazi flag - since the plantations were not death camps.

However, any degree of difference is morally trivial.

Having a President who is unwilling to condemn those who show respect for the flag of the slave planation is only trivially different from having a president unwilling to condemn those who show respect for the flag of the concentration camp.

It does no good to claim that the Confederate flag also stood for some good things. I'm certain that one can find something that Hitler proposed that was beneficial. However, when held up against the death camps (or the slave planatations), any attempt to say that the set of institutions on the whole were not that bad - were still worthy of respect - is a moral absurdity that no President should be willing to embrace.

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