Allen Clifton says yes. Mr. Clifton, who is apparently a lifelong Texan, says the confederate flag “not a ‘symbol for Southern pride’ – it’s a symbol for hate, barbaric cruelty, racism, murder, oppression, abuse and shame.” To him, “honoring the Confederacy is like honoring Nazi Germany.”
He’s careful to say the two are not exactly the same, though, he says, “the ideologies of both groups (Nazis/slave owners) are similar in that they viewed a specific demographic of people like some sort of subhuman animals to be abused or slaughtered. While Nazi Germany was about genocide whereas the Confederacy was focused on slavery and basically treating people like farming equipment, it’s undeniable that both groups treated the people they abused/killed/enslaved like they weren’t human beings or equal to them in any aspect.”
Not only that, he says, “the Confederacy was essentially a treasonous group that declared war against the United States government.” “Just think about that for just a moment, he tells us. “The Confederacy attacked a United States fort. If something like that occurred today, those responsible would be labeled domestic terrorists – not honored by millions of Americans in the South.”
He says, “It never ceases to amaze me how people try to romanticize the Civil War by justifying their defense of a group of traitors who strongly opposed the ending of slavery by claiming they were just fighting against ‘government overreach’ and ‘trying to preserve freedom and liberty.’ Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? One group of people claiming to be fighting to preserve freedom… while trying to oppress, disenfranchise or discriminate against another group.”
Overall, I think he makes some good points when he points out that the confederacy was set up not to enhance freedom, as the SCV would have us believe, but instead to ensure the continued slavery of a race of people. And it’s true the confederates met the constitutional and statutory definitions of treason against the United States. And he does have a point, superficial though it is, that both the Nazis and the confederacy based their ideologies on the alleged inferiority of a group of people.
The late Harry Jaffa has this quotation in front of his book, A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War: “Since the Civil War, in which the Southern States were conquered, against all historical logic and sound sense, the American people have been in a condition of political and popular decay. In that war, it was not the Southern States, but the American people themselves who were conquered. … The beginnings of a great new social order, based on the principle of slavery and inequality were destroyed by that war, and with them also the embryo of a future truly great America that would not have been ruled by a corrupt caste of tradesmen, but by a real Herren-class that would have swept away all the falsities of liberty and equality.” [Adolf Hitler, quoted in Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction: Conversations With Hitler, 1940, pp. 68-69]
Additionally, a slave society would necessarily have the ability to apply a vast amount of repression not only against the oppressed ethnic group but also against those who would dissent from the proslavery ideology, which explains why Southerners who were abolitionists found it more conducive to their health to leave the South.
Having said all that, though, I think he goes way overboard when he claims that honoring those who fought for the confederacy is the same as honoring Nazi Germany. People are neither all good nor all bad. A good number of men and women have admirable qualities worthy of honoring as well as not-so admirable qualities that can be deprecated. Additionally, those who fought for the confederacy did so out of a number of different motives. Many of them were conscripted. In sum, the situation of the confederacy’s soldiers was a very complex one that Mr. Clifton’s all-or-nothing approach simply does not take into account. Purely and simply, he’s wrong about that.
I have three busts of Civil War figures on my desk. One is Abraham Lincoln. The second one is Ulysses S. Grant. This is the third one:
I’m not going to get rid of it.
What do you think?