Vexiphobia, n., an irrational fear of flags.
--Online Medical Dictionary
It's an epidemic sweeping the country, wiping out memory and reason. Its symptoms are showing up everywhere from Charleston to Richmond to the U.S. Capitol, where the speaker of the House --
No doubt there are sites where the Confederate ensign should never have been raised at all in these post-bellum times, like over the state Capitol of
But now removing Confederate emblems has become all the rage, literally. Every trace of the Old Confederacy, it's said, must be purged from American life -- street names, college dormitories, those magnificent statues along
There's no doubt that the old, antebellum South ("Southern civilization") was based on the
"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Like the heroism, gallantry and self-sacrifice of Lee's
Lest we forget, it was a Union general, William Tecumseh Sherman, who told us war is hell, and proceeded to make it so. Even while
But the war after The War lingers on in debates over displaying the Confederate flag, and so do the bad feelings. Good and evil still mix even if today's vexiphobes can see only evil in the other side. That's not history, it's ideology. It's amnesia become a political cause. And nothing good can come of it, for without a measure of understanding, much less forgiveness, we'll all wind up wallowing in our own overweening self-righteousness. And these dishonored dead will only be the latest of The War's casualties. Along with a decent tolerance for the feelings of others.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
Instead we would now exact vengeance, and dishonor even the dead. It's a terrible thing, the kind of pride that has no room for charity -- and tends to go before a fall.
It's all enough to bring back a more recent instance of pride gone mad. Back in the not very sane year 1966,
And the more contagious this madness, the more dangerous it can be. For he whom the gods would destroy, to quote the ancient proverb, they first make mad.
Better to follow the advice of a Union general named U.S. Grant, who said, simply and wisely, "Let us have peace."
You'd think the vexiphobes would have learned by now that outlawing a flag, like forbidding the use of a word, only gives it more power over us -- and lends it the aura of the forbidden. Like telling little Johnny not to put beans up his nose. It's one way to make sure he will.
You might as well tell juveniles of all ages that they'd better not wave the Confederate flag around. Which just about guarantees that they will. And this flag war will continue.