Clip Clop, Bang Bang

The manipulative sensationalism regarding any display of the Confederate battle flag continues unabated. The New York Times gets hot and bothered, or sexually aroused—or whatever it is that the New York Times becomes—whenever that banner appears over the capitol of South Carolina or on a vanity tag in Maryland, indeed anywhere. The shibboleths of liberalism are applied whenever it is possible to maintain power today by controlling the national memory of yesterday, and the day before. "Heritage Not Hate" is the motto of some who defend the right to display the disputed flag, but the problem may be that hate is precisely what our heritage is. Strangely enough, that hate was broadcast a century and a half ago by spokesmen for a gospel of love—and it still is. It has long since become the language of power in our society.

What a shame that our effort to remember our own history should itself be so contentious. But then again, the Civil War was a shame itself, and there is something perversely appropriate in having the national memory supervised by replicants of the most obnoxious personalities of that war. Sure, remembering the Civil War is one thing Americans ought to do, and for a host of reasons. The memory of heroic actions, of courage and sacrifice, have traditionally been thought to be the stuff of civic virtue, as Pericles memorably indicated. But while I do believe that there is something...

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