ROBERT TRACINSKI: Let’s Not Get Trolled On The Confederate Flag:

I’m a little exasperated by some people who seem to be conservatives who have been lecturing me that the Confederate flag is an anodyne symbol of Southern heritage and military valor. One group, the historical pedants, inform me that the battle flag is not the Confederate flag, just one of many. Well, sure. But it’s the only Confederate flag people remember, so the distinction seems moot. Or there are those who insist that the war wasn’t really about slavery but about the North’s desire to assert overbearing centralized power. Yet this was in the middle of the era of laissez-faire, when the federal government was a fraction of the size it is today. The only assertion of centralized power that loomed as a threat worth killing and being killed over was the use of federal power to end the institution of slavery.

I don’t agree with The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates on much—he usually seems too interested in keeping racial conflict alive for political purposes—but he provides a good list of statements from Confederate leaders and supporters describing how the institution of slavery was the central cause of the war. This sort of information has long been available, and it debunks the revisionist history that has found purchase among some in the South and in a few other ideological corners. (I usually encounter it among the more doctrinaire libertarians, who can’t bring themselves to admit that the federal government ever did anything good.)

What annoys me most is when people tell me that this view is a “politically correct” rewriting of history. No, it’s the standard version taught up North long before anyone had ever heard of political correctness, and it is clearly supported by the facts. It’s the more recent Southern reinterpretation that is revisionist history.

Remember if the battle flag really represented slavery (and it did) then the flag that Dylann Roof burned represented emancipation.

There was a multitude of Americans on “the right side of history” long before any of us came along, and they paid a much higher price for that commitment than we do.