Like many Southern families’, my family’s military story didn’t end with the Civil War — it continued on to World War I, the European theater in World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then to my own recent deployment during the Surge in Iraq. The martial history of our family is inseparable from the family story, and it includes men in gray.
So I’ve followed this most recent round of debate over the Confederate battle flag with perhaps greater than normal interest. In the immediate aftermath of mass shootings, there is always a demand to “do something.” Always, that demand involves gun control — typically, gun-control measures that wouldn’t have actually stopped the shooting in question. But often there’s something more. In the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Left demanded “civility” — despite zero evidence that the barking-mad perpetrator was motivated by any form of political discourse. Now the demand is to remove the Confederate battle flag from a Confederate memorial in South Carolina (and presumably elsewhere). The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, with characteristic vehemence, says, “Take down the flag. Take it down now.” His call — and others — have resonated around the web.