Our town should not be one where hate is on display. Unfortunately, during the Enumclaw Street Fair, that was exactly the case when a booth decided that displaying battle flags of the Confederacy was acceptable.
For those who are unaware, the battle flag of the Confederacy, most commonly known as the Stars and Bars, was used by Robert E. Lee’s forces in the Army of Northern Virginia. The sole purpose of that army, led by a man who violated his oath to the U.S. Constitution, was to prevent Union forces from ending the rebellion caused by those states that seceded over slavery.
Many will say that state’s rights were the main reason for the southern slave-holding states seceding from the union. One has to question, what rights? Almost every article of secession lists slavery and the right to own slaves as the primary reason for seceding. Those that don’t actually cite the federal government’s insufficient actions to ensure that runaway slaves were returned as property as one of the main reasons.
No matter how one looks at it, the main issue for rebellion was slaveholders’ desire to keep black people enslaved. If you don’t believe me, research and read the actual articles of secession yourself. Most are online. You might be surprised at what you learn. Don’t just listen to what others say.
The Confederate flag is viewed by many as both a flag of treason and slavery. It was flown by traitors fighting to keep people enslaved. No matter what your interpretation is nowadays based on false, inaccurate, or distorted information, the basic facts remain the same. That’s irrefutable. It’s also how a great portion of society continues to view the Confederate flag.
So, when I see this flag flown by members of our community, I see it as a symbol of treason, racism, and hatred directed against blacks. Those of you who fly it may not think it so, but it is. Just like the Nazi flag has become a symbol of racism and anti-Semitism, and the Communist hammer and sickle flag has become a symbol of authoritarian mass murderers.
The Confederate flag, like the Nazi and Communist flags, has no place in a free and equal America. And certainly not in our community. It’s a flag of treason and slavery. You may fly it, as is your right, but don’t ever expect those of us who know it’s true meaning to respect you. With rights come responsibility. If you fly the flag, don’t be surprised when others verbally or physically object to it.
By the way, the real hero of this story is the young man who stood silently for hours in the hot sun on Cole Street, holding a handwritten cardboard sign that simply stated “The Rebel Flag does not belong in Enumclaw.” He is right, it doesn’t. You, sir, are a true hero.
James S. Peet