(From a column by David Dieteman - August 21, 2001)
In Waco, Texas, when David Koresh and the Branch Davidians – 80 people in all, including more than twenty children – were burned and gassed to death at the hands of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Janet Reno, the Attorney General of the USA who "took full responsibility" for the 80 deaths, has been discussed as a Democratic candidate for the governorship of Florida.
On Sunday, June 10, 2001 a newspaper headline read: "Some scars will never heal."
The story was in reference to the execution of Timothy McVeigh for his bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people died.
Roughly seven years ago, Timothy McVeigh, perhaps acting with the help of others, killed those168 people with a bomb. Consider, then, the statement that "Some scars will never heal."
If "some scars will never heal," why do Northerners and philosophical Yankees continue to ridicule those who would remember the sacrifices of the citizens and soldiers of the Confederate States of America?
Tim McVeigh killed 168 people. Abraham Lincoln's war killed 620,000 Americans. Where the South is concerned, the combat losses rival those of the French in World War One, and the Germans and Russians in World War Two. In short, the CSA suffered combat losses, which are equivalent to some of the most horrific losses of life in military history.
To put this in perspective, half of the male French babies born in 1900 died in the First World War. Confederate losses were equivalent to that.
Now consider that the men and women of the Confederacy suffered not only combat losses, but also losses to state terrorism, by which I mean the Federal army campaign to destroy the private property of Southerners. Perhaps you have heard of Sherman's March to the Sea.
Northerners – unless they moved to the US from Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, or some other such contemporary war zone – have never experienced anything like a foreign invasion of their homeland, and they have no shared memories of war, invasion and resistance. Those who fought overseas understand the evil of war: children killed, innocence lost, fear, suffering, and pain, friends killed before their very eyes, if not dying in their arms. Veterans understand better than anyone that war truly is hell. And yet most American vets have not returned to loved ones who suffered the abuses of an occupying army.
Southerners, however, suffered the abuses of an occupying army. Southern men suffered defeat in battle, and returned home to find their homes and property destroyed. Such terrible suffering does not simply disappear from memory. Daughters who saw their mothers weep remember this until they are very old, and so pass these stories on to their grandchildren. In short, families do not quickly forget – nor should they – the trials and tribulations of their loved ones.
In that regard, celebrated columnist Charley Reese points out that the Confederate battle flag did not fly over any state which allowed slavery. The states had their own flags. Some, such as South Carolina and Virginia, were adopted in 1861 – at the time of secession (Virginia and South Carolina continue to fly these flags) The Confederate battle flag, however, was exactly that: a battle flag, a military flag, carried by soldiers and sailors fighting in defense of their homes and freedom.
Some scars will never heal? Indeed. One hundred and sixty eight people died in the federal building in Oklahoma City. The federal army, meanwhile, burned whole cities to the ground, including Richmond and Atlanta.
Even when whole cities were not burned to the ground, the Northern troops perpetrated terrible crimes. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, "General Sherman's occupation of Columbia was marked by the burning of St. Mary's College, the Sisters' Home, and the Ursuline Convent." And yet Ken Masugi of the Claremont Institute contends that Abe Lincoln was "a fulfillment of the Holy Mother Church." Far from it.
If Atlanta were burned to the ground today, would the media simply shrug? If Catholic colleges and convents were burned today, would the media spike the stories? One hopes not.
In the grand scheme of things, the suffering occasioned by the deaths of 168 people pale in comparison to the suffering occasioned by the death of roughly 300,000 people. If you understand the outcry over the tragedy of Oklahoma City, understand that the South suffered such a tragedy on a much greater scale. Where the vengeance directed at Timothy McVeigh is concerned, Americans seem to have lost their sense of perspective.
Southerners should no more stop flying the Confederate battle flag than should the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing victims be torn down.
Mr. Dieteman is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in
philosophy at The Catholic University of America.
His writings may be viewed at http://www.lewrockwell.com/dieteman/dieteman-arch.html
© 2001 David Dieteman