The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Straightening historical facts

To the Editor:

I'm assuming others will write in to debunk Emerson Brooking's offensive defense of the Confederate flag and the racism that it has symbolized through the decades ("In defense of Dixie" 4/15/2009). But I was also struck by the line in his piece that read: "Almost 300,000 Southerners fought and died under the flag of the Confederacy, and the resulting Reconstruction altered the course of the South's economic and cultural development, creating a depression that would linger for generations."

Brooking (I sure hope unwittingly) has repeated a historical myth about Reconstruction that slandered it as a horrible mistake and depicted its participants, especially ex-slaves, as misguided, corrupt, unqualified and incompetent.

It took decades of careful work by W.E.B. Du Bois, Kenneth Stamp and Eric Foner, among other scholars, to overthrow this racist interpretation by Confederate ideologues and instead restore Reconstruction to its rightful place, as what Foner has elsewhere called "a stunning and unprecedented experiment in interracial democracy" and "a forerunner of the modern struggle for racial justice."

Perhaps Brooking should spend less time on his campus political career and a few more hours with a couple decent history books on these topics. Foner's own "A Short History of Reconstruction" would help get him up to speed so he can stop embarrassing himself with shameful pieces that border on neo-Confederate apologia. And rather than scapegoat Reconstruction, he can consider much more plausible explanations for the Southern woes that he references.

Merlin Chowkwanyun

The author is a Ph.D. student in History

Flag still an offensive emblem

To the Editor:

I wasn't introduced to the Confederate Flag when I saw it on television. When I was 16 years old, two rednecks yelled "terrorists go home" out of their pickup truck decked out with Confederate Flag decals at my friends and I as we walked down the street.

I doubt either of them chose their decorations based on a so-called appreciation for Southern culture. Attempting to justify flaunting the Confederate Flag in our faces is not a novel idea. The Ku Klux Klan has been using the old "it's not hate; it's complicated heritage," argument for decades. White Power groups have rallied around the post-'60s rhetoric of racism - that of "White Heritage" - and Brooking has not made any argument that supersedes or even distinguishes itself from any already made by such groups.

If the Confederate Flag stands first and foremost for general Southern heritage (and therefore all people from the South), why are the people who fly it exclusively white? This is not just a matter of being "PC" for your career. This is a matter of having the decency and respect not to display a symbol that signifies dehumanization, bigotry, hatred and oppression to so many other people. The Confederate flag should be condemned outright. Of course as a symbol it will inevitably have more than one meaning. But that doesn't mean you ought dismiss its most excruciating and revolting signification, and that certainly doesn't mean we should ever stop renouncing it.

Avi Samarth

The author is a College sophomore

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.