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Flags and names

March 16, 2023

A Florida Republican made a weak attempt at reviving the Confederate flag in that state. One of the more stupid arguments frequently heard today tries to defend celebrating Confederate symbols as a matter of heritage. After all, Florida was a Confederate state.

Well, Germany was the Nazi state. It no longer flies Nazi flags or celebrates those symbols, precisely because it wants to make clear the politics of that past have no place in its future. Americans should have the same attitude toward the Confederacy, for the same reason.

AudubonNo, that doesn’t mean erasing history. Both Naziism and the Confederacy should be studied in history books, documentaries, and museums. They should be remembered, in horror, and with committment to learning from those paths, how to avoid similar in the future. I think it’s particularly important to understand how they appealed to people. Sadly, they still have appeal to some people.

What they should not be is celebrated. Their flags should not be flown, except in contexts such as historical reenactments and movie production.

The desire to dishonor an evil past inevitably runs into a wide number of cases, each different in a variety of ways. Many have no bright line. Historical individuals have many facets to their lives. The National Audubon Society has decided to keep its name, despite the fact that its namesake owned slaves. As its CEO explains, John James Audubon was known for his work identifying and illustrating the variety of birds in North America.

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