Students Weigh in on Whether the Confederate Flag Should Be Allowed to Be Displayed: Pro

Jed Seinfeld, Contributing Writer for Spokesman

In this day and age the idea of political correctness is increasingly pervasive in society. College campuses have “free speech zones” to prevent offending anyone, and even here at Princeton Day School, we face controversy surrounding political correctness. I suggest readers recall a certain student-office campaign speech from around this time last year. It is with these controversies in mind that we should fight to prevent the increasingly real threat of infringement of free speech justified under the guise of not offending anyone.

A national ban on the display of the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia would not only be unconstitutional but also would lead us to a slippery slope toward total censorship. The flag, commonly known as the “Confederate flag” is not a flag of hate. For many, myself included, the flag references the days when the United States of America believed in the small government principles that were so prevalent in our country’s founding. The confederate flag is a symbol of states’ rights and individual liberty. Contrary to popular belief, the “Civil War” was neither a Civil War nor was it fought over slavery. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that,” proclaimed Abraham Lincoln when asked his views on slavery. Lincoln was not in fact an abolitionist nor was he even for the equal treatment of blacks. Lincoln cared about preserving the Union, which, if you ask me, was an unconstitutional goal, and one that was truly dangerous to this country’s founding principles.

Our country was founded with states acting as “Laboratories Of Democracy”. To the uninitiated this means that the rights of the states to govern their citizens trumped those of the Federal Government. States should be allowed to decide their own policy. Therefore, if you do not like how New Jersey is run, then you should emigrate to Texas or vice versa. It is with this in mind that I believe wholeheartedly that what states allow to be displayed should be entirely their decision.

Now that we have established the true meaning of the confederate flag we must look at precedents for this type of symbol that states have set. Let’s take a look at Virginia. I challenge any reader of this article to drive through Virginia without seeing a multitude of plates adorned with the Gadsden flag. The Gadsden flag, or more commonly known as the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag is equal in anti-government sentiment to the Confederate flag. The flag, which first appeared in the American Revolution, symbolizes the rights of the people, the right not to be controlled by an oppressive central government, the same rights fought for by those brave men, white and black, of the Confederate States Army.

Throughout American history there have been a slew of court cases which have affirmed that it is illegal to advertise something that incites fear or violence. The recent Patriot Act affirms that the American legal system will not tolerate terrorism, apologists of terror, or the incitement of violence. We are blessed to live in a country where we are entitled to certain freedoms, protection by law, and value as citizens. We, as citizens of the United States of America, must prioritize our collective well-being. Therefore the display of symbols which pertain to terrorist groups, treasonous acts, or provoking violence cannot be tolerated. We have a responsibility to uphold our country’s stability, safety, and security, and the Confederate flag prevents us from doing just that. The Confederate flag incites fear and violence in so many ways. The CSA was founded with the premise of violent opposition to our country, and it has led

it. Some might argue that to prohibit displaying the Confederate Flag is to infringe on the rights of citizens, to violate freedom, and to deny the South its cultural history. Their argument is unfounded as while all citizens of this country are entitled to their rights, our collective safety must be our priority. Regulation is not a violation of freedom, but rather a necessary measure to ensure the safety of all citizens. The Confederate flag and its history may have significant cultural history in the South, but just because the CSA was more than a treasonous terroristic group does not mean they were not a treasonous terroristic group at all. We would not allow the display of flags bearing the names of other terrorist groups, asserting the dominance of a race, advocating for violence, or promoting treason, so we cannot allow for the display of the Confederate flag. I believe in a United States of America which respects and maintains our freedoms but first prioritizes our safety, well-being, and equality.

Next time you see someone like me, toweling off with their Confederate flag towel, ask them why. I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised, even enlightened by their answer