With all the controversy over the past few days regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the various bans on gay marriage, I thought it pertinent to revisit a controversy only one day older — the concerted removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from numerous public venues. I won’t go into the oft-ignored history and specifics of the flag. It seems every flag proponent has done that — and better than I could — so I’ll stand on their work. I want to focus, rather, on what the flag means.
Throughout history, freedom has served as the foundation for war cultural divide — one side seeking to take it for various reasons, the other side seeking to defend it. Often, the moral ground between the two is rather muddied, but one axiom remains unchanged…
You’re not the boss of me.
It may seem rather simplistic, but this is the root of every single struggle against tyranny. In ancient Greece, a violent Spartan people stood in a pass against a violent Persian Empire, defending their way of life against a conqueror who, by all rights, was no “worse” than they were. Their reasoning? You’re not the boss of me.
In ancient Rome, a slave known to history as Spartacus threw off the chains of his oppression, and led a slave revolt that very nearly toppled the Roman Empire. As many throats as he had slit for his masters and his own bloodlust, his “ownership” by another was intolerable. The injustice of the world around him was evident, even to him I’m sure, but his reasoning for leading the revolt? You’re not the boss of me.
The eastern leg of what was once the Roman Empire to the Vatican? You’re not the boss of me.
The Protestant Reformation to the Catholic Church? You’re not the boss of me.
The early settlers that left the religious hierarchy of England to colonize the West Indies? You’re not the boss of me.
The American Revolution to the British Crown? You’re not the boss of me.
What happened in the South was very, very similar — if somewhat hypocritical, given the nature of slavery. Nobody today is disputing the despicable evil of slavery, and few people in the 1800’s would either — even in the South. Stories abound about how the North — supposedly more “enlightened” than the South — treated blacks (free as well as slave) as inferior. The South even went so far as to guarantee pensions for their free black soldiers. All of that, of course, is irrelevant to those who see the Confederate Flag as a symbol of oppression.
Ultimately, the Confederate Flag says something then that should resonate with the newly “freed” gays today — you’re not the boss of me.