- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000

To near universal press applause, John McCain has confessed to deceiving the South in defending the Confederate Battle Flag, and he has repudiated the cause of his forebears: "Those ancestors of mine … . fought on the wrong side of history."

Now, the South was surely on the losing side of history; and had the issue been slavery, it would indeed have been the wrong side. But is this true history, or bogus history written by the winners?

For in his First Inaugural Abraham Lincoln proposed a 13th amendment to the Constitution to make slavery permanent in the 15 states, and even offered a new federal law to help run down fugitive slaves. Six weeks later, when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, there were eight slave states in the Union, seven in the Confederacy. Lincoln was prepared to appease the South on slavery. How, then, could the evil of slavery have been the cause of the war?

To Horace Greeley, Lincoln protested that if he could restore the Union without freeing a single slave, he would do so. In his Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln denied freedom to the slaves in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia and parts of Tennessee. Lord Palmerston noted in amusement that Lincoln had undertaken to abolish slavery where he had no power to do so, while protecting slavery where he had the power to destroy it.

The cause of the war was, thus, not slavery. The cause of the war was the iron will of Abraham Lincoln who, like Andrew Jackson, believed first in the dictum: "Our Union … it must be preserved!" Rather than see a house divided, Lincoln would reunite it in blood.

Which brings us to the St. Andrew's Cross, a banner of bravery and defiance that flew over battlefields, not slave quarters. If that flag, as the left insists, is but a symbol of racism and the cause of Southern independence would simply, in Mr. McCain's words, have perpetuated the grave injustice of slavery, we ought not to stop at removing it from the capitol in Columbia.

All replicas of that flag, as in the Georgia state flag, should be removed, as should all the statuary to the rebellion leaders: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and legendary cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose statue stands in Memphis and whose name graces street signs all across Tennessee.

To defend the battle flag, says Albert Gore, is to pander to the extreme right wing. Well, then, let Mr. Gore lead the fight to pull down all statues of Forrest, the victor of Fort Pillow where black soldiers were massacred, and grand wizard of the KKK. Let Albert Gore demand that every Southern street and the town in Arkansas named for Forrest be renamed for civil rights leaders King, Abernathy, Young, or Jackson (Jesse). Mr. Gore has written off South Carolina; but he hopes to carry Tennessee. Let us see if he will pander to the extreme right wing.

As for conservatives, it is past time they declared what it is, if anything, they will fight to conserve. For this assault on the battle flag, which they prayerfully wish would end, is a minor skirmish in a culture war where the end goal is extirpation of every symbol that testifies to America's Christian and Western character and heritage. Where and when will the right stand and fight?

Decades ago, it milled around like grazing cattle as a renegade court drove its God, commandments, Bible and prayers out of the public schools of a nation whose institutions, even Justice William Douglas conceded, presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being.

The de-Christianization of our institutions complete, our militant secular church has begun the deconstruction of our country.

Washington's name has been removed from a New Orleans school, Jefferson's name dragged through the gutter. On the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage, he was trashed as a genocidal exploiter of Native Americans.

Custer's name is gone from Little Big Horn battlefield. Our poems have been bowdlerized for political correctness; the calendar we grew up with rewritten. Birthdays of Lincoln and Washington have disappeared into Presidents Day. Easter and Christmas are now spring and winter break. In public schools, Christmas carols are forbidden; in public places, songs like "Dixie" and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" are hate crimes.

Were these changes brought about by popular clamor? Or were they imposed by the high priests of an intolerant church many Americans are terrified to contradict, lest they receive the heretics brand of racist, bigot or extremist? The real value of Mr. McCain's extraordinary remarks "would be if they shamed all politicians who pander," writes The Washington Post. Fair point. But what do we do with those sorry politicians who spend whole careers pandering to the media elite?

Pat Buchanan is a candidate for the Reform Party presidential nomination.

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