The Confederate battle flag still flies every day over the capitol building of South Carolina. Readers may remember that I have several times reported in these pages on the attempts to remove this lonely anti-imperial symbol from public view. One discussion a few years ago even elicited a complaint to Chronicles from then-Governor David Beasley. Mr. Beasley, alas, is no longer governor, having to console himself with a part-time position at a Harvard think tank. Having promised not to mess with our flag, he turned around and mobilized the entire Republican establishment to take it down in order to catapult himself into the national limelight, claiming to have received instructions from the Almighty. He thus did the only thing that a Republican could do to ensure that he wouldn’t be reelected. A fourth of the Republican voters defected and elected a lackluster Democrat who also promised not to mess with our flag. His sincerity, of course, is already in question. (I sadly must tell folks that they are mistaken if they believe that Republicans in South Carolina arc rock-ribbed conservatives. The Republican establishment is merely a pork-barrel machine, though manned by folks who are instinctually more conservative than their compatriots in Connecticut or Illinois, which is why none of our federal judges has interfered in this matter. 1 he legendary Strom Thurmond long ago traded the role of Dixiecrat for that of the World’s Greatest Patronage Artist.)

The battle has been joined again, with the NAACP declaring a boycott of the state until the flag is removed. So far, this has had little effect. In some quarters, there have been expressions of satisfaction: “Does this mean Myrtle Beach won’t get to host Freaknik?” But the social forces that have so far defeated an anti-flag campaign backed by Big Politics, Big Business, Big Civil Rights, Big Religion, and Big Media are worth some attention.

To begin with, members of the legislature, which has the deciding say in the matter, have to listen to real voters rather than to banks and newspapers—at least part of the time. And pace Samuel Francis, the Council of Conservative Citizens was not responsible for saving our flag. Its efforts, including rallies by tattooed motorcycle thugs and David Duke followers, have been resoundingly counterproductive—just what the media wanted.

Rather, the battle has been won because we are still a people, nearly unique among turn-of-the-millennium Americans, with a real historical memory. A lot of us know how great-grandfather died with the colors at Gettysburg or was starved and frozen to death by the Yankees at Elmira. Or how great-grandmother was burned out of house and home and had the jewelry’ ripped from her ears by liberators in blue.

We also know that we made a bargain at the end of Reconstruction: As long as we served the United States loyally, our history would be a respected part of the American story. We have done our share—or perhaps more—in every one of the wars since. The other side, as usual, has failed to keep its part of the bargain. There is now a concerted effort to expunge us. Several U.S. military directives have banned “the Confederate flag, the Nazi swastika, and curse words” from the empire’s property. In neighboring North Carolina, civilian employees of the Coast Guard were threatened with security investigations for having Sons of Confederate Veterans stickers on their private vehicles. Isn’t this the way ethnic cleansing starts?

Recently, a Catholic academy in Greenville fired its best teacher because he refused to remove a small Confederate flag that hung in his classroom along with a number of other historical American flags. The demand for removal resulted from a complaint by a prospective parent, a recent arrival from Jamaica, who also complained about the crosses.

And St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, one of the two most historic churches in historic Charleston, has, because of the flag, refused to permit the Sons of Confederate Veterans to hold a memorial service for the heroic crew of the CSA submarine Hunley. (This is the second crew, not the one the movie was made about. They are still at the bottom of the bay.) Not only does St. Michael’s yard contain the bones of numerous Southern heroes, but its steeple was used as a rangefinder by the Unionists during the brutal 1863-65 siege of the city. The Episcopal hierarchy continues its apparently irreversible slide into communism and sodomy.

The Confederate battle flag, someone should tell the authorities at St. Michael’s Church, is only one of two national flags in the Western Hemisphere that is based on a Christian, rather than a Jacobin, design. The other flies in Quebec.

We begin to see a pattern here, and one we don’t like. We are not going down that slippery slope if we can help it. So our flag on the capitol has become an issue transcending a merely prudential matter. The main argument for removal has been that the flag offends black citizens. (Opponents also claim it is bad for business, which is patently untrue.) But it is not at all clear that black citizens, as distinct from their self-appointed spokespersons, feel this way. And interestingly, according to polls, a good half of the thousands of Rust Belt refugees who have settled among us in recent times are pro-flag. Indeed, I would think even admirers of Old Abe and Billy Sherman would take alarm at the anti-Confederate hatred that is in full cry these days.

The real impulse behind the well-financed anti-flag campaign is imperialism. Columbia, South Carolina, is not to be permitted to differ from Columbus, Ohio, except in cutesy ways that will attract outsiders who will graciously employ our people to change their sheets and fix their toilets. Our newspapers, which used to be local, are now owned by chains and manned by lowbrow creatures from Detroit. The Columbia paper is Exhibit A. Founded by a family that included a Confederate cavalry general and an heroic Cuban revolutionary (pre-1898), it is now the property of Knight-Ridder. The paper recently invited an articulate local citizen to write a pro-flag op-ed. They changed his language to mean the opposite of what he had said in order to make it sound “racist.”

Yours Truly has been interviewed numerous times by journalists, several of whom have told me that everything reported on the issue is tightly controlled by management. Recently, the AP carried a long story with a few paragraphs of pro-flag comment by Yours Truly. The “local” newspaper cut my comments out. Normal journalistic practice would be to emphasize the local angle of a story. But pro-flag comments from a local semi-dignitary who has never belonged to the Ku Klux Klan could not be permitted to mar the official line.

The flag of our ancestors goes along with the Nazi swastika! That is the story now repeated everywhere. Nazi Germany was a totalitarian state. There was no barbed wire around the plantations. They were places where people were born and lived. Places that many of them, black and white, remembered as consoling, at least compared to what came later. The Southern Confederacy was so free that, even in the midst of ruthless invasion, the government never suppressed persons, newspapers, or local or state governments, something Mr. Lincoln found necessary repeatedly. And we never tried to conquer another country. We were the ones invaded and conquered by a stronger power. That our flag represents Nazism would be a surprise to the South Carolina captain who raised it over the castle on Okinawa as part of the first squad inside. And to his commander. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., son of the CSA general of the same name. And to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jr., who died in the skies over Germany in 1944. Will we now have to change the name of the “Memphis Belle” to the “Cleveland Playmate”?