The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia enjoyed a full 24 hours of resurgent infamy before Gay Day came and took it all away.

Screaming and shrieking throughout the process was the puerile, facile, and ultimately Manichaean Weltanschauung of our ruling class, which is best summarized in the phrase, “We are on the right side of history.”  Only in this case, the right side of history means standing above its corpse with a jackboot on its throat.

Am I exaggerating?  Consider: History is no mere collection of factoids; it involves a narrative.  Following that regal and mournful day at Appomattox in April 1865, Americans lived with two dominant narratives about the cause and outcome of the Civil War.  Slavery had indeed been abolished.  But alongside the Triumph of the Union, the Lost Cause lived on, as the War became metaphor for the present struggle of the small against the large, the agrarian against the industrial, moderation and liberty against overweening ambition.  Knowledge of the story of the past gave context and shape to the present.

And for millions in the South and among those of the Southern diaspora throughout the American West and Midwest, the symbol of their defiance to corrupt government, rooted in their interpretation of history, has been the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

No traditional symbol is free of guilt by association.  The antebellum South harbored racist attitudes that justified slavery.  Everyone?  No.  Many?  Yes.  The Confederate Battle Flag was also raised and flown by the defenders of segregation during the Civil Rights Movement.  Again, all true.  But if we slam on the brakes right there, we ignore not one but both dominant narratives of American history.

The sectional strife that stretches back before the founding, the talk of secession on both sides of the divide, the Hamiltonians versus the Jeffersonians, the Whigs versus the Democrats, the colonization movement, national improvements, the railroads—the factoids that children still memorize in schools, like “Missouri Compromise” and “Tariff of Abominations”: These are not mere trivia but particles on the waves of our story.  And here is an unavoidable hard truth: The players in that story were nearly all, to a man, racists—from Alexander Stephens to Abraham Lincoln, and even William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist who preferred that Frederick Douglass trot out to tell his story and then, like Brer Rabbit, lay low, while the white man pontificated.  After all, why were Northern editorialists tittering over the unintended consequences of the War, and emphasizing the need to make sure the newly freed blacks stayed in the South?

Today, our children are still taught to memorize the factoids of history, but instead of a narrative—either narrative—they get propaganda centered on minority oppression and the white man’s shame.  The two narratives, which lived together in peace and flew their flags side by side in the South Pacific and Vietnam, can no longer be allowed to move and breathe, because their presence is not useful for the advance of the left’s political agenda.

The millions of Southerners who honor the Confederate Battle Flag do not wish to have separate water fountains or want to buy black people on eBay, but the policies of the liberals and progressives who hate that symbol keep blacks confined en masse in hopeless ghettos, sustain them by welfare, reward them for illegitimacy, and promote them by the degrading means of affirmative action.  The left whitewashes history in order to whitewash the present.