I’ve never written a letter to the editor before, and there’s been no shortage of opinions offered about the Main Street Cowboys’ decision to deny vendor space on Main Street to Liberty Flags & Gifts.
But after reading Donald Lien Jr.’s letter in the Sept. 6 edition of the East Oregonian (Confederate Flag is not racist, should be welcome), I could not remain silent. Mr. Lien presented a series of half-truths in an attempt to distort the whole truth, and I thought his effort to rewrite history shouldn’t go unchallenged.
Although the flag in question may have originated as the battle flag of Northern Virginia, it was adopted by several Confederate armies during the Civil War, and later became so completely identified with the Southern cause that it became popularly known as the Confederate Battle Flag, and has long been recognized by almost everyone, including Southerners, as the primary symbol of the Confederacy.
Mr. Lien’s assertion that the flag’s design was only meant to convey the message that the southern states wanted to be “crossed out of your union” completely ignores the reason for that message in the first place, the reason they undertook a “secession movement” to begin with — namely, the right to buy, sell, own and treat other human beings as property.
Despite revisionist attempts to frame the Civil War as a battle over states’ rights, it was always about the “right” of the Confederate States to own slaves. Without the issue of slavery, there would have been no secession movement and no Civil War.
To insist, as Mr. Lien did, that this flag did not “actually represent slavery, hatred, white supremacy or something worse” should cause one to wonder just who the “biased and uneducated people” really are.
To insist, as Mr. Lien did, that “This flag is not racist. Never has been. Never will be” is to be either dishonest or ignorant about both history and the truth. Again, in his own words, “All that people need to have to be able to see and understand this truth is a basic knowledge of history and an ounce of common sense.”
For what it’s worth, I think the Main Street Cowboys made the right decision.