In California, Governor Jerry Brown has before him a bill that would make it illegal to sell the Confederate battle flag, or anything depicting the flag, in California:
A bill sits on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk to ban California from displaying or selling the Confederate flag or objects with images of it. The state’s Legislature passed the bill nearly unanimously last week.
Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, introduced the legislation after his mother discovered the Capitol gift shop sold a replica of Confederate money that contained a picture of the flag, according to the L.A. Times.
The lone dissenting vote among the 67 cast was from former California GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks. He argued the bill would infringe on free speech.
“I’m a strict Constitutionalist,” he told the Times. “It’s painful and lonely.”
Hall thanked his fellow lawmakers for “standing together united to fend off the ugly hatred of racism that’s been portrayed and demonstrated through the emblem of the Confederacy.”
As I understand it, this wouldn’t prohibit private entities from selling the flag. Only the state, through its museums or gift shops. But even that is troubling, especially given the motivation for the law.
The sponsor of the legislation introduced it because his mother found that there was replica Confederate currency for sale in one of the state’s gift shops. Under this law, that money couldn’t be sold, but why not? That currency is a part of history, and while there is much to find objectionable about the Confederacy, is it not dangerous to ban that history?
Civil War afficianados can’t buy replicas of Confederate currency, or Confederate uniforms/flags, from state museums and gift shops because of this law?
That’s downright un-American.
There’s that old saying about societies being doomed to repeat the history they do not learn from. It’s cliche, but it is also true. And because it’s true, the parts of history we should be most willing to put on display and learn from are the ugliest parts of that history. In this instance, America’s regretable use of human slavery.
By the way, there’s a lot more to the topic of the Civil War than slavery, and interest in relics from that era don’t necessarily mean the interested are racists.
Yes, some racist idiots fly Confederate flags (there are more than one, I wonder if this California ban addresses all of them?) as a way of advertising their bigoted notions. But you know what? That’s ok too. We can protect their right to purchase and use such imagery in a free society while not agreeing with their motivations.