Lee Bright’s Bizarro perspective on the Confederate flag

There are two measurements for how far we have so suddenly come on the Confederate flag issue.

The first is on the positive side — all the people who once would have opposed removing the flag, or ignored it, coming suddenly and dramatically to the point that they are convinced along with the rest of us that it must come down ASAP. Until just a few hours before that remarkable press conference on June 22, I would have counted this sudden shift as impossible, based on more than two decades of intimate acquaintance with the issue.

The second is on the other side — the tiny group of people still willing to defend the indefensible. They have become so marginalized that their rhetoric — which was always based in foolishness — has become so starkly absurd that people who once might have listened to them respectfully cannot fail to see how profoundly wrong they are.

You’ve heard the Bizarro-world incoherence of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, steadfastly holding their ground in a universe where up is down and down is up.

Now take a look at what Lee Bright, the one lawmaker who gladly embodies what resistance is left in the Legislature has to say. The irrationality and moral bankruptcy of his approach is underlined by the fact that he is using it to try to raise money.

Our own Doug Ross received one of these appeals, to which he simply responded, “Take it down.” Here it is:

 

Lee Bright

Hello Doug,

Is there any doubt that states’ rights are under attack more than ever before?

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the latest liberal hysteria surrounding the placement of the Confederate battle flag has swept the nation. And unfortunately, many of my conservative friends and colleagues have fallen prey to this radical, Big Government scheme.

With all the noise surrounding this issue, please allow me to be abundantly clear where I stand. It is my fervent belief that the Confederate flag is a proud symbol of the following:

  • Resistance against a federal, centralized power that FAR overreached its Constitutional limits.
  • States’ rights and Constitutional liberties, which many have fought and died protecting.
  • Southern heritage and a culture that values freedom, even in the face of federal tyranny.

It is certainly important for us to take steps that prevent future acts of violence. But in this pursuit of peace, should we also dismantle the historical symbols that memorialize states’ rights?

My answer is an emphatic “NO!”

The plain and simple truth is that the placement of this flag will not prevent future tragedies. It’s abundantly clear that the radical liberal agenda is behind this push to remove the flag, which raises the question: where does it all end?

Are we to also remove the names of Confederate officers from our roads? Should we crumble all the Civil War monuments that dot our nation’s landscape?

Doug, it’s time to take a stand. Right here. Right now.

Over 150 years ago, brave Confederates made a bold stand against an oppressive government that far overstepped its Constitutional limits. Will you please take a stand with me now by signing my online petition to keep the flag flying?

States all over the nation are giving ground to the radical liberals by removing the symbol of states’ rights from their historical monuments. But if we can make a stand here and now, we can send a strong message to the elites in DC that states’ rights are still alive and well.

Please click here now to sign my petition, which I will then present to my colleagues in the South Carolina legislature. Let’s show them how much we value our heritage!

Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

P.S. Please stand with me in this fight to protect states’ rights by signing my petition today!

Can you believe this guy exists, other than as a figment of The Onion? Let’s dip into this remarkable document:

  • Taking down the flag — in other words, the government deciding to cease doing something it is doing now, is a “radical, Big Government scheme”? I knew that people like this are so wedded to their bumper-sticker phrases that they long ago ceased to be firmly rooted in reality, but to use them in a context to which they have NO conceivable connection is new to me. If we were under attack by aliens from another solar system, Sen. Bright would probably decry the invasion as another “radical, Big Government scheme”…
  • “Liberal hysteria?” This is akin to the SCV’s insistence that Dylann Roof got the race war he wanted, asserted in the face of this miraculous demonstration of reconciliation and unity of purpose. Hysteria? The calm dignity displayed by everyone from the families of the victims of the massacre to the lawmakers quietly accepting their responsibility is the very essence of steady resolve. And liberal? Nikki Haley, Mark Sanford, John Courson, Glenn McConnell, Tim Scott, etc., etc., etc.? Do words have no meaning on his planet?
  • Then there’s his utterly morally bankrupt defense of what the flag is a “proud symbol” of: “Resistance against a federal, centralized power that FAR overreached its Constitutional limits.” Um, let’s see… what had the big, bad federal government done when South Carolina seceded? Well, essentially nothing. A presidential election had simply had an outcome that the slaveholders who made up our state’s political leadership abhorred. “States’ rights and Constitutional liberties, which many have fought and died protecting.” Yes, states’ right to enslave people, I’m with you there. And I suppose the “Constitutional liberties” refers to the Framers’ compromise that allowed slavery to exist. Or perhaps you’re referring to Lincoln’s later suspension of habeas corpus, which was an extreme effect, not a cause, of the rebellion that Mr. Bright extolls. Finally, “Southern heritage and a culture that values freedom, even in the face of federal tyranny.” How could even a native of the Bizarro planet put “Southern heritage” and “a culture that values freedom” in the same sentence, within the context of the Confederacy? How does anyone live with himself after composing a sentence like that and sending it out for other humans to read?

Well, he just goes on and on in the same insurrectionist vein, proudly exhibiting his hostility toward the United States of America and the finest things that it stands for. He portrays himself as appalled that the United States prevailed in a struggle in which it purged itself of its own original sin.

This is the sad state to which the pro-flag camp has sunk. And as appalling as it can be to delve into the workings of such minds, we should take comfort from the fact that the vast majority of our political leadership has decided to stop honoring such nonsense.

16 thoughts on “Lee Bright’s Bizarro perspective on the Confederate flag

    1. Ralph Hightower

      Lee “Not So” Bright is probably behind those robocalls asking to call their legislators to keep the flag flying.

      I got one of those calls. It sounded like Boss Hogg instead of Jesse Duke about the flag being removed from everything. He complained about everything, even TV Land pulling the Dukes of Hazzard. I don’t think that the South Carolina General Assembly can force TV Land to put the Dukes back on their schedule.

      But “Dim” Bright’s proposal to put the flag to a vote by the citizens? That’s a stall tactic. Legislators put the flag on the dome, and then moved it to the monument. The General Assembly should have the fortitude to vote to remove it.

      That call inspired me to call my representative, but for the opposite reason of the robocall, and say “Stand up and remove the flag.”

      However, in this overly politically-correct atmosphere, I think that there is some extreme overreaction: TV Land yanking the Dukes of Hazzard from their schedule? “Never meaning no harm” and “fighting the system like a modern day Robin Hood” are lyrics from the theme song.

      Reply
  1. Vanzell Haire

    The cognitive dissonance of fighting for the confederacy’s issue of “states rights” while fighting against the current state’s right to decide to take the flag down is far too real… and sad…

    Reply
    1. Kathryn Fenner

      and, in fact, the Civil War secessions were over the abolitionist states’ right to refuse to obey the Fugitive Slave Act–the South opposed states’ rights…

      Reply
      1. Margaret Pridgen (Maggie)

        Exactly. The South opposed states’ rights — that is, the right of other states to oppose slavery within their own borders.

        Reply
  2. David Carlton

    The SC secessionists were in a bit of a bind; they wanted a new Declaration of Independence, based on the same social contract theory that Jefferson used: they had a right to revolution if the social contract ceased to be honored by the other party. But most of the Declaration had been devoted to a detailed listing of the “long train of abuses and usurpations” whose documentation was deemed necessary for justifying independence to “a candid world.” The secessionists simply couldn’t find anything the federal government had *actually done.* The election of Lincoln? That wasn’t done by the federal government, but by those pesky voters–and in any case (a) Lincoln wasn’t in office yet, and (b) Congress and the Supreme Court were not under Republican control. The tariff? The tariff in place was drafted by southerners and passed with southern votes. The territorial issue? *Dred Scott* had legally opened all the territories to slavery. Slavery wouldn’t take root in the territories without legal protection, but the lack of a federal slave code was hardly a “usurpation.” If they couldn’t point to any present federal oppression, they could warn of a *possible future* “long train of abuses and usurpations”; but hypothetical grievances would be greeted by the Candid World with derision.

    So where did they go to find such abuses and usurpations? The behavior of the *northern states*! The northern states had refused to return slaveholders’ fugitive property to them (Of course in the eyes of many northerners “returning fugitive property” meant “kidnapping our neighbors”). They had allowed abolitionists to speak, publish, and assemble in defiance of the fact that the Bill of Rights had to give way to the protection of slavery (Silly them!). Northerners had applauded with impunity the efforts of terrorists like John Brown to stir up race war. Some northern states had allowed blacks to vote in defiance of *Dred Scott’s* conclusion that black people weren’t citizens, making Lincoln’s election invalid. And to crown their infamy, they refused to vote the way that slaveholders told them to! In essence, the argument was that in entering the Union the Free States had obligated themselves to support the “rights” of slaveholders, even at the cost of their own liberties, and by failing to do so had broken the federal “compact.”

    Thus the argument (which is key to all neo-Confederate arguments) that secession was designed to counter government oppression is hooey. The real grievance was against the northern states and people, who they regarded as providing shelter to terrorists and subversives. That fear is understandable, and it certainly was key to bringing nonslaveholders into the secession camp. But it basically denied fundamental liberties not only to slaves but to northern whites unwilling to take dictation from slaveholders. Indeed, it was for that reason that a majority of northerners had concluded by 1860 that the *real* threat to American liberty was the “slave power.”

    In other words, the grievances of the secessionists were never against the federal government

    Reply
    1. guest

      Rather than merely an attempt at restating Jefferson’s social contract theory, the Confederacy was instead based on the very refutation of the American social contract itself – the notion “that all men are created equal” – as inscribed by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. No one put it plainer than Alexander Stevens, when he famously wrote that, “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

      The Confederates believed, of course, that their regime was the truer reflection of the Framers’ original intentions. And to a degree they were correct. But only in the sense that the republic formed at the end of the 18th century was founded on a compromise between the forces of human progress and the forces of tradition, as expressed in practice of chattel slavery and based mainly in the South. The Union under Lincoln’s direction sought to cast off the moral burden that compromise had created while the South more fully embraced it by going to war to preserve it.

      So it was and, to a very large degree, so has it remained, as the South has continued to cling to the past, generally among the last to embrace progressive change and a larger moral vision. The display of the Confederate flag is just one symbol of that resistance. Today we celebrate the grander vision of America’s original social contract. And in a few days, perhaps we will at last cast aside one of the symbols of our failure to live by it.

      Reply
  3. Pat

    I just received a robo call from a conservative political action group with an area code of 202 asking me to call my representative who they said is “on the fence”. (I don’t think so. I hope not.) My senator was not mentioned and that concerns me. I wish the legislature would walk in and do a quick up and down vote to remove the flag and put it to bed. The longer this drags on, the more outside groups will use this to keep SC stirred up.
    As to the national surveys recently reporting that most folks see the flag as just a southern thing, the question should be should a state legislature set up a racist symbol on statehouse grounds in a place of honor; I believe an overwhelming majority would say no.

    Reply
          1. Pat

            I received email responses. My rep voted to allow it to be brought up and he was in the Post and Courier survey as a yes. My senator also responded, but avoided saying how he planned to vote. There was not a response for him in the P&C survey.
            They were both very cordial in their replies. I know this is a stressful situation for all the legislators, and I feel for them. However, it was the legislature that gave this to us; they should be the one to fix it.
            I am hopeful.

            Reply
  4. Karen Pearson

    It values human freedom if by human you mean slaveholders. Slaves are chattel and don’t count.
    If I remember correctly, the Constitution considered each slave to be 3/5ths human for purposes of census taking. If you still consider (either consciously or unconsciously) blacks to be subhuman there’s no problem.

    Reply
  5. Brad Warthen

    This would be a sort of dream post for Jerry Seinfeld, were he a blogger: He’d get to make a serious political point, AND make a Superman reference.

    I used to think the Bizarros were among the silliest ideas in the Superman universe. But the SCV and Bright just bring them to life…

    Reply

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