PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2015) — When revisionist history meets political correctness, you can be sure a hasty and usually mistaken overreaction will result. Hence the hysteria over the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, a banner mistakenly called the flag of the Confederate States of America.

The Stars and Bars

That’s point number one in the controversy over the Stars and Bars in the wake of the horrendous and rightly condemned mass murder of nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina: This flag is not the confederate flag. The distinction is important, since at issue is the symbolism that people invest in this otherwise neutral and inert piece of fabric.

As the battle flag of that particular regiment, the Stars and Bars flew as a field identification for commanders and troops.  The national flag of the confederacy featured the Stars and Bars saltire, a white body, and a red vertical stripe on the right side.

The national flag of the Confederate States of America

But how do we take the Stars and Bars banner? Those who want this flag exorcised from public life say the banner represents racial inequality and white supremacy. Defenders of the flag cite national, cultural, and regional heritage. A question for the PCers: Who is anyone to say that the defenders of the Stars and Bars do not have the right to their interpretation and are sincere in that investment?

Knee-Jerk Reactions Cannot Fly

The knee-jerk reaction to remove the flag has many problems.

First, it tarpapers all Southerners with the foul coverings of Dylan Roof, the young shooter and obvious racist. Are all Southerners such “redneck racists?” Obviously not. In fact, few if any in THE PLANET‘s experience fit that description.

In the course of our career, we have traveled and lived in the South, spending ample time in South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. These travels have included metropolises (Atlanta, Tampa), small cities (Huntsville, Winter Haven), and rural communities (Olanta, Turbeville). We have met many of the South’s finest, from sophisticated corporate types to Goober Pyle mechanics. These people were, almost without exception, fine human beings who were no more or less racist than a similar random number in the enlightened North. In fact, in general, we can say that in their daily doings, white Southerners as a whole got along much better with blacks than their Northern counterparts.

Second, over-reacting to a symbol is, itself, merely symbolic. Take down the flag, and you still have what remains in the human heart. Whatever poison was there to start will still be there after the flag comes down. The PC-types may feel morally superior and smug for having forced the issue of the flag, but they will not have begun to solve or even address the real problem, which is the disturbing nature of what lies in the human heart. If anything, their symbolic action will become the substitute genuine endeavor.

Third, what of the U.S. Constitution? Our hallowed First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech. That must include speech that we find offensive, disturbing, and controversial. We must allow the expressions of freedom to include those that are unruly and those that sting. We need to be strong, tough, and rugged in our discourse. Is a person that weak to be hurt by a piece of fabric waving in the wind?

You can keep civility. Give me lusty discord and hale disagreement. How else can we have a debate and arrive at our truths? THE PLANET reminds everyone that in a democratic republic, truth is not handed down on high from a Generalissimo or a Duce. Arriving at personal truth is messy enough. Hammering out our local, regional, and national truths is mind numbing at best and has to involve a multiplicity of views. If the Southern flag is what its critics say it is, then it falls on its own. It needs no help, thank you.

Fourth, try to cooly assess what banning this flag will do: (a) It will make the authentic redneck racists and hate mongers more entrenched and enflamed in their sick views. That cannot have a good outcome. (b) It will paint all decent Southerners with the tag of racist, a label they do not deserve. (c) It will limit freedom of speech, a further erosion this country absolutely cannot afford. (d) It will reward the insincerity of political hacks who see in the issue an opportunity to score cheap support.

The Confederate Flag ‘is Not the Sole Domain of Dylan Roof’

Allow us to close with this:

Here’s the problem I have with people who froth at the mouth every time they see someone with this flag. If you’re going to burn the Confederate flag because you think it stands for racism and slavery, I suggest you get started on the American flag shortly thereafter.

If I recall correctly, and maybe my history is a little rusty so feel free to call me out on this, but didn’t the Union government accept slavery right up until the Civil War? Heck, there were plenty of Northern states that allowed slavery, which they abandoned in the early 19th century, largely for economic reasons rather than ethical concerns (and also because the British Army had liberated most of them during the Revolutionary War).

Even after the Civil War occurred, there were a few slave holding states that stayed in the Union such as Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland. There were even slave-owning officers in the Union army. There’s a reason why the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in states that seceded. Lincoln didn’t want to anger many of his own officers, or cause any more states to leave.

And while we’re on the subject of Lincoln, let it be known that he could have cared less about the institution of Slavery. His main goal was to preserve the Union. Freeing the slaves was incidental in that process. He said so himself:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

And long after Lincoln was dead, the Federal government proved itself to be one of the most racist, genocidal, and imperialistic regimes in the history of the world, as they marched westward, brutally subjugating every native tribe they came across, before entering the 20th century as the world’s preeminent superpower. In this regard, the American flag is stained with more innocent blood than the Confederate flag ever was. — (Joshua Krause, The Daily Sheeple, “In Defense of the Confederate Flag,” 6/23/15).

——– 000 ——–

The well-intentioned and the do-gooders who wish to burn the Confederate flag had better remove the beam from their own eyes. Only then can they see clearly enough to remove the speck that is the Confederate banner.


Defenders of the flag have insisted vehemently that the Confederacy did not exist to defend or preserve slavery, and they impugn the motives and intelligence of those who argue that it did. . . . [Historian] James McPherson’s study of soldier motivations suggested that most Confederate soldiers did not fight consciously for the preservation of slave property. Confederate soldiers believed they were fighting, above all, to defend their states, their country, and their homes from invasion and to preserve the individual and constitutional liberty that Americans won in 1776.” — John Coski, author, The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem, (2006).




  1. Jonathan Melle
    June 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    Our country was founded on human rights as the basis for democracy, yet the Founding Fathers owned slaves. People who lived centuries ago all knew that slavery was immoral and wrong – unless they were sociopaths. Money is the root of all evil, violence, injustice, and wars!

    • Dave Bubriski
      June 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

      Slavery was alive and well at the time of the founding in all 13 colonies as well as most parts of the world.

      Slavery was ended peacefully in most parts of the world except the US…..There could have been a peaceful end here too but Lincoln had to satisfy his kleptocrat cronies and attempt to keep sucking tax money in the form of tariffs from the south to feed his kleptocrat friends.

      • Dave Bubriski
        June 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

        and thus he invaded the south…..600,000+ military and 60,000+ black and white southern civilians died, not to mention the property destroyed and stolen by the Union army.

  2. spagirl
    June 24, 2015 at 2:41 am #

    Last night’s City Council Budget Meeting showed all the characters in rare form. President Mazzeo is so Confused, she would confuse Confusious. Mayor Rubik’s Cube, stuttering, dancing, and Spinning his Wheels. John Krol.. “I am voting for the budget no matter what”. (Of course you are). Simonelli wants to do the right thing. All he really wants is to get his Ward streets paved. Degnan made her usual appearance. Send in the Clown. The perspective of this bunch is anything but Professional.

    • Dowgerhat
      June 24, 2015 at 4:23 am #

      Realistic assessment, SG. Right on. At least Ms. M was somewhat courteous, to the “former worldwide technical marketing director of Krofta Engineering, scientist, teacher,and inventor, designer, and builder of your water treatment plant”.
      That title alone eats up one third of his allotted 3 minutes.
      Waterman’s message albeit radically aggresive was also basically right on, and as always Krol, with in-law’s silver spoon in his mouth and all, never met a tax, rate, nor fee hike that he didn’t like.

  3. Mark
    June 24, 2015 at 3:00 am #

    DV…just saying you had nothing to do with said “lake tyler” being repaired…it was not repaired by city workers or by putting pressure on Bianchi…those are the true facts…twist them anyway you want I guess

    • danvalenti
      June 24, 2015 at 7:43 am #

      I appreciate your input, but as I said yesterday, that crater on Tyler Street was left there after the work finished, and there it stayed. Neither the company that created it nor the city showed the slightest inclination to have it addressed. Why do you think Joe Castoldi started his one-man Facebook campaign? That campaign was successful, since it brought the issue to my attention. THE PLANET then addressed this on TV and privately with the city. True, the city did not repair it, but it made sure it got repaired. That just doesn’t happen out of the blue. “Next thing you know, ol Jed’s a millionaire.” Cause and effect or pure serendipity? It doesn’t matter, does it. The problem was fixed. No “twisting” involved, my good friend. We leave that stuff to Chubby Checker.

    • Thomas More
      June 24, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

      Mark, give it up. You know as well as the rest of us that Lake Tyler would still be there if the Planet hadn’t put the heat on city hall. Tomorrow night hopefully, he’ll be back on TV applying more pressure on the folks on Allen St.

  4. poor boy
    June 24, 2015 at 3:05 am #


    Great article. Yes you are correct, the civil was not about slavery. It was all about preserving the Union. South Carolina hated Lincoln. They swore that they would never recognize him as President. When he got elected, they seceded from the Union.
    Other States, mostly in the south, joined in the rebellion.

    The reason slavery became front and center, incidentally as you say, was because France and England were going to enter the war. They were set to support the south. Lincoln, in what many consider an ingenious move, made slavery a major issue. Both France and England were opposed to slavery thus keeping them out of the war.

    Lincoln never called it the Confederate flag but referred to it as the rebel flag.

    The victor in a war usually takes the enemy’s flag. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the North give them the Confederate flag back at the end of the war? South Carolina has proudly flown it ever since. All these years and NOW they want to take that flag?

    • B. Clairmont
      June 24, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      The flag was down until 1961 when it was put back up.

      Now, what was going on in 1961 in the south? Hmmmm.


      • Dave Bubriski
        June 24, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

        Let’s not forget that Boston didn’t desegregate it’s schools until the late 70’s when teams of Mass State Troopers were constantly relayed to Boston. Don’t be so hard on the south. Plus for a long time Boston was a major slave port.

        • Dave Bubriski
          June 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

          It was very common for northerners to sell their slaves to slave traders in states where slavery was still legal. They sold their slaves before the date of freedom. Just because you live in a northern state don’t think you can escape the stain of slavery. Anyone who can trace their roots back to the 1800’s ….well their ancestors probably had a stake in slavery one way or another.

  5. nostrodumbass
    June 24, 2015 at 3:21 am #

    Never under any other president has there been so many mass shootings.

    “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

    This shooting by this deranged psychopath is being used for political leverage against the Constitution.
    1. To ban the Confederate flag
    2. To ban guns

    If only one of those church going members had a gun, the outcome may have been altered.

    Every single mass killing during Obama’s presidency has one thing in common; they were all on anti-depressant, brain chemical changing, psychotropic drugs.
    The smoke and mirrors being used now is to make you think that guns are the problem.
    Just take a look at the eyes/faces of these last 5 mass murderers and tell me the problem is guns:

  6. joetaxpayer
    June 24, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    If the citizens of South Carolina vote to keep flag flying at the capital, then it should continue. Obama, Hilliary and other political hacks should stay out of it. Let the people decide. I wish taking down a flag would stop loonies from Killing.

  7. Pat
    June 24, 2015 at 4:11 am #

    The worst time to make any kind of decision is when everybody is emotional about an issue. This is psychology 101.

    I agree that our freedoms are being eroded all in the name of political correctness. People need to start speaking out, shouting if they need to, before it’s too late and we no longer have a voice. Loss of freedom doesn’t happen overnight in most instances. It is subtle until one day we wake up and realize how much we have lost. How much we have to monitor our thoughts in order to be PC. This turns people into zombies who walk in lockstep with everything their leaders tell them is right and true. Talk about the Walking Dead. This is the real walking dead. People who look normal on the outside, but are dead on the inside. Is this the kind of people we want to be?

    • danvalenti
      June 24, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Excellent point, PAT, about decision making and high emotions.

  8. Paul
    June 24, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    I think you are on the money with this one Dan. You know buy now that when the PC hypocrites get on their bandwagon truth falls by the roadside. Oh well, welcome to the new America.

    • danvalenti
      June 24, 2015 at 7:37 am #

      Thanks, PAUL. Appreciate the nod.

  9. Southeast
    June 24, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Dan, I believe your history lesson is totally correct. the one problem however is that like the swastika on the Nazi party flag – what basically meant one thing was co-opted top mean another.

    The Civil War was essentially a battle about economics and the social changes being demanded by some, but not all (or even most) in the North generated the desire to secede. I mean, who would not want to defend the economic system in place from which you benefit. but in fact, like today – the beneficiaries were the upper reaches of both southern and northern society. the average Joe was fighting for some other reason.

    not totally vanquishing the southern warriors allowed the country to reunite. healing – well that takes longer. in this country of constant mobility, I would bet that only a small minority of those alive today had any ancestors who fought for the confederacy and still live in the South.

    in fact, the flag didn’t even represent S Carolina until 1962 – which makes me reason that that the meaning it took on was social, and a statement about race, equality, and civil rights. it was probably hoisted to put certain people in their place and to celebrate the Jim Crow laws which were being struck down and challenged continuously. it was a flag of defiance – and support of white supremacy in a State that was again under siege in a culture war.

    So to say we are judging the 1862 society that was present in both the north and the south is not quite correct. the flag that was hoisted in 1962 was done so to celebrate a way of life that was ending. and the folks who are using it to justify their heritage or the proud honor of some long ago soldier are also disingenuous. that flag is now meant to send a message to demean and show disgust towards other humans – just like the Nazi flag was meant to do. let the blacks know they are not full participants in our society.

    it still flies to remind the S Carolinian that we were better off when the blacks knew their place. that is probably also a myth – but when you see a change that benefits some other guy, and you are still poor – it seems like a good fight to rally behind.

    I believe that black culture has stepped backwards considerably since the 1960’s. as laws changed, the community squandered the opportunity to progress and has regressed. now, many question how much more we can spend or legislate – folks need to take responsibility to do the best they can and not rely on programs or taxpayers. taxpayers get sick of spending without results (sounds familiar) on programs which just institutionalize poverty rather than helping folks to rise up. the lack of family units in many impoverished areas just leads to greater dysfunction and then the folks who feel their culture is under attack seem more separated from the whole than they were before. the willingness to pay for programs that do not change the status quo is diminished as the folks being targeted for “help” don’t do their part and change and we now sit in a society where you are either a producer or a consumer of tax funds – and the consumers are looked at as sub-human.

    that many of the consumers are minority just further divides us – but the basic division is economic.

    the hate engendered by the flag in its current meaning, makes it a bad idea to fly. but as DV correctly points out – all speech is protected, even speech I disagree with. I would like to see folks come to that conclusion on their own – and hope they will. forcing the issue will just make them more hardened in their views and societies’ divides will just grow wider until we have another civil war to fight.

  10. Rotten Robert
    June 24, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    DV As always, I enjoy your articles, especially this one on the Confederate Flag or in this case, the battle flag of the Army of North Virginia. I am always fascinated by any history subject and this one is especially interesting in that the flag has no reference to Confederate.
    As for recent history I had asked you in a recent letter if you would consider writing something on the revised city charter, especially the part giving the city councilors the supreme right to decide where the taxpayers monies go in regards to new schools, etc. The taxpayers in other towns decide on large expenditures but not Pittsfield. You speak of corrupt city government which I agree but an exposure to the city charter should rankle the complacent taxpayers of this city and only you could inspire people to call their councilors and fight to get our city back. No one ever responds to my letters so I doubt that they generate any fuel to light a fire as yours surely do.
    I firmly believe that if the taxpayers had any idea as to the revised city charter that then and only then would they take more interest in their corrupt city government. Whether they vote to kick out the incumbents or add new, any 11 councilors either exisitng or future councilors, will make all decisions regarding city expenses with absolutely no input from the very residents paying year after year to warrant this corrupt form of government.

  11. C. Trzcinka
    June 24, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Confederates lost and the losing army doesn’t get to fly its flag. This flag was not flown by the state governments until the 1960s when all of the union veterans and probably their children were dead. They could not have flown this flag when many were still alive. It was flown as an act of defiance for the integration efforts of the federal government. This is not a free speech question since individuals are free to fly whatever flag they want but governments need to pay attention to history and symbols. Taking the flag down will not change the views of those who hate blacks but it will tell them they have no support from government.

    • Linda Therrien
      June 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm #


    • Gene
      June 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

      I have to disagree. Governments are representative of people not free-standing entities. Individuals are free to express themselves the way they wish.

      A flag or any other symbol doesn’t hurt anyone. That was one of DV’s best points in a brilliant column.

      Therefore it is (underline) is a free speech issue since the people in Mississippi and in every other Southern state where people had a say wanted by a majority for that flag to fly.

      • Gene
        June 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

        Im disagreeing with C Trzcinka not Linda Therrien ( agree with her). Just to clarify.

  12. Linda Therrien
    June 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Despite all the rhetoric and history lessons and reasons for feeling one way or another, I think the flag should be allowed to fly. It is our history. All peoples make mistakes in their judgment and their actions. We need to own these mistakes and realize they are part of who we are and what we came from. Accept that people just like us made a mistake in judgment That doesn’t take away from the fact that it happened. If anything else, let the flag continue to be a reminder of what we did wrong and a visual representation so that we don’t do it again.

  13. Dave Bubriski
    June 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Should the crest of Brown University be banned? Rhode Island college was renamed Brown University for the Brown Family. The Brown family made a fortune in the slave trade. They made so much money that they gave a great deal deal of it to Rhode Island college. Rhode Island college felt compelled to honor the slave trading family that donated so much money. Brown University was founded with human cargo money. Should the Brown University crest/logo be banned? Should Brown forfeit their 3 billion plus $ endowment since the university was founded with money from the slave trade?

    • Pat
      June 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

      I get what you are saying? I mean where would it end?

  14. Dave Bubriski
    June 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    The attitudes of America toward American blacks at the time of Lincoln’s invasion of the south were the same in the North and the South. It did not make any difference if you saluted the battle flag of Virginia or the stars and stripes. Very few white people had positive attitudes toward black people.

  15. Dave Bubriski
    June 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    If you think the north was some kind of utopia for black people pre civil war you are very mistaken……you might want to start you education on the subject with this book….

  16. ShirleyKnutz
    June 24, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    Getting more local on the hate speech rhetoric I found it funny when in the Berkshire Eagle someone felt terrible about an op-ed piece written by a republican and the person was calling the republican all sorts of derogatory names, Then they stated this kind of hate speech shouldn’t be allowed in the paper. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about her response or the op-eds!

    • danvalenti
      June 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

      The politically correct definition of “inclusiveness” is “Accepting all points of view that agree with one’s own positions.” Anything that dares to offer an alternative view is branded “hate speech.” That’s how it works. Uberliberal Dems are the worst (best) at this game.

  17. Ron Kitterman
    June 25, 2015 at 1:58 am #

    Buba is on fire !!! Agree with Shirley about racism coming to a theater near you too though.

  18. joetaxpayer
    June 25, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    Slavery still exist in other parts of the world. I believe its estimated 29 million people are slaves. That might be a good place for US and other Western Countries to do everything in there powers to put pressure on the offenders.