As challenges to the removal of the Confederate flag and statues of its generals continue in this season of the distinctly Honorable John Lewis’s passing, a question, which should be asked of their supporters (and must have been asked somewhere before, I just haven’t seen it) is: What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War and its flag had become the symbol of this nation, and its support of slavery endured to this day? Even the few historians contending the war was more about states’ rights won’t say that upholding slavery was not an element in its equation.

So today, would such victors and this nation be sustaining the cause of human bondage still, of the affliction of people of color — of slavery’s historic cruelties? And, if they would not uphold it now, why/how can they continue with their support of its symbols and arguments back then?

If indeed their answer is they would not favor slavery today, then what is their more noble claim, their moral purchase, on the present with their stand?

When I read the books, hear the songs and see the films of Black luminaries, from Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr. to Aretha Franklin, Sidney Poitier and countless others, it shatters believability that peers of my white skin can consider themselves superior to these gifted people — as entitled oppressors of their ancestors and champions, still, of the generals who led charges under the flag flown against them, and their right to be free.

Paul Baribault, Lewiston


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