Former Virginia senator Jim Webb (D) weighed in on the fate of the Confederate Flag today. His view is one that is most unexpected for a Democrat who is pondering a presidential run in 2016. He defended both the flag and the honor of Confederate soldiers.
This isn’t Webb’s first time standing up for the men who fought with the Confederacy. In 1990, he said that the soldiers were “misunderstood by most Americans” and recognized them for “enormous suffering and collective gallantry.”
But, the political climate now is very different from what it was at the time of that speech, with the nation now in pain from the Charleston massacre and the division of opinion on the symbolism behind the flag.
In a Facebook post, Webb acknowledges that it is an “emotional time” but he says that Americans need to “respect the complicated history” of America’s Civil War. Despite the “wrongful use” of the flag for “racist purposes.”
“This is an emotional time and we all need to think through these issues with a care that recognizes the need for change but also respects the complicated history of the Civil War. The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.”
Webb argues, as he did in 1990, that there were honorable fighters in the Civil War. That fact, he states, is why there was a federally authorized Confederate memorial built within the Arlington National Cemetery.
“But we should also remember that honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War, including slave holders in the Union Army from states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, and that many non-slave holders fought for the South. It was in recognition of the character of soldiers on both sides that the federal government authorized the construction of the Confederate Memorial 100 years ago, on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.”
Instead of attacking flags and perceived meanings, Webb wants Americans to come together and remember that America’s “multicultural society” is built upon the “principle of mutual respect.”
“This is a time for us to come together, and to recognize once more that our complex multicultural society is founded on the principle of mutual respect.”
This runs in stark contrast to statements made by Webb’s would-be opponents. Hillary Clinton, for example said that the flag is “a symbol of our nation’s racist past that has no place in our nation’s present or future.”
See the Facebook post below: