Republicans, this is how to talk about the Confederate flag

While too many Republicans of national stature “tread carefully” in commenting on displays of the Confederate flag, Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann provided a clinic this week on how to talk about the issue.

The truck pulling the Marion County GOP float in Pella’s July 4 parade featured three Confederate flags (click through for a photo). Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette contacted Kaufmann for comment and was rewarded with outstanding material.

“I am just absolutely, utterly disgusted on multiple levels,” Kaufmann said in a telephone interview. “Shame on them and I don’t want them in my party.” […]

Kaufmann said the Republican officials involved in the incident need to apologize to the people of Iowa and to the Republican Party of Iowa, especially for disrespecting the 17,000 Iowans who died in the American Civil War 150 years ago while fighting as part of the Union army.

“I’m disappointed in what I’ve heard. I condemn their actions on behalf of the Republican Party of Iowa in the strongest words possible,” Kaufman said. “I’m very disappointed that a local central committee would engage in such juvenile and stupid demonstrations.” […]

“We are the party of Abraham Lincoln. We were the party that supported the Union army and we are still that party of Abraham Lincoln. I absolutely won’t tolerate it. We have no room in our party for people like that – none,” he said. “I hope they toss those people out (of the local GOP) so fast, it’ll make your head swim. And, if they don’t, I’ll lead a party of 98 central committees.””

If only every Republican who bragged about the “party of Lincoln” could speak so clearly. Kaufmann’s been a history and politics professor at Muscatine Community College since 1997.

Owen and Linda Golay, who own the truck and put the Confederate flags out for the parade, have resigned from the Marion County GOP Central Committee. Speaking to Josh Hafner of the Des Moines Register, Owen Golay did not apologize:

He said he hoisted the three flags above his truck to make a statement: Confederate soldiers are veterans, too.

“This was my whole point with this whole exercise: to represent a segment of American veterans that are being buried in history, three of which [sic] are buried in Marion County,” he said. […]

“The way the Confederate flag is being used today, it is a reminder of a time in our history when we have slavery, when we justified that,” said Kaufmann, a history teacher who claims to have read 250 books on the Civil War. “The Civil War was about freedom. It was about so much more than generic states’ rights. That’s a silly and naive contention that people have.”

Owen Golay, who said he’s studied the Civil War plenty himself, said Kaufmann needs to brush up on his history.

“I guess my message to Mr. Kaufmann would be that we won’t be slaves to the Republican Party,” he said.

News flash for Mr. Golay: the Republican Party grew out of the abolitionist movement, whereas the Confederate flag has always been a symbol of slavery and “violent racism,” no matter how hard some try to rebrand it as a symbol of Southern “heritage.”

Partial credit goes to Governor Terry Branstad, who described the display of Confederate flags as “just wrong and disrespectful” to Iowans who fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War. True, but the main problem with the “stars and bars” is that it celebrates a culture where white people went to war to preserve the right to own black people as property.

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  • Deep in the Heart of Dixie, Iowa style !

    Kudos to JK. He was pretty animated on TV, too. He is a very good party chair.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Terry Branstad seems to be changing his tune. Instead of condemning the Stars and Bars at his news conference, he deferred to local officials elsewhere. Now he’s saying something different.

    What were they thinking in Marion County, when this pair rolled up with their flags flapping? Who thought this was a good idea?

    I wonder if the General Lee was in the parade?

  • A way to avoid the real problem

    The whole Confederate flag flap is a ruse to tie us up and avoid the conversations we should be having on the very real problems of racism and the promulgation of hate against non-white people.

    Yes, Kaufmann was a good leader on this matter. I’m sure he’s grateful to have been able to talk about the flag and not talk about the real problems of racism.

    I get that it’s a symbol and should come down, but watch and see if anything else – ESPECIALLY anything meaningful happens – after the flag comes down.

    If you haven’t seen the Bill Moyers segment on “Dog Whistle Politics” it is worth your time to watch. Dog Whistle’s are what the Republicans should be dealing with right now, and some of the Democrats as well.

    • at least he sent a strong signal

      to local parties on the issue.

      We will have plenty of opportunities to see whether the Iowa GOP is serious about addressing other issues related to racism. The Black and Brown forum for Republican presidential candidates later this year will be interesting.

  • Flags and meaness

    I’ll take a back seat to no one as a conservative. Let me say that displaying the Stars and Bars isn’t about respect at any level. It’s about contempt and ugliness. I support Kaufman and I’m hardly surprised at Branstad’s bland support for common decency. After all, what does the flag have to do with low taxes, keeping workers in poverty and an tax loop holes?

    You give these people some sort of respect, let them be encouraged by some media that what they’re doing is noble and this what you’ll get.    

  • Why

    Why is there all this anger over the Confederate flag,  but nothing about rappers using the word ‘nigger or nigga’?

    • you really think

      those situations are comparable? White people proudly displaying the symbol of slavery, violence, and oppression of another race vs. members of a disfavored group appropriating what was a term of abuse and using it on their own terms?

      • It

        It’s a complete double standard. Same as affirmative action. Yes, I do think they are comparable.  If you think they arent, you’re lying to yourself.

        If I said the word ‘nigger or nigga’ with malice or love, I would be crucified as a white person. But let’s spin the tables.

        Let’s say the flag, which I do think it CAN BE, a symbol of slavery, violence, and oppression from whites to another race. Can whites not be “a member of current disfavored group appropriating what was once a flag that represented a sovereign, although failed, nation, then represented as a flag of abuse, and use it on their own terms”?

        Democrats once we’re the pro slavery, anti civil rights party, speaking of historical sense.

        Only illegal aliens, poor people and people who screw up  their own life have rights and privileges.

        What do I know? I’m just a guy, who pays my (arguably more) taxes than a lot of people, simply because I am what was once said the be the American dream, but now I’m the evil enemy of society.  

        • I feel sorry for you

          You’re not very insightful, and you feel a lot of misplaced resentment. A good therapist might be able to help you with that.

          White people are not a historically disfavored group, but under civil rights law they are as protected as other racial, ethnic, or religious groups. For example, no restaurant owner could refuse to serve white people.

          As I said in the post, the Republican Party grew out of the anti-slavery movement. The Voting Rights Act and other major civil rights legislation could not have passed Congress without Republican votes. In recent decades, though, the Democratic Party has been far more supportive of civil rights. Look up GOP “Southern strategy” to learn more.

  • No

    How can you expect respect, when you respond with basically name calling? If you truly want me to step down to your level Ruth, I will.

    Whites are discriminated. It’s call affirmative action. More assult against race’s have been because of Democrats. But you can reinvent yourself.

    But lets face it. That largest kingdom ever, wasn’t white. The reason we are now and historically speaking, we (Europeans and euro descendants) innovated nearly every form of life, is because we refused to be complacent.

    Let me ask you. Name one civilized country that’s predominantly black, that is successful? Or in Africa? Or the middle East excluding the Israelis who I can’t see you agreeing with the say they thrive either, even being a Jewish person.

    Face it,you will not find any of that. There is a reason that snglo Saxon/ Europeans have only been in competition with Asians. In both ancient and current context.

  • Read

    You can twist, change, erase and fabricate history any way you want,  but you will never get beyond the truth of the matter.