When his students asked him to summarize the Biblical Law “while standing on one foot,” (briefly) Rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to any man. That is the whole law; all the rest is commentary. Now go study.” (Talmud: Shabbat, 31a) A generation later Jesus said, “So, whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) This “Golden Rule” is stated in one form or another in essentially all the world’s major religions and philosophies.
In his Cornerstone Speech, March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, referring to the new government of the Confederacy, said: “…. its foundations are laid; its cornerstone rests on 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.” Those slaves who were caught trying to escape their condition were whipped, maimed, castrated, even killed as punishment. Those who did not try to escape were beaten, raped, bought and sold without any regard to family ties or anything they might have wished. We now know that Alexander Stephens’ assertion about the inequality of the negro compared to the white man is biological nonsense. The treatment of slaves clearly violated the Golden Rule. The seceding states of the Confederacy started a Civil War that cost at least 600,000 lives over this issue. How can this period of American history possibly be viewed with any sense of pride or reverence?
The Roman Catholic Church should be ashamed of the Inquisition and of its recently revealed record of child abuse by the priesthood. Today’s citizens of Germany should be ashamed that their grandparents allowed the Nazi Party to rise and the Holocaust to occur. The descendents of the former slaveholders of the Confederacy should not be held accountable but should be ashamed of what their great, great grandparents did. Flags that symbolize that period of American history cannot possibly be flown with any sense of pride by moral Americans.