Distortions of historical fact in support of a cause, no matter how worthy, do a disservice to both history as well as to the cause. The current controversies over display of the Confederate battle flag provide examples. It is stated that the flag was inspired or derived from the Scottish Cross of St. Andrews. It is further stated that St. Andrew brought Christianity to Scotland! Consider:
- The Cross of St. Andrews (8th Century A.D.) is a white (or silver) diagonal on a blue field.
- St. Patrick's Cross (5th Century A.D.) is a similar diagonal, but red on white.
- The Confederate battle flag has blue diagonals with narrow white fringe and white stars on a red field. Except for the diagonals, the similarity is less than convincing.
- St. Andrew, one of Christ's first apostles, confined his mission to the eastern Mediterranean. He was martyred (crucified on a diagonal cross) in Asia Minor late in the 1st Century A.D. It is doubtful that he ever heard of Scotland.
- Until the 5th Century A.D. Scotland was pagan. Celtic Christianity was introduced by St. Columba, a gifted Ulster prince turned monk who founded a Christian community on the Isle of Iona.
Attention to historical accuracy is often considered trivial or irrelevant. This is how myths are developed and permanent images are introduced. These sloppy standards may be acceptable in the film industry, but the cause of the Confederate battle flag deserves better.
Walter G. Rice, Augusta
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