The Confederate Flag, Racist or Heritage?
There is a lot of discussion about the Confederate Flag; whether it represents racism or heritage. But, considering it from a rational logical stand point, we can see through the feelings and determine it’s actual meaning.
We will look at both sides of the argument. The view that the flag represents racism and the view that the flag represents southern heritage. Then, like always, we will inject our stance on the matter.
The Confederate Flag was flown as the official flag of the Confederate States that seceded from the union. This is just a historical fact, right or wrong. So we must ask, as the official flag, HOW did it represent the Confederate States.
First, this flag was used as a Battle flag. There were a few other confederate flags but this was the one most widely used during the Civil War. This flag was flown to represent the Soldier’s allegiance to their cause, a symbolic battle cry. In modern times, it is a symbol of Southern Pride.
The south has its own culture. Deep southern states have vastly different cultural norms and even accents. But, one primary element of this culture was the historical use of slave labor for their economic structure. The culture, mostly all the southern states, later adopted a cultural separation of “whites” and “blacks” in the local communities and south society.
The primary reason for their secession from the union was the challenge to their own economic system which was dependent on slave labor as the abolitionist movement gained more and more traction in the north. Once that was squashed after the civil war, federal government action, and passage of the 13th and 14th Amendments, the challenge then came to their southern societal norms of segregation and Jim Crow laws. These were too squashed by more federal government actions, Supreme Court decisions, and the civil rights movement.
The flag was flown during a time of racial oppression. Once the south was reincorporated back into the union, the flag was rendered obsolete as the United States Flag is the flag and symbol of all the states, united. Therefore that flag actually represents a time period that was primarily focused on racial oppression.
So, what is “Southern Heritage?”
The types of foods, lingo, and accents are just the minor details of southern culture. The primary, ingrained issue within southern heritage has been a fight to defend their way of life, which directly included racial prejudice and racism. When discussing this, it is logically impossible to avoid this.
Thus, the flag that represents Southern pride has the stigma of racism always and forever attached to it, inseparable. It is this fact that makes people offended by the sight of it. They see the flag and also see the historical racism associated with it. And they aren’t wrong. Racism is historically attached to that symbol. So for some, that flag does, in fact, represent a racist element of society, and their feelings are justified.
Represents Southern Pride
Now, you don’t have to be racist to have pride in living in the south. Even some African Americans have pride in living in the south. So, when they think of Southern Pride, they aren’t including the horrific mistakes of the south’s history. People can look at an offensive symbol and subscribe a different meaning or subtract the negative associations of it.
When people buy a Mercedes Benz, they don’t associate the fact that Mercedes Benz made bomber engines for the Nazi party during WW2 that was used to kill allied forces and bomb England. This is a historical fact with the brand, but people to not subscribe that to it. The Volkswagen Beetle was a nationally built car at the push of the Nazi party. Do you hear people demanding other people not drive a Nazi Beetle? Nike is known for using “cheap” child labor in China to make their expensive shoes. There are some calls for them to reform, but the band really hasn’t and athletes who claim to be against oppression are still more than willing to be sponsored by them. Even they look past these issues and take pride in the brand.
So it is possible for people to look past things that played a role in horrible historical events. This is not a denial of historical horrors, but a looking past them. Especially when those who have pride in it, are not directly associated to the atrocities (aside from buying Nike, which gives money to a company that builds child labor factories still). Buying a Mercedes Benz or Volkswagen does not fund the Nazi war machine anymore. Having Southern Pride does not directly support slave labor or Jim Crow laws anymore.
Therefore, it is possible to have Southern Pride, represented by the Confederate Flag, and not directly support or condone the horrors of the past.
So, it is possible to view the Confederate Flag as racist or not. Some may incorporate the history of racism with it and others may look past it and only incorporate the subtle cultural nuances of the south, and have pride in that.
What We Think
We are first and foremost support the freedoms for all. People are free to hate the flag and people are free to take pride in the flag (for the reasons stated above). People are free to offend. All people should be free to express themselves. That is the essence of true equality and freedom.
We do incorporate the horrible history of that flag to it. And here’s why:
Let’s do this logical experiment:
X people group did X historical atrocity and the X flag was their symbol at that time.
Now, if you replace “X people” with “Southerner,” replace “X historical atrocity” with “racism” and “X Flag” with “Confederate flag” and you have the topic we are talking about.
Now, use that very same logical expression and replace the “X”s with Nazism, and ask, should Germans be proud to fly the Nazi Swastika? Is the Swastika something to be proud of? It’s German heritage isn’t it? That flag was only flown during the darkest time in human history and become obsolete after the Nazi regime fell. What use is it now besides symbolically reverting back to a dark time in history? Now apply the same logical, equally, to the Confederate Flag.
People fly all sorts of flags that are offensive. Some immigrants fly flags of their nation that offend other immigrants of a nation that was also oppressed by that nation. The gay pride flag is offensive to certain religions. And just about every country has a dark past but their flags can be flown as well; the flag of Columbia for example. No one gets bent out of shape of all those atrocities the communist government did. The flag of China, the country with the most human rights violations and most murderous founding in human history is another. The South African flag is proudly flown despite its oppressive colonialist past and its modern white oppression. French don’t demand English take down flags of England despite their horrific past. The flag of communism has killed more people under it than of any other symbol in human history, no one riots about that.
So why is the Confederate Flag such a hated target?
People, any people, all people, should be free to fly whatever flag the desire. That’s the price of freedom. And those who get totally hurt and bent out of shape about a flag are really mentally weak and lack self-control. We absolutely disagree the Nazi flag, but we won’t riot over it. We absolutely disagree the confederate flag, but we won’t riot over it either. We absolutely disagree with flying communist flags, as they are the most murderous of all, historically, but we won’t riot over it either.
Maintaining self-control and mental fortitude leads to greater discussions and opens more minds.