Over the past few years, symbols of “Southern pride” from the Civil War have become a controversial topic in the media. A particularly sore subject is whether we should fly, or even have the right to fly, the Confederate flag.
Our right to fly the Confederate flag is protected under the First Amendment. Every American individual can do so if they please. But should we be promoting, justifying, or normalizing this activity? The answer is definitely not.
The Confederate flag is not the same as a slur that the South can “reclaim” to show pride for their community, as they have not been oppressed. The truth is, over the years the flag has come to be known as a symbol of racism, systemic oppression, and slavery. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists have used or continue to use the flag to further their racist agendas. It has evolved to be a modern symbol of hatred and white supremacy.
The flag fell widely out of use until the 20th century and the Black Civil Rights movement. Here, the flag was not even hidden under the guise of “Southern pride”; racists all over the United States hoisted the flags in opposition to desegregation, such as when Black children were granted access to all school systems.
A little known fact is that the Confederate Flag we debate today is actually the fourth version of its design. The others were reworked due to technical complications in battle. However, the red background and the blue X studded with 13 stars has been a part of the flag in some form since the second version.
Today’s flag was originally a part of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s battle unit, as well as a few others. His victories caused the design to become widely known around the Confederacy. Until the 2000s, many Southern states flew it on state grounds or included aspects of it in their state flag. Today, Mississippi is the only state that continues to incorporate the design of the Confederate flag into their official state flag.
Stores such as Target, Walmart, and Apple have already ceased selling items depicting the flag in any manner other than historically. Educating America about past events so they won’t repeat themselves is a must. Selling paraphernalia only of the flag can do no good for our country in the long run.
Even for those who claim they fly the flag to honor their fallen ancestors that fought in the Civil War, it’s impossible to separate the soldiers from ideologies of slavery and racism. A large part of the reason that the South wanted to secede was for the continuation of slavery and racist practices.
Honoring the flag and the Confederacy is honoring the perverted ideals that they stood, preached, and fought for. Those aren’t actions or people that should be honored. Slavery – and its continued effects on society today – is a great black mark on American history. Rather than try to perpetuate these ideals, we should be growing apart from them as individuals and as a country.