Does this flag bother you? Are you offended?
As a southerner, I have seen the Confederate Battle flag, also known as the Rebel flag and the Southern Cross, all my life. It was on t-shirts that read “It’s a southern thing, you wouldn’t understand” or “heritage, not hate.” I have seen it on just about everything including belt buckles, bathing suits, hat pins, do-rags, license plates, stickers, and flying proudly on the back of many pickup trucks. I have even owned a few Rebel flag items. It’s just been there. I never really thought much of it.
I grew up in a small town that played the metropolis to several even smaller towns. We had traffic lights, grocery stores, a university, and even a Wal-Mart. Our little, 3,000 resident speck in west-central Alabama was anything but forward-thinking, but it wasn’t a hotbed for racial tension either. That’s not to say racism didn’t exist. It did.
With the exception of city-wide events like the Muse’s Bazaar and the 4th of July fireworks, or some workplaces, most white people kept with white people and black people kept with black people (back then, there were no Latinos or Asians in town). Whether you were a black kid or a white kid, you learned from the adults in your social group. That meant white kids learned a lot from people who used the n-word as a universal term for all black people, and black kids learned from people who were used to saying a lot of “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to white folk and being referred to as the n-word universally.
As best as I could tell, however, the Confederate flag had nothing to do with racism. It was a part of the southern states and, to me-as a teen, represented pride in the South. Even now, I’m proud of and associate with a lot of “good” Southern things. But, I didn’t really know anything about the flag.
Turns out, the Rebel flag was never the actual flag of the Confederacy. Nope. The Confederate States of America had three flags during the Civil War, but the batle flag wasn’t one of them. The design was part of two of the Confederacy’s flags, but the flag commonly associated with the Confederacy was actually the battle flag of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. It wasn’t until after the Civil War that it became so closely aligned with the Confederacy. It was used to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers at veteran’s events.
In the 1940s, the flag began a resurgence. It was a symbol of resistance and state’s rights. In 1956 it was placed prominently in a redesigned Georgia state flag. This was possibly (read probably) due to the recent desegregation of schools.
While many say the battle flag is a symbol of racism, that’s not necessarily the popular opinion — at least according to a 2011 Pew Research Center poll. That study found that 1 in 10 Americans feel positively about the battle flag and 3 of 10 feel negatively. That leaves 60% who don’t have a feeling either way. That poll also found that black people, Democrats, and the educated were most likely to feel negatively about the flag. I believe that says something about America and her citizens.
Really, though, it’s just a flag.
It’s also a Modern Life Discussion; people are talking about it. What are your thoughts?