Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Confederate Flag and Me

A couple months ago an asshole neighbor of mine erected a large Confederate flag in his back yard. My first reaction was, "Oh shit!" My second reaction was acknowledging that he was exactly the kind of insensitive jerk who would do something that disgusting. Then I started thinking about another family living farther down the street - an African-American couple with two teenaged children and I became sick at the message that asshole neighbor was sending. He took it down a few days later because he got tired of everybody telling him how repugnant it was.

Defenders of the flag say it is about heritage, not racism, and if you are offended you just don't know history. Well, I do know history. That flag began its retched existence in 1861 as the battle ensign of the Army of Northern Virginia. The design was so popular it was incorporated as the canton on the official flag of the Confederacy in 1863, the so called "White Man's Flag." The designer of the flag, William Thompson, explained the white field,
"As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause....As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals."

After the South surrendered and Reconstruction began, a movement began among white Southerners to free the South from the rule of carpetbaggers (Yankees), freedmen (former slaves), and scalawags (liberal Southerners who supported racial integration). These "Redeemers" worked to return the South to the days of white rule and black servitude. The Confederate flag became the standard for Rebel reunions and a symbol of the Redeemers. In 1894, after Jim Crow segregation was firmly established, the state of Mississippi incorporated the Confederate ensign into the state flag.

The flag went to sleep at this point only to be reborn when Yankees started "imposing" the hated concept of Civil Rights on the nation. In 1956, Georgia added the Confederate flag to its state flag. Also around this time the Ku Klux Klan replaced the American flag in their marches with the Rebel flag.

And so it is that, except for about eighteen months at the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederate flag has always been a loud and proud symbol of racial hatred in America. The heritage it recalls is one of hatred and racial divide.
Selma, 1965

7 comments:

Katy Anders said...

Thank you for this. There's so much talk about the flag this week that I don't even know where to start looking into it.

The next few weeks could be interesting. We think we've come so far, but then I see that Mississippi just officially just threw slavery off their books in 1992. In 1996, the tobacco industry all testified before Congress they didn't know a thing about their product being dangerous. Gay marriage is going to be legal in this country in a couple days. Ridiculous racist imagery serves as sports team mascots.

Anonymous said...

you people are idiots and got no clue for that flag really stood for

Anonymous said...

I've lived in the Deep South for 30 of my 60 years, and there IS much more to Southern culture than the issues around the civil war...but the flag itself is too Incendiary, and as such your points on this flag are spot on.

Kadok said...

The Confederate flag was a battle standard, if you lived in the south and don't know this, It shows how little you really do know of your heritage. Just as In God We Trust, also a battle cry, which was first used in Pennsylvania, before it was put on currency. So being spot on about the confederate flag is far from the truth, heres another fun fact Robert E Lee did not have slaves, but Grant did........ so as anistaisa likes to spread hate she is ignorant.

Anonymous said...

First of all, wrong. The "Confederate flag" is the Virginia Battle Jack. It's meant to be carried around by battalions to signify that they're a battalion, and even before THAT, it was the Navy Jack, used to identify navy forces. The Confederate's actual official flag is called Stars and Bars, and the Battle Jack was never in any way ever representative of the country or confederate states. That would be Stars and Bars.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled into this post looking for something else. I know this is an old thread but I feel the need to correct something - Robert E Lee did not own slaves because he was too poor to own slaves. His father was sent to debtors prison when he was young, and he was brought up very poor. He did have sympathy for slaves, but felt that they should be kept under the control of whites for the time being for their own good. "The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence." He wrote this to his wife in 1856. Just a little history.

knighterrant said...

Robert E. Lee's wife inherited a significant Virginia plantation in 1857 that was confiscated after the Civil War and became Arlington National Cemetery. In 1874, the government paid Lee's son $150,000 for the property after the Supreme Court ruled it had be illegally seized.

In the years before the war, Lee took a leave of absence from his military duties to manage the Arlington plantation and its slaves. Lee freed the slaves in 1862 in accordance to his father-in-law's will.

That "painful discipline" he wrote of was the institution of slavery which he felt was necessary to teach the slaves civilization. Lee was more liberal than most Southern elites but not an abolitionist.