"Why do people still fly the Confederate flag?"
A row has erupted in Virginia over a proposal to fly a huge Confederate flag outside the state capital, Richmond. One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the flag can still be seen flying from homes and cars in the South. Why? Recently, there's been a row in Texas over car licence plates bearing the flag, a man arrested after shouting abuse while waving it at a country music concert, and the ongoing fallout from South Carolina flying the flag in front of the State House. Now plans by a heritage group, the Virginia Flaggers, to erect a large Confederate flag on a major road outside Richmond has drawn considerable fire from critics who say it's a symbol of hate. African Americans, especially older ones, are traumatised when they see the flag, says Salim Khalfani, who has lived in Richmond for nearly 40 years and thinks it risks making the city look like a "hick" backwater that is still fighting the Civil War. "If it's really about heritage then keep the flag on your private property or in museums but don't mess it up for municipalities and states who are trying to bring tourists here because this will have the opposite effect." African-American author Clenora Hudson-Weens saw people waving the flags on the street in Memphis a few weeks ago. "I just said to them 'This is 2013' and they just smiled. I personally believe in some traditions but this is a tradition that is so oppressive to blacks. I wouldn't be proud waving a flag that has an ambience of racism and negativity." So has the flag historically been more about slavery or heritage? You could say that both sides are correct if you look at how the flag has evolved, says David Goldfield, author of Still Fighting The Civil War.
When the Confederacy debated the adoption of a new flag in Richmond in 1862, it was clear this was to be a symbol of white supremacy and a slavery-dominated society, he says. After the war, the flag was primarily used for commemorative purposes at graves, memorial services and soldier reunions, but from the perspective of African Americans, the history and heritage that they see is hate, suppression and white supremacy, says Goldfield, and the historical record supports that. "On the other hand, there are white southerners who trace their ancestors back to the Civil War and want to fly the flag for their great-grandfather who fought under it and died under it." And for them, it genuinely has nothing to do with racism. However, he thinks they should respect the fact it does cause offence and not fly it in public. The flag wasn't a major symbol until the Civil Rights movement began to take shape in the 1950s, says Bill Ferris, founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, It was a battle flag relegated to history but the Ku Klux Klan and others who resisted desegregation turned to the flag as a symbol. He likens it to the swastika but others see it very differently. bSince attempts by campaigners in the 1990s to remove the flags from public buildings, he thinks the issue has died down in the US. In 2001, Georgia changed the 45-year-old design of its state flag after pressure to remove the Confederate symbol. Although the number of incidents is diminishing it's not going away, he says, because it just takes a couple of well-publicised episodes to get it back on people's radars, and feelings inflamed. The South, he says, needs a new emblem to reflect its changing character.
^ I have written about this for a long time and my feelings haven't changed. Whether the Confederate Flag was used as a symbol of slavery during the Civil War or not it was used by the South in it's campaign to keep the Blacks and other minorities down during the time of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. The Confederate flag is one the same level as: the Swastika and the Communist Hammer and Sickle and should not be legal to own or fly. There's a saying that history is written by the victors. Well, the North won the Civil War (just like the US won World War 2 and the Cold War) and so all those oppressive symbols should be banned. I lived in Virginia (it was the worst place I have ever lived in both the US and around the world) and they openly support the racist symbols of the Confederacy. For those that are watching Big Brother this season I'm sure they "liked" Aaryn's excuse that she is from Texas (a Southern state and formerly part of the Confederacy) and so she was only making racist comments as a joke. Call it what you want, but racism is racism whether it is done by Whites, Blacks or as a joke. There was a road that non-Southerners called "Route 1" why Southerners called "Jefferson Davis Highway" - the so-called president of the Confederacy. It is not surprising that it is like that as Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy - until we burn Richmond to the ground and then won the war. If people if the South really want to stop the hateful stereotypes then they need to make a clean-break from everything and anything related to the Confederacy or Jim Crow. Until they do that as a region then non-Southerners will continue to see them as backward racists. ^