What Does the Confederate Battle Flag Really Symbolize Today?

“We should HONOR our ancestors and heritage. . . “, was the response of a very dear friend of mine whose personal family history reinforced the defense against the mounting demand of removing the confederate battle flag from public places.

All this started when the cowardly and terrorist massacre of nine Blacks at the at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston., by the hate-filled murderer, 21-year-old Dylan Roof, ignited age old discussions about, human rights, ‘racial’ equality, Slavery, and Southern Heritage.

This type of dialogue is sidestepped or suppressed in our national discourse, because it is difficult and uncomfortable.

It has been avoided also because people become blinded by irrational emotions, and resort to labels and name-calling. When that happens, comfortable positions are rigidly sandbagged and heavily defended, thwarting unique opportunities for learning and growth.

And the wounds of these United States of America fester, waiting for the next tragedy to occur, only to remind us that, as a Nation we have not faced and really dealt with the sins of the past.

(Getty Images Buyenlarge Archive Photo) Anti-Integration Rally in Little Rock, AK. 1959
(Getty Images Buyenlarge Archive Photo) Anti-Integration Rally in Little Rock, AK. 1959

Most Southerners “heritage, not hate” argument is that, the Confederate battle flag is simply about honoring the South’s past, its dead, and its culture. And when they say the flag represents their culture or heritage, they are making it very clear whose culture they mean: It’s about the “Southern Cause.”  The foundation is rooted in the Confederacy itself, founded to preserve slavery and promote ‘white’ supremacy.  For example, the Mississippi’s declaration of secession  states,

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,”

Or, the speech from the Confederacy’s vice president that declared the Confederacy’s cornerstone

“rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition”.

Roy Harris, a legendary Georgia politician, said in 1951, “It is becoming … the symbol of the white race and the cause of the white people.”

This smells very much like the ‘white’ supremacy ideology that NaziConfederate_Battle_Flag-Nazi_Flag Germany used to justify the terrorizing and extermination of millions of human beings. Their ‘inferior race’.

Is this the ancestral heritage my friend wants to “HONOR”? Does this thinking align with TRUTH?

It is a different story when history is reviewed with a modicum of honesty, and not from a slanted romantic view.

The Confederate flag was adopted to represent a short-lived rebellion. The Southern Cause was to extend and protect ‘white’ supremacy and ‘black’ slavery. For 75 years, it was used as a reminder of the dignity of that cause. Then it became a symbol of violent resistance to ‘black’ civil rights leaders and to the federal government that was finally waking up to the right side of history and trying to enforce the law of the land.

If we are working on becoming a United States of America as captured in the prophetic and visionary proclamation that ALL humans,

“are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. . .”

– then moving forward as a Nation demands that we do this one thing!

Eliminate the barriers that obstruct honest conversations about human dignity, and examine the cause and effect of the Civil War from ALL perspectives.

This is worth more than just the removal of a symbolic flag from public places and respectfully displaying it in relevant Civil War museums.


Why Should the Flag be removed from public spaces and public property? If not, why?

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