The people protesting that flag will tell you that the Confederate Flag has stood for hatred since the Civil War. So I ask you this... why was it okay in 1992 when Slick Willie and Fat Albert supporters tried to woo the southern voters by putting the flag on campaign pins? Why did NOBODY raise hell while the Dukes of Hazzard was the most popular show on television in the early 80's with Bo and Luke sporting the rebel flag atop their '69 Charger? Why has it been perfectly fine for Amazon and Walmart to sell Lynyrd Skynyrd's Greatest Hits CD for years? Why did nobody boycott Tom Petty's 1983 Long After Dark Tour, whose promo poster had a Petty portrait on a Confederate Flag background?
I have no allegiance to the Confederate Flag - I'm a fukkin' Yankee born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts so I really have no place speaking on the issue. I do, however, understand the uneasy feelings around the history of that flag. Regardless of how you interpret the history and meaning of the flag, be it a symbol of southern pride or a marker of hate, the truth is that supremacist hate groups have appropriated those colors as their own and those groups have won. It was the flag waved by then Democrate Strom Thurmand in 1948 and by protesters of Brown vs. Board of Education in the 60s. As much as many southerners want that flag to represent pride in their southern way of living, it doesn't. Rather, it is seen by most as a symbol of hate and you can blame the KKK and the Thurmond-led Dixiecrats for that.
Much like the Navajo Indians can blame the Nazis for redefining their beloved symbol of healing. You see, Hitler did not hire a graphic logo designer to develop his Nazi flag. He stole the swastika from other cultures, some of whom have used the swastika as far back as 12,000 years ago. Check out this picture of the 1908-1909 Native American basketball team. And did you also know that, in the 1920's and 30's, the U.S. Army 45th Infantry Division featured a swastika on their shoulder sleeve insignia as a tribute to the Native Americans in the southwestern US? But because of its association with the Nazis, that symbol now represents hate, much to the chagrin of Native Americans (and the Finnish Air Force).
With all that shit out of the way, let's at least let's get a little education about the flag that has us all yapping. And stop calling it the Stars and Bars, fahchrissake! The Stars and Bars was the name of the first flag of the Confederacy and bore a resemblance to the Betsy Ross flag of the United States with its ring of stars on a blue field and red and white stripes. The blue cross on a red background was placed in the upper corner of a white field and it was called the "southern cross." This became the official flag of the Confederacy.
|THIS is the Stars and Bars|
|The second flag of the CSA|
The Southern Cross is attached to slavery today because it became the flag under which the Confederacy fought during the Civil War, a war in which the future of slavery was a primary divisive issue. The South wanted to keep their slaves while the North sought to end the slave trade. But the flag at issue today was NEVER an official flag of the Confederate States of America. The flag at the center of this debate was the battle flag of the Confederate Army. Robert E. Lee is the most famous General to have fought under that flag when he led the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (the Dukes named their car after General Lee) and thus he is most often associated with that flag. Ulysses S. Grant led the Union forces under the orders of the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. The Confederate Army soldiers fought for the preservation of southern society. Yes, to keep slavery. But also to keep from becoming industrialized and over built like their counterpart states to the north.
I got two quotes for you... let's play "Guess Who Said This."
"I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior. I am as much as any other man in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
"There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil."
The first quote was made by Abraham Lincoln, while quote #2 was uttered by General Robert E. Lee. Yes, Lincoln did not believe that white people should own black people. But he certainly had a superiority complex over the black man - we can't own 'em, but we are better than 'em. Should we remove his face from the penny and fiver? Of course not. But it does make one wonder how legends become transformed over time.
Among us northerners, there is a certain fascination and romanticism for the south. The fanciful drawl, the tasty food, the southern girl, the y and the seemingly simpler way of living are things songs and stories are made of. And wouldn't it be great if that flag really did stand for Georgia peaches and Carolina winds and Mississippi muddy water, for dirt roads and pond fishin'? I wish it did. But it doesn't.