What Does the Confederate Battle Flag Mean?

For weeks I carried on with an intriguing task of observing, engaging and debating points of view with certain people belonging to the Facebook group Southern Heritage Preservation Group (SHPG). One thing I learned is that this group is in actuality a Confederate Heritage group as they overlook the other two hundred plus years of Southern History (only counting since independence). Then one day, much to my displeasure, I found that I could no longer access their fine group. I had been blocked. Blocked by the very group that expresses rage and claims censorship when their comments are removed from certain sites. In simple  terms, as Historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot would say, I had been silenced. Thankfully and mainly because of the internet’s usage as a playground, I worked my way back to a point of observation once more. Keep in mind that I cannot engage or debate anymore, I only have the ability to observe. Tonight is my first look at SHPG since my hiatus and I found some statements and materials right off the bat.
I would agree with Connie’s statement. Not wholeheartedly of course. The flag does have a Confederate and American South history behind it. What that history is interpreted as is another matter.  I have seen the flag in photos across the globe. It is heavily recognized as more than just “A symbol of the Confederacy and the American South” but also  one of secession and disunion. This can be observed in Italy even today.  There is however much more to the flag. Something that Connie ignores in her own context and explains that this other outlook is merely rednecks and bigots taking over the flag and using it for personal gain. Nonetheless, this other interpretation exists and deserves to be studied and recognized as having a history with the Confederate Battle Flag.
It needs to be realized that the Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is also very much associated with the Ku Klux Klan. It can be, and has in the past been seen as a symbol of racism. I realize that might not have been the intent just as much as I realize the American flag can bee seen in that context.
The Ku Klux Klan did use the American flag as their symbol for years until about 1940 when they began heavy use of the CBF.  Confederate Heritage advocates will also be the first to deflect the issue of slavery under the CBF by stating that slavery existed forever under the American flag. This is also true. No one denies or doubts this at all. So the real question is why does the American flag not carry the image of “racism” or the image of “slavery” in the manner that the CBF does.

Well, to take a shot as to why, my guess would be that the United States government under the American Flag at one point or another was proactive is doing away with these absurdities.

Emancipation Proclamation – Freed slaves in the South, allowed Blacks to fight for the Union

13th Amendment – Abolished Slavery

The Force Acts of 1870 – In this act, the government banned the use of terror, force or bribery to prevent people from voting because of their race

Civil Rights Act 1964 – outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (“public accommodations”).

Now I will say, because I am sure that I will hear the argument or statement, that the United States has had its fair share of bigotry. With that bigotry though, came the responsibility to do right and right it did on several occasions. I think we can put the United States Flag argument to rest but I would like to turn back to the CBF for a moment. Though advocates will outright deny slavery’s HUGE involvement in starting the Civil War, it is a fair argument that the CBF is less associated with that institution. It was the soldier’s flag, not the Confederate Nation’s flag. It was also certain groups that used the CBF to promote racism and not the Confederacy (Though the large portion of those groups resided in the former Confederacy). It is important to remember that symbols carry with them multiple meanings and the addition of more people can mean even more interpretations.

 

So the question is why should they be ashamed? Well, you shouldn’t be. If you are a particular person that has ancestry which does not include slavery but merely fighting for your home, there is no reason to be ashamed. Keep in mind however, that some find your symbol offensive.

As the above shows, the Nazis totally ripped off the Hindus. The difference is, you don’t see many Hindus flying their symbol as 60ft banners near the interstate or putting them on t-shirts. It might have something to do with 6 million people dying but that’s just a guess. Perhaps the key is consideration. Several hundred thousand people were in bondage, and perhaps view that flag as a chain holding them down. So many were hurt, killed, and not allowed freedoms in the 20th century; and most of them recognize the flag as a reminder of that. Consideration is the key word of the day.

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2 thoughts on “What Does the Confederate Battle Flag Mean?

  1. Jonathan Winskie

    Connie’s argument of oppressive government was one I had to endure multiple times throughout last summer at Chickamauga. I think Emory Thomas effectively illustrated the irony in the “Lost Cause Myth”, that the Confederate government became way more authoritarian and oppressive than the United States government ever was during the war. People have a right to their pride and beliefs, of course, and collective memory does not necessarily reflect the facts.

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