17 June 2020

Regarding the Confederate flag



I have no idea whether this is true (or where the poorly-cropped image was taken from without attribution), and will take the post down if it the information is inaccurate.  There is some relevant discussion (especially re similar state flags) here.

This is probably a topic worth exploring, but I have too much on my plate right now.  And growing up in Minnesota I never learned any history of the Confederacy.

12 comments:

  1. I've never understood why anyone would take pride in being on the losing side of history. This isn't meant to be insulting or demeaning, it's a simple fact. The Confederacy attempted to break away from the Union, and were not successful. A war happened, and they lost that war. That's why we call it the Civil War and not the Second Revolution; they're the same thing, but the name depends entirely upon who wins. So they not only failed, they were traitors.

    And when you add in the fact that the war was fought over the express purpose of owning other human beings as property? Now you're not just celebrating failure, but racist failures and traitors. Not something I'd be proud of.

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    Replies
    1. "I've never understood why anyone would take pride in being on the losing side of history"

      I'm proud to be a fan of the four-time-Superbowl-losing Minnesota Vikings.

      Delete
    2. In my experience it's more an expression of regional pride for people who feel that popular culture uses them as acceptable targets (ex: you can say "redneck" on TV without worrying about your career.")

      It certainly has no place in public spaces or government buildings (save as a novelty of history), but I do wish there was less triumphalism in efforts to get rid of it.

      Delete
    3. I was brought up and still live in Tennessee and have for most of my life unfortunately been subjected to the false argument that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, that it was a fight for "states' rights".
      One of my great great grandfathers fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War and, according to family lore, late in his life said he and his fellow Confederates didn't know what they were fighting for.
      None of this holds up under any scrutiny. The leaders of the Confederacy were explicit in their defense of slavery, and I doubt my ancestor really didn't know. He'd also go on to be an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, and I believe he knew exactly what the organization stood for.
      I have no desire to romanticize or deny uncomfortable facts about my own family's history, let alone the history of where I live. Some do, though. I don't understand it either, and I can't and won't defend it.
      I wish I could offer a clear answer here, and I tried to at first but, after much consideration, I feel that any attempt to explain some people's pride in being connected to the Confederacy through ancestry or geography or both would be a false justification. I can only agree that it's not something to be proud of.
      I did, however, have an English professor in college whose devotion to the Minnesota Vikings was admirable. They at least have cool helmets.

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  2. basically correct, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America

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  3. I hate to say it, but it probably has more to do with the "looks cool" factor more than historical accuracy. Thirteen stars, that big "X" - it seems to say "rebel". The first one - looks boring?

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  4. I am skeptical of the white bits signifying the White supremacy. Was there really much push back against that concept at the time by people in the North or South?
    I've seen similar things said about the colors in the Nazi WWII flag and it just strikes me as too simple.
    But I'm quite willing to be proved wrong...

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  5. The Confederate flag is, to my knowledge, the ONLY symbol that represents THE South. Before the Civil War, the southern states meant "those states to the south in our nation." But with the Civil War, it was not just "the southern states," but "THE South. THAT, I believe is why we cherish it--it means "us" and "we" for many folks.

    Certainly it has been co-opted by racists. But the vast majority of folks who like that flag are absolutely opposed to slavery. Period. To them, as I said, it represents the "us" factor--that we are both part of and, in some way, not a part of, the USA.

    At the same time, it is acknowledged that the flag is hurtful to our black brothers and sisters. But where does it all end? With the removal of the flag? The Civil War statues of southern heroes? The removal of Washington and Jefferson from the American canon? Library books?

    At some point, we simply realize that it is impossible to please everyone.

    NOTE: The south was traitorous in precisely the same way that the 13 colonies were when it came to Britain. The south did not fight to overthrow or overcome the Union...but to separate from it. I know, not cool. Not to be considered noble. But it is what it is.

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    Replies
    1. Certainly it has been co-opted by racists.

      Incorrect. It has been popularized by racists as a symbol for their racism.

      But where does it all end? With the removal of the flag?

      Why not? Flags change all the time.

      The US itself changed its flag a few times to update the number of states reflected on the flag.

      The Netherlands only got an 'official' flag because the UN needed on. They didn't really have one - there were several (orange-white-blue, red-white-blue and red-white-light blue; Luxembourg ran with the last one). The government sent two laws to the Queen. One for orange-white-blue, the other for red-white-blue. The request for her to sign one of the two laws - the government simply didn't care.

      The British Islands changed its flag many times. Germany officially banned flying the nazi flag by law, and even in Russia got rid of the Soviet flag. Austrians ad Hungarians probably can't tell you what the flag of their empire was.

      It really makes no sense to hang to a flag that was never really used and later taken over by racists.

      This notion of "THE South" is also hogwash. Is there a flag for "THE West"? Or "THE North" perhaps? "THE East"? "THE Northeast"? No.

      It's all barely veiled racism.

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    2. "But where does it all end? With the removal of the flag? The Civil War statues of southern heroes?"

      Look up exactly WHEN the vast majority of these "hero" statues went up and you'll answer your own question...

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  6. Iput a lot of thought into this. And written about it quite a bit. I was born in texas, but moved to Detroit when I was five. My family would fly down to Texas for summer vacation every year.
    We would always go to Six Flags during summer vacation. They sold Confederate flags there. I always wanted a Confederate flag. They were such handsome flags.
    But was always afraid to ask mom and dad to buy me one.
    “Why were you afraid” my friends ask.
    “I was afraid because I always sensed that even though it was a good looking flag, there was something wrong with wanting one. I was ashamed to want one”
    Some of my friends will say “Pshhaw, there is nothing wrong with wanting a Confederate Flag!”
    The fact is, after about 1968, you couldn’t BUY a Confederate Flag at Six Flags.
    Why not?
    Because someone figured out there was something wrong with selling them.
    Even NASCAR, a typically redneck institution if there ever was one, banned Ol’ Dixie.
    But damn, it really is a handsome flag.

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