Evolving on the Confederate flag

Friends, I debated posting this, because a) I doubt people on the other side of this debate are really capable of having their minds changed. And b) I am not sure this is the biggest issue affecting race in America right now. However, my friend and fellow author Rebecca Weatherspoon shared an article the other day entitled “Show Up, White America: The Opposite Of Support Is Silence.” It was poignant and it spoke to me. If you read only one blog today, read that one. But if you continue to read this one, know that while my words might not change the world, this is one small way I am showing up.

I grew up in the South. Confederate flags hung over much of my childhood. Cars, backpacks, notebooks, T-shirts, they were everywhere. I was taught that the Civil War (or the War of Northern Aggression) was about states’ rights and that it dealt a blow to big government. We got a day off of school every year called “Fair Day” on the official school calendar, but all the older teachers still called it Robert E. Lee Day. Some of them would snicker and say, “Oh, but we can’t call it what it really is ‘cause the Yankees don’t get it.” We associated the rebel flag (that’s what we always called it) with the Dukes of Hazzard and Lynard Skynard, free wheeling country people who were real and down to earth. We weren’t racist. We were Southern. You could be one without the other. The flag didn’t mean hate. It meant being proud of where you came from. Other people, outsiders, they just didn’t understand. I get it. I understand all those arguments, all those attachments. I really do. I even believed them.

But I was lied to, or at the very least, not told the whole truth, the bigger truth.

It’s hard to admit that. No one likes to admit they’ve been duped. No one likes to admit they bought into the propaganda machine. No one wants to look around at people they once trusted, agreed with, defended vocally, only to see them for the bigots they are. But we have to. As a Christian, as a mindful human being, I am called to seek light out of darkness. If we are reasonable, educated, thoughtful people, people who want to learn and grow and make the world a better place, we have to be willing to admit we’ve made mistakes, and more importantly, we need to be strong enough, brave enough, loving enough to correct them.

Even if we’re willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they truly never saw the Confederate flag as tied to any racial issues, and I’ve admitted to falling into that group myself, we still can’t condone its continued use.

Things change, the world changes, symbols change and take on new meanings, or sometimes old meanings bubble up to reveal what had been there all along.

Either way, the Confederate flag is not the first symbol to go through this transformation. The swastika used to have another meaning, too. It was used 5,000 years before the rise of Hitler, giving it much more “heritage” than anything American can ever claim. It was a symbol used to represent good fortune or well being. You can still see it in ancient temples. By the early 1900’s, the symbol was as commonplace as yin-yangs or peace signs are today. Children doodled them on their books, Rudyard Kipling signed swastikas beside his autographs as a sign of respect and good will toward his readers. There is a long-standing, bright, and legitimately beautiful tradition behind the swastika. And yet no matter how German my heritage (and my last name is Spangler, so I’m pretty German), no matter how many wonderful meanings are attributed to the symbol, I would never under any circumstances wave a Nazi flag. I think we can all agree that no reasonable people draw them or decorate with them anymore since it became the official symbol of the Nazi party.

See how that works? Good people were faced with the horror of the atrocities committed under that flag, and they realized the old meaning could in no way balance or overcome the violence and hatred done under that symbol. No amount of warm feelings or past heritage could wash the blood out of the Nazi flag. So they were done with it. Good, thoughtful people do not look at the flag of Hitler and say, “You don’t understand the old meaning.” They simply distance themselves from the symbol and all its modern-day implications. The only people who willingly wear or carry a swastika now align themselves with violence, hatred, and everything the Nazi party stood for. It’s still their right to do so, but no reasonable person would argue that calling someone who brands themselves with a swastika an anti-Semite is an unfair assessment.

The Confederate flag is no different. Southerners, or rednecks, or country folks (however they identify) do not have a monopoly on symbolism. Nor do they control history. No matter what your daddy told you the stars and bars meant, it also meant some people were willing to die for the right to hold other people as slaves. No matter what your teacher said the Confederate flag symbolizes, it also symbolizes white supremacy. No matter what your favorite band told you about broadcasting that you’re a rebel, using that flag also broadcasts the fact that some people are willing to kill to protect the idea of a “racially pure” America. Go ahead and mix all that up, hate and heritage, pride and oppression, good vibes and violence. It still doesn’t come out anywhere near even. The bad by far outweighs the good.

Maybe this flag flew over the park you played in as kids. Maybe it flew in your grandparents’ yard. Maybe it hung in your dorm room. Maybe you associate it with your past or with a past version of yourself. If so, I’m sorry for that. I am sorry for you, and I am sorry for me. I am sorry for what we didn’t know then, and for what we thought we knew so well, but as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.” Now you know better. Now you know the Confederate flag is the flag that flies over every gathering of the KKK. Now you know it’s the flag flown by white supremacists. Now you know that flag was a rallying point for slaveholders and segregationists. Now you know that flag is carried by men who go into churches and gun down African Americans.

That doesn’t mean everything you held dear is dead or even tainted. Pride and heritage and history and family ties all exist outside of the rebel flag context. I still love so much about the South. I love BBQ and fried chicken and corn bread. I love tea so thick with sugar you almost have to chew it. I love the smell of jasmine and the way magnolia petals blanket the ground in a fragrant sea of white. I love the special brand of hospitality that makes a new place feel at home and the way a slow Southern drawl immediately eases tension from my shoulders. I love SEC football. I love the way country music mixes with southern rock. I love baptisms in a river and sun showers at three o’clock every summer day. I love to call every soda a coke. I love to listen to Jimmy Carter talk about just about anything.

There’s a hundred different ways to love the South. There are a million ways to be proud of where you come from, and none of them have to involve the image used to subjugate an entire race of human beings. If you continue to cling to the one symbol of the South used to hurt and oppress, that says nothing new about the flag or the land it once covered, but it says a great deal about you.

If you hear black voices crying out in agony and still turn away in favor of a flag, that makes you racist. If you prioritize a symbol of a dead rebellion over real, living, suffering people, that makes you racist. If you cling to your pride in what used to be or what you used to believe, instead of learning and growing and striving toward healing, that makes you a racist. Maybe it doesn’t make you the kind of racist that shoots up a church, but it make you the kind of racist who values your own comfortable ideas over the hearts and lives of your black brothers and sisters, and that is racism, too. I am sorry if that hurts to hear, but it’s the reality of the choice you are making. You continue to cast your lot with racists organizations, white supremacists hate groups, and grand wizards of the Klan even after being told that’s what you’re doing. If that’s who you want to side with, that’s your American right, but as we used to say in the South, when you lie down with dogs, you come up with fleas.

As for me, when I was a child, I thought like a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child, but now I’m an adult. I have learned better lessons. I know better than I did before. I value human life over the vestiges of my past, and I can be secure in who I am without hurting anyone else in the process. I no longer want any part in the Confederate flag, and perhaps more importantly, I’m done getting flea bitten by people who do.

P.S. I have to approve all comments on this blog, so don’t even bother sending in racist ones. I am all for free speech, but you have your own walls, your own facebook accounts, and your own blogs and I have said all I have to say on this subject. If you want to post some argument in favor of the Confederate flag just post them elsewhere. They will not be posted here.

Published by rachelspangler

Rachel Spangler never set out to be an award winning author. She was just so poor and so easily bored during her college years that she had to come up with creative ways to entertain herself, and her first novel, Learning Curve, was born out of one such attempt. She was sincerely surprised when it was accepted for publication and even more shocked when it won the Golden Crown Literary Award for Debut Author. Since writing was turning out to be a real blast, Rachel decided to combine it with another passion and set her next romance on the ski slopes, and was absolutely stunned when her second novel, Trails Merge, won a Goldie in the category of Contemporary Romance. However, no amount of book signing or award winning can really change a Midwestern boi, and her third novel, the Goldie finalist The Long Way Home is just that, a return to the themes and settings that mean the most in Rachel’s life and writing. Her forthcoming novels include LoveLife (April 2011) and Spanish Heart (October 2011), both from Bold Strokes Books. Rachel and her partner, Susan, are raising their young son in small-town western New York, where during the winter they all make the most of the lake effect snow on local ski slopes, and in summer they love to travel and watch their beloved St. Louis Cardinals. Regardless of the season, Rachel always makes time for a good romance, whether she’s reading it, writing it, or living it. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelSpangler.com as well as on Facebook.

74 thoughts on “Evolving on the Confederate flag

  1. Well done Rachel. I thank you for posting this and I plan to share it with everyone one I know. Thanks for putting into words the thoughts I was having on the issue.

  2. Well said. Like you, I was raised in the south. I was lied too as a child. As an adult, I did my own research. I do think there is a place for the Rebel flag. It should be taken down and placed in a museum. Our history, as a nation, needs to be displayed, and taught to the children. If you don’ t teach all of your history, good and bad, you will repeat your history. And, that is one time in our past that I would not want repeated. Thanks for speaking up.

  3. Concise and heartfelt. I can only hope that everyone who reads it passes it along.

  4. Very thoughtful and well articulated piece. I wish I could express myself so well on the issue.
    There was a time, when I too thought the Confederate Flag was a harmless reminder of the past. Insightful people can evolve their thinking. Your writing is persuasive and I hope it is seen by many.

  5. Thank you Rachel. This is beautiful, well thought out, heartfelt, and eloquently stated. Now, i must think about symbolism, and any symbols I might embrace. A mighty sword cuts both ways.

  6. I have thought and thought about the way to express this exact thought/feeling and could not have said it better. Thank you!

  7. Thank you, Rachel. This is a subject that has caused me much heartache over the years. Not quite the same, but I grew up in South Africa in the eighties, before the end of apartheid. I was a child. A white child growing up with a black nanny, a black housekeeper, a black gardener. I knew nothing of what was really going on, yet I was a part of it, and witnessed some things no child should ever have to…because they should never, ever happen to another human being. And that is a guilt that I have carried since I was old enough to truly understand what it was. It is a shame I will always carry. Being a part of that despicable oppression.

    You’re words resonated for me with such depth that you made me weep. But you also helped me to realise, or perhaps begin to accept, that no one can change the past–our past–we can only move forward, do better, be kinder, and love more. We simply must.

    Thank you for putting such eloquent words to a feeling that has haunted me for so many years.

    Andrea

    1. Andrea, your thoughtful response made *me* cry! Thank you, and thank you Rachel for your wise and wonderfully written post.

  8. Rachel, I very much relate to your post. I grew up in the “Jim Crow” south and in fact, I was in college before the Civil Rights Act was passed. A person who grew up in the segregated south has to make a conscious effort to overcome the indoctrination of segregation. It never leaves you, you have to leave it.

  9. Facts should be taught in school over the issue of the civil war, both sides. Plus slavery has two colors, ignorance is also slavery. Even then, the African American race weren’t the only slaves, there are many ethnic groups that were also slaves. We need to know all bout our past, I was only taught us history up to the civil war, we didn’t have time I. That year to learn about the war, how it started, etc.
    thank you for the post, eye opener, my heart bleeds red, white & blue, it always will, but much of history education is lost to our high schools & needs to be corrected – this proves that it is necessary.

  10. I confess to being so unaware, living here in Mass., of the Confederate flag that I was shocked that stores still sold it. I knew my dad was born in Virginia, but he didn’t grow up there. Only when I went South for some family history, did it sink in. On his side I probably had ancestors fighting on both sides of the war. His Maryland forebears owned one slave, according to the 1800 census. Records showed soldiers from his Virginia side died at Gettysburg, surrendered at Appomattox, and deserted. I fell in love with both states and this cold-hearted New Englander couldn’t fathom the warm hospitality I was shown. There is much to love about the South. That flag is not among them. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Once again, Rachel, you have used your powerful gift with words to give voice to things that I and I think many of us have struggled to express. Thank you for this. I would like to reblog it. Showing up, each of us in our own way, is indeed the the first thing we can do and the necessary thing to do. You have done it so well, or at least started it here. I eagerly await the stories that continue of your life that show just how you continue to “show up” for so many things in your daily life, in your commitment to walking your path.

    Ona

  12. Reblogged this on The Other Side and commented:
    As Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you.” And our silence will not only NOT protect ourselves, as white Americans, it can and continues to do grave damage to our sisters and brothers of color in America. This post is one way in which one person took the challenge to show up and did it in what she may call a small way, but what I would call a profound way.

  13. Very well said. I too have experienced a change in my view of the flag over the years. I never viewed it as a symbol of hate until after the shootings in Charleston. If it is viewed as a symbol of hate and oppression by others, then it has no place on the grounds of our statehouse. It is a piece of history that belongs with other pieces of history in museums.

    PS – my husband and I went to Charleston this past week. Coincidently, our hotel was a little over a block from Emanual AME church. I can only describe the mood as Holy. What an honor to share this experience with the other mourners who were present.

  14. This is my first read of any of your work. I am pleased, well said and great depth of thought. Thank you.

  15. I am a Yankee from Chicago, a place that has tons of immigrants. One of the things I love about that is hearing all the things different groups love about their culture. And I LOVED hearing all the things you love about your culture, and how many beautiful things there are about it, beautiful things to celebrate. Can we create a new flag that celebrates or somehow represents THOSE things and replace all the Confederate flags with it? Maybe if someone could create a new flag with all the beautiful things about the American South and fly that flag proudly, everyone would forget all about that old one and not feel they are losing part of their cultural identity?

    1. I appreciate your sensitivity at suggesting a new flag for the South, however, we already have a flag that represents all of American…..Ole Glory……and I’m from the South. One nation, one flag. And if we need a woman on our money, how about Lady Liberty? We can use our old icons in a new way that could circumvent any regional, political, religious, or biased issues.

  16. I grew up in northern Illinois and later lived in Ohio. I had no experience with the kind of racism I saw when I moved to Tennessee some years ago. I guess they thought that as a middle-age white woman I must agree with them. I just would laugh and tell them they are going to hell. You can say about anything if you smile when you say it. For all the southerners who say there is racism everywhere, I agree, but as my oldest son said when he came here for the summer, “even smart people here are racist,” His understanding was that the only racist people in the north were recognized as not very smart. It is changing, but not fast enough and not with some people here. One reason I think it is changing is that a lot of people here now are from somewhere else.

  17. Rachel, I found your essay to be moving, insightful and eloquent. Your ability to rethink long-held beliefs is admirable. I am going to post a link to this in social media for others to read as well. I would respectfully point out, however, that while acknowledging having been kept from the “bigger truth,” you omitted a pretty big one yourself – the role of the South in starting the Civil War. The so-called “war of northern aggression” was in fact started by the South. South Carolina, first state to start the ripping apart of the country via secession, also fired the first shots to start the war. In the end, the war resulted in immeasurable human suffering and the deaths of 620,000 Americans – almost as many as all the other US wars put together. And the war was started and fought over the right to enslave human beings. Yes, those brave heroes, immortalized throughout the South via statue and monument, fought and died so others would stay enslaved. There has been enough recent public outcry that the “we’re fighting for slavery” flag might finally go away from all public buildings. But I’m not sure the South will ever get its head around starting the Civil War and what its heroes were really fighting for.

  18. Very well written. Thank you. I grew up in New York and moved to the Charleston, SC area when my kids were in High School, almost 20 years ago. With my New York accent (and I am soft spoken) I can’t tell you how many people were less then kind to me. Our family was in Ireland and other places during the time of the Civil War. Not in New York. I was shocked at the blatant bigotry I witnessed even by school employees. That goes for Blacks as well as Whites. That goes for anyone that was different then them. A friend of one of my kids would not accept that one of her grandfathers received his social security number in New Jersey as we found while looking up family members on a web site. Prior to coming to the South I had no idea that so many people were carrying around all this hate in their hearts on a daily basis and most of them don’t even know why. Bigotry is taught and learned. One southerner told me Northerners think of southerners as uneducated and not smart. My response to him was, I hate to tell you this but Northerners in my experience don’t think about Southerners at all. New Yorkers would love someone with a southern accent.

  19. Very well written, Rachel. Your reference to the swastika is one that I used as well in a FB thread, when a young woman said she likes the confederate flag but is not racist. When I was a child and first saw the swastika, it intrigued me. I drew it a few times, trying to figure out how it was made. Then I learned what it stood for, and I never drew it again. So it is with the confederate flag: once you fully understand it, this symbol should make you recoil. It wasn’t seen in public for nearly 100 years, until the civil rights movement began in the late 40’s, when President Truman de-segregated the military, and thousands of Dixiecrats brought out their confederate flags in protest. This flag is seen all over the country, not just in the South. I see people here in Illinois with it as well. To me, it is an ugly reminder of division; of protest against civil rights; and of a bloody war which took the lives of way too many people. Our nation is great because of our diversity, not in spite of it. I believe it should be removed from any public display.

  20. Rachel, my wife Barb and I read your blog post and were blown away. Thank your bravery.

  21. Your words are eloquent and timely. I have never read a more appropriate, heartfelt, and thoughtful expression about true southern heritage. Your words rang true. Plain as red clay in Georgia. I would like to share your blog with my 8th grade Georgia history students. Your perspective is truly insightful. Thank you.

  22. Thank you Rachel, I was just having this exchange today with a friend. My side was the one you just eloquently stated. I Thank you for your courage.
    E M Bonds

  23. This is thoughtful, honest, piercing, and beautiful. Thank you. If more people were willing to consider their pride in their heritage alongside the power of symbolism as thoughtfully as you have, this wouldn’t even be an argument. The American south has made huge contributions to our broader culture: musically, culinarily, and linguistically (among other ways), and I honor and love those things. I desperately wish more folks could express that well-earned pride in other ways and acknowledge that you can simultaneously be proud of your southern roots while still accknowledgiing the pain and suffering and evil that flag represents to so many.
    So thank you, and may others see what you’ve laid out here and follow suit.

  24. We’ll said. I grew up in the south and hated when it was said that flag represented southern pride. I would say who’s southern pride not mine as I was born and raised in the south. It is my prayer that everyone who has read this will share with others.

  25. May God bless you for being a reasonable person who is not afraid to seek to understand how others feel and respond with respect. Keep speaking with a voice of reason.

  26. Thank you so much for this. For saying what I’ve been trying to form into words in my head. I’m…I guess you’d call me a transplanted Yankee. I was born in Michigan, lived out west in Arizona and Colorado, and ended up here in Kentucky (with brief stays in South Carolina and Georgia). I’ve been here for nearly 22 years. My son was born here. I love all the things about the south that you mentioned. I say ‘y’all’, and ‘all y’all’, and “Louisville” is one long syllable.

    The hate and blood and violence that is contained within the Confederate flag is abhorrent to me, and on par with the swastika that symbolizes the Nazis. I don’t agree with, or condone, bigotry or racial intolerance, or anything else.

    The past week or so, the inside of my head has been “I love the south!” “But the flag = bad!” “But–south! Southern things!” “Confederate flag = bad!” Eh. It’s been a rough week inside my head, and that rough week came with a lot of guilt. (Which I found rather ironically funny, since I am originally from the north, as was all of my family: the furthest south any of my antecedents lived was mid-Ohio.)

    Anyway. This long, rambling comment is basically a long-winded way of saying Thank You. Things feel a lot more settled in my head now. You’ve tapped into the words and descriptions I was struggling with, and made things make sense again.

    This was an excellent article, and after I finish my comment here, I’m going back to my FB and post a link here, because I think everyone should read this. Thank you, again.

  27. Thank you, Rachel. Having grown up in the South, I, too, never realized the true symbolism behind that flag. I hope your article enlightens the hearts and minds of those reading it.

  28. Rachel, thank you so much for writing this. I have been frustrated and surprised by some of my fellow Virginians’ silence and ambivalence as the recent conversation on the Confederate flag picked up. touve written this in a way that allows southerners to let go of the fear of personal judgement for their ancestors’ behavior, but challenging us on doing nothing, which may feel a lot more actionable than some of the angrier writings we’re seeing. I had been wondering about a correlation in the Swastica, but was keeping quiet as my tone seems to trend towards anger and I thought my opinion on that would come off as crazy. You’ve presented it clearly in a way people can take it in. I thank you for that.

  29. I think it is real sad that people are focusing on a flag than the real issues. A young man filled with hate killed a group of people at a church. Everyone is talking about a flag not the people anymore.

  30. Thank you for sharing your insight! I am an American from a place we literally call “The Northland” northern Minnesota. I’ve since lived in south Texas for a number of years and moved to Cincinnati OH just a few years ago. ‘The gateway to freedom’ as some folks like to call it because of its ties to the Underground Railroad, and bits of Civil War history… it’s amazing to me how different regions of our nation present such different experiences. Hearing about your perspective in coming up, much different than mine – yet our separate conclusions about those symbols are the same. It goes to prove that we can evolve and develop as a nation! We don’t always have to be in such opposition with each other. Here’s to the wisdom to choose to lift our fellow American rather than adhering to such subtle forms of selfishness.
    Happy Independence Day!

  31. The only thing I would add to this is that in addition to be willing to die to keep people in bondage, this flag also symbolizes the men who were willing to kill their Northern brethren to keep people in bondage. When one picks a fight, they cannot claim victimhood when they lose the fight.

  32. Just thought you should know if you didn’t already that Kipling also wrote a poem called “the white mans burden” that you should read before continuing to him as an example in this instance.

  33. hi again…i thought about this today at work. asked a cpl of ppl what they thought..i was enlightened..informed that the confederate flag had a different meaning before the kkk adopted it..( mind you, i am a foreigner here, relying solely upon truisms from those born here.) :)) this friend continued to explain to me that the confederate flag held a different meaning before the ownership iod the kkk..that in fact, this confederate flag everyone is so now in an uproar about..well, if you check your history, it had diddly to do with what is going on now.( it supposedly was different)..what that young guy is supposedly exemplifying and what ppl are so up in arms about..is it true..that before the kkk adopted the flag, it was a totally different flag altogether?..i need to check into american history. if ppl are willing to just assume w/out checking put the facts .btw..happy 4th 🙂 didn’t we carve pics of supposed great men into the beauty of mountains ( let’s just not even bother to ask ourselves what native americans think about this act of_____?(you fill in the blanks here.) for what reason? one of these guys..well..jackson maybe..what did he do n represent? and then stretchin it a lil bit..did we not have bin laden on our payroll for the cia? did we not teach him to hate us because we told him to kill his own..and eventually when they caught on to this..they kinda got pissed off? idk..just relying on what other americans are informing me as to stuff..jus sayin here 🙂
    so much fighting here in america..about whatever ppl wish to fight about..think about it.you fight over rights, civil liberties, th effin purple tella tubbie for God’s sake.and then deviate to something as menial, (but is it reallly?) as paying sports hero’s millions of dollars to throw a ball n catch it..they do it for hours over overs for days, only to end uo when it is crunch time, to not do it..(if at your job you performed this way, would you still have a job?)neways, don’t mean to go off, but it seems ppl here in america need the anxiety to argue and fight..( guess that it’s too hard of a concept to say “let’s not fight about whatever..)
    jus sayin..

  34. As a born and raised Southern white woman, I have to say that I loved every single thing you wrote here!! This is exactly how I feel about the flag. Incidentally, it is also how I feel about the “N” word…..but that is for another discussion. 🙂 thank you for writing this so beautifully and insightfully. And thank you for showing that being Southern does not mean we have lost all capacity for intelligent thought!! You have a new fan in your writing!

  35. This is an amazing piece. I too consider myself Southern and love many things about the rich cultural heritage I grew up with. On the other hand, I have NEVER, EVER wanted anything to do with the “Confederate flag.” You said everything I want to say, and said it better than I ever could.

  36. Well done and well stated. The sad thing, Rachel, is that the people who this should be directed at are too stupid to understand it…even if someone took your words and translated them to a 3rd grade level…those people are too stupid to understand both the words and the underlying implications of those worlds.

  37. Beautifully written. Thank you for such a thoughtful and caring message. I am not a southerner by birth but lived in the South for eleven years. I loved the people, the culture, and their warmth. I dislike the fact that this historical flag has taken such a different meaning. I hope we can move forward.

  38. Your blog was shared by a former high school classmate and I always readv what she shares and am thankful I didn’t skip your blog. Thank you for clarifying so much about this flag and its meaning. Freedom is a wonderful part of living here in America and yes, we do have to stand up for what is right and wrong! I’m a true, born and raised, Yankee, but, love the South for its beauty and the slow way of life. One can only hope for continued progress! Thank you for a great read.

  39. For the first time in my,life, I am considering joining the Daughters of the Grand Army of the Republic. I do qualify.

  40. Thank you! I’ll be sharing this. I read the blog post you referenced a few days ago and thought it was fabulous too. I’m a transplant living here in Charleston. I am the great great granddaughter of a Confederate soldier. I grew up in the Northeast. We were taught things like racism was mostly a Southern thing. That was a lie too. And while we don’t have “Fair Day” here, the state of South Carolina still has a paid state holiday called Confederate Memorial Day. And SC isn’t the only Southern state to do this.

  41. Your only real inaccuracy is the suggestion that the confederate flag ever represented anything other that racial hatred. From the very start of the confederacy, every state involved made it 100% clear that they were fighting for slavery as the number one issue. There is no previous non-hateful meaning to the flag, and that’s really the only way it’s different than the Nazi flag.

  42. While I do and have for along time held your belief on where to display the Stars and Bars, you need to do some fact checking of your own. Reserch pics of local hate groups and I think more often you will see them flying Old Glory. Aso do your own studying about the Civil War. Not just by those you agree with but those with opposing views. It was not just about slavery. Slavery existed before the pyramids were built by slaves. Slaves in Africa! Slavery ended in this country. It still exists in many corners of the world. So maybe the energy being used to beat ourselves up could be put to use ending slavery were it still exists today and give those people the same freedoms that we ALL have here in this country today.

  43. Why would you start your post with “I doubt people on the other side are capable of having their minds changed” if you really want to have an open dialogue with them?

  44. AMEN! I grew up and still live in the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA. I, too, heard all the reasons for accepting the flag as a good symbol of our history. And, like you, finally realized the real reason for the war and what the flag represents to a majority of those who still support its use. Thank you for your excellent explanation.

  45. You have made me realize and know what this flag really stands for and I applaud you for that.I have been saying because that boy wrapped himself in that flag didn’t mean the flag killed those people a killer killed those people.As Maya Angelou said,”Do the best you can until you know better,then when you know better,do better”. I now know better and I will do better.Thank you so much for opening my eyes and for sharing this with all of us.God Bless You.

  46. What an articulate thoughtful meaningful post! While reading about being “duped” I kept thinking about my upbringing in the Catholic Church and what they have done to many children in the world and are STILL discriminating LBGT people. I am grieving for my loss of an institution that I once believed in, created by man, much like southerners grieving their flag….but when you know better you must do better! Isn’t this a lesson to all of us to not get sucked into rich men/women who have agendas? Thank you for your writing!

  47. I, too grew up in the South, and I thank you for your insightful comments. I, too, enjoyed the positive things you issued, but when we tried to live in the South after retirement we discovered that we could not stay in the community, for even in church circles there is a subtle, but very present sense of exclusion, of white privilege. So, we moved back to the midwest. There is certainly much work to be done here to change racist attitudes, yet there are people, in both races working hard to do so. I think Morris Dees may be the best thing that happened to the South, so we support him. But, even with family still there, I could not live there again.

  48. Thank you for writing this. I am not from the South, but had the opinion that when people looked at the confederate flag and only saw the hatred behind it that it was their choice to look at it that way. You definitely make an excellent point which I did not think of. It doesn’t help that I am so used to the media dramatizing everything that I have almost come to expect it.

  49. Thank you so much for your words. So eloquently said. I wish everyone felt this way. But unfortuantely there are those that will never be swayed from what they have been taught. You would think in this day and time, people could see how offensive this is and learn better ways of thinking and feeling. Some people will never never change. Thank you again. You message was wonderful.

  50. I swear, it’s like you were inside my head – my high school mascot was the Rebels and the confederate flag was carried at every sporting event and school gathering. I was so clueless, it never even crossed my mind how racist it was and now I literally blush with shame when I think of all my black and hispanic friends and wonder if it bothered them. Thank you for verbalizing this for me. I can accept my shame and embarrassment as a reminder that I can and will “do better.”

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