10 April 2011
The Rebel Flag
In the South you see them (almost said "her" 'cause that's how I was raised) everywhere - bumper stickers, t-shirts, belt buckles, bikinis, hats, baby onesies, can coozies, socks, stuffed animals, clocks, jewelry, jackets, bed spreads, camping chairs, dog collars, cell phone cases and covers, trailer hitches, license plates, throw blankets, floor mats, and on and on.
But what does it mean?
Some of these images come with phrases like, "I don't wear this shirt to p**s you off, but if it does that makes my day", "It's a Southern thang. Yanks'll never understand.", "It's not a Redneck thang, it's the RIGHT thang", "Heritage, not hate", "Never apologize for being right", "The South will rise again", "If this flag offends you, you need a history lesson". But what does all this mean?
There are bits of history pointed out on both sides of the to-fly-or-not-to-fly argument. I looked around on the internet and found lots of versions of the "pro" argument. Here's one that I thought was clearly stated from associatedcontent.com:
"...First of all, the Confederate flag, in some people's eyes, is a symbol of hatred towards African-Americans. This is completely incorrect. The Confederate States of was not formed because of slavery. Anyone that wanted a slave owned one. What history fails to mention is that in the South, the title was slave, but in the North, they became "indentured servants." This is merely a way to soften the cold, hard truth that the North owned slaves. The harsh treatment of slaves was incredibly wrong. However, history also will not tell you that the percentage of mistreated slaves was incredibly low. A slave, by today's standards, could cost anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000. How many people pay this much money to have something to starve and beat until dead? Actually, the real meaning behind the secession was taxes.
"The North was incredibly rich due to one reason. Congress only allowed the sale of the South's main goods such as cotton and tobacco to Northern factories instead of shipping to other countries. Did the South get any of this back? Well, of course, if they could pay the added tax that the finished products had slapped on them for resale to the South. Oh, by the way, if you think that heavy taxation and no one being there to represent the taxing party is a horrible way to start the war, think about this: That's why the Revolution was started. Those brave men that began knew this. The South remembered this.
"The Confederate flag is a symbol of the ultimate bravery. These men committed treason against something they knew was wrong. This happened in the Revolution, and wrote the history. In the Civil War, the North wrote the history and shed some very bad light on the South. It would be a much different history book if the South had won...."
For the whole article click HERE.
An African-American woman wrote in response:
"..As I read the piece and appreciated the history lesson though, I felt compelled to explain why African Americans "in general" find the flag so offensive..
"As Chris laid out in his article, the history of the flag had nothing to do with what it has come to mean. I knew nothing about the history of the flag before reading Chris' article. In it, he states that the flag stood for bravery because southerners rebelled against what was in essence 'taxation without representation.'...
"While the flag's history may have a noble beginning, the meaning of it has been twisted into something else altogether.
"As one of the commenters noted so eloquently in her response, 'I understand that some people have used the flag or it's likeness to mean hatred. Did you know the swastika is seen as a symbol of hatred, but it was the Egyptian symbol for peace? The flag itself is not the problem or have any true meaning here - it's the hatred in people's hearts or the love in people's heart that makes something MEAN something.'
"The displaying of the flag to us, African Americans, means that you subscribe to a certain ideology. An ideology that is against who we are as a people.
"Just like you'd ascertain that someone sporting a Nazi swastika is not a fan of, for example, Jewish people, African Americans assume that if you proudly display the rebel flag, then you're probably not someone who is looking to become our friend.
"Now, maybe that's our wrong perception, our "bad." BUT, at some point, perception becomes reality. Why? Because if you've had 100 experiences with something and 99 of those times it's not positive, why would you assume that it's going to be different the 100th time?...
"The author writes, 'The harsh treatment of slaves was incredibly wrong. However, history also will not tell you that the percentage of mistreated slaves was incredibly low.'
"This sentiment is an oxymoron as far as I'm concerned. When you are enslaved - no matter how 'well' you're treated, it is mistreatment.
"Imagine not being able to go when and where you please, having your family sold off, not being able to start a business if you so choose, someone telling you IF you are able to marry the person of your choice.
"Beatings are just the physical brutality of slavery - the mental and emotional scarring are everlasting...."
Click here to read the whole article.
Honestly I see both points of view. Some fly Irish flags. Some fly British flags. Some fly African flags. Some fly state flags. Why shouldn't Southerners who believe the Confederate flag is a symbol of bravery be able to fly it without judgment? However, there are very few flags that are associated with hate and racism. The Confederate flag is one of them. Why even associate yourself with something that stands for hate and racism to a whole race? I could go back and forth all day as many people do.
I was raised with Southern pride instilled deep in my heart. I still have it and am glad for it. I love the South. I adore it, and I am proud to have been born and raised there. I tear up just thinking about my beloved South and just how much I love it. If I had my way I'd "live and die in Dixie". However, I no longer wear or display the Dixie flag.
For me the Dixie / Rebel / Confederate flag shows pride in being Southern. It shows pride in being from the South. I wore it. I bought bumper stickers with it on them and put them on my truck out here in the West. I brought little rebel flags home for my husband's family once when we were back home visiting. I even hung one in the nursery when we were expecting our first baby, Angel. I was, and still am proud to be from the South, but I don't show my pride by displaying ol' Dixie any more.
Why? Well I always knew black people don't like it. That's about all I knew. Well, I knew it was because slavery was a big part of the Civil War. But that's not why I displayed it. It was the "heritage, not hate" point of view. A couple years ago, yes just that recent, I came to the realization that no matter how I view it, it offends a whole race of people. It deeply offends and is a slap in the face. I decided I can give up displaying a flag to show my "brotherly love". I can give up a symbol for a much greater cause - goodwill.
I will admit that I genuinely miss waving Dixie. It truly just means Southern pride to me, and Southern pride is something I have a lot of. However, I choose not to fly her. This is my personal decision, and I stand by it. For me and my family, flying Dixie is not right... and it pains me to say so.
Thoughts? I'd LOVE to hear them.
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