The Confederate Flag: Discuss.

So. I've been trying to figure out what to think of the Confederate flag, and the way people display it. This particular post is sparked by this pin that some girl posted on her Pinterest board. Growing up near Philadelphia, I've never actually seen anyone casually have a Confederate flag bumper sticker or one waving from his or her roof like I have two hours away in Maryland (which, yes, I know, was a part of the Union during the Civil War). One of the frat houses had a flag hanging up in one of their brother's windows, and another used to raise it all the time (though they don't anymore). It's on cars, whether it's those little flags or a window decal or what-have-you. I've even seen it on someone's tube top. And I guess I'm conflicted on how I feel about it.

Obviously, growing up the flag was considered a no-no. No one in their right mind had a Confederate flag anywhere public in my town. I went to a high school that was definitely pretty level in black and white population (Asian was about 3, maybe...), and you would definitely get your ass handed to you if you strutted in with a C-flag on you. However, my parents raised me to be open minded and to question everything around me (well, maybe that was just innate). I read Gone with the Wind around seventh grade, and it's by far one of my favorite books ever (not just because Scarlett O'Hara is more like me than I'll ever care to admit). I guess I understand and sympathize with both sides of the story.

Here's the deal. No one sympathizes with black history in the US more than me. Just the thought of MLK makes me tear up in my overly hormonal stage. I was embarrassed when I heard the sororities at my school reportedly blackballed one of the first black female students here in the sixties (who went on to sit on the Board of Governors and Visitors!). I can barely read about the slave trade and the US without getting frustrated. I'm the person who's been telling people since middle school that MLK did not die, Rosa Parks did not stay in that seat, Harriet Tubman did not risk her life to help slaves escape for you to be throwing around the n-word, er or a-ending my foot, like it's common, friendly slang. (Usually it was much less eloquently than said here) I understand that, in a sense, the Confederate flag symbolizes all of this, and why seeing its presence can be highly uncomfortable.

Okay, now. On the flip side. My sensitive nature makes me quite prone to romance, and the thought of southern hospitality and a society "gone with the wind" gets all sorts of senses spinning. Like I said, GWTW is one of my favorite books ever, and I sympathize with people who want to believe in this southern notion that was stamped out during the war. Guys, I really like Robert E. Lee. I like to think he was a great guy, and he loved his home more than anything. Also, considering I started writing a book about the war (it's still in progress. Like, way in progress), I studied it pretty in depth (also I had a really good seventh grade history teacher). I recognize the complexities of the war go far, far beyond the issue of slavery. I can understand the idea of a confederacy fighting for a way of life--a pure, romantic ideal (um, WWI, WWII, the Spanish Civil War, the Korean War...). And I understand how all of this is manifested in the Confederate flag as well.

So which is it? Is it both?

Here's my thoughts on the matter. Personally, I think a lot of it strongly depends on the person beyond the C-flag decal/sticker/etc. I don't think it's fair to simplify the flag in either category. It's more likely that a person with a C-flag is displaying it in an attempt to stand for southern pride more than an attempt at obvious racism. I also think it's not fair for someone to simply wave it for southern pride and also deny that slavery didn't play a huge role in the Civil War. Just because it was the face of a much more complex war, doesn't mean it didn't play a strong part. To try and play it down in favor of trying to make the state vs. national argument stronger is a huge slight.

I think the flag stood for something noble at one point, and I think the people who have used since then it have bastardized it and created this sense of vilification. I'm sorry, but anything the KKK wants to use is not going to help anyone. They ruined pointy heads forever. If they used the original Betsy Ross flag, it would come into hot water as well. I also must add that the stereotypical rednecks who sport it all over their car aren't helping its PR either.

TL;DR I think the flag stands for different things, and it all depends on the people standing behind it. If you want to see it as a manifestation of racism and slavery, then it will be. If you see it as a manifestation of a time of chivalry and civility, than so be it. It is important to respect both view points. I'm still conflicted on how I feel about the flag and what it symbolizes. I've read both sides that defend their sides beautifully. I couldn't even tell you if I'd be a Union or Confederate sympathizer back in the day because I would definitely be in China for all of this!

Thoughts? I think I babbled a little, but in my defense I'm writing this at 1 am!

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