Yes, I’m going to be in trouble for this one…but I’m going to let it fly. My own prediction is that the Confederate (or) Rebel flag is going to be vilified and banished into a trend-driven pool of disgrace. Not much of an insight there, because it is already happening.
I am a Southerner by birth. I grew up understanding that Bear Bryant was the greatest man in the world, that all food must be fried, that good manners and gentility must be maintained, that Roll Tide Roll would appear in the back windows of most cars and trucks, often accompanied by a rebel flag.
The rebel flag might appear anywhere. I have seen them in houses, in cars, painted on buildings, flying alongside the American flag, on license plates, and tattooed on the arms and chests of men. Women in the South did not get tattoos. Gentility, right? White gloves and tea parties. I have owned several small rebel flags myself when I was a teenager.
The rebel flag is one of those signals that “I belong to something; I am a member of something; I am a member of this group.” It gives a certain status, may it be good or bad. Gang members, such as the Bloods and the Crips, display their colors and their territorial markings. Charitable groups, such as the advocates for fighting breast cancer will display their pink logo, pink jewelry, armbands, and even scissors, toasters, and clothing. They are displaying their membership in this particular group.
There is much place identification. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco; I love L.A., Dixieland; Yellow Rose of Texas, California Girls, and on and on. Political identification between Republicans and Democrats becomes very heated and unpleasant. “I am Black; I am White; I am Mexican; I am Canadian, I am Muslim, I am Mormon, I am Southern Baptist.” People use all these things to identify themselves, much of the time with pride.
I grew up with a sense of pride and loyalty to the South and all it stands for, including the Confederate Flag. I don’t see anything wrong with that, although I am not at all fanatical about it. It’s just there, in the back of my mind that I am a white woman who was born in the South. Is it wrong for a man born in Mexico to take pride in his birthplace and acknowledge the fact that he is Latino? Of course not.
People blame the South for slavery. As a matter of fact, slavery was quite prevalent in the North, as well. The Civil War was not about slavery at all, but more about money and greed. Isn’t every war in history basically about money and greed? Oh, some people throw in religion, but I think that’s mostly a cover story for the money and greed.
We’ve all heard the stories and read the books about the Civil War. Who hasn’t seen “Gone With the Wind” and other films of that nature? It was brother against brother, father against son, all based on place loyalty. One side of the line was for, and the other side against. Some of these soldiers were uneducated and did not even know what they were fighting for. They just knew they were expected to fight for their side. Some were so young they had no idea what was going on, but they had to be men and follow orders. Some thought it would be a grand adventure (until the blood began to run.)
They did not run around yelling about slavery. They were more or less assigned to a side according to where they lived, and they went to do their duty as men do. They suffered and died, both sides, and their families suffered and died. The families of the fighting men regarded their sons, brothers, and fathers as brave men to be honored, whether they were North or South. And so they should be held in places of honor.
Will we dishonor the memories of all the Southern men who died during the Civil War by vilifying their flag and making it into a disgraceful thing?
I agree that the rebel flag has no official standing, and it should not be displayed in government buildings. But the troublemakers and the inciters of violence want more. They want it outlawed entirely.
Let the rebel flag keep its place in history, and let it be respected along with the many young soldiers who died defending it.