Southern symbols, particularly the Confederate flag, have grown very controversial since the end of the Civil war. Indeed, the Confederate flag has been associated with numerous racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, or with racist acts, such as the lynching of black people since the Reconstruction. Today, many Americans, especially those who are not from the South, are shocked when they see the Confederate flag's pattern fly over the Mississippi state capitol. They see it as a symbol of hatred, and deep-rooted racism. However, in the South, the flag represents the heritage, the pride, and the honor of those who died, defending their family and lands. It would be misleading to judge the flag only by considering the use that some groups, however numerous and visible, made of it, because we would fail to understand the vivid controversy. If we are to understand why people today defend the battle flag and why they resent the categorical denunciation of it as a symbol of slavery and racism, we must be able to understand how a flag so closely associated with the defense of slavery could also be, for many people past and present, a symbol of liberty, courage, heritage and commitment (Coski 27.
[...] Finally, the Confederate battle flag is often considered to be the boasting sign of independent southerners. However, triumph of the St. Andrew's cross as a symbol of confederate nationalism carries profound implication for subsequent discussion of its meaning and place in American life. In the decades immediately after the war and in the century since, former Confederates and their partisans have insisted that the battle flag is an apolitical symbol, distinct from the Confederacy's national flags, and therefore not objectionable to a reunited America” (Coski 19). [...]
[...] The Confederate battle flag was used by the Confederate military units, and had a symbolical as well as practical importance. On both level, the battle flag embodied the welfare and morale of Confederate military units. It was a great honor to be the “color bearer”, since man appointed exercised no command authority, but held the rank and received the pay and allowances of a first lieutenant” (Coski 32). Southerners' deep attachment to the Confederate battle flag is closely related to the origin of the emotions and values that the flag embodies. [...]
[...] However numerous the examples are, is it any proof that the confederate flag is inherently racist? There is a fallacy in the reasoning that the people or groups who carry the flag give it its meaning. Indeed, it is not because the KKK carried the flag that the flag should be considered as a racial symbol. The symbols of the KKK also include the Bible and the American flag, but neither of them are considered symbols of hatred. Likewise, the movie This is England (2006) shows skinheads using the British flag in the 80s as their emblem, as they destroy Palestinian and Indian stores and threaten their owners. [...]
[...] In brief, the Confederate battle flag was not created as a racial symbol, but as a mere symbol of resistance. However, as early as 1865, the St. Andrew's cross battle flag accumulated additional layers of meaning related to its duty, soldierly valor, ancestry, heritage and tradition. The debate over the Confederate battle flag distinguishes itself by the extreme passion with which each side argues its position. Each side is outraged to see the other outwardly attacking its most cherished heritage. [...]
[...] Flag defenders, more passionately, argue that Confederate soldiers did not own slaves, and therefore did not fight for slavery, but to preserve individual and constitutional liberty that Americans won in 1776” (Wiley 18- 20). Therefore, as Carlton McCarthy, a veteran of the Confederate artillery, insisted in 1882, flag was not the flag of the Confederacy, but simply the banner of the Confederate soldier. As such, it should not share the condemnation which our cause received, or suffer from its downfall. [...]
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