Why does the southern part of the U.S. still insist on flying the Confederate flag? - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-19-2002, 01:03 AM   #1
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Why does the southern part of the U.S. still insist on flying the Confederate flag?


I'm not trying to be obnoxious about this, but I really don't understand why the south insists on keeping this flag. Especially when it's so offensive to so many people.

Can someone help me understand?
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Old 02-19-2002, 01:08 AM   #2
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I've often wondered why it is so offensive? Remember the Dukes of Hazard? No one complained when a huge confederate flag was painted on the General Lee (not to sound lightly about the situation).
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Old 02-19-2002, 01:09 AM   #3
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i'm really at a loss for words for this one...i hope that there can be changes made soon so others will no longer be offended.

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Old 02-19-2002, 01:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by nellie:
i'm really at a loss for words for this one...i hope that there can be changes made soon so others will no longer be offended.
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Old 02-19-2002, 02:59 AM   #5
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I suspect that there are a variety of reasons people still support the flying of the Confederate flag.

Those who object may be right to some degree; there are probably a few who support the flag because of the racist connotations - because they themselves are racist.

But many of those who support the flying of the flag may be honest about the reasons they give: many claim they support the flag because of the other, oft-ignored reason for the Civil War - namely, the states' right to secede (a right that does seem implicit in the Declaration of Independence).

Others may honestly claim they support the flag because of the Southern culture. The Southern culture is not defined solely by racism (just as the German culture is not solely defined by anti-Semitism; see also Wagner, Goethe, and Beethoven). It is also defined by its cultural and economic conservatism; its great Cajun food, creole cuisine, and barbecue; its music - country, bluegrass, the blues, gospel; and the fact that real Southern gentlemen open doors for ladies.

Others may support the flying of the Confederate flag because it really pisses off the urban elites of both coasts. They're damn Yankees, thus their opinions don't count for much, or so goes the sentiment.


I myself am conflicted over the debate. The Civil War was lost, a second Civil War isn't going to happen, so there's not much point. There's also the intuition that real Southern gentlemen do not go out of their way to offend others, and the flag clearly offends quite a few Southern blacks. All of this leads to the conclusion that the flag should be lowered.

And yet...

I also know FULL WELL that the lowering of the Confederate flag from state capitols, etc., will not be enough to please a LOT of people. The suggestion that "others will no longer be offended" is crap.

In a large cemetary near Birmingham, there flies the six flags that have historically flown over the state of Alabama: France, Spain, Great Britain, etc. The Confederate battle flag has been replaced THERE by a less familiar Confederate flag, the result I'm sure of either political pressure or the fear of such pressure.

I'm dead certain that there are a LOT of people who won't be happy until the flag flies nowhere, even over Confederate war memorials; until those memorials are removed; until such historical sites as the Confederate White House (in Montgomery) are gone; and until every road, city, and county named after Lee, Forrest, and Stonewall Jackson are renamed.

The South lost the Civil War and has since been ridiculed by Holywood for decades. Lincoln wanted to rebuild the broken South while allowing it to retain its dignity and honor; Lincoln was a man of wisdom and decency. Many of those who want the battle flag down lack both of those qualities and will not be happy with any such concessions.

For that reason, even if I disagree with the flag supporters (and I probably do), I STILL empathize with their reasons.
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Old 02-19-2002, 03:19 AM   #6
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there are two reasons i don't think the confederate flag should be raised (read on for more elaborate explanations):
1. to many, it represents racism.
2. it also represents a now non-existant government.

the confederacy wasn't built solely on racism and slavery. however, to many people, all it represents is this very thing and that it's been hindering blacks to ever be viewed as an equal in everyone's eyes. the worst part of this is that for some, such as ancestors of the confederate soldiers, etc.
also, the confederacy as a government is no longer in existance. the south lost the civil war, and some people can't seem to comprehend this. (of course, i'm not naming names or referring to anyone on the forum.) many people in my city wave their confederate flags, merely because it's the south and it's "cool" to be pro-confederacy. i'm sure many of them don't know what all the confederacy stood for, if they know any of it. what i mean by all this is that i think confederate flags should be limited to being at confederate memorials ONLY. just as people from other countries don't wave around old flags (i'm not totally certain on this), what's the point of embracing a government system that's been dead for 150 years?
the flag serves no purpose to our country today (present, not past events), which is why it should be limited to being in memorials only. especially with all this post-9/11 crap where we're supposed to be one big, united country, having parts of the country embracing the past in such a manner only further divides the country.

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Old 02-19-2002, 03:24 AM   #7
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btw...

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
just as the German culture is not solely defined by anti-Semitism
yeah. after the school shooting at littleton, our rather close-minded principal was seriously considering removing the german language from the foreign language catelogue, feeling teaching german embraced nazism, thus saying what happened that day was all right.

that had to have been the most stupid lack of judgement i'd heard in years. having already started taking it (i was in my first year of it at the time), i would've wasted a year of taking a foreign language, since to graduate, you had to have two years of the same foreign language. luckily, someone must've finally spoken up and said the two had no correllation. years later, i'm still taking german at the university i attend now.
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Old 02-19-2002, 05:21 AM   #8
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Only a completely unrelated side not, sorry to barge in, I always thougt 'creole' cuisine was a food of the West Indian folks, Jamaica etc..? hmm.
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Old 02-19-2002, 09:01 AM   #9
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I am very much a southener...my family has been in the south since the 1700s...even earlier if you count my Cherokee ancestors.

The Confederate Flag does not represent me or mine or a good part of the south. I'm talking about those of us who are descended from people who were Union loyalists at the time of the Civil War. I am proud of my ancestor Standford Lea who was from NC but fought for the Union. Another ancestor had his farm burned *by Confederates* because of his politics.

The flag is a symbol of a south that has nothing to do with my southern family. It does not represent the southern culture of my family. I'm tired of looking at it. I'm not so much offended as I am angry when I see it. Its not only blacks who don't like it.

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Old 02-19-2002, 10:58 AM   #10
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Great post Bubba!

I visted Montgomery a few years back and toured Jefferson Davis' "White House."

I was astonished to actually hear a person on the tour with us mummble "not so" under his breath "This should still be the White House." I spent two weeks at a few historical site in central and northern Alabama, and heard similar remarks at the majority of the sites I visited.

Now, I know these were a select few individuals, and this is far from the consensus in the South, but it gave me a better understanding of why people still want this flag flown.

It kinda scared me. Are we really the "United States?"
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:01 AM   #11
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When I was younger, I was a huge Civil War buff. I knew everything there was to know, especially pertaining to General Robert E. Lee. I have a Confederate flag. I also have Confederate money. I have a lot of Civil War momentos. Do I fly the flag? No, of course not. Do I see why anyone should fly the flag? Not really, except Confederate war museums, or the like. Also, here in Texas, we have Six Flags Over Texas (same in Georgia and St. Louis, among others). These 6 flags represent the 6 countries that once "owned" Texas. To remove the Confederate flag from Six Flags would not only be the height of political correctness folly, it would also be revisionist history.
You can definitely take political correctness too far.
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:26 AM   #12
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80s,
The south was never a country so why should the Confederate flag fly over 6 flags over Texas?
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2:
80s,
The south was never a country so why should the Confederate flag fly over 6 flags over Texas?
how do you define a "country"?
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:40 AM   #14
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I lived in a small rural Southern town the first 22 years of my life. Then I moved to NYC. The folks in my hometown (my mother's friends) have referred to me as "that Yankee" ever since. It would be wrong to make any sweeping generalizations based on that, yet it does seem that many people in the South still view life through a division that once was.

Bubba, that's a pretty good overview of the flag situation, I'd say. However, I do find it offensive and would like to see it go away. I find it offensive mainly because the people I personally know who fly the flag are of the racist variety, although I also have one friend who has the confederate flag in his house because he's simply a Civil War buff. But I think today it offends more than it doesn't.

[This message has been edited by joyfulgirl (edited 02-19-2002).]
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:43 AM   #15
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What would people in Germany say if certain states (do they call them states?) decided to raise Nazi flags as rememberance for all those Germans who died in World War II?

It is one thing to personally own the memorabilia as collectors' items...that I can understand. It is another for such memorabilia to be state-sponsored.

Melon

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Old 02-19-2002, 11:51 AM   #16
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Thats a very good question and I certainly do not have an easy answer at the moment. This rebellion by the south was never seen as being legal by the US government obviously. Also, most of the States in the south with the exception of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia were formed on US government land with the permission of the US government. Only the above 4 states existed before the formation of the United States.
This is not an easy question to answer. If I decided tomorrow that my house and yard were a new country would it be? Certainly not in the eyes of others. I believe though that the South may have been recognized by some countries in Europe. But I'm not sure. I know they attempted trade which the Union forces tried to stop with the blockade. I'll have to look this up.
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:54 AM   #17
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I believe that England supported the Confederacy, mostly because they wanted to stick it to the U.S. Still probably harbored ill feelings after the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Melon

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Old 02-19-2002, 12:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
What would people in Germany say if certain states (do they call them states?) decided to raise Nazi flags as rememberance for all those Germans who died in World War II?

It is one thing to personally own the memorabilia as collectors' items...that I can understand. It is another for such memorabilia to be state-sponsored.

Melon


I was going to raise the same question...
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Old 02-19-2002, 12:17 PM   #19
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Well the reason I ask is that obviously the North didn't acknowledge the Confederacy as a valid country (duh, otherwise, there wouldn't have been a war ) but does that mean it wasn't one? A functioning government and economy would seem to show that if it wasn't a country, it was well on the way to becoming one. As far as England goes, I believe they were considering acknowledging the Confederacy, but hadn't actually made an official position on it when the devastating loss at Gettysburg clinched that decision as a no. (I might be wrong here, it's been a while since I've studied Civil War history).

All that to say, as someone with a side of the family from the deeeeep South (we're talking Looziana) I have mixed feelings about this. It gets really tiring really fast to have your ancestors slammed, maligned and lambasted as the "bad guys" when for the most part they were just people with different ideas about how the government should run. Slavery was of course an issue but it was a symptom of a larger disagreement, one of centralized versus de-centralized national government. Not all Southerners went to fight for the Confederacy to keep their slaves (indeed most of the soldiers were just common people without plantations, etc.) but to preserve what they felt were their rights under the original constitution. In their minds, it was a war of independence just like the war we fought against England.

Another misconception that bugs me is this idea of the North being some big champion for African-Americans. Lincoln himself stated that the preservation of the Union was the most important reason for the war and that he could do that without freeing the slaves he would, and if he could do it AND free the slaves he would. Indeed, when the Emancipation Proclamation finally came along, many Northern soldiers deserted the army disgruntled to be fighting for "darkies". So, I think there are more sides to this story than we are often told. It's a complex issue and not a simple case of "good guys" and "bad guys".

Now...all that said, I'm quite glad that the North did win the war and that the abhorent practice of human slavery was abolished (although it's no credit to our country that it took all the way into the 1960s before civil rights began to be addressed). Regarding the flag...I'm indeed torn. It's been used as a symbol of racism and bigotry and I hate it for that. But it's also the flag under which thousands of Americans shed their blood and died for (many of them my ancestors) and for that reason, it upsets me to have it equivocated with the swaztika.

I guess I don't have an answer. I just wish people would see that it's a multi-faceted issue and that knee-jerk reactions fail to do it justice.
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Old 02-19-2002, 12:25 PM   #20
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Khanda: true enough, the flag offends enough reasonable people to justify its removal, and certainly, the South lost the Civil War. But I think a point needs to be emphasized:

As I said before, "Lincoln wanted to rebuild the broken South while allowing it to retain its dignity and honor". Unfortunately, Lincoln's vision of a genuinely redemptive Reconstruction died with him. Reconstruction was hard on the former Confederacy, resulting in many blaming recently freed slaves for the economic and social upheaval - and resulting in a GREAT deal of bitterness towards the North.

Look at what happened to Germany after World War I: the reparations system was so harsh that there was a tremendous backlash, namely the Third Reich. Compare that to Germany and Japan after WWII. Certainly, they were crushed and beaten during the war, but as soon as it ended, the Allies began a process of rebuilding and redemption. Now, both countries are economic powers and clearly the allies of their former enemies. With rare exception (particularly the Japanese evading the issue of whether Pearl Harbor was an attack that warrants an apology), it's almost as if we never were enemies.

Basically, a LOT of the South's bitterness about this issue can be traced back to a harsh Reconstruction - and the bitterness is perennially renewed by book after book (see: Faulkner) and movie after movie (Forrest Gump, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Green Mile, ad naseum) that pigeon-hole the South as a region DEFINED SOLELY BY RACISM, a region of utter backwardness.


Angela: yeah, there's Carribean Creole, but there is also home-grown Creole food in Lousiana (and surrounding areas). It is unique compared to BOTH Cajun food and Carribean food.


dream wanderer: I agree that the Confederate flag is an inappropriate symbol for Southern culture - particurlarly when that culture is at least partially defined by the contribution of blacks. I was merely explaining that some defenders of the flag see it as an apropos symbol, and I was asserting that Southern culture isn't something to disparage completely.


zonelistener: Yes, we are one country, obviously.

If you're ever in a small town in the South, see if they have a memorial to all their veterans; many do. If they do, see if they list the names of local men lost in battle - and see how many were sacrificed for the United States during World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Fact is, the South (and the Midwest) sent a disproportionate number of soldiers to these wars; MANY of them enlisted instead of being drafted. Southerners ARE Americans first, and we have demonstrated that when it counts.

(Hell, U2Bama and I have consistently demonstrated that in this forum since 9/11.)

But New Yorkers and New Englanders are allowed to celebrate their cultures, and so should we.


Sting2: Country or not, one Confederate flag or another did fly over those states for some five years during a war that has come to define the area. Thus, it should fly with the other flags in such settings as the "Six Flags" setting.

As to the question of whether the South was a country, consider this: most people consider the United States to be created on July 4, 1776, when it was still fight for its independence from England. It apparently became a country when it started the war, not when it won.

Also recognize that the colonies essentially asserted, "we have the right to be independent from England", but in just EIGHTY years the U.S. Government told the South that it doesn't have the same right. That hypocrisy is very rarely mentioned.


joyfulgirl: I agree with you that the flag should be removed from capitol buildings, but I STILL assert that doing so will not appease a very vocal group of angry people.

Look at tobacco: what started out as reasonable requests has become sheer lunacy. Warnings were put on the packaging and advertising, TV ads were removed, billboard ads have been restricted, restaurants were forced to split their dining areas, many are now forced to prohibit smoking altogether - and now some towns are proposing laws that would make it illegal to smoke in your own home if it offends someone in an adjacent house.

I honestly think that unless some reasonable line (probably flags over historical sites and memorials) is drawn and defended to the hilt, some of these protestors will continue badgering the government to the point that sheer POSSESSION of the Confederate flag is considered as criminal as burning a cross in another person's yard.


Melon: true enough, the states shouldn't fly the flags, but AGAIN, no one is asserting through the mainstream media that Germany is a backwards country still defined by anti-Semitism.


Sula: all excellent points.

One more interesting note about the Emancipation Proclamation: it ONLY freed slaves in the Confederacy. There were slave states that stayed with the North, and they were exempted from the proclamation.
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