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July 20, 2015

The Confederate Flag

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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South Carolina has officially taken down the confederate flag that flew over their state house. It had been flying there since 1961 as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The civil war started on April 12, 1861 and ended on April 9, 1865… ENDED in 1865…

To be accurate, the flag we know as the confederate flag is actually the confederate battle flag. The actual flag of the confederacy went through three different iterations – none of which has survived. The battle flag has survived as the last remaining symbol of the confederacy – South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

Before I go much further, I want to point out the obvious… The confederate states lost the war. It ceased to exist effective April 9, 1865. As many people have pointed out, the confederacy and its trapping exist in our history alone. There is nothing current or active about the confederacy.

Having said that, for private citizens who choose to purchase confederate memorabilia, they should be free to do so without restriction. They should also be free to visit museums where confederate memorabilia exists… We should teach our children about the Civil War, the union and the confederacy as lessons in our history. In fact, there should be nothing wrong with having a confederate museum located in a formerly confederate state. But here’s the caveat…

Slavery was a part of the confederacy. To embrace the confederacy is to embrace what it stood for. Citizens who choose to embrace confederate symbols should be fully cognizant that they are embracing all that it stood for. Like the confederacy, slavery no longer exists in this country. And for most people of color, the confederate battle flag is a symbol of slavery. It’s impossible to separate the two…

It has no official capacity effective April 9, 1865. The governments of South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Georgia should not use confederate symbols to represent their states. It has no official capacity. It has a historic significance, but, no official capacity.

On this day, the state of South Carolina has acknowledged that the confederate battle flag has no official capacity.

So now, the divide between supporters of the confederate battle flag and opponents of the confederate battle flag has grown even larger. This is akin to the divide between gun owners and anit-violence groups.

Gun owners, like confederate battle flag supporters vehemently defend their right to bear their symbol. They even go as far to say they don’t condone the bad apples who support their cause. But they also acknowledge the bad apples make it pretty bad…

Of course, all of these issues come down to tolerance and responsible behavior. The perception of gun owners, like confederate flag supporters is that they are pro white, pro establishment, leaving no place for the presence of underrepresented groups. We affectionately refer to them as good old boys. P.S. This includes their girls too…

And while their should be no judgement by underrepresented groups about gun owners and confederate flag supporters, gun owners and confederate flag supporters should make their positions and intentions clear as well if there is no bias.

So now this comes down to an issue of race and in some cases class. That’s a different post. This post is about the confederate flag and the progress South Carolina has shown moving into the 21st Century. It took a shooting in a historic black church and nine lives to get there. Let’s see what Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Florida and Georgia do next.

Now if we could just figure out the issue of race in america, we might all live better, more peaceful lives…



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