By request, I’ve made this available as a blog post, rather than just as a Facebook status update.
I posted this as a comment on someone’s wall earlier, and the more I thought about it, this expresses my feelings on the confederate flag much better than any ranting I could do.
The issue isn’t what the flag stands for. NONE of the people spouting off “fact” on the matter have any ground to stand on. They can’t decide for me or for anyone else, no more than they can decide the meaning of the American flag for me.
The issue is the freedom to decide what the flag stands for in my own eyes and to remember it and/or choose to honor it if I see it.
I’ll give a modern example: The American Flag. We fly that in every embassy in the world, every military base, and every government building here in the US almost. If an Afghani native walks past a US military FOB and sees the US Flag flying, he might smile to himself, maybe even salute it, maybe inside he’s thankful for the help his people have received in their liberation from oppression. Surely that’s a valid scenario for SOME in that situation, wouldn’t you agree?
The same flag, in the same place, has an entirely different meaning to another local Afghani that might walk by.. he feels occupied in his own land, he hates the Americans. He wished we’d leave his people and his culture alone. He lost a relative, son, brother, or close friend in a skirmish where someone died and we fired the shots that caused it, even though it was accidental.
Can you see how it’s almost 100% guaranteed that some people see our flag that way?
People see a flag and it stands for something to THEM. There is no “this is what this flag means to you” placard attached to every flagpole in the world, and even if there were, it wouldn’t change a person’s opinion on their personal view of it.
To some of you, the confederate flag might be a reminder of slavery. Ok fair enough. However, none of you were slaves. None of your parents were slaves. None of your grandparents were slaves. Basically no one currently alive can even tell you what anyone that WAS alive thought of that flag when it flew in battle. So, the “stigma” you have attached to it is at the very best, a third-hand remembrance of what someone else said to you, either in a history book, a documentary of the civil war, or in general discussion.
So consider it from another perspective; people like me. I’m not racist. I’m not gender-biased. I’m not biased against sexual preference. Anyone that knows me at all, knows that’s 100% true. I have close friends across almost all spectrums of the human condition, and I’m very blessed to!
I’m not a slave owner, nor was I ever chained up or forced to work as a slave. Neither were my parents, or my grandparents. None of us ever owned other people, or subjugated other people, regardless of race, to ourselves. I don’t look at the confederate flag and think of “the good ol’ days when we all had a few niggers around to do chores.” (pardon the use of the derogatory word, but it seems in context to the kind of person people think appreciate the flag).
I look up at the confederate flag and I see the South. (I meant that with a capital S.) It’s a way of life.
I’m a “southern boy” for all that entails. I like hard work. I like being out in the sun. I like working for a living, HARD work. I like to sweat under the summer sun, wipe grime from my face, dip my bandana in a cold cooler of ice to cool me down, and rest a minute under the sky. I like it when my friends say “Man, you gotta take a break. You’re making me tired watching you!” I just want to go work some more just for that reason alone! I like things done the hard way because you respect them more when they’re accomplished.
I’d rather build it than buy it.
I like songs about Dixie, apple pie, tailgates, pretty girls in shorts, hot coffee and cold beer served from a cooler, not a bar.
I like to pick on Yanks, the way they talk, the way they drive, the foods they eat, or more often won’t eat. I’m southern.
I’m proud of my big trucks, love my four-wheelers, and I’m the guy that stops on the side of the road to help people ANYTIME they’re in trouble. I carry 5 gallons of spare gas in my big “redneck” southern truck and a case of water everywhere I go… so i can help someone that needs it. Sometimes they’re black. Sometimes they’re white. The last time it was three young black ladies stranded on the side of the road in Georgia, trapped in a broken down car in the summer heat, sweltering and no one else would stop to see what was wrong… that’s southern pride and southern gentility. I’m proud of the South and the things that means to me. Those are the Southern traits I try to instill in my family and children, and the traits I look for in my friends.
That red, white, and blue star with the X on it.. that’s what it represents to me. It makes me proud to be Southern, not white. It makes me proud to be a country boy, not a city slicker. It means I open doors for strangers, hold the door for ladies, offer my umbrella to an older couple in the rain, reach out to offer a hand up to an old lady trying to get her walker up on the sidewalk in the heat, help someone load their groceries that look too heavy as I walk by them, stop to ask “Hey mister, you ok?” when I see someone that might need assistance, and take food to people when they’re sick or injured and cant’ care for themselves the way they’d like to normally….
THAT is what the confederate flag means to me. The confederate flag represents to ME.. in one small phrase.. “Southern Life.”
So if a few of the rest of the people out there could look at it the way I do, they’d be pissed as hell that some OTHER people out there are TELLING ME what it means. You can’t possibly TELL me what it means.
And if anyone WAS allowed to definitively describe the flag based on what someone else says, then I submit that MY definition of the confederate flag is the better one and it should be MY definition that is expressed when someone chooses to fly it over their capital building, state house, courthouse, or front yard…