Political Education

A detailed look at both sides of the Confederate flag debate

Co-authored by @brandonjpscott

A Confederate flag draped around him, pictures of Dylann Wolf after the Charleston Massacre has caused a national outcry. Many South Carolinians immediately called for the flag’s removal from the capitol grounds. On Tuesday, Governor Nikki Haley pleaded for the same. People across the nation have taken to social media to demand that stores #takeitdown from their shelves. Wal-Mart, eBay, Etsy, and Amazon quickly responded, all announcing they would stop selling items displaying the confederate flag. This situation is now at a point where Warner Brothers, the company that has owned and licensed The Dukes of Hazard‘s infamous General Lee for decades, have decided to #takeitdown and remove General Lee’s Confederate flag from the roof of the vehicle. In a reply to Yahoo Auto, Warner Brothers stated:

 “Warner Bros. Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the confederate flag on its roof–as it was seen in the TV series. We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.”

The #ConfederateTakeDown can be looked at one of two ways:

  1.  The media is capitalizing on the moment to fulfill the liberal agenda of eliminating the confederate flag and shaming those who associate with it.
  2. Those in power have finally realized that the Confederate flat is a symbol or racism, not the symbol of rebellion as it’s been portrayed.

Let’s talk about this flag. There are a lot of misconceptions about the “Confederate flag,” the biggest being that the image that comes to mind was never the official flag of the Confederate States of America. It was designed in 1861 by the Chairman of their Flag and Seal Committee, William Porcher Miles, but rejected as the Confederate national flag. Instead, it was adopted by General Lee as the battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia, gained it’s popularity early in the 20th century, and is now apart of the  copyrighted emblem of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).


The controversy involving this flag comes down to two points of view:

One group of people believe that this flag is a symbol of the distinct Southern heritage and culture, no different from any symbol representing Northern pride. They feel Southerners are a hardy group of people who have had to deal with Northerners trying to take away their freedom and culture since the Civil War. This is highlighted in a recent Facebook post by SVC:


Dear Compatriots,

Our heritage is under serious attack. As you know, we have a major situation in South Carolina….

Posted by Sons of Confederate Veterans (Official) on Sunday, June 21, 2015


The other side of the debate agrees that this flag is a symbol–a symbol of war. But not just any war. The war of secession. A national divide that stemmed from Southerners defending their “right” to claim ownership of another person, to force African-Americans into grotesque free labor with chains and whips, and ultimately say they have no basic human rights. Some, like presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, are even calling it a symbol of “racial terrorism,” highlighted in her remarks the day after the Charleston Massacre:

“[The shooting] was an act of racist terrorism perpetrated in a house of God, one where the men and women killed did not die in vain, did not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good… I appreciate the actions begun yesterday by the governor and other leaders of South Carolina to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State House, recognizing it as a symbol of our nation’s racist past that has no place in our present or our future…It shouldn’t fly there, it shouldn’t fly anywhere.”

After the Civil War, the Battle Flag of North Virginia was predominantly used by Confederate Veterans Groups until 1948, when Strom Thurmond’s State’s Right’s Democratic Party, aka the Dixiecrats, re-appropriated it as a symbol of Southern rebellion from the North who they believe were trying to push civil rights on the South.

This flag’s integration into state flags began after the Civil War starting in 1894 in Mississippi. It later was added to the Georgian flag in 1956 (prompted by the Brown v. Board of Education decision), and yet again in 1962 with the South Carolinian flag. Alabama’s state flag has a cross in it like the Flag of North Virginia, but the cross is also known as Saint Andrew’s cross, so it’s not as inflammatory.

The Confederate flag has been used as a symbol of Southern heritage and culture for a very long time. Pop culture has fueled this recently, like being on General Lee’s hood in The Dukes of Hazard. Now the nation must ask if this flag is a symbol of someone who chooses the road less traveled–a rebel–and is representative of Southern pride. Or is it a symbol of America’s shameful racist history that we’ve let fly for 150 years longer than it should have? Is this flag representative of the people who flew it during a war that, had they won, would have eternally enslaved African-Americans and split one of the greatest nations? Or is it more than that now, a representation of the South’s rich history, unique personality, and struggles?

Co-authored by @brandonjpscott

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