So this Confederate Flag controversy… makes me wish people would do a little bit of research.
The flag that is in question right now is a red rectangle with a white outline, a large blue X in the center, the blue X filled with 13 white stars.
That flag was rejected as the national flag of the Confederate States of America in 1861. It was later adopted as the battle flag of the Army of North Virginia. This flag’s origin is not tied to Southern heritage, because it was never the nation’s flag. It’s hardly tied to rebellion or battle, because it was the battle flag of ONE ARMY. That flag, according to political scientists Martinez, Richardson, and McNinch-Su, “was never adopted by the Confederate Congress, never flew over any state capitols during the Confederacy, and was never officially used by Confederate veterans’ groups. The flag probably would have been relegated to Civil War museums if it had not been resurrected by the resurgent KKK.”
Put simply, the “southern cross” is not a symbol of heritage or national history, because it was never a part of their heritage or history. In the same way, citizens of the United States of America don’t demand to be called “United Statesers” or “United Statesians”, both names that were proposed and rejected, like the southern cross flag.
NOW, flags the Confederate States of America (CSA) did use include 3 variations that can all be found here.
The original CSA flag was much like the northern flag, a blue square in the upper left of the flag held a circle of 13 stars and the flag bore 3 stripes—2 red, one white. This flag was eventually replaced because it resembled the northern flag, and it was therefore far too related to northern ideals of abolition and emancipation
The second flag was called the “Stainless Banner”. It held the entire southern cross flag in the upper left, and the majority of the flag was plain white. According to W. T. Thompson, the flag’s designer, “As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”
This flag flew from 1863 to 1865, when a vertical red bar symbolizing the blood of fallen Confederates was added to the far right of the flag, lest it be confused as a white flag of truce.
When we get down to the history of the flags, the original banners of the Confederate States of America were all racist symbols, AND they were important parts of southern heritage and history. I find it ironic that nobody demands to fly the original CSA flag, nor any of its successors, but rather the battle flag of the Army of North Virginia, which, as mentioned above, was never flown above the capitol or officially used by any groups other than the Army of North Virginia, and later the KKK.
As a final aside, we should all be careful when comparing this situation to the use of the swastika in Nazi Germany. Some call for the removal of the Confederate Flag because, “you don’t see Germans flying the Nazi flag anymore”. While this is true, we should remember that the swastika was not originally a Nazi symbol and is only recognized as such in half of the world. Eastern buddhists and hindus continue to use the swastika as a symbol of prosperity, luck, glory, and good.
Adolf Hitler did believe that the victory of the Aryan man would be a push for good, and in his clouded, human mind, he identified with an eastern symbol of victory and glory. Do we ban the swastika in the world? No. Do we ban the swastika in areas that were impacted by the new symbol of supremacy? Yes. And I think we will ban the symbol until a new meaning has the strength to take its place.
The crucifix was used by Rome as a symbol of terror and oppression. Slave rebellions were often quelled by the crucifixion of the rebels on the main streets of Rome. Today the cross is a sign of hope, peace, worship, and eternity. Do we shun the cross because of its original symbol of tyranny? No—the tyranny has been swallowed up in a new symbol.
Does a piece of red cloth with a blue X and stars on it mean racism? It never did, but now it does, and I believe that we ought to relegate it to the museums until a new, positive meaning arises for the symbol. Whether that does or does not happen, is up to our children and theirs.