Understanding the Confederate Flag Issue

I don’t write about issues as much as I used to. I prefer my blog posts to be about loving others, finding joy, and philosophical musings on life. But this Confederate flag issue has become so widespread so quickly that I simply must talk about it.

The Charleston, SC shooting were absolutely tragic, only made worse by the fact that it took place in a church and was a hate crime. With this act, you have three massively gut-wrenching ingredients all in one concise package. Each one is bad enough on its own.
1. Innocent killing
2. Race related hate crimes
3. Violence in a place of sanctuary.
Really, this event echos most closely to the 1963 church bombings in Birmingham, which claimed the lives of four African Americans and injured 22. Of course, this one was even worse, as it took the lives of nine innocent people.

I’ve got to be honest. I don’t normally let my emotions get the best of me on this blog but I simply must type in all caps…
HOW COULD ANYONE DO THIS? WHAT KIND OF HORRIBLE PERSON WOULD THINK ITS OKAY TO KILL ANYONE!!

Sorry, but that’s the only way to let everyone know that the shooter’s actions completely objectionable. Can’t we just be beyond race, already? We are all just humans, indistinguishable beyond surface level appearances. WHY. ARE WE. STILL HERE!?

A very odd twist of events, however, have sparked a bit of a culture war. You see, the day after the shootings, all of the flags at the South Carolina State House were flown at half staff. All, that is, except one. The Confederate Flag. This is because the government prevents alteration of the flag without a legislative vote, which there wasn’t time for. Well, this made the flag look like it was flying supreme after the attack and, well, things just kind of spiraled out of control to where we are now. It’s kind of funny, because if the flag just had a pulley system, we may not even be talking about this…

First, here’s what you need to know. I’m not here to pick a side, as I understand both. But I am here to talk about the sides, and I’m going to give them a name.
RED TEAM, you all are ardent supporters of the Confederate Flag.
BLUE TEAM, you all are supporters of the Confederate Flag being wiped from existence.

RED TEAM, as a person living in the South, I totally understand the desire to keep a part of the Confederacy sacred. In Alabama, where I live, we officially observe three Confederate holidays, Confederate Memorial Day, Robert E. Lee’s Birthday, and the Fourth of July… uhh, I meant Jefferson Davis’s Birthday. Alabama has mostly remained silent on the issue, unlike South Carolina and Mississippi, which are pushing for the removal of Confederate flags from government property. But the flag is part of our history, and itself represents many of the same values of America.

[Edit: This just in, Alabama is removing all Confederate flags from the Capitol. So you can scratch that last statement.]

As many RED TEAM supporters are quick to point out, the stars represent the original 13 colonies. Except they don’t. That’s a misnomer. They represent the states of the Confederacy, including Missouri and Kentucky.

This is a good time to point out that there has been a lot of misinformation spread over social media about the issues of late. Clickbait artists and strongly opinionated political sites are quick to capitalize on the controversy, so they write stuff that simply is not true.

BLUE TEAM, as a person seeking peace and prosperity in the world, I also do not want something representative of violence and war flying around our beloved country. I completely get the idea that the flag has long overstayed its welcome and needs to be cleaned up. But let me contest that maybe the flag itself is not what is causing a resurgence in the recognition of racism around the country. Maybe it’s just the standard bumps and curves of social rhetoric.

There’s been such a massive annihilation of Confederate insignia over the past week that perhaps you’re not giving the RED TEAM enough time to adapt to, you know, their entire culture being destroyed. Walmart is no longer selling anything with the flag, all of the license plates are being recalled, and Warner Bros even announced today that they will no longer sell Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag.

You know, this almost seems like it could escalate into a cultural civil war. That’s not really something I have time for. What I’m mostly concerned about, to be honest, is that the Confederate Flag is just going to come out with a really bad rap. After the Nazi’s used the Swastika during World War Two, the flag was suddenly representative of genocide and mass extermination. Are we entering an age where the Confederate Flag is to be viewed as representative of rampant racism and violence? I might be okay with the Confederate flag being relegated to museums and history, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be okay with it being associated with such terrible concepts.

We stand at a moment where we can write our own history. We have to make a choice. Will future generations see the Confederate flag in disgust, or will they see if as an important part of American history? Which option does it deserve, and are we objective enough to make a fair judgement?

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Matthew Estes

Matthew Estes currently exists in the ether between graudate student and full-time worker. One day he hopes to be a full-time novelist and blogger, but until that day comes he spends his time playing video games, eating pizza, and being with his soon-to-be wife. However, he has yet to do all three at the same time. Bucket list stuff, you know.

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