5 Responses to Counter the Dumbest Things Defenders of the Confederate Flag Say

confederate-flag-supporterWhile I know the debate over the Confederate flag is far from over, I’ve mostly avoided the topic lately because I said pretty much all I can say about the subject in the days following the tragic shooting that left nine African-Americans dead in Charleston, South Carolina.

But as Al Pacino says in the Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out – they pull me back in.” And by “they” I mean people who continue to defend the Confederate flag. In my time covering politics I’ve written many articles, and I’ve received many messages telling me just how much of an idiot I supposedly am, but I’ve never received as many about one particular subject as I have from those defending the Confederate flag. Especially since I haven’t written anything about the flag for well over a week.

Well, after getting several of these messages yesterday, I was inspired to write a bit of a “How To” guide to assist those who might be experiencing similar idiocy.

So, here are 5 ways to counter some of the dumbest things I’ve heard people say in defense of the Confederate flag.

1. That flag doesn’t even represent the Confederacy, it’s the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag: This is said by the person who apparently doesn’t feel that symbols representing a horrific movement still represent that movement. For these people I typically just like to ask them:

Okay, so then does that mean that paraphernalia, such as badges or officer ranks, worn by Nazi soldiers fighting during WWII don’t represent what Nazi Germany stood for?

2. The war was about states’ rights: Probably the most popular thing uttered by these people. To these folks you simply ask:

While that might be contextually true, what was the biggest “right” that these Confederate states were fighting to keep?

3. The flag just represents “Southern pride” and “heritage”: While a bit more long-winded, this one is simple:

When you take a flag that flew over the army of a movement that was defending the “state’s right” in the South to own human beings as property; that was then subsequently adopted by the Ku Klux Klan almost immediately following the defeat of that movement; and was then used for nearly a century by people who, in those very same states that fought for slavery, were defending segregation using the flag as a representation of their values – values that were linked to the South’s deep tradition of denying African-Americans their rights – you’re right, that is heritage… and it’s heritage of which you should be ashamed.

Bonus: If today, in 2015, a group of individuals decided to shed any allegiance to the very government by which our Constitution elected, then carried out a planned attack on a U.S. military installation, what would you call them? Heroes or domestic terrorists?

4. The flag isn’t racist: This one is fairly simple as well:

Name a time in history where at least some people who fiercely opposed African-Americans having equal rights didn’t use this flag to represent their values.

Follow up: Why do the KKK, white supremacists and racists in general use this flag to symbolize their beliefs and feelings against African-Americans?

5. The United States as a whole had slavery for years, so that flag is no less offensive: This one is a tad bit trickier because it requires thinking in terms of context rather than talking points. Though it amazes me how those who use this “reasoning” are so dedicated to their defense of the Confederate flag that they’ll try to bash the American flag in an attempt to support their ignorance:

Yes, while it’s true the United States as a whole did support slavery, it was abolished in the North in 1804 and the last slaves were freed about 15 years before the Civil War began. Not only that, but for most of the time the United States government allowed slavery it was commonly practiced throughout many nations around the world. While that doesn’t excuse its practice, it’s important to understand the context of the time period about which you’re speaking when discussing these issues. Besides, there’s a huge difference between honoring a flag that represents a nation that, while imperfect, evolved toward equality, and honoring a flag that represents nothing but a treasonous movement that sought to impede that progress, while continuing (and hoping to expand) the barbaric practice of slavery.

While these might not make much of a difference in the minds of those who so blindly ignore history, I hope this helps give some of you a few responses you might not have thought of yet to address those who seem to enjoy proudly showing off their ignorance about the Civil War, the Confederacy and racism.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter to let me know how it goes, or to share some of the absurd defenses of the Confederate flag you’ve come across.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • fearlesskris

    I’ve always wondered why the defenders of this piece of cloth don’t see the truth – it is a symbol of a humiliating defeat. The humiliation comes from the treasonous acts of the states involved in the war and their subsequent loss to the President and the Union military. As we move on through history, the rag makes its reappearance in the 60s to threaten US citizens who stand up against Jim Crow and for Civil Rights. Another humiliating defeat. When I hear people sing or spew “the south’s gonna do it again!” I think to myself “what, lose?”. It was and is a loser rag – those who wave it around are losers celebrating their defeat.

    • Pamela Hosler-cardona

      awesome response!!thank you!!

    • DavidBehar

      No, you big government asshole, kill the Communists now in total control of our government.

      • Ellen H.

        You just really don’t understand communism, do you? I’d explain it to you, but I imagine you’d tell me I don’t know anything.

      • askirsch

        Long live Jim Crow, asshole.

      • baruchzed

        Ugly comment. If you really mean that you’re a pretty sick puppy.

      • noah vail

        those people are so sad that comments like his are all they have left with which to answer anything…any comment that would require sane and/or rational thinking is completely beyond their ken…

      • askirsch

        Can’t people recognize sarcasm anymore?

      • noah vail

        have you even the remotest clue as to what you are talking about? read a book sometime

      • R. Eilers

        Maybe you should learn what communism is before thinking our country is remotely communist. If you think our country is controlled by communists why didn’t they turn this free capitalist republic into a communist state?

    • wuwu

      ahhh you made this Texan’s day! Thank you for such an eloquent & intelligent statement of facts!

    • Chris Coger

      500,000 people died defending that “loser rag”. More than any casualty count in every U.S. war combined. The disrespect that you have for them out of ignorance is atrocious. If they were just fighting for slavery then tell me why Robert E. Lee fought for the south? He gave up his slaves in 1851. What dog did he have in the fight then? 99 percent of the 500,000 that died never owned slaves and worked their land themselves. Or what about the blacks, slaves and freed, who fought voluntarily for the Confederacy? Your comment is filled with as much hate and ignorance as the hearts of the people in the kkk. They fought for freedom from federal oppression, something I imagine you’ll be sucked into like a lemming. Just remember freedom and federal oppression when you are witnessing the collapse of this nation, when the military is present on your streets during martial law, when this whole love fest of a nation crumbles around you.

      • askirsch

        Lots of people died for Hitler too. What does that prove?

      • treefrog

        Huh ? !

      • lairdp

        First, the Confederates never fought for states’ rights. They were fighting to prevent northern states from passing state laws ending the inter-state enforcement of slavery, which was a federal law. If northern states stopped capturing and returning southern slaves, slavery was threatened.

        Second, southerners weren’t just fighting because they owned slaves, though many did. They were fighting to defend their belief that whites were the superior race and black inferior, which benefitted all whites by making them all more powerful than all blacks. And that was a powerful incentive, indeed.

        And more men gave their lives to crush the rebellion – doesn’t glorifying the attempt to rip the country in two dishonor their memories?

      • Scott Ratzloff

        Please site your sources…otherwise it is
        strictly your interpretation of the conflict. Where you there? Do you know for certain the hearts of those embroiled in the conflict? etc…

      • lairdp

        The states declaring war on the US made very clear statements of what they were doing and why. They wanted to protect slavery, which was under attack by northern states refusing to allow southern “militia” into their territory to chase down and bring back escaped slaves. At the time, they felt that slavery was proper, so they didn’t hide behind more modern double-talk, but spoke quite directly, in written and well publicized declarations (i.e. primary sources, not interpretations) that are easily available for reference.

        For example, Georgia’s official declaration of succession starts out “The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property”.


        Similar language was the basis for the declarations from Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia, which are all included in full at the link.

      • fearlesskris

        Don’t even try it. We get used to these over the top pretensions of outrage and examples of projection. My comment is filled with no hate, only a very justifiable question as to what on earth people are thinking bringing that loser flag out of the museums and back to flag poles. Why are you talking about Lee when this flag was put up back in the 60s as a sign of white supremacy and a threat to non white U.S. citizens? If you want to remind yourself every day about the treason during the civil war or the ugly racism being paraded from the 60s to present day, go ahead. Don’t come here and spew these falsehoods and tell others they have hate in their hearts. Especially not on our holiday for these United States.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        Martial law? Crumbling nation? Is that you Glenn Beck?

  • DavidBehar

    Southern patriots will be among the first to take up arms when a Communist dictatorship is voted in by deluded, indoctrinated graduates of today’s failing schools. It has become not the flag of the KKK, but of the patriotic resistance to left wing tyranny.

    • fearlesskris

      It is the flag of the KKK just like swastika is the flag of the Nazis. And speaking of indoctrination, how’s the tin foil hat crowd these days? Joining the ranks of those who stopped their anti-psychotics far too soon I see. It is the flag of losers.

      • DavidBehar

        Those are just personal remarks from a left wing asshole frustrated by the facts. John Stewart is never funny, just an angry, stupid, left wing, big government asshole, with a soapbox seen by very few people. Personal attack is all that remains for the left. The facts abandoned it 100 years ago.

      • Ellen H.

        I find it interesting that the battle flag was brought out around 1948 when the “Dixiecrats” came into being. I also thought it was interesting that it was brought out and added to the state flag of Georgia in 1956 when school desegregation was happening. I also thought it was interesting that groups opposed to civil rights in the 1960s were also using it as their symbol. Those are facts,

      • askirsch

        Exactly. The adoption of the flag by Georgia (1956) and the raising of it in SC a few years later were explicitly upraised middle fingers to black Americans.

      • askirsch

        100 years ago the Republicans gave us Teddy Roosevelt. That’s the last time they were a serious party.

      • Scott Ratzloff

        “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” – John F. Kennedy….sounds like a conservative now!

      • Vickie Goff

        The KKK use the American flag also.

      • Mike Jones

        They drink milk, too. Does that make milk racist?

        Seriously, it should be physically painful to be that stupid.

      • R. Eilers

        The kkk are Americans also, does that mean they stand for all Americans? smh

      • EbolaJenkins

        I will still never find it in my hear to forgive the DNC for founding such a racist organization… And even today, they continue to indirectly enforce slavery in the form of welfare plantations harvesting votes… just wrong…

    • Pipercat

      Really, I thought the Gadsden flag was hijacked for that purpose…

    • askirsch

      Suddenly in 2008 we got left-wing tyranny? Is that the new term for a black president?

      • Scott Ratzloff

        Only a liberal could come up with that conclusion. I am really beginning to believe that Liberals are truly racist as they seem to be constantly preoccupied with the subject.

      • treefrog

        yep ! just read below you here The 3 P’s…Pusillanimous Pathetic Patriots

      • Mooski

        Quit perpetuating this ‘Black’ president thing, He is a Mulatto or bi-racial. Funny you don’t hear much about his ‘white’ half.

    • noah vail

      do the letters KMA ring a bell with you?

    • R. Eilers

      Yet the Confederate flag is still the flag of the kkk and other racist and extremist hate groups. Communism CANT be voted in, only instituted by civil war which is what “patriots” apparently want to try again…and lose again under the Confederate battle flag

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      LOL….what in the world are you babbling about? Lay off of Rush’s short and curlies for a while and try reality for a change. Thanks in advance.

  • Brian

    …What about the border states in the Union that slavery remained legal in during the Civil War simply so the Union could keep their loyalty?

    • Mike Jones

      What about them? It’s really quite clear if you go back and read up what people said and wrote at the time that the two sides had markedly different intentions at the beginning of the war. The South started the war in order to preserve the culture of slavery. The North fought in order to preserve the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the states that did not secede, but there’s no question that slavery was going to be outlawed in the north.

      • Brian

        So you’re saying slavery is ok as long as the intentions are good and the perpetrators are on the right side of history?

      • Mike Jones

        I have no idea how you got that from what I wrote without the assistance of several types of illegal substances.

      • GOTBOOTH

        VA voted twice NOT to secede. It wasn’t until Abe demanded that VA send troops into the already seceded 7 Cotton States did she secede. VA, like RI, having Secession Clauses in their State’s Constitution, felt that sovereign states had a right to secede. This call for troops also pushed NC, TN, and AR to secede for the same reason, SOVEREIGN states. For the author of this piece to say slavery in the North ended “about 15 years before the war” shows just how ignorant so called experts are about this history. KY, MO, DE, and MD were all Northern slave states. 6 months after the Emancipation Proclamation WVA became another Union slave state. ( see Willey Amendment)

      • Mike Jones

        Yes, it is regrettable that some states were willing to follow others down the rathole of defending slavery. But as I said above, the war was *started* by the states that most wanted to defend slavery, and for the purpose of maintaining it.

        And by 1804 every state north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Ohio river (aka “the North”) had passed state laws against slavery. I’m sure people in Kentucky and Maryland would be astounded to learn that they were “northern” states.

        The experts aren’t nearly as ignorant as you think. If you think, that is; the jury is still out on that one.

      • GOTBOOTH

        They followed because they felt that sovereign states had a right to secede. Prior to that war RI, NY, and VA had secession clauses in their state’s constitution. They were never told to remove said clauses until after the war. Regardless of the M/D Line, MD and KY remained in the Union and fought for the “North”.

      • SilverAtlanta

        Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri were considered boarder states, not Northern as was West Virginia. All of those states were divided as to loyalty, so your statement is incorrect at it’s very basis.

      • GOTBOOTH

        KY and MO were divided. Two governments. MD, DE, and WVA had Union governments only. Border states? OK. By definition they are “slave states that had not declared a secession from the Union”. Not sure why you keep dwelling on these states not being North. They fought for the North regardless of the geographic location.

  • GeraldineATaylor