I’ve lived in the South my whole life, Texas to be exact. To say the South is like an entirely different country in some aspects is exactly right. As a progressive living in this state, sometimes I really don’t feel like I’m on the same planet, let alone in the same country as many of the conservatives I encounter. The ignorance I’ve come across living here is often so absurd that I almost feel as if these people are willfully and pridefully ignorant. Especially in today’s world. With Google at most of our fingertips and an endless supply of information at our disposal, how can so many people be so incredibly stupid?
Which brings me to my point; my message to those who seem to proudly boast that the Confederate flag is a symbol of “Southern pride” and “Southern heritage.” I really feel the need to address those people directly.
I’ve met many of you. The “proud Southerner” who sees the Confederate flag as a symbol of your roots, your “heritage” as many of you call it. You live in a state of denial that’s almost unparalleled. Do you know why you’ve been allowed to live in denial for so long? Do you know why, in many areas of the South, the Confederate flag is still seen as a symbol of “pride”? Because it took nearly a century after the Confederacy lost the Civil War before African-Americans in many of those states were finally given equal rights. Even long after the Confederacy was defeated and disgraced, many still held on to the racism that fueled it.
It was just over 50 years ago that we still had segregation, bans on interracial marriage and even water fountains from which African-Americans weren’t allowed to drink. That’s why that flag remained a symbol of “pride” – because it was still tied to the generations of your “heritage” linked to slavery, oppression and pure hate.
There wasn’t any need to be ashamed of this flag by which every American should rightfully be embarrassed. Your “heritage” wasn’t ashamed of the racism, intolerance and hate it perpetuated for a century. If anything, your “heritage” embraced it.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking, “The Confederate flag wasn’t about slavery, but states’ rights!”
To those who claim that, have you ever read some of these declarations of secession by the Confederate states? Here’s a clip from Texas:
She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery–the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits–a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.
Yes, that’s part of the Texas Ordinance of Secession from 1861 declaring that African-Americans were essentially property owned by the superior white race. But please, by all means, tell me again how the Confederacy was about “states’ rights” and not slavery or racism.
Oh, but it’s your heritage, right? If the Confederate flag is a symbol of your “heritage” then you should be downright ashamed of that heritage.
But that’s the sad part – millions in the South aren’t. You embrace that hate and ignorance, and you lie to yourself about what that vile flag means by telling yourself it was just about an opposition to an overreaching federal government.
That’s bullshit, and I think deep down you know. Of course, cognitive dissonance is difficult to overcome. Those of you who don’t believe the Confederate flag represents racism have clearly created some delusional reality where you’ve ignored the racism, bigotry, intolerance and hate that’s followed your “heritage” and was represented by that flag by telling yourselves that it’s a “symbol of Southern pride.”
I’m a Southerner and that flag damn sure doesn’t represent me or my heritage. The only flag I honor is the only flag an American should honor, and that’s the flag of the United States of America. You know, the one the Confederacy declared war against in an effort to continue to own other human beings as property.
Here’s a rule: You can’t claim to be a proud, patriotic American while you honor the flag of the largest treasonous uprising against this country in our history.
So, do you still want to claim the Confederate flag is just a symbol of your “Southern roots”? Well you need to realize those roots are rotted. They’re tainted and symbolic of a period in our nation’s history of which we should all be ashamed.
Just like Germany is horrified by the period of their history where Nazis rose to power, so too should every American be ashamed of a time when white supremacists flew a flag over 13 of our states in one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.