Protesters Wave Confederate Flag To Welcome President Obama To Oklahoma

Confederate flag supporters fly their flags across the street from Durant High School. (AP photo)

Confederate flag supporters fly their flags across the street from Durant High School. (AP photo)

Whenever someone begins a statement with “I’m not a racist, but…” I know that something very racist is about to come out of their mouth. This has been especially true during the recent outrage over South Carolina’s decision to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, and supporters of the flag even visited our site to leave some unbelievably racist comments which further proves the point we’ve been trying to make – the flag really represents hatred, not heritage.

The Confederate flag controversy isn’t over. Mississippi’s state flag still contains the Stars and Bars, and six other states have flags that resemble symbols of the Confederacy, although nobody seems to really care about changing those. And Confederate flag supporters, including the KKK, are still staging rallies to voice their outrage over the decision in South Carolina. In Oklahoma, a number of protesters turned out with flags to greet President Obama as he arrived to visit a federal prison and deliver remarks about making high-speed Internet available to rural areas at a local high school in Durant.

Some of the protesters stood outside the hotel he was expected to stay at, and others lined the interstate his motorcade would possibly travel to voice their opposition to President Obama’s recent support of removing the Confederate flag from government buildings.

“We’re not gonna stand down from our heritage. You know, this flag’s not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it’s really not,” said Trey Johnson, who drove three hours from Texas to join the protest. “It’s just a southern thing, that’s it.”

“I believe that it is a flag that should not come down. It is about history. It’s not about racism at all because both black men, as well as white men stood side by side. They fought together for the beliefs that they believed in. And this is our heritage,” said Stephanie.

Alyssa, a supporter of the group, said the group’s protest has nothing to do with the president, but rather a culmination of the events that have occurred in recent weeks. (Source)

I’m going to pose the same question many conservative pundits asked during the protests over police brutality: Why aren’t these people at work? Who drives 3 hours from Texas on a weekday to stand along an interstate in the scorching heat and angrily wave a flag at a motorcade because they’re mad about the decision a Republican legislature made in a state over 1,000 miles away?

Seriously, President Obama has absolutely nothing to do with South Carolina’s decision other than to say he supported removing a flag that represented a failed secession attempt as well as the resistance to the end of segregation and the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s.

Throughout history, the Confederate flag has been repeatedly used as a symbol to oppress black people. It was flown by Southern armies during the Civil War as they fought to keep slavery. And it was later brought back in the 1960s, as Vox’s Libby Nelson explained, to intimidate civil rights advocates and defend segregation.

When states seceded from the union during the Civil War, they explicitly voiced their racist intents. South Carolina, the first state to secede, said in its official statement that it saw any attempts to abolish slavery and grant rights to black Americans as “hostile to the South” and “destructive of its beliefs and safety.” Mississippi was even more explicit, stating that its “position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” (Source)

If these protesters want to make the argument that their flag isn’t racist, welcoming the first black president to Oklahoma by waving a flag that was a symbol of oppression isn’t exactly the best way to do so. Here’s a little history for you:  Oklahoma wasn’t a state during the Civil War, but the Native American tribes in the Oklahoma territory were aligned with the Confederacy, and some owned slaves, a practice that was abolished in 1866.

Then again, leave it to a red state to protest the arrival of a president who wants to expand high-speed Internet access to low income communities and talk about economic development as well as reforming the criminal justice system. Keep it classy, Oklahoma.


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