Why is the Confederate Flag Racist?
The confederate flag, also known as the rebel flag, the Southern Cross, or the Cross of St. Andrew, is something you usually don't see on flagpoles in the northeast, midwest, or westcoast areas of the United States. It's usually found in southern states, especially those in the southeast region of the country. It's not just flown on flagpoles, but appears on consumer products as well, such as lighters, bumper stickers, tshirts, coffee mugs, and hats. It's become somewhat a cultural phenomenon for some residents in the south. In 2008, during the Presidential elections, Senator Mccain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate for Vice President. After she started to gain national attention in the limelight for her poor interviewing skills and her off-the-wall comments, a photoshopped picture of her in a confederate flag bikini began to circulate the internet and quickly became an infamous sensation and went viral. The confederate flag, for many people, seems to be associated with racism, bigotry, or sometimes extremism. Some people feel it's offensive and racist, while others defend it and claim that it's not about race, but it's about southern heritage and pride. So why do people consider the flag of the former confederacy to be racist or offensive? Well there's a few reasons that come to mind.
When most people think of the confederate flag, they associate it with the Civil War, which involved the southern confederate states battling the northern union states. When this comes to mind, it reminds most people of what the war was fought over. While there were many reasons why the war was fought, one of the main reasons was that the southern states wanted racial segregation, or at least their right to vote on whether it should exist or not. So when a person is flying a confederate flag, it's safe to assume that they support the former confederacy. This also means they probably support what the confederacy stood for, which is the right to vote on whether human beings should be slaves or not. So it goes without saying, that if a person is wearing a confederate flag, they most likely believe that people should have the right to vote on whether to enslave other people. The southern states have a lot of history to them, and their culture has been around for over 200 years. If somebody wants to show off their southern pride, or "rebel pride" as some would call it, then why choose to wear something that only represents 4 years of that heritage? The confederate flag was only used from 1861 to 1865, so it's not really as representative of southern history or southern culture as some might think.
Because of the racism often associated with the rebel flag, many racial-extremist groups have adopted it and use it to represent some of the core values of their groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a well-known civil rights group that was originally founded in 1971, has estimated that at least 500 extremist groups now use the confederate flag for it's symbolism. So while many may try to explain that it's not racist and represents southern heritage, most people know what it really stands for and what types of people usually support. Even Hollywood has poked jokes at the flag in many movies, such as a scene from the 2005 remake film for Dukes of Hazzard in which the Dukes are driving their newly painted hot rod into Atlanta. While driving on the highway, many people begin to get angry with them on the road, as they have a confederate flag painted on their roof and don't quite realize it yet. This goes to show how feelings towards the flag in the south have changed over time, as the Dukes represent the old-school small town types, while the people on the highway in Atlanta represent the new-school urbanites who are more modern and educated than the Dukes.
So if you see someone wearing a confederate flag, there's a good chance that they may be wearing it because they are racist or support racist values. But not everybody who wears it may realize exactly what it represents. There's probably lots of people who only wear it because they grew up thinking that it's all about southern pride, or who wear it because someone in their family or close circle of friends does. So if you know the person wearing it, you may want to ask them what they think about it. If they aren't aware of how it represents racism, you may want to explain some of the points covered in this article with them.
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