Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why do people still care about the Confederate flag?” you ask? Good question. Timely too. (Besides, it beats answering the question: “Why do you guys name your ‘ding-dongs’?”)
Apparently those who do still care about it care about it for different reasons. It represents different things to different people and because of that it causes controversy and stirs up trouble. According to Hanna Kozlowska of The New York Times almost 150 years following the end of the Civil War, “the Confederate flag is still one of the nation’s most divisive emblems. Many a Yankee will attest to the shock and horror they feel upon seeing the multitude of Confederate flags when they first arrive in the South. For them, it’s a symbol of slavery, of oppression and systemic racism. (On the other hand,) many Southerners see it as a . . . a celebration of their heritage.”
Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC, who defines herself as a “Southern girl” says she “grew up surrounded by the Confederate flag.” Harris notes that black folks are, generally, Southerners, and that their history is “deeply intertwined with Southern history.” She points out that while “their experience includes slavery and Jim Crow” it also includes “church picnics, HBCU football games and jazz music.” She adds: “we have a complicated relationship to the ’ol stars and bars. We rarely paint it on our pick-ups but we do not automatically flinch and recoil when we see it.”
Journalist Jesse Dukes told NPR that some people care about the Confederate flag because it has a newly-discovered symbolism. “I think the flag has transcended Southern identity to become (connected to) a kind of rural impoverished identity, too.” He notes that he’s even seen it in Maine.
Dukes explained that the flag is “as an expression of distrust in big government, regulation, gun control.” It’s a “graft of the notion of states’ rights onto modern concerns.” He adds that other people think “it signifies awareness that rural Southerners are seen as backward, and a defiant assertion of pride in a certain kind of whiteness: ‘I’m a redneck and I’m proud of it.’”
Dukes doesn’t ignore the obvious either. Some white Southerners still see it as having “racist connotations” and actually “wish to embrace that same racist message.”
Kozlowska reports that Civil War re-enactors use the Confederate flag “to honor their ancestors who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War. Some believe it’s a part of history and not about hate.
Still others care about the Confederate flag because it’s now about merchandising. Kanye West decided to take back the flag and not only wears it on his clothing but sells it on his merchandise.
Why do people still care about the Confederate Flag? Now you know.
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