Confederate flag brings controversy

Image obtained

Image obtained

Red, white and blue. For some, it represents the very proud and robust Southern culture. For others, it reminisces a life of discrimination, of inequality and loathe. But which interpretation is correct? This month our staff attempts to tackle the controversy of “America’s most controversial symbol,” “the southern cross,” the Confederate flag.

Distinguishing the South in battle

The flag was once used as a battle flag by few Confederate Army units. John Coski, Vice President of Research and Publications for the Museum for the Confederacy in Richmond, Va, explains that it’s a common mistake for people to reference the flag as the “Stars and Bars.” The actual “Stars and Bars” flag, which was the flag used to represent the Confederacy, was similar in look to the Union flag. It was a way for the South to wean themselves from the North.

Similar flags eventually caused problems in battle. Soldiers couldn’t distinguish the two from each other, so the battle flag recognized today as the Confederate flag was adopted by the South, nationally. The flag served as a “symbol of the mature Confederacy,” said Coski.

Becoming a pop culture icon

75 years after the Civil War ended, the flag was still respected by veterans and their families. symbolized the ancestral relation of families and the soldiers who fought and died in the war.

That soon changed when college students and soldiers in the United States army revived the flag during the 1940s. Southern colleges and universities incorporated the flag into their athletic programs. Fraternities used the flag to symbolize their organizations. Soldiers used it to identify themselves among their northern colleagues. The flag now represented those rebellious southern boys, the Bo and Luke Dukes, of the nation.

Symbolizing a racist ideology

During the 1950s ancestors of the Confederate soldiers disapproved the flag’s “new meaning,” especially in 1949 when the flag became a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Dixiecrat party, a society of college students opposing the rights movement, didn’t help the flag’s reputation. They chose the flag as their party’s symbol, remaining effective until the 1970s. These two political groups were easily the most influential in establishing today’s negative interpretation of the flag.

Interpreting the flag today

In modern society, the flag still continues to represent the Confederate heritage and dignity, the desire of state legislation over federal regulation. But it also symbolizes white supremacy. No wonder it’s so controversial!

Here’s the thing:

The Confederate flag is a symbol, and a symbol can be interpreted in many ways, that’s the beauty of it. And because we live in a nation based on freedom, every interpretation can be correct.

You are free to believe what you want, but become educated. Know both sides of the story. Take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Diversify. Try to understand other’s opinions. Don’t discriminate.

It’s a touchy subject. Treat it both gracefully and respectfully, that’s all we ask.