At what point in history did the Rebel Flag become

…so socially ingrained with being a racist and horrible human being for wearing/flying it?

I know from my youth that it generally stood for “I’m a rebel ( general social rebel, not secessionist)”

In watching the beginning of Ken Burns “The Civil War” they show old veterans of both sides marching side by side, flying both flags. The Southern vets seem to be treated as ‘vets’, not traitors. And the last Civil War vet was buried with the Confederate flag.

In '68, at a very young age, I left home on a bus from Chicago to Tampa. On the way, the bus stopped at a railway/bus station in Alabama for a 30 minute break and to pick up/drop off passengers. The depot was surrounded with pickups and there was a crowd of onlookers crowded around a train which has stopped at the depot. I squirmed my way through the crowd to the train and there, at the back of the train, doing a whistle stop tour was George Wallace talking about the racial thingy. Confederate flags were everywhere. 1968 election results here. So yeah, “Stars and Bars” and the word “niggra” were big back in '68, at least in 'Bama. Met a lot of nice people there.

The “Confederate Flag” that’s on t-shirts and bad General Lee clones everywhere was never a national or confederacy flag. It’s either an early naval standard or the battle flag of Tennessee. The Confederacy had a number of national flags over its five years, the earliest ones of which look like variations of the US flag.

It’s my understanding that the modern use of this “Confederate flag” came about in the 1950s as a symbol of blatant opposition to the civil rights movement, and still means that to a great number of Southerners and others, all attempts at generalizing and repositioning it as an emblem of “proud Southern heritage” notwithstanding.

IMHO, the “stars and bars” is never going to shed its history as the flag of 1950s racism, and if there are bearers/wearers who want a symbol of the Confederacy and their proud lost heritage, they need to pick another, more appropriate, less tarnished flag.

Or just grow up and acknowledge that they lost. :smiley:

Agreed Amateur Barbarian. That flag was corrupted. Many died under that flag for reasons other than racism. (Ho boy. Did I just open a can of worms…)

It didn’t seem to bother people enough to tune out the Dukes of Hazzard which featured it on the roof of the car. That was '79-'85 and I don’t recall any uproar at all over it, but I was a teenager at the time.

If I had to guess I suppose you could blame David Duke starting with his '88 presidential run.
Total WAG.

The exact moment was in 1956, when Georgia added the Confederate banner to its state flag. It can be argued whether the actual intent was racist, but Georgia wasn’t known for its progressive race relations back then.

The car was called The General Lee. It was a Hollywood thingy. Fit right in, ya’ll.

No, you’re both right. The point LP makes actually touches on a point I deleted because I didn’t want to open a can of worms.

I said, “I don’t like it when modern society assumes some sort of moral superiority and ignores history’s judgement”…IE: History judged the Rebs as ‘vets’ and not traitors, and there was nothing wrong with them marching under their flag.

HOWEVER, LP makes the point that the flag was tarnished in the 50’s beyond recovery. And I agree.

Edit: I have no problem with people proud that their ancestor defended their home (not slavery), but yeah…you should find another flag to gather under.Germans manage to express some pride fine without waving swastikas around.

Sure, but if it was an obviously racist symbol at that time then why didn’t people react to it as such?
Did it happen and I just don’t remember?

Probably because no one gave a shit. I’m serious. It was the late 70’s, early 80’s. Do your research. Damn, given I had to live through it was bad enough. Then I discovered Punk…

FYI, the flag you’re talking about is not the Stars and Bars.

Thisis what they were flying when I espied George Wallace in 1968. I believe readers will get our meaning. There was more than one flag flown under The Confederacy.

Commonly called the Confederate battle flag.

Probably so, but as the goal of this site is to fight ignorance, let’s not call it the Stars and Bars, which it definitely is not.

But as the OP mentions (and as I recall as well) there was a time in the late 70s/early 80s where the rebel flag stood as a symbol of being a social rebel, an outcast, a general fuck you to refined society. Of course it always had the racist meaning but when you saw it on the General Lee or flying from a pick up truck, the “social rebel” meaning was generally seen.

IIRC, the general rise of political correctness in the late 80s/early 90s made the rebel flag Bad in Every Situation. It was a slow process much in the same way that opposition to same sex marriage went from universal acceptance to a mark of bigotry in the last ten to fifteen years.


They sold lunch boxes and thermoses with the rebel flag for Christ sakes.
There’s no way those would have sold if it was a universally accepted symbol or racism.
Can you imagine a large corporation trying to sell a lunchbox with a bunch of KKK members in hoods?

The “Stars and Bars” nomen, as LD points out, is the first Confederate national flag, modeled after the U.S. flag, and hugely unpopular. The flag that we today most associate with the Confederacy and the South was actually proposed to, and rejected by, the flag committee. Various Confederate military forces adopted the rejected flag as a battle flag, arguing that the national flag was too similar to the Union flag, and confused officers and troops. The second national flag was plain white, and featured the battle standard as a union. The battle flag also served as the jack of the Confederate navy, and (in square shape) as the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

So while it’s never been the actual national flag of the Confederacy, it has been part of that flag, was used by the Confederacy, and is rightly associated with it. It is also rightly associated with romanticizing of the antebellum South, opposition to civil rights for Blacks, racist sentiment in general, and belligerent defense of “the Southern way of life.” As such, I deplore its use.

Once, long ago, I had friends in an old AOL hangout of some kind, who later migrated to Usenet. In a discussion about the rebel flag, I ended my last message by saying the flag “represents all that is evil in the South, and half of what is evil in America. Oh yeah, and Freebird sucks.” The Southerners were not sympathetic.

Gotta stop ya at Freebird.

On the old tv show “The Beverly Hillbillies” they sometimes showed the confederate flag or otherwise expressed southern views (they were from Tennessee). I dont think anyone thought of them as racist.

In pro wrestling confederate flags were common on robes and uniforms especialy “The King” Jerry Lawler or on the “The Fabulous Freebirds”.

When I mentioned, “Stars and Bars”, I was referring to ( historically) the battle flag flown by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee. But “Stars and Bars” was also what the flag was referred to in '68 when I was down in Alabama, which is why I originally used the term. Thanks to everyone above for clarifying. Note: Don’t understand the reference to “Freebird” by Nametag.