What's with allegiance to the Confederate flag?

I’m a Yankee living in South Carolina and I just don’t get the whole flag issue. As you may have heard, the NAACP is recommending to it’s members, friends, etc. that they cancel all events and travel plans that may take them to SC until the Confederate flag that flies atop the SC Statehouse is removed. Polls of South Carolinians show that 60% of the SC citizens believe the flag should come down; however, there’s a strong and really loud contingent that is arguing that the flag stands for the fallen heroes of the Confederacy and their Southern heritage.

I’m not an historian, and have no knowledge of the Civil War except what I picked up in high school and a couple required college history classes, but weren’t the Confederates essentially traitorous to the “cause” of the U.S.? It was my understanding that they didn’t want to be a part of the country and were attempting to sever all bonds. Why is it that the same people who are so proud of their Southern heritage also seem to be the most vocal (at least in this area) patriotic Americans? Did I miss something in history class? Why is it legal to fly a flag that represented a rebel army atop the statehouse of a member-state of the Union? To me, this has nothing to do with race, slavery, or honoring the dead (heroes? traitors?).

I’m a new member to this forum, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone - I’m just asking enlightenment and I’m really interested in knowing any facts I may have missed in history class. I would have written a letter to the editor of the local paper, but I don’t think anyone would take too kindly to this yankee ignorance.

For better or worse, the Confederate flag symbolizes the South. Around the block from where I grew up, there was an Irish-American family who flew the Irish flag in their front lawn. Same mindset. Essentially, people who fly the Confederate flag think of themselves as ethnically Southern.


–It was recently discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

Yeah, I think you’re right, to a degree, but the frequent reason given around here is that it’s to honor the dead, the beloved ancestors, who fought in the honorable cause of the Civil War. The actual connection is made between the flag and the war, not just being a Southerner.

I can see why a family whose roots are deeply sunk in Southern soil might feel bad that their relatives died in a war, or proud that they fought for something they believed so strongly in, but when it comes down to it, their relatives were technically rebelling against the country that these people are now proud to call theirs. So, fine, fly the flag to honor your ancestors on your front porch - I get it. But why is it on a building that represents the government of the country they were rebelling against?

This subject has been covered a number of times in the Great Debates forum. Here is a link to the most recent.
http://www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000818.html

In short, the secession might have been legal, although post-Civil War Supreme Court decisions have changed that.

Firing on troops loyal to the Union was not smart, though. Lincoln might have sent in troops anyway without their having been fired upon (that subject is also somewhere back in Great Debates), but once the Rebs started firing, he had to.

And about the Navy Jack flying over the State House, and under State Law can not be removed (also covered in the link provided).

IMHO, the resistance to furling the Flag has to do with the fact that it’s primarily the NAACP who is demanding it.

If any previous governor (before this law) had taken the initiative himself, it would not have been the issue that it has become.

Now, he can’t because it is protected by law.

Under the original resolution, the flag was supposed to be furled after either one year or the 1965 (100th anniversay of the end of the war)–don’t remember which.

Dice: I really can’t say that’s the same mindset. The display of the flag of Ireland is the display of an actual nation, that of the Republic of Ireland (Eire). The display of the Confederate Battle Flag is truly an exercise in ignorance.

Why do I say that? That’s simple. It’s not the flag for an actual country. (Yep; I’m holding to the line that the states didn’t have the right to leave the Union; please read the Articles of Confederation which established the first government of the United States; I invite your attention to the words “perpetual union.”) The flag widely attributed as the Confederacy’s flag was the battle flag (CBF). The Confederacy started out with the Stars & Bars, then on to the Stainless Banner (SB), and finally a modified version of SB. I daresay that many (if not the majority) of your average bigot running around waving the CBF wouldn’t recognized the SB even with a cue card.

I do, however, maintain that displaying the SB instead of the CBF might make it a tad more palatable. But that really does raise another question: if one feels that it’s important to fly the CBF or even the SB from government buildings, then why isn’t the British Union Jack afforded the same honour?

For more information on these flags, you may check the Flags of the World website at http://www.fotw.com

First, to respond to the assertion that the secession was illegal. Two of the Framers themselves drafted resolutions of secession in 1798. They sure as hell seemed to think it was legal.

Now, a quick Navy Jack story:

A few years ago, I was at a “horse show.” Often, at the beginning of such a show, a rider comes out with the American Flag, while the “Star-Spangled Banner” is sung (or played).

Also, the “State Flag” is brought out by another rider.

When it was time for the State Flag to be brought out–guess what it was? Yep, the Navy Jack.

The whole auditorium erupted. (You don’t see Blacks at horse shows.)

As a true southern…born and bred on southern soil…for generations…let me explain to you MY feelings on the Confederate flag. Whether you agree with it or not…is totally up to you.
The confederate flag as such…does not actually represent a country…as we’ve already been informed…but it represents a time in history…a proud heritage…a way of life that no longer exists…and I’m not talking about slavery. You think that just because it was years ago…generations ago…that we don’t remember it??? That stories weren’t passed down through the families? You look at the flag and think war, slavery, back-wards hillbillies, a nation torn in half…I don’t look at that way. I’m not even gonna get into the Civil War part…northerners always know more about what caused that then southerners…but let me assure you…there are some things that you might try to take away…but you won’t change it…take down the flag…but it’s still in the heart.
[qote]The display of the Confederate Battle Flag is truly an exercise in ignorance.
Why do I say that? That’s simple. It’s not the flag for an actual country. (Yep; I’m holding to the line that the states didn’t have the right to leave the Union; please read the Articles of Confederation which established the first government of the United States; I invite your attention to the words “perpetual union.”) The flag widely attributed as the Confederacy’s flag was the battle flag (CBF). The Confederacy started out with the Stars & Bars, then on to the Stainless Banner (SB), and finally a modified version of SB. I daresay that many (if not the majority) of your average bigot running around waving the CBF wouldn’t recognized the SB even with a cue card.
[/quote]

Yea I guess we are a bunch of ignorant redneck southerners…but ya know what? We stick together…we have a bond…and I daresay it has nothing to do with being an average bigot…


“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

You wanna know something about me…ask me…not my friends…

I know a lot of folk who just think the flad is a cool design. But then again the Native Americans liked swatsikas till you know who came along.

I am quite lucky to be here, as three of my eight great-grandfathers died in the Civil War fighting on the Confederate side. One died in battle at Sharpsburg, one died in the Union prison at Elmira, New York, and the third was bushwhacked while coming home to Texas from Virginia after Johnston’s surrender. A fourth great-grandfather of mine, a cousin of the Confederate cavalry general JEB Stuart, served for a year and was then sent back home to run his mill, as it was considered important for Confederate production. He was the only ancestor of mine who we know owned slaves.

My Confederate credentials are impeccable–hell, my grandmother was a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy, as well as a member of the DAR.

And I call bullshit on flying the Stars and Bars, which no one ever does, or the Confederate battle flag. That is a side of our history that is over and done with. Flying the Confederate battle flag is equivalent to supporting the aims of the CSA, the chief of which was maintaining black people in slavery. We can honor our ancestors, though they fell in a misguided cause, without supporting their wrongful struggle.

Take down all Confederate flags everywhere except military cemeteries. This is a new country that is constantly transforming itself, and we don’t need to commemorate the evils of our past by celebrating the Confederacy. We need to look forward together as brothers and sisters and help make the United States the “city on the hill” that Jonathan Edwards and so many others dreamed of. Fly the American flag with pride.

My one and only “starter topic” in Great Debates was this one…last August when the NAACP announced their plans.
The thing turned into a monster.
This is an emotional issue on both sides.
I did learn that there were other polarizing subjects besides abortion and religion.

I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the Succeded States of the Union
and to the confederacy
for which it stands,
two classes, under God,
irreconcilable,
with liberty and justice for a few.

(Artificial though pretty accurate dialect used here)

Well Suh, we’un daown heyar nevah LOST the War of the States, the Dahm Yankees jus’ beat aour asses off but we all nevah gave up! We all enjoyed usin’ Black Folk to do all ourn work so’s we could buy up big plots of land, dress all funny, drink mint juleps and sneer at anyone who come by who warnt Southern.

Thet there flag stands for Southern Pride, along with Southern Stupidity and, by Gawd, we’ll fight to th’ end to defend it, even though it stands for a defeated and no longer existing nation. Th’ South will RISE AGIN! Ya’ll Yankee Carpet baggers will be driven from aour sacred and boggy, mosquito infested lands for whom so many o’ them Darkies died for us to keep and we will ONCE again RISE to the epitome, ah say, EPITOME of segregation and isolation and snobbery, like in Alabama and Georgia today, Son. Naow, go fetch me a cold rum and spring watah an’ be damn quick about it.

(Loose dialect imitation ends.)

That thar flag stands for racism now. It didn’t always used to be that way but in the year 2000, it is.

By reading the above posts…now people can understand…


“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

You wanna know something about me…ask me…not my friends…

fuzzy-wuzzy: you stated “you look at the flag and think war, slavery, backwards hillbillies, a nation torn in half.” Actually, I don’t, really. I do think of people who attempted to rebel against the standing government of the United States (and were unsuccessful). I also think of people (at least some of the ones who are ardent supporters) who are needful of an identity or label for themselves in order to feel like they belong to a group, so they have adopted the flag as a symbol of that identity. (I am in no way saying you are one of these people, but you have to admit, they’re out there) Fine. And by all means, continue to fly the flag not only in your heart, but on your porch, on your car, on your t-shirt. But, since it is not the country’s flag, it is not the state flag, and in fact represents a group of people who didn’t want to be part of the U.S., why is it on the statehouse? This is regardless of the fact that slavery was an issue of the Civil War.
If a group of militants in Montana decides they want to secede, fight a war with the U.S. government, lose, and continue their
lives as American citizens, would it be reasonable for them to fly the flag that symbolizes them on Montana’s statehouse?

Regarding the OP:

The flag is flown because the government wants to pander to a vocal minority so as to help insure that the minority votes for the government. This is objected to by another vocal minority which sees the flag as representing an attitude that, among other things, viewed them as less than human. In the middle, as is often the case, is the vast majority of people who don’t really identify with either set of feelings. As long as the vocal minority that wants the flag there represents a more powerful voting bloc than the vocal minority that doesn’t want it there, it will remain, absent court action.

As for the side issue of what the flag represents:

It is an oft-made mistake of those not from the deep south to assume that the end of the Civil War was not only the re-integration of the states that attempted seccession into the Union, but also the acceptance by the people of those states that they were wrong to oppose the Union. In actuality, as shown on more than one occaision, the core issues that drove the southern states to attempt seccession have not been resolved in the minds of many. The most important of these issues, to many in the south, is the relationship of the federal government to the states. While the Union may have been able to force the South back into the Union in the War Between the States, that doesn’t mean that southerners accept that a strong federal government is a good idea. For such thoughts, the flag in question remains a symbol.

DSYoungEsq: That’s the most logical argument I’ve heard in the whole debate that’s going on here in SC. The supporters of the flag should definitely go with the state’s rights thing when arguing why the flag should be on top of the statehouse…at least it has a little more backbone than the “feeling” of being Southern.
After reading the GD thread that was linked above (I did a search before the OP - I swear!) and the comments made in this thread, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a hopeless debate that’s taking place in this state. The pro-flag people can’t admit that it’s reasonable for people to feel like the flag is a racist symbol and the anti-flag people can’t admit that the flag could be symbolic of other things besides racism for a lot of people. Like most things, there won’t be any reasonable discussion of the issue and both sides will put their blinders on and yell.

Our local news this morning said that the city of Atlantic Beach, which sponsors the Memorial Day Bike Week festival (locally referred to as “Black Bike Week”)might cancel because of the NAACP boycott. This festival typically takes place about a week or two after Harley Week, which is predominantly attended by middle-aged, middle class white guys. The Memorial Day gathering is attended mostly by early-20ish African Americans on non-Harley street bikes. Both weeks are really loud, crowded, and a pain in the ass for locals, but people around here tend to really get annoyed at the Memorial Day weekend. It does tend to be a lot more “raunchy” - I think mostly because the crowd is a lot younger. There are a lot of people, though, who are just complaining because it brings in a large group of black people (they’d never admit this, though). There has been a vocal group trying to get it banned for years. It will be very ironic if it is canceled because of an NAACP boycott…is the vocal group going to be happy? If they are, does this mean they will be supporting the boycott? I think this is really going to confuse the people who want it banned because of their racist leanings. (and, to make sure that last sentence isn’t taken the wrong way, I’m not saying that everyone who wants it banned is racist - some want both weeks banned).

I probably should have posted all this in the GD thread.

This is off-topic, but I don’ care.

The link I posted earlier covers everything, and there’s not a lot more to say.

Georgia and Alabama include the Battle Flag in their State Flags.

Georgia has been known as been known as “The Empire State of the South” and “The Peach State,” although I’ve heard that SC actually produces more.

Anyway, GA was once known as “The Cracker State.”

Fact.

I would agree that the flag probably needs to come off the statehouse…though I doubt very seriously that it will…it’s like the people that complain about the manager scenes at Christmas being placed on the Courthouse lawns…


“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

You wanna know something about me…ask me…not my friends…

OK, I have a question for fuzzy-wuzzy:

What’s the purpose of using an ellipsis (…) instead of using a period, a space, and a capital letter to separate sentences? I don’t see how an ellipsis saves any typing.