Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Flags of Our Great Great Grandfathers

Flags of Our Great Great Grandfathers: Let us be clear. The controversy over the Confederate Battle Flag sparked by the tragedy in Charleston has galvanized a nation. But let us be clear as well that the flag is a symbol of the real issues, and I can’t help but wonder if the focus on the flag’s removal comes as something we can fix in the face of so much that we cannot. The irony is that the Battle Flag belonged to Robert E, Lee’s army and was never a representation of the Confederate States of America. That flag lives mostly in museums. As a matter of heritage, the battle flag serves as a reminder of brave soldiers fighting a lost cause, as well as of the primary hateful element of that cause, the maintenance of slavery. It is as offensive as the Nazi Swastika would be to anyone impacted by the brutality of that regime. Our great great grandfathers who bled in the Civil War need no flag to remember them by, certainly not at the expense of the sensibilities of descendants of those who were freed. The battle flag was not even an issue until the Civil Rights Movement erupted in the deep South. When African-Americans began working toward equality, the Jim Crow South began flying the flag in protest. It was never about heritage, it was always about hate, and although the ardor of that hate cooled as more and more people accepted each other on both sides of the issue and worked for change, the symbol remained. Much progress has come, but much work remains to be done. Every positive step, every show of mutual understanding, every conversation is a step in the right direction.

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