A Damnyankee on the Confederate Flag
When I first heard of the mass shooting of the nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, I was as shocked and appalled as anyone else. The delusional white supremacist young man who slaughtered innocent people at prayer seemed to feel threatened by the mere existence of black people. They’re taking over, doncha know.
“This is just one mass shooting too many,” I told Mr. Siduri. Not that there should be a tolerance level of mass shootings, but I think this one just broke all barriers.
And now, almost as a footnote, people are calling for various states to remove the “Confederate flag” from their state flags and from monuments. A lifelong damnyankee myself, I frankly never gave it much thought. I had the vague notion that the states haven’t had the various combinations and permutations of the Confederate flag since the Civil War simply because it wouldn’t have gone over well with Reconstruction.
So what brought the flag back? Southern pride and a tribute to fallen ancestors? I won’t argue that these played a part, but I’m not quite sure they provided the tipping point. What seems to have been key to the resurgence in usage is the pressure to desegregate beginning in the mid-20th century. The flag was adopted by the Dixiecrats, for instance.
(As it turned out, one of those anti-desegregationists, Strom Thrumond , managed to desegregate himself long enough to father an illegitimate daughter, a not-unprecedented act in the history of American race relations.)
I do not argue with the right of the individual to fly the Confederate flag on his property. It would be hard to argue that this is not a constitutionally protected right. I personally would never do it, but I would not ask my neighbor to remove his.
However, the question of states having various permutations and combinations of it in their state flags is another matter. That it represents (in part) efforts to resist desegregation is enough to have it removed. The federal government does not have—and should not have—the authority to force the states to remove them. It must be a matter of education and conscience. Without that, removing the flag means nothing, IMHO.
The days of segregation are over, of course. I mean, we have a racially-mixed president, right? That things have changed immensely cannot be denied. But still, particularly in the south, there is often an “us and them” feeling.
When my biracial niece was a teenager, her dad took her to get her hair trimmed in Arkansas where he’s from, only to be told that that particular hair salon “didn’t do ethnic hair.” The first time I heard this story, I laughed. I’m old and have a thick skin. “Did you tell her she needed how to learn to cut hair?” I asked. My niece is now in her 20s. A self-declared “angry black woman,” she is still upset about this incident (among others) and sees it as white hate. If I had been there I would had seen it as ignorance on the part of the beautician. No one calls her on that. But what it boils down to the person who cuts hair for a living doesn’t want to/doesn’t have cut the hair of black people. The best description for that: de facto segregation. And I bet this woman doesn’t see herself as “prejudiced.”
All this to say this: My condolences to the friends and family who suffered at the shooting at Charleston. I cannot imagine the sorrow they’re going through. I see it as something of a tribute to the spirit of those who are gone to remove the Confederate flags from the various state flags. I hope it happens soon.
Confederate Flag Imagery in State Flags
The Truth about Confederate History Part 1
© 2015 Denise Longrie
Image Credit » By National Photo Company (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/npc2008003547/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
MegL wrote on June 29, 2015, 5:09 PM
That was a terrible act that was committed, all those people murdered, by someone who seems to have been mentally ill and who therefore should not even have been allowed to have a gun.
msiduri wrote on June 29, 2015, 5:19 PM
A good question. However, I never made argument the flag should come down because it is associated with slavery.
As I said earlier, I never thought much about it. Many regard the Confederate flag/Southern Cross as a symbol of southern pride and that's certainly part of it. But it's also associated efforts to fight desegregation within the 20th (not just the 19th) century. I don't have any issue with people putting it up on their own property. I don't even have issues with amazon or Walmart selling them. (It's my understanding that selling swastikas is also constitutionally protected, but I doubt you'd get far with the argument that it's a symbol of German pride. And if I saw a swastika on my neighbor's front door, I'd have to say something.) My issue is attaching it to a state flag, which at least in theory is supposed to represent all its citizens. It's supposed to be inclusive rather than exclusionary.
msiduri wrote on June 29, 2015, 5:22 PM
I agree, he was delusional at best. But I'm not sure he was mentally ill to the point he didn't understand that his acts were wrong. But there's a lot of information that we in the public don't have.
cmoneyspinner wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:23 PM
OK. All the brew haha I'm going to openly confess my ignorance and ask the question: Is there a Yankee flag? (???)
Never mind. I did the research. There's a bunch of flags from the Civil War! http://www.loeser.us/flags/civil.html
North (17 flags) and South (40+ flags) represented.
There's more than one “kind” of Confederate flag. But the one everybody is arguing about is The Second Confederate Navy Jack. It's the "official" flag of the Confederates. At least, the website say: "...this rectangular flag later became the official flag of the United Confederate Veterans after the war, and today is mistakenly accepted as the 'Confederate Flag.'"
You got to visit this site! I learned me something!
msiduri wrote on June 29, 2015, 10:51 PM
I learned me a bit, too. I never paid attention. What is commonly referred to the Confederate flag was a battle flag of (IIRC) a Virginia regiment. But I honestly this the time is past for the various flags to come off that state flags.
Paulie wrote on June 30, 2015, 12:53 AM
Like you said, it is no business of the federal government to force certain states to remove the confederate flag. Whether or not the confederate flag stands for segregation, it is rewriting history and forcing southerners to forget their heritage whether it is good or bad.
msiduri wrote on June 30, 2015, 7:59 AM
I'm not sure understand: the removal of the Confederate flag is forcing southerners to forget the good and bad of their heritage? I would not support that. No one should forget his heritage. And I don't think that the removal of the Southern Cross or the various Confederate flags from the various state flags and placing them in museums, for example, would do that.
Ruby3881 wrote on June 30, 2015, 10:42 AM
I'm not going to weigh in on the question of the flag, except to say that I think you're right when you say education is needed for the removal of flags to mean anything.
As for the hair salon thing, the woman may have actually been worried she'd make a mess of your niece's hair. Black hair is different, and must be treated differently. Hair products for black hair are different too. it's rather a specialization to know how to wash, cut and style black hair. When I was living in Montreal, many of the people from the black community would either do each other's hair at home (especially when it comes to kids) or they would travel a fair distance to go to a salon that could be trusted to do the job right.
msiduri wrote on June 30, 2015, 11:15 AM
Granted, I wasn't there to see and hear what actually happened. But frankly, running a hair salon outside of Little Rock, with a large black population, she ought to know how to cut black people's hair. My niece is mixed, her hair curled like I could only dream about.
MelissaE wrote on June 30, 2015, 8:12 PM
No other country in the world allows a defeated nation to fly their flag over government buildings. It's okay for private citizens to have them, but they should not be over state buildings.
msiduri wrote on June 30, 2015, 9:54 PM
It has so many meanings, I could see it meaning different things to different people. But I repeat, it's time for the states to remove the flag.
rescuegal wrote on June 30, 2015, 10:12 PM
I didn't realize that the South was still flying the confederate flag until this happened. I was appalled.
msiduri wrote on June 30, 2015, 11:25 PM
It's a little more complicated than that, but I agree: the time for the states to sanction flying the flag is over.
Paulie wrote on July 1, 2015, 4:35 AM
Perhaps there should be a popular referendum on this issue of removing the Confederate flag. If more than half of the people want the flag taken down, so be it.
msiduri wrote on July 1, 2015, 9:07 AM
That seems reasonable to me.
alexdg1 wrote on July 1, 2015, 5:09 PM
A defeated wannabe nation, since the Confederacy was never recognized as an independent country. But yeah, I agree. Only in the United States of America does this happen.