Correction: The previous piece mentioned Plessy vs. Ferguson as the court case which integrated schools, but this is actually Brown vs. Board of Education.
To some it’s a representation of their heritage and southern pride, but to others the Confederate flag represents an integral part of their identity.
To minority groups, it’s the ultimate symbol of racism, hatred and a history of subjugation.
In recent years, there has been debate over whether the flag is appropriate to be used in today’s society, especially in the South Carolina capitol building after the Charleston shootings.
However, the Confederate flag that is used by people today is not the actual flag used by the southern states during the Civil War.
What it actually is, according to CNN, is the battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Robert E. Lee. The actual Confederate flag was the “Stars and Bars” that was flown from 1861 to 1863.
The battle flag was later incorporated into the second and third flags, “The Stainless Banner” and “The Blood-Stained Banner” respectively. However, it was merely the sign for the Navy and not for secession as a whole.
After the end of the war, most forms of the flag saw little use, with famed Confederate general Robert E. Lee writing that “[I] think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”
Nearly 80 years after the end of the war, the flag began to see use, as, according to The Week, Strom Thurmond’s State’s Rights Party began using the flag in 1948 as a sign of defiance against the government
The specific actions they were defying were the president’s rights to enforce Civil Rights laws in the south.
Further into the future, Georgia modified its state flag into a version of the contemporary Confederate flag in protest of Brown vs. Board of Education, which integrated African American children into public schools.
The flag then went on to be used by protesters at the University of Missouri to protest the integration of schools.
In a more modern day example, a 2015 NBC News article shows the flag being defended en masse by KKK members from all across South Carolina in response to flag protests by African Americans in the wake of the Charleston shootings.
A pattern pops up when the contemporary use of the flag is scrutinized, which is that more often than not, the flag is used as a racist reaction to the progression of civil rights.
Since the mid-1900s the Confederate flag has been raised by racist organizations and people as a symbol of hatred and oppression.
While some may claim that it is a proud aspect of their heritage, the use of the flag amounts to little more than an admission to ignorance at best, and thinly veiled hatred at worst.
The use of the flag by shows an ignorance of history, of the subjugation and oppression that African Americans have experienced throughout the history of America.
By others it is malice, it’s meant to be a reminder to African Americans that they aren’t welcome, that those who fly the flag will never consider them to be equals.
On a positive side, according to a Pew Research Center study, only eight percent of people across the United States actually display the flag in their home or office.
Additionally, they found that only eight percent of white people across the country display a positive reaction to the flag, with 29 percent showing negative reactions and 61 percent not caring either way.
So the good news is, not a lot of people actually use the flag. The bad news is that roughly twenty-five million people across the US still display the flag and show pride in it.
Frankly that’s disgusting, not only for the racism inherent in the flag, but also for the anti-patriotism associated with it.
The Confederacy, essentially a rebellion by the south in response to the north wanting to end slavery, lost the war.
There wasn’t a truce, the south didn’t get to remain a separate entity, it lost, and had to be reintegrated with the Union.
Flying the flag in any way should be seen as an act of treason, as the person flying the flag is supporting a long dead insurrection against the government.
In the end, either way you look at it, the Confederate flag is a blemish on society.
It’s a treasonous symbol of racism that has no place in modern America and it’s absolutely disgusting that people defend its use.
So as a society we should do our best to end the use of the Confederate flag. If not for unity, do it so that at least America doesn’t look more ignorant than it already is.
Q Russell is sophomore journalism major from Charlotte, North Carolina