Roots, Racism, or Rebellion

We’re driving through the South and have encountered more than our fair share of Confederate flags flying from vehicles. I’m sure in something of a protest to the South Carolina decision.

While I associate “The General Lee” more with the Duke boys than David Duke, I have no affection for the Confederate flag. And never have. Not so much because of its ties to racism but because of its ties to the Confederacy.

I share the views of my paternal grandfather. It’s the symbol of rebellion. To his grandfather it was as much of an enemy flag as the swastika was to my maternal grandfather. My great-great grandfather was one of Lincoln’s first volunteers from Illinois. He was wounded in the Battle of Bull Run, healed, and re-entered the fight. My blood runs Union blue.

Here’s the thing. I’m fine with those who choose to fly the confederate flag in the same way I tolerate those who choose to fly swastikas, hammer and sickle flags, wear Che shirts, or burn the American flag. I hate racism, anti-Semitism, communism, and anti-Americanism. But I do love freedom.

Feel free to weigh in on this issue.

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7 thoughts on “Roots, Racism, or Rebellion

  1. Thank you, Gretchen, for some common sense in a supposedly free society. (Did you hear about the court decision in Wisconsin today?) I don’t think I would say I am “fine” with Swastikas, but I will tolerate someone brandishing them so I have the same right to share my Christian faith. If we are truly free, we must educate ourselves and be a society who thinks through the issues. We must be wise. Otherwise, we are doomed.

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    • I’m with you on swastikas. I truly wonder who would fly a flag symbolic of hatred. I don’t quite see the same connection with the confederate flag. Blame it on “The Dukes of Hazard”.
      I cringe when I see any symbol of anti-freedom. It’s especially hard seeing flags burn knowing the cost of that freedom.

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    • I went back and reworded my original post that said “I’m okay with” to “I tolerate” after your comment. It’s much closer to my true feelings. I don’t like it but I don’t make a stink.

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  2. Honestly I think a lot of Americans are disconnected from history and the past. While many have deep ties to their roots, there are an equal number who have no roots to speak of at all. So when it comes to things like the confederate flag, I think there’s a huge gap between those who view it as a symbol of the confederacy &/or racism and those who see it merely as a symbol of southern culture right alongside grits, buttermilk biscuits and the word “ya’ll”.

    My blood runs military because most of the men in my family (up to my grandfathers/great-uncles) on both sides have served. My family’s roots only go back to about the turn-of-the-century. Some of us were here before then but family history gets lost, distorted, and forgotten. So the idea of someone identifying as Union blue is about as foreign to me as someone identifying as a Loyalist or Patriot. I have no idea which side my ancestors were on during the civil war – probably both. My father has been trying to learn more over the past 20 years but anything he uncovers doesn’t change who we are or what we believe. And I doubt I’m the only American with that perspective.

    Symbols mean something – but they also mean something different to everyone. The peace symbol is wildly popular today but many Americans, my family included, associate it with the Vietnam war and the protests of that time and despise it just as vehemently as many despise the confederate flag. The rainbow means two very different things to Christians and homosexuals. The swastika is also a deeply religious symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. So while I personally choose to avoid the confederate flag due to the negative connotations, I rarely even notice it when I see it and I can understand why some are digging in their heels to cling to it.

    And I think it’s a mistake for everyone across the country to rush to judgement against anyone and everyone who doesn’t feel exactly the same way they do. Some may see the confederate flag alongside racism, anti-Semitism, communism, and anti-Americanism. I see the peace symbol as a representation of those who turned their backs on men badly scarred both mentally and physically from service to their country. But I don’t assume every person with a peace symbol on their car is one of them.

    I think this applies, too: http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/09/16/sorry-but-its-your-fault-if-your-offended-all-the-time/

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  3. I’ve always lived in the South, but my family did not arrive in America until after the Civil War. I’ve never flown a Confederate flag, but it doesn’t bother me when I see one. I’ve gotten to know individuals who do fly them, and they have been kind, generous, and tolerant people. I personally don’t think the Confederate or any flag of another country that has flown over a region (or city, which I’ve also seen) that eventually became a stable part of the Union should be removed. I consider it an attempt to erase a part of American history. Having said that, I’m glad America didn’t fall to the Nazis for any period of time because I would not want the swastika flying anywhere! Of course, the Confederacy was a nation formed by states that voted and chose to create it, while the Nazi regime was a hostile takeover of multiple countries by a political regime.

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