The Confederate Flag and Racism

Recently I've seen several images of the confederate flag in town. Mainly on cars, but also on t-shirts. And I always wonder, are these people displaying that image racists?  If one were to actually ask that question, the answers would almost always be negative, unless you had the bad luck to happen upon a proud holder of KKK type beliefs.  Signs are given meaning by people, of course, so when a confederate flag waver invokes "Southern Heritage," who's to argue that? No doubt people who invoke heritage are proud of their roots. For many, reality doesn't seem to matter when it comes to abstract matters such as identity. There is a strong tendency to idealize.  And then there is the "it's all about freedom" set: hey it's a free country, I can wear any t shirt I want..."  True. It's also extremely offensive. The name pretty much sums it up: that flag started out representing the battle units of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. In case you forgot, that's the side that seceded in order to maintain their "states' rights," as in the right to enslave human beings of a certain color. And after they lost the war and were pulled back into the union, these same states made many and repeated efforts to assure the continued subjugation of the former slaves.  Not surprisingly, to many citizens, the confederate flag signals a racist, retrograde ideology, not freedom, not a care-free "rebel" attitude.

When presidential candidate Rick Perry was elected governor of Texas he invited rocker Ted Nugent to perform at his inaugural ball. Great choice. Ted came to the party wearing a shirt with a confederate flag on it. Perry had no problem with that.  Check out Ted's message to then Senator Obama during one of his concerts.

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