No ‘accidental racists’ when it comes to displaying Confederate flag
In regards to Al Capurso’s letter on the Confederate Flag, the 1950s/60s saw a resurgence of Confederate emblems in southern states intended to underscore the case for segregation and draw a line in the sand barring intervention.
The Dixiecrats (states’ rights Democrats) were, perhaps, the first to revive Confederate flags on a large scale. State flags were reworked to include the Confederate battle flag. Georgia incorporated it in the state flag design in 1956. “Ole Miss” university ran it up the flagpole following the Brown Vs. Board of Education decision. It reappeared over the SC state house in 1962.
The revival of White Power groups that occurred in the 1990s transformed the Confederate battle flag which had devolved to a pop-culture emblem loosely embraced by fans of the TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Mingling the battle flag with Nazi emblems, the numbers 14 and 88, Nordic Heavy Metal, skinheads and other isolated hate groups sequestered in internet chatrooms and blogs; the Confederate battle flag came full-circle, realigned with its hateful, racist past.
In the wake of the terrorist attack in Charleston and the evident connection to white power groups and the Confederate battle flag’s prominent position in the perpetrators’ record, many cities and states in the south began removing divisive symbols and monuments from their public spaces. Still there is push-back as some resist efforts to eliminate symbols that for many are reminders that they don’t belong, that they remain second-class citizens.
Northern states do not have statues of Generals Lee, Beauregard or Jackson in public parks. It’s safe to say that no public building in New York State has flown the Confederate battle flag since the state’s Ku Klux Klan chapters waned in the 1930s. Who does fly the Confederate flag? …Civil War reenactors, NASCAR fans, southern rock fans – individuals invested in a harmless/sophomoric attachment to the Confederate flag? Outside the neutral context of History there is nothing benign about the Confederate battle flag as there is nothing benign about racism.
The Confederate flag is a symbol. Through common usage it means something. Despite exceptional arguments, the flag’s racist, segregationist, pro-slavery history is inextricably part of its fabric. In that respect there are no “accidental racists.”