In today’s continuation of last week’s “Confederate Flag” commentary, I reiterate that— in my personal opinion— the only time it is unarguably, undeniably, 100% appropriate to display the various Confederate flags in all their glory is in direct conjunction with their historical Civil War context. Museums, war memorials, military cemeteries, reenactments, and so on. You can’t just erase the symbol from its historical context simply because you don’t like how it was used in the 150 years afterward, or because you don’t like the 150-year-old behavior or politics of the people who invented it.
It’s our history, folks, and it’s pretty complex. Don’t want to be reminded of it? Get the modernized, co-opted symbols taken down and removed from public view if it makes you feel better. Boycott whatever corporation you blame for perpetuating that modern symbology. BUT LEAVE THE HISTORY ALONE.
Don’t try to revise our national narrative because you don’t like parts of it. In our increasingly polarized political landscape there is a LOT to be learned from the savage politics and dire machinations that resulted in the splitting of our country for 5 years of its history, and which cost 750,000 American lives. Which event is simply a single episode among many in the messy, bloody, sometimes incomprehensible history of our nation.
There’s nothing wrong with a Confederate War Memorial, or ANY kind of war memorial, as long as it isn’t intended directly to provoke or insult someone.
Regarding other uses of that symbol:
Let’s face facts: anyone with the even the tiniest modicum of historical knowledge and common sense should realize that the Confederate battle flag, in all its versions, is SPECIFICALLY INTENDED to represent a giant middle finger aimed straight at anyone who tries to encroach on its wielder’s right to do whatever he wants, in the way he wants to do it. THAT part of its historical significance goes all the way back to its place in the front line of the Army of Northern Virginia.
That’s what it represents. Defiance against external authority.
Everyone who personally displays it or personally flies it outside the bounds of historical reenactment, does so in a blatant spirit of open rebellion, specifically to insult any who would dare challenge their personal beliefs or behavioral choices.
Whenever that middle finger gets pointed in a new direction, it can do some serious damage. It can inspire people (hopefully in a good way; not always), frighten them (we know that), and demean them (not so cool, that part).
Maybe we should start paying closer attention to who is pointing that middle finger, at whom they are pointing it, and why.
And let’s rein in any who would wield it as a terrorist symbol in this century. Can’t we?