# The Confederate Flag

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MaxS
I am currently in a heated (and very drawn out ) debate as to the merit of displaying confederate flags.

While I argue that it is an overtly racist symbol and should be treated as such, they argue that it is a symbol of "Heritage not Hate."

I'm curious as to where PF goers fall on this. Feel free to post your reasoning (and thanks in advance if I rip you off =D just joking).

Kakarot
i don't really care if they display it. to me it just makes me stereotype them as ignorant southern christians lol

Mk
MaxS said:
While I argue that it is an overtly racist symbol and should be treated as such, they argue that it is a symbol of "Heritage not Hate."
Exactly my reasoning, but I would not recommend putting one up in some places, like having a North Korea flag on your house if you live on a military base.

Homework Helper
MaxS said:
I am currently in a heated (and very drawn out ) debate as to the merit of displaying confederate flags.

While I argue that it is an overtly racist symbol and should be treated as such, they argue that it is a symbol of "Heritage not Hate."

I'm curious as to where PF goers fall on this. Feel free to post your reasoning (and thanks in advance if I rip you off =D just joking).
What heritage are they talking about?

A heritage of revolting against the government and getting their butts kicked? A heritage of not being part of the US? Or is it just the hope that the next time they go to war against the US they just might win?

There might be some local meaning that outsiders miss, but I sure don't know what it would be.

Echo 6 Sierra
I've heard a little on both sides. (con)that the stars represent the original 13 slave states, (pro)that the war was really about "states rights to govern themselves" and slavery was just an aside. I personally think its a relic that needs to be forgotten and removed from society. It serves no purpose.

HAIL TEXAS! Now there's a flag! The stars at niiiight are big and briiiight,(CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP) deepinnahearrrrrt of TEXAAAAAS! :!)

"You can go to Hell, I'm going to Texas!" Davy Crockett

"Someone go see what all those guys want." Davy Crockett @ the Alamo (not really,slaps own hand with a ruler)

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
First of all, neither the Confederates nor the Union fought the Civil War over slavery - at least on paper. The South fought for State's Rights, for the Constititution as they read it, against the tyranny of a federal government that would seek to impose on them an unconstitutional mandate (the feared mandate of course being emancipation). The North in turn fought to "preserve the Union", to prevent the unconstitutional (as they read it) secession by the southern states. Neither side would admit that the war was about slavery. The South, losing the war, froze these attitudes and stewed in the juices of constitutional purity and loser's rancor for a hundred years. This is the mind-set from which the glorification of rebel yells and Confederate battle flags arises.

Blacks of course, with full justice, see the flags and so on as celebrations of racism. And they have had some success in selling their view in the South of today; it is now customary for white politicians to dissimulate their views on battle flags. Real change will take generations, if it ever comes.

And don't think the North is any better. Do you imagine that if the Northern recruiters had offered combat and risk of death in order to free black slaves instead of preserving the Union, that many boys from Wisconsin and Ohio would have come? And as far as racism today is concerned, ask any African-American of today about racism in Milwaukee and Cleveland.

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Mentor
First of all, neither the Confederates nor the Union fought the Civil War over slavery - at least on paper. The South fought for State's Rights, for the Constititution as they read it, against the tyranny of a federal government that would seek to impose on them an unconstitutional mandate (the feared mandate of course being emancipation). The North in turn fought to "preserve the Union", to prevent the unconstitutional (as they read it) secession by the southern states. Neither side would admit that the war was about slavery.
Actually, I tend to see it the opposite way. While it is true that neither side would admit verbally, (during the war), that it was about slavery, the entire precipitating "states rights" issue was, on paper, about slavery.

All of the larger political problems of the US were the result of slavery, starting with the difficulty getting the Constitution written. The civil war's precipitating event was Lincoln's election: South Carolina seceded (as promised) after Lincoln was elected, precisely because of his stance on slavery (slavery was the primary topic of the debates). The Comproimise of 1850 (and the Missiouri Compromise of 1820) divided up new states according to the criteria of slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 did the same. Fighting erupted in Kansas between slave owners and opponents, in response.

It is only natural (and right) that Lincoln should say that his primary (only?) concern once the war started was keeping the union together, but that should not be construed to mean that the war wasn't started because of slavery. Slavery is what caused the divisions that caused the war.

Timeline

Regarding the Confederate Flag itself, it can't be banned outright because of the 1st amendment, but it should be treated under the law in the same way a burning cross or white hood is treated, and it needs to be removed from all government buildings (meaning state flags that still show it need to be changed).

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Echo 6 Sierra
russ_watters said:
...but it should be treated under the law in the same way a burning cross or white hood is treated, and it needs to be removed from all government buildings (meaning state flags that still show it need to be changed).
...motion first and second, all in favor say aye...

Smurf
russ_watters said:
Regarding the Confederate Flag itself, it can't be banned outright because of the 1st amendment, but it should be treated under the law in the same way a burning cross or white hood is treated, and it needs to be removed from all government buildings (meaning state flags that still show it need to be changed).
I agree. Although I would say it shouldn't be banned outright, as opposed to merely can't be.

Townsend
russ_watters said:
Regarding the Confederate Flag itself, it can't be banned outright because of the 1st amendment...

It shouldn't be banned even if it was perfectly legal to do so...I don't condone racism and I wouldn't want to be friends with a racist. However, I believe people should be allowed to be racist and display racist symbols.

I do agree with russ that it should be removed from all federal government building except I believe that the individual state should have to right to decide if they want to have the symbol allowed on or in their buildings or on their flag.

If we want the federal government to take all matters into their own hands then we might as well stop pretending like this is the United States of America and just call it like it is...The Federal Government of America...

Townsend
Smurf said:
I agree. Although I would say it shouldn't be banned outright, as opposed to merely can't be.

Exactly...it shouldn't be banned regardless if it could be...

faust9
Townsend said:
It shouldn't be banned even if it was perfectly legal to do so...I don't condone racism and I wouldn't want to be friends with a racist. However, I believe people should be allowed to be racist and display racist symbols.

I do agree with russ that it should be removed from all federal government building except I believe that the individual state should have to right to decide if they want to have the symbol allowed on or in their buildings or on their flag.

If we want the federal government to take all matters into their own hands then we might as well stop pretending like this is the United States of America and just call it like it is...The Federal Government of America...

We are the federal government of America and have been for a long time. Also, it's fine and dandy to be altruistic and say "Trust the states to do the right thing..."; however, there have been many instances where the states themselves have fought the right thing and it took federal government intervention to get things moving in a more positive direction. Should the fed get involved with the flag issue? Probably not but that's not to say the states should get a free pass either. The fed can manipulate states fairly easily with \$ w/o directly say a state must change its ways---legal drinking age of 21 is a great example.

Gold Member
I don't believe the fan should be taken down or banned in any sense. The problem is perception vs. meaning. When we see a flag burned or an effigy or a cross burned, we all know what it means and the people who do it know what it means and they are pretty much the same thing. When you put up a Confederate flag, there is a conflict. A portion of the population sees it as a racist symbol however another portion sees it as a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of people who died for their states.

I mean once you start expanding the argument, the idea that it should be removed from society in any form is utterly ridiculous. Let's bring the British flag into question. The colonies were oppressed under the British flag but no one even questions the British flag being banned from society. If more and more people start claiming its a flag of oppression, should we feel it a necessity to remove it from society? Of course not. What of the memory of those who fell under the British flag? Trivialize it by removing its symbol? I don't think so...

I mean let's face it, you can't sum up the civil war as "slavery" in a serious discussion.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I have to say that I agree states at least should be disallowed to fly the flag. It's not so much that it's racist, but that it's treasonous. They're flying the flag of a rebellion that fought against the United States. I don't see how we can justify allowing a state to fly a flag that is symbolic of opposition to the union it is a part of.

Gold Member
That is a good point LYN. The one thing that is actually true for everyone who puts up that flag is that they realize it is a flag of rebellion since by definition, that was what the civil war was about.

russ_watters said:
Actually, I tend to see it the opposite way. While it is true that neither side would admit verbally, (during the war), that it was about slavery, the entire precipitating "states rights" issue was, on paper, about slavery.
If slavery was the key issue than why did several slave states fight on the union side? Also I believe (per the History channel) there were actually more slaves in the northern states than in the southern states at the beginning of the war.

It seemed the abolition of slavery was more to do with punishing the secession states than any higher moral conviction as evidenced by the gov't backed discrimination against blacks practiced right up until the 1960s.

Mentor
That argument could be used as a basis for banning the flag altogether, which is not something I'm uncomfortable with.

Smurf
russ_watters said:
That argument could be used as a basis for banning the flag altogether, which is not something I'm uncomfortable with.
I disagree, banning it outright is a violation of free speech, no matter what the circumstances. If people arn't free to dissent they're not free at all.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
russ_watters said:
Actually, I tend to see it the opposite way. While it is true that neither side would admit verbally, (during the war), that it was about slavery, the entire precipitating "states rights" issue was, on paper, about slavery.

All of the larger political problems of the US were the result of slavery, starting with the difficulty getting the Constitution written. The civil war's precipitating event was Lincoln's election: South Carolina seceded (as promised) after Lincoln was elected, precisely because of his stance on slavery (slavery was the primary topic of the debates). The Comproimise of 1850 (and the Missiouri Compromise of 1820) divided up new states according to the criteria of slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 did the same. Fighting erupted in Kansas between slave owners and opponents, in response.

It is only natural (and right) that Lincoln should say that his primary (only?) concern once the war started was keeping the union together, but that should not be construed to mean that the war wasn't started because of slavery. Slavery is what caused the divisions that caused the war.

Timeline

Regarding the Confederate Flag itself, it can't be banned outright because of the 1st amendment, but it should be treated under the law in the same way a burning cross or white hood is treated, and it needs to be removed from all government buildings (meaning state flags that still show it need to be changed).

If you reread my post, Russ, you'll see that I didn't naively accept the claims of North and South. But it wasn't just a transparent lie either. The sides really were passionate about the constitutional issues States' rights versus Preservation of the Union, your idea that it was a secondary idea after the war started is wrong, I believe. There was nothing constitutional that Lincoln as President could do about slavery, whatever his opinions might be. A constitutional amendment would be required, with its supermajority requirements at the state level, which Dixie still had enough states to block.

I think your statement about slavery making it hard to establish the constitution is overstated too. Both Massachusetts leaders like Hamilton and Adams and slave owning Virginia ones like Madison and Jefferson were proponents, and the difficulty was not between slave and free states but between small and large, and agricultural and mercantile.

Perhaps we should continue this discussion, if you care to, over on the history subforum.

Manchot
Art said:
If slavery was the key issue than why did several slave states fight on the union side? Also I believe (per the History channel) there were actually more slaves in the northern states than in the southern states at the beginning of the war.

It seemed the abolition of slavery was more to do with punishing the secession states than any higher moral conviction as evidenced by the gov't backed discrimination against blacks practiced right up until the 1960s.
Just because some slave states didn't secede, it didn't mean that the issue wasn't slavery. The best example of this is in Missouri, which was heavily divided on the issue. You see, most of the people in the St. Louis area were against secession and slavery, and most of the people in southern, rural Missouri were for both. It just so happened that there were more St. Louisans, and so they ended up winning out. In fact, Missouri was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment, partially because those Missourians who were for secession had left to fight for the South (and not that many battles were fought in that state).

Mentor
Perhaps we should continue this discussion, if you care to, over on the history subforum.
Art, sA, response posted in history subforum...
Smurf said:
I disagree, banning it outright is a violation of free speech, no matter what the circumstances. If people arn't free to dissent they're not free at all.
Dissent and treason are not the same thing. 'I wish to change the US government' is dissent and is legal, 'I wish to destroy the US government' is treason and is illegal.

Smurf
russ_watters said:
Dissent and treason are not the same thing. 'I wish to change the US government' is dissent and is legal, 'I wish to destroy the US government' is treason and is illegal.
And it's in this distinction that Americans are not free at all.

TRCSF
When people say that the confederate flag is about being pround of their Southern heritage I take it in the same vein as when people saying they're flying the swastika because they're pround of their rich German heritage.

Smurf
TRCSF said:
When people say that the confederate flag is about being pround of their Southern heritage I take it in the same vein as when people saying they're flying the swastika because they're pround of their rich German heritage.
People should be allowed to display swastikas as well. Censorship in this respect is just as wrong.

TRCSF
Smurf said:
People should be allowed to display swastikas as well. Censorship in this respect is just as wrong.

Should they be allowed to?

Yes.

Should they be considered racist and shunned by intelligent, morally-upright people everywhere?

Yes.

Smurf
TRCSF said:
Should they be considered racist and shunned by intelligent, morally-upright people everywhere?

Yes.
You know it's illegal to display swastikas in Germany, I was referring to that. And I disagree, I do not think symbols should be given such power.

TRCSF
Smurf said:
You know it's illegal to display swastikas in Germany, I was referring to that. And I disagree, I do not think symbols should be given such power.

Germany's kind of a different case. I'm by nature against the law, but I'm not about to tell German's how to handle it. Flying a swastika in Germany's a bit like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

I think I can sehd a little light on the subject.

I am a North Carolina Native, transplanted in Phoenix.
I am very proud of my southern roots, it will always be home.
To anyone who has never traveled to the south it is almost like another planet.
Now I am not a racist, quite the contrary I am a basketball junkie and went to a high school that was 70% black.
I never had any white friends until I moved west in '93.
I lived with black roomates and they weren't offended by the flag, the knew me.
I am not uneducated, I am an Engineer.
I am not christian, I don't believe in God in any fashion.

Your stereotypes would be 100% wrong when applied to me, but I accept that is what people think when they see my flag.

And there is a strong heritage connected to the flag that no one can understand unless the were from the south.
I guess it is similar to Mexican immigrants putting the name of there home city or whatever on their car, they are PROUD of their roots.

2CentsWorth
loseyourname said:
I have to say that I agree states at least should be disallowed to fly the flag. It's not so much that it's racist, but that it's treasonous. They're flying the flag of a rebellion that fought against the United States. I don't see how we can justify allowing a state to fly a flag that is symbolic of opposition to the union it is a part of.
Since the south wanted to secede from the union, I agree it is a symbol of treason and not just about states rights. I say let the ignorant rednecks split off and lose the economic benefits of the Union and see how they like it.

MaxS
Smurf said:
And I disagree, I do not think symbols should be given such power.

LOL smurfy my good man (my good tiny blue thingamabob?) here you have fallen off the road of sane thinking. :tongue:

The Cross... The Statues of Pregnant Women... The Buffalo... there is a reason all of these symbols are so important to human society. That reason is not some kind of conspiracy of the ruling class (though those in the know certainly understand how to exploit this).

Symbols are THE most important aspect of human thinking PERIOD. Symbols are the basis upon which language is built. Symbols exist because that is the way the human brain sees the world, as a collection of symbols.

Without symbols it would be impossible for us to make sense of the world. Of course on the negative side of this you have stereotyping (which by the way isn't always bad, just when it is mixed with malevolent prejudice) and prejudice (which by the way also isn't necessarily bad - we are all prejudiced about many many things, a very small example: Fast food does not feature high quality products.)

My point is that all these aspects (stereotyping, prejudice, beliefs, laws, and on and on) fall under symbology, which is the basis through which we understand the world.

You cannot CANNOT overemphasize the importance of symbols on the human psyche.

2CentsWorth said:
I say let the ignorant rednecks split off and lose the economic benefits of the Union and see how they like it.

...

There you go.

At the time of the Civil War the Southern states were the industry that drove this Nation. There is still plenty of Industry in the South and were they to secede I promise you they would do just fine.

Split off and not get the benefit of supporting the war in Iraq?
Bummer.

Thank god you are not Ignorant.

MaxS
2CentsWorth said:
Since the south wanted to secede from the union, I agree it is a symbol of treason and not just about states rights. I say let the ignorant rednecks split off and lose the economic benefits of the Union and see how they like it.

ROFL what is with you.

Yeah let the South secede, and see how much you "prosper" in the North as a result... LOLOLOOLOLLOOOLOOLOL

They should require some kind of "Infrastructure Economics" class in high school... where people like you get such notions I have no idea.

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MaxS
Tarheel said:
...

There you go.

At the time of the Civil War the Southern states were the industry that drove this Nation. There is still plenty of Industry in the South and were they to secede I promise you they would do just fine.

Split off and not get the benefit of supporting the war in Iraq?
Bummer.

Thank god you are not Ignorant.

WOWOWWOWOOWWOWWOWOWOWOW

I guess they should require a HISTORY CLASS TOO (Oh wait they do...)

During the civil war the NORTH had the industry, for ****s sake.

Smurf
MaxS said:
...

You cannot CANNOT overemphasize the importance of symbols on the human psyche.
Okay. And do you think it is good to elevate a symbol to the point an entire population wishes it banned outright so that they never have to lay eyes on it again? To me this idea alone seems like the makings of something out of 1984 (I've actually never read anything by Orwell (except one essay) but I hear good things).

MaxS
Smurf said:
Okay. And do you think it is good to elevate a symbol to the point an entire population wishes it banned outright so that they never have to lay eyes on it again? To me this idea alone seems like the makings of something out of 1984 (I've actually never read anything by Orwell (except one essay) but I hear good things).

Smurf that's not the point.

I was trying to say that you can't de-emphasize the importance of symbols in civilization anymore than you can de-emphasize the importance of language they are completely intertwined.

In fact if you're going by a strictly sociological definition, language IS a symbol.

Look, I understand what you're trying to say and where you're coming from, I'm just trying to point out that its fundamentally impossible to do what you're asking - the human brain is built on symbols.