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Common way of referring to the flag of the Confederate States of America. Features a red background with blue crossing strips. Stars are inset on the strips. Currently a debate is raging over what exactly the flag now stands for. Whenever I see it (which is often since I live in Kentucky) I think about the soldiers who died for how they felt government should be controlled. The idea that any of the soldiers fought for slavery is insane since none of them had slaves. They probably disliked slavery as it took away possible jobs for themselves. I believe that they did fight to keep the North from being able to control aspects of Southern life through the federal government. Some people like to say it's stupid to fly a flag of a movement that failed, but I really don't think it totally failed. It had a major impact on the continued existance of state's rights.

neil: That's a really good point. In fact, I find it hard to recover from it's vicious blow. My main problem is that to me slavery wasn't the important issue at all. If slavery wouldn't have been the issue then something else most likely would have been. If were making (somewhat wild) comparisons then I could say the American flag has connotations of slavery. Should we ban the flying of any American flag that flew before the Emancipation Proclamation? The United States, not just the South, is a country that got on it's feet because of slavery. It seems that a connotation is not sufficient.

Also, who should define what the flag stands for? I know this has been asked many times in regard to this issue. Should the decendants of the confederate soldiers, or should the offended parties? IMHO, it should be the decendents. It's very hard for me to believe that comdemning the flag is not also condemning those who fought for the South in the Civil War. Their lives are now reduced to being fools who were clutching to an ignorant idea. My feelings for the Confederate soldier are just as strong, and for the same reasons, as my feelings for those who fought and died in the American Revolution.

dragoon: I seriously doubt may of the people who did the fighting were worried aobut "their slaves" as they didn't have any. It is true that they were worried about the North telling them what to do though. In fact, that was basically the whole point. I could see them starting a small fight over "their slaves", but continuing to fight against great odds in horrific battles for that reason is ridiculous. They felt that their way of life was going to be slowly destroyed unless they did something about it. Oh, BTW, the reclaiming derisive terms is cool.

I am also from Kentucky. To me, saying the rebel flag is not about slavery is like saying the Nazi flag is not about anti-Semitism. Yes, the seceding states did not do so solely for the purpose of perpetuating slavery. Neither did the Third Reich storm through Europe solely for the purpose of exterminating the Jews. That doesn't stop the Confederate flag from still carrying connotations of racism, much as does the black, white, and red swastika banner.

The confederate flag is directly offensive to a good thirteen percent of the U.S. population, and indirectly offensive to many more. Suggesting that Southern states should fly it to symbolise their heritage is like suggesting that Germany fly the emblem of the N.S.D.A.P. to symbolise its greatest period of ascendency.


sfc: As to your first paragraph (about the American flag representing slavery): that's a good point. I'll have to think about it. It may perhaps be that the U.S. has had the opportunity to correct some of its injustices, while the Confederacy and the N.S.D.A.P. didn't last long enough to correct theirs---and probably wouldn't have, anyway.

As to your second, I'll have to disagree with you. To continue the Nazi parallel, should the descendents of Third Reich soldiers get to determine what the Nazi flag stands for? Perhaps it stands for the elimination of Marxism. Morally, everyone is entitled to determine the meaning of a symbol---and, were I the ultimate arbiter of such things, I would have to say that the horrors of slavery and racism it evokes to many people (myself included) more than outweigh the pride it evokes to others.

In reality, it's not a matter of who should determine the meaning of symbols---it's a matter of who does. Telling southern blacks that ``really, this flag doesn't symbolise racism and slavery'' is a lie; it does to them, and---completely ignoring the North for the moment---it does to many white southerners as well. It's like telling Jews, ``the swastika symbolises the sun and anti-Communism, not lebensraum and the Final Solution''.

The comment about letting it be up to the descendants of Confederate soldiers to determine what a flag means is ridiculous. The flag, like all flags, is a symbol. Symbols can both impart meaning to a cause, a country, a group of people (e.g., the American Eagle, as opposed to the American Turkey) but they will also gain meaning from what they represent. A good example is the swastika, which was a common decoration in many cultures up until its use by Nazi Germany. (Early printings of Rudyard Kipling books, that is, from the first part of the 20th century, often feature the swastika in the frontispiece since it was a very important Indian symbol.)

In this case, the Stars and Bars was flown by an army which defended (among other things) slavery. Its connotation is of oppression, and not by the North, but by white Southerners of black Southerners. When I see it flown, or on bumper stickers, I tend to treat it with contempt. Unfortunate, yes, but a flag which may have been fought for honorably and courageously is now typically used as a subtle indication of a desire for white supremacy.

Although it's true that the Civil War was in large inspired by the increased federalization of the North coming in conflict with the state's rights philosophy of the South, sfc's view of the soldiers' motivations is far too self-serving - how many of them fought "so the damn yankees won't tell us what to do with our slaves"? It's also interesting how Confederate apologists use the subjective nature of perception when defending the flag, when most of them are pretty damn set about which way of life is right, and if you don't agree with them, better stay away.

Interestingly enough, the rebel flag design is becoming increasingly popular with Southern blacks. There's a company that sells various merchandise - shirts, hats, flags - using the rebel flag design but using the colors of red, green and black - colors more commonly associated with black identity groups and such. Besides being a good example of coopting derisive terms, it's amusing because it pisses off nearly everyone. Always a worthy goal.

sfc: Sorry, I must not have been clear. What I mean is, back then many whites viewed blacks as an inferior race intended only for servitude. (Even most Northerners disliked blacks; they just didn't think they should be slaves) Some of the soldiers truly felt that blacks deserved slavery, and objected to their emancipation, even if they themselves did not own slaves. A lot of people risk their lives for ridiculous things. Jihad, anyone?

As for coopting derisive terms, I personally dislike the approach and the argument, but I mention it when I think it's valid.

Although most closely identified with the Confederate Battle Flag, this can also refer to The Bonnie Blue Flag or any of several other Confederate flags: the Stars and Bars (the first official flag) or two later variants.

The Stars and Bars was too like the Union flag, which led to battlefield confusion. In 1863 the Confederacy adopted a new official flag, the "Stainless Banner", essentially the Battle Flag as the canton¹ on a white field. Majorly dumb idea - the flag was too easily mistaken for a white flag of surrender. By 1865 a red bar was added to the fly end of the flag to prevent this error - this flag was flown by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the last days before Appomattox.

I hate to dispute you folks who live in The South ... but ... the Stars and Bars is not the same as the Confederate Battle Flag as implied above. See the descriptions of the Stars and Bars and the Confederate Battle Flag.

Note: I will gladly stand corrected if need be ...

1. Webby explains this badly. The top left corner (sometimes top half but left third) of the flag. The blue square where the stars are on the American flag.
Having spent a good part of my life in Alabama, I have noticed that to those who proudly display the Confederate Battle Flag know very little about its true history or significance. To those who have the stickers on their dented pickup-truck bumpers, it is a "rebel" flag - rebelling against integration in the workplace, having to 'fight for jobs with n.....s' and 'work for the north.' Regardless of its historical significance and proud heritage, it has become a symbol of union and accordance among low-income white southerners with racist attitudes.

Yes, the north was the first party to burn down entire cities and the south was miserably beaten after fighting to the bitter end. Frankfurt, Ulm and Berlin were also bombed to the ground and Germany struggled to win the war, losing many patriots. Neither excuses griping or an evil motive; arguing that the flag stands for continued resistance is simply pretensious - 99% of people with a confederate flag as a bumper sticker couldn't name three civil war battle sites if their lives depended on it.

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