Sunday, August 02, 2009
My Flag Too
The Confederate battle flag. How so many people love to hate this banner! I used to be one of them, being Black and all, but over the years I've come to really like this much maligned symbol. Before you throw stones at me or call me an oreo, hear me out.
First, I like the Confederate battle flag (CBF) for purely aesthetic reasons. I just think it's a beautiful image. I love the mix of colors, stripes, and stars. I was fascinated to learn several years ago that the stripes in the CBF are actually a form of the cross called the St. Andrew's or saltire cross. This is the cross on Scotland's national flag and was chosen for the Confederacy largely because the majority of White Southerners were of Scottish descent. I believe it was an appropriate choice as the saltire works to produce a most delightful treat to the eyes. But, aesthestics aside, what about the CBF'S history as a symbol of slavery and racial injustice, many will ask. Doesn't the Confederate battle flag's association with racism offend me? In a word, no.
The notion that the Confederacy's battle banner is uniquely linked to racism is something that I've never understood. It's like the people who promote that idea don't know anything about history, or just don't care because they're too busy making political hay out of the CBF. But the fact is that there is nothing uniquely racist about the Confederate battle flag, and those who claim there is are being profoundly hypocritical. If liberals hate the CBF because it supposedly symbolizes slavery and racism, then why don't they hate every flag that has ever flown over a slaveholding nation, and every symbol ever used by racist groups?
I mean, if the Confederate battle flag is to be despised because of its association with the slaveholding South, then what are we to make of the Star and Stripes? America's national flag waved over a slavery practicing country just as surely as the CBF did. It also waved over a country that was steeped in racism long after slavery was abolished. And that racism was not confined to the South. A documentary on Malcolm X revealed that when he was born in Nebraska Klan membership there was "five times higher than in Mississippi". Is Nebraska's state flag hated because of that unsavory fact? Of course not.
And what about the Muslim flags?
Arab Muslims started trading in African slaves hundreds of years before Europeans did. Yet today Arab Muslims aren't ashamed of their flags; they don't look at them as symbols of a despicable past. But if symbols matter, and if moral consistency matters, shouldn't they be? Wouldn't they be?
The hatred of the Confederate battle flag has nothing to do with morality. It's about a liberal, anti-White ideology and I embrace the CBF as a form of resistance to that ideology. Unlike many liberals I'm a genuine anti-racist. I don't believe in being racist against anyone, including White people. So, irony of ironies, claiming the CBF as my own is, for me, part of opposing racism. But there's another, simpler reason why I like the Confederate battle flag.
I like the CBF just because I'm a Southerner. The Confederate battle flag isn't a symbol of the slaveholding South; it's a symbol of the South, period. Black Southerners are Southerners. We are part of the South and Southern culture is as much ours as it is the slaveholders'. Black Southerners are as conservative as White Southerners. We're proud of the fact that the South is known as the Bible Belt. Yes, we've been influenced by the anti-traditionalist ideology of modern liberalism, but we still hold traditional, Bible-based, Southern values as the ideal to aspire to. The Confederate battle flag's haters forget that the CBF represents those now embattled values more than it represents anything else. Those are values anyone, White or Black, can believe in. And that's why, even though I'm Black, the Confederate battle flag is my flag, too.