The Confederate Flag: Almost two hundred years later

The U.S. flag and South Carolina state flag flies at half staff to honor the nine people killed in the Charleston murders as the confederate battle flag also flies on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in Columbia

by Jacob Condo, Staff Writer

Almost 200 years after the Civil War, the Confederate Flag is still a matter of contention.

In June, the Heritage Preservation Society filed a petition for a rehearing of their appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, regarding their lawsuit against the city of Danville.

The lawsuit was filed against Danville for banning the Confederate Flag from buildings and flagpoles owned by the city.

The Danville City Council made their decision to ban the flag in August of 2015, in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina shooting of a congregation of African Americans.

The shooter in said events was a self-proclaimed white supremacist, who was seen in many photos with the flag in question.

The national conversation regarding the Confederate Flag became drastically heated because the shooter and others like him were often shown with the flag, and proclaimed it as a symbol of their ideologies.

For months after the shooting, protesters gathered in front of government buildings all across the former Confederate States and demanded that any confederate battle flags should be taken down.

Since these protests, many municipalities have taken down their “stars and bars” and even banned them from being flown on town or city properties. Such was the case in Danville, Virginia.

Proponents of the flag maintain that it is a symbol of the historic and cultural heritage of the southern states.

Critics point out that the flag and the confederate constitution it represented is a symbol for the institution of slavery.

“To put it more simply,” wrote CNN correspondent Sally Kohn in an opinion piece demanding the flags be taken down, “South Carolina and the rest of the South only seceded to preserve the violent domination and enslavement of black people, and the Confederate Flag only exists because of that secession. To call the flag “heritage” is to gloss over the ugly reality of history.”

The battle flag we all know today wasn’t actually the flag used to represent the Confederacy during the Civil War. It was actually the flag for Robert E. Lee’s battle unit during the war. The flag’s reappearance after the Civil War was far more recent.

“South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond ran for president under the newly founded States Rights Democratic Party, also known as the Dixiecrats,” CNN correspondent Ben Brumfield noted on this resurgence in an article regarding the historical facts and fictions tied to the flag.

He continued, “the party’s purpose was clear: “We stand for the segregation of the races,” said Article 4 of its platform… At campaign stops, fans greeted Thurmond with American flags, state flags — and Confederate battle flags.”

Now, however, the conversation about the Confederate battle flag has quieted down in the shadow of the presidential elections. Propositions to remove the flags from state capitol buildings have gone quiet, as attention focuses in on the presidential candidates and the war in the Middle East.

One such example is that of the State of Mississippi.

The State Flag of Mississippi is the last to display the infamous battle flag as part of its design.

While most municipalities within the state removed the flag from government property in the wake of the Charleston shooting, the state flag remains the same despite protests.

Supporters of the flag and its inclusion of the battle flag claim that the flag itself is not ‘evil’. In fact, they quickly and publicly condemned the association that the perpetrator of the Charleston shooting (one Dylann Roof) created with the flag, as he posed for picture with the battle flag in clear view.

“The flag is not evil. Some people who used it were evil. But that doesn’t mean we should get rid of it,” Spokesperson for the Mississippi Division for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Mark Allen said at one point during the debates on the removal of the Confederate Flag last spring.

Despite the reasons for and against keeping the flag, it remains (so far) unchanged amidst protest and support.

No matter how they feel about the flag, the wheels of the Oval Office are turning.

Perhaps when all is said and done, the flag will be changed and the battle flag that many southerners consider a symbol of heritage and pride will be censored like so many books.

Or maybe it will be raised high, forever tainted by association to racism and hate groups.

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