Confederate flag: Heritage or hate?


confederate_color_courtesy_of_eyeliam

Racism. Violence. Hatred. Are these the proper words to be associated with the Confederate flag?

Since June 17, the majority of Americans seem to believe so. After 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and proceeded to murder nine innocent people, almost any sensible person would believe what happened was an act of racism and hatred. Once information came out about Roof, specifically pictures of him brandishing a Confederate flag, a debate was sparked concerning the use of this symbol.

American citizens used the power of protest to force the South Carolina Senate to remove the flag from the State House. Wal-Mart pulled all products related to the flag from its shelves. People across the country want the flag to be retired to museums, or even done away with all together.

However, many Americans take the other side. Confederate flag sales spiked in the aftermath, as thousands of Americans who believe the flag symbolizes Southern pride rather than racism wanted to purchase them before they became unavailable. Locally and recently, a man in Columbia, Pennsylvania, was attacked for flying the flag on his vehicle, leading to him starting a parade supporting the flag through downtown Columbia. The debate continues to this day. Does the Confederate flag represent racism, or does it represent the heritage and history of the southern United States?

In historical terms, the flag was the official banner of the Confederate States of America, which were the states that seceded from the U.S., sparking the American Civil War. These states, mostly located in the southern corner of the country, believed in the right to own slaves, which was rooted in the argument over states’ rights. Slavery was rooted in racism, specifically the belief that Caucasian-Americans were superior to African-Americans.

Fast-forward another century and racism is still prevalent in America. Slavery was abolished decades ago, but strife between different races in America caused many acts of violence, hatred and protests over the years. Many believe race issues need to be left in the past, and one method of doing just that is to do away with the Confederate flag.

This method will do little to nothing to improve race relations in the U.S.

Yes, racism is terrible, even downright evil. It is an issue that has plagued the U.S. since its inception. However, erasing the history of slavery will not do much to fix this issue.

My issue with the controversy surrounding the banishment of the Confederate flag centers on its historical significance. The flag is a vital component to the history of the U.S. Monuments to the Confederacy number in the thousands across the country. To simply erase the flag from history is absurd to me.

History is not always pretty. Human beings are capable of evil things, and American history is rife with dark moments, slavery being perhaps the biggest blight on our controversial history. This darker side needs to be shown and taught. History must be written in an all-encompassing manner. Once history is selectively written, showing only what the author wants to show, it becomes incomplete.

Imagine going through a history textbook and finding nothing on the Holocaust. These bleak moments of humanity cannot simply be erased and forgotten. In fact, they should be highlighted and taught in schools to instruct future generations to learn from their mistakes. To erase the Confederate flag means to rewrite history. Once history is rewritten and revised, future citizens will not get the whole story of their country, which is in and of itself the exact opposite of what should be done.

“To erase the Confederate flag means to rewrite
history.”

-Josh Torzillo

The Confederate flag is what its name says: it represented the Confederacy of the U.S. Its original intention was not to promote or endorse racism and slavery. Yes, the Confederacy supported slavery, but the flag itself did not represent slavery.

Over the years, people have hijacked the use of the flag and used it to support racism and hatred to others. There is no way to justify the murders of innocent people, and Roof was indeed a racist person, but the correlation between his racism and the flag has been twisted and distorted over the years.

I in no way support racism, and I do believe the Confederate flag has become a symbol of racism over the decades, but this does not mean the U.S. should do away with it. Perhaps the flag should not be flown over government buildings, but as for citizens, it is their freedom to fly it.

Many who fly Confederate flags are simply lovers of history and heritage, something many local people understand, given the closeness of Gettysburg. To me, the erasing of the Confederate flag from American history is a push that is just a little too politically correct. It would result in the closing of hundreds of battlefields and national parks, which were made with the purpose of educating the public on the Civil War and all that related to it. The eradication of the Confederate flag denies the American public from knowing the full history of their country.


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