“Is it about segregation or self-sustainability?”
Throughout the United States history, the Confederate flag has long been a subject of a lot of debates. What does this flag truly mean? Some say it is the flag that is representation of people who wanted to keep slavery going; in addition to the fact they lost the war. Others state that it is a representation against the government not allowing the southern regions to express the freedom of the states. Then you have the those who are more overt that feel it is segregation and proud of it. I myself have views on what the Confederate flag means and why people still today fly it with pride.
In my view of what the Confederate flag means, I first try to look at the side of people who are for the flag. All throughout my own life I have heard the words pride. People state that, “It’s not racism, it’s heritage.” Now I have disagreed, but as a rational thinker I have to understand what it is before showing resentment myself. So I observe the history of the south. At the height of not only slavery, but Jim Crow, the south was the dominant region. You could almost say, if not for the most part, it’s what built the United States. Toward the end of slavery, America was the wealthiest country in the world, and it came in part because of the strong leadership of the men who built and maintained the Confederacy. (We’ll come back to the slavery aspect later).
Not only did these men lead the Confederacy, you could almost say they have taken the blame for keeping slavery going. In their defense, they would say yes we did, but the north benefited as well, if not more. To call these men in the south a bunch of hillbillies who hated African Americans was just inaccurate. Especially considering it’s what provided so much economic stability for the country that gave the men up north their power positions. Not only that, but Confederates wanted to express their own freedom of the places in which they dwelled. They felt, “We have our own government, our own self-sustaining economy, our own trade deals.” “Why should we be forced to conform to the North’s way when we obviously can have our own state.
Well this is where the idea of racism comes into play. That strong leadership, that strong economy, that strong self-sustaining system was due to African Americans being held against their will. Slavery kept the machine motors running. But in today’s society, people fly the flag and say it’s not hatred, it’s heritage. Tough to say considering the subjugation is what kept the system strong. How I see the matter, is if the Confederates would have been told, “Fine, keep your system, keep your flag, keep your everything.” “But, you can not hold these group of people against their will.” “We are not saying you’re forced to employ them or give them anything, but they are no longer held to service you.” There still would have been resistance in telling these men how to run their region of the country.
And that is what makes the heritage argument so difficult for me to understand. Because I have always asked the question, what is heritage really? It’s tough for people to explain because keeping the power was keeping Black people against their will. Now had the Confederates have said fine, we’ll free them, but we want our own system from here on out in the south. We want our own power base. Meaning our own trade deals, currency, farming techniques, government structure, and so forth. Had they have done this, the resistance would or course be there. Hell, I might even disagree, just off of the fact that we would have a split nation, but then I could to a great degree remove the slavery aspect.
And that is what makes the topic so divisive. I’m sure there are people who fly the flag as a symbol of wanting more freedom of state, or even in rebellion against our current system’s policies. But the fact remains that the men who fought so hard “did” want to keep slavery going. They “did” want to hold a group of people against their will. And whether you want to believe it or not they “were” bigoted and lost the war. So today in the year 2016 is that the case, I can’t say for sure. But in that time period it “was” about slavery as well as a symbol fighting desegregation in the south during Jim Crow.