By Edwin Crayton
An anonymous caller has threatened of one of the content providers of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.com for running an article asking why the Confederate flag flies over city hall in Provencal, Louisiana. Read the article at http://wp.me/p5VQCS-Ky
The fact that someone actually threatened a life merely for publishing an article questioning the flag’s legitimacy illustrates the vicious hatred that still surrounds the controversial symbol. And it also demonstrates why a growing number of people across the nation are calling for it to be removed from government buildings. In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that I wrote that article on the Confederate flag flying over the city hall.
The article simply polled whites and African Americans and asked them what they felt when they saw the Confederate flag flying. While several whites and African Americans differed on whether the flag is positive or negative, most agreed that some saw it as a symbol of heritage and people in both groups also acknowledged that it stirred up division.
Indeed, one thing no one can deny, the flag is indeed divisive and tends to open up old wounds. Perhaps this is why even General Robert E. Lee, the south’s top general in the Civil War distanced himself from the flag. In a story from CNN.com, quite surprisingly, Lee is quoted as having said about the flag, “I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war,” Lee is said to have written this in a letter declining to attend a battlefield Memorial in Gettysburg. The CNN article goes on to comment that there were no flags flown at his funeral, “Confederate or otherwise.”Read the article at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/24/us/confederate-flag-myths-facts/
Before the Journal article ran, the city hall at Provencal flew two Confederate flags. But curiously after the news story ran, one of the Confederate flags was replaced with an African Liberation flag but it was flown upside down for some reason. I wondered if that was on purpose or just an accident resulting from ignorance of the flag. So I called Provencal’s mayor to ask about that and about the Confederate flag they’re still flying, but did got get a response by press time.
Supporters of the flag claim that they support it because it’s part of their heritage. But what heritage are they referring to? A look at the history of the Confederate flag, which is technically referred to as the “battle flag” reveals that the truth is, the flag’s entire history has been connected to hate and violence. After a lull in popularity for years, in the 1950s and 60s, the flag began to experience a rebirth, as the Klux Klux Klan and other racist groups began to use the symbol in their opposition to integration and to demonstrate support of white supremacy. Indeed the KKK uses it today quite prominently. In the1950s, angry white mobs who tried to prevent 9 black children from integrating schools in Little Rock, waved the flag as they attacked and cursed the brave high school students, who had to be led into schools by armed federal officers for protection. In the tragic murder of white Civil Rights worker Viola Liuzzo, the flag appeared at rallies as people actually celebrated her killing. But its impact as a racist symbol isn’t limited to America. In a story on businesinsider.com, Matthew Speiser wrote an article that reported that in Germany today, because Nazis are banned from flying the Swastika, they fly the Confederate flag. He adds, “Nazis have adopted the Confederate flag and variations of it because of its historical association as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.” And then of course, we know that Dylan Roof, the young racist who shot the African American church goers in church, prior to the act, had a photo taken of himself holding a Confederate flag. Ironically, despite his act of hatred, in this case the hate crime didn’t inspire racial violence, but offers of Christian forgiveness from the church.
With a heritage of violence, division and racism like that, the question should be, why would anyone really try to claim with a straight face that the flag is just about heritage? And again, if it is, is it a heritage we need to celebrate? To be fair, people have a right to wear it or display it at home. But the question is, should a government building fly such a clearly divisive symbol since government facilities are supposed to represent all the people? When a person feels he must threaten someone simply for an article that criticizes the flag, the final question we all need to ask is, is flying any flag really worth all that?