[Note: This is a response to the article “Yes, you’re a racist… and a traitor.”]
[Another Note: This is also a good reason to be careful self-applying any label or symbol that you do non control, as demonstrated below.]
In the case of the “Confederate Flag”, it seems like what’s really worth engaging is the impulse that finds expression in the Confederate Flag and the “giant vs underdog” narrative (Joss Whedon’s Firefly is a more blatant example than Gone with the Wind).
Difficult to untangle, Southern Pride is not the same thing as proudly wearing the Rebel Gray. Southerners are by far the majority of U.S. military enlisted troops and officers (and not because “they don’t have any other options”).
Compare that to the window dressing of to the phenomena of “having black friends”.
So if you keeping charging at the Stars and Bars as representing a monolithic Confederate South, you get snagged on symbols and get trapped in someone else’s game. (Flags are great red flags and punching bags).
Let’s look at the Stars and Bars alongside the Swastika, two symbols that co-opted other symbols.
It’s also worth noting how Southern intellectuals pursued a connection with Hellenistic society, e.g. the Parthenon in Nashville. (Speaking of Greeks, talk about a civilization with a complex relationship with the idea and practice of “freedom” ).
The Nazis likewise used the Swastika as an appeal to similar divine and universal forces, as well as their Aryan narrative. So it’s very apropos to study Germany’s difficult struggle with displaying the flag as an expression of national pride. It’s part of an endless social evaluation of what the symbol means to them.
What this shows us is that redirecting energy from destructive directions to constructive ones is one of the challenges of an advanced society.
So maybe one approach here is to create a new symbol, some kind of visual representation of those values that predate and trump anything to do with the politics of secession or slavery.
There is a lot of good human source material. Were we but able to methodically interview the Dead, I doubt the majority of dead Confederate soldiers would say they died mainly because they liked holding sentient beings in conditions of imprisonment and forced labor.
They would say, rather, that they were fighting for the cause of freedom, or because it would be cowardly not to fight, or because it was their duty as men.
The same reasons most U.S. armed forces men and women fight today. The same reasons that would motivate most of us to take action, at the cost of our own comfort.
That shows there’s something there far more important than a flag and someone else’s version of history.