Opinion: People Who Fly the Confederate Flag Disrespect America

Walter Rhein

Image by Walter Rhein

The January 6th Committee has shown troubling images of individuals breaking into the Capitol building while bearing Confederate flags. It’s odd that a flag that was carried into battle against our nation is not universally condemned.

When a mob of armed insurgents flooded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, they brought an accessory: the Confederate battle flag. As the crowd of President Trump’s supporters rioted, many hoisted the symbol of a short-lived splinter nation that tore the Union apart—ERIN BLAKEMORE

Unfortunately, the disgraceful actions of the January 6th insurrectionists do not represent the only place where the Confederate flag makes an appearance.

Every time I go on a drive, I see a couple vehicles with Confederate flag bumper stickers. The odd part is that many people who display the Confederate flag consider themselves “patriots.”

How can you consider yourself a “patriot” when you display the flag of an enemy to your country?

The tolerance of the Confederate flag in the United States is entirely hypocritical. Children are told to stand respectfully for the national anthem and criticized if they show disrespect for the flag in any way.

Consider the media frenzy that surrounded NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he elected to respectfully kneel during the national anthem in protest.

When it comes to the topic of Colin Kaepernick, most of us will readily agree that he is using his fame to get people’s attention. Where this argument usually ends, however, is the question, “Do you respect your country and the American flag?”. Some people are convinced that he is disrespecting our country, others think that Colin Kaepernick isn’t disrespecting, but instead he wants to help the people, have their voices be heard, and make a change. He has the mentality that he can change the world for those people who can’t—Colin Kaepernick Disrespecting The American Flag?

Even Donald Trump commented on Kaepernick’s actions.

The feud between President Donald Trump and the NFL took a new turn on Sunday, after Trump questioned whether league commissioner Roger Goodell could allow players to kneel during the national anthem this season—DAN CANCIAN

However, almost nobody criticizes individuals who proudly fly the traitor flag in our country. When Trump supporters attacked the Capitol carrying Confederate flags, Trump remained silent. In fact, Trump defended it.

As President Donald Trump ramps up rhetoric stoking racial divisions in the country, asked directly to give his personal stance on the Confederate battle flag's place in society, Trump said, for him, it's "very simple -- it's freedom of speech."—Trump declares US in 'culture war,' calls flying Confederate flag 'freedom of speech'

How can anyone possibly justify defending a flag carried by enemy forces intent on murdering American soldiers? How does that not disrespect the US military? We should cheer for our military, not for their historical opponents.

What makes Americans go from frothing at the mouth furious over a perceived slight against the flag, to indifferent over a much larger show of disrespect?

The modern American perspective on the Confederate flag has its roots in a deliberate effort on the part of Southern states to misrepresent the significance of the Civil War.

[T]he Lost Cause recast the Confederacy’s humiliating defeat in a treasonous war for slavery as the embodiment of the Framers’ true vision for America. Supporters pushed the ideas that the Civil War was not actually about slavery; that Robert E. Lee was a brilliant general, gentleman, and patriot; and that the Ku Klux Klan had rescued the heritage of the old South, what came to be known as “the southern way of life.”—Michel Paradis

To this day, some Americans incorrectly insist that the Civil War was fought over “state’s rights” instead of slavery. This is easily disproven by examining the historical declarations of secession which deliberately mention slavery:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth—Confederate States of America - Mississippi Secession

It’s shameful that so many Americans persist in spreading lies about the most disrespectful conflict in the history of our nation. The United States of America was founded on the concept of freedom. This represents yet another way that the Confederate flag disrespects the American flag.

It’s offensive that so many Americans are comfortable with using terms like “patriot” when it comes to symbols of a treasonous war waged against our nation.

Even today, whenever there is a political disagreement, states like Texas love to threaten secession.

The Texas GOP is pushing for a referendum on seceding from the US — a split that could lead to the state becoming an independent nation—The Texas GOP is pushing for a referendum to decide if the state will secede from the US

Why don’t more Americans recognize that any threat to secede from the nation is an act of blatant disrespect to our country and our flag? Politicians who make such statements should be subjected to a hundred times more criticism than Colin Kaepernick ever had to endure.

Why do Republicans who threaten secession reserve the privilege of disrespecting our flag without consequence? The same is true of people who fly Confederate flags. The Confederate flag is a symbol of treason and secession. Flying the Confederate flag disrespects America.

Think about that the next time you see a Confederate flag bumper sticker or somebody wearing a Confederate flag patch. The Confederate flag is a symbol flown by insurrectionists who wanted to destroy everything America stands for.

We have a flag in our country.

The Flag of the United States of America consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars. The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British crown and became the first states in the Union. Nicknames for the flag include "the Stars and Stripes", "Old Glory", and "the Star-Spangled Banner"—The Flag of The United States of America

It’s time all Americans learned to raise their voice to defend the honor of our nation when individuals make the disgraceful choice to fly disrespectful banners.

If you wish to consider yourself a patriot, and you wish to show respect to your country, the flag you will fly is the Star-Spangled Banner and no other.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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