Opinion: The Confederate Flag Is a Hate Symbol

Walter Rhein

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Americans have a weird relationship with the Confederate flag. In the United States, we’re taught to respect the national flag. However, there are parts of the country that openly fly a symbol that represents treason against our country.

Is it possible to respect our nation and to fly the flag of seceding states? I don’t think it is.

It used to be that children would learn about respect at school. One would presume that one of the first lessons about respect would emphasize that the Confederate flag disrespects our country. However, the symbol often finds its way into public classrooms.

There is currently a lot of controversy over the topic of whether public schools should teach critical race theory. This is odd because public schools do not currently teach critical race theory.

There is currently a lot of talk about whether parents should have more influence over what is taught in schools. If we adopt more rules to allow parents to control the curriculum, then more parents will have a right to insist that students learn the Confederate flag is a hate symbol.

Too many Americans indulge in the embarrassing act of defending the Confederate flag. They say things like the flag is “just a piece of cloth.” They say that people who are offended by a piece of cloth are “weak.” You are likely to find arguments like that in the comments section of this article.

I don’t think those arguments have merit. After all, the American flag is more than just a piece of cloth. The American flag is a symbol of our country. In a way, the way you treat the American flag represents the way you feel about our country.

Some people become very emotional at the sight of the American flag. We are taught to place our hands over our hearts and remove our hats when the national anthem is played. Those are signs of respect.

It seems bizarre to think that some Americans insist on treating the American flag with respect and then turn around and honor a flag that was carried by traitors to our nation.

Today the Confederate flag has a lot of meanings. People who defend the flag like to pick and choose the meanings they recognize. Some say it is a symbol of rebelliousness. Some say it’s a symbol of resistance to government aggression. It’s true to say that some people think the Confederate flag stands for those things.

Those arguments don’t change the fact that many people believe the Confederate flag stands for hatred.

The Confederacy was formed to preserve the American institution of slavery. Many people deny this, but that objective is listed in many of the original letters of secession. It’s a shame these letters aren’t given more attention in public schools. All Americans should be educated on what the Civil War was actually about.

In ‘The Cornerstone Speech,’ Confederate Vice-President Alexander H. Stephens outlined his odious philosophy of racial superiority. ‘The Cornerstone Speech’ is another historical document that students should study to understand and denounce the origins of white supremacy in the United States.

It is shameful that so many Americans feel a need to defend the Confederate flag. I can only assume that they are either ignorant of the racism and hatred it stands for, or they approve of that racism and hatred.

The United States is a divided country. In many ways, the country has been divided since the Civil War. In many ways, the Confederate flag is a symbol of a divided nation. At some point, it would be nice if the citizens of the United States elected to place more importance on respect than ignorance.

The United States of America won’t be genuinely united until all Americans willingly recognize that the Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred. It’s a symbol of racial hatred. It’s also a symbol of contempt for democracy. It’s a disrespectful symbol of hatred against our country. Anyone who truly loves the United States, would not fly the traitor’s flag.

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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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