Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag?


2/14/2013 • Ask Mr. History, Confederate Flag

Why do some people still fly the Confederate flag?

Thank you,
Teri Bennett

Dear Teri,

There is no one pat answer for the continued flying of the Confederate flag—it depends on what it means to the individual. Some insist on flying it alongside the Stars and Stripes (preferably with the number of stars it had in 1861-65) to represent the opposing sides at historical site dedications, and of course it’s a necessity for gray or butternut-clad re-enactors. In that context it may be flown out of respect to the soldiers who died for their cause, whether one agrees with it or not (especially if one had family in the gray ranks). Others, however, attach their own social or political agenda to it, such as the Ku Klux Klan, and various Nazi groups who have done much more to associate it with racism than the original Confederates may have had in mind—often concealed under the catchphrase of “Heritage.” For others, the “Rebel battle flag” represents any rebellious, irreverent or anti-PC act, and sometimes it’s simply flown to provoke a reaction or get attention. And then, inevitably, there are those who fly it simply to be jerks.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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