The Deep South is home to many Confederate flags and Civil War monuments of Confederate generals. In recent years, state and local governments have been making efforts to remove these homages to slavery from public places. Some southerners, however, feel that these actions are not in the best interest of the masses.
The New Orleans City Council recently voted to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from public display. The removal process attracted groups of protesters. Louisiana lawmakers retaliated by drafting bills that would prevent the removal of Confederate Civil War monuments.
A similar bill has been adopted in Alabama, House Bill 71, that limits the government’s power to remove the monuments. Additionally, in Mississippi, lawmakers have proposed a bill that withholds 25 percent of the head of the university’s salary if the school does not fly the Confederate flag. These are not the only states whose governments are attempting to prevent the removal of these hateful symbols.
“Heritage not hate” is a phrase Confederate flag fans sometimes use to convey that just because they’re flying a flag that was carried in thousands of bloody battles fought to retain the right to own other humans doesn’t mean that they’re racist. Except that it does. No matter the argument, fighting for the right to fly this flag doesn’t cover the deeper underlying issue at hand.
Saying that the Confederate flag represents your heritage is essentially saying that your heritage is hate. The Confederate flag is undeniably a symbol of slavery. If you think when black people lay eyes upon the Confederate flag, they see it as a symbol of states’ rights and are overcome with nostalgia for simpler times, please reconsider this notion for a moment and remember that the Civil War was about slavery.
And to those who say that Confederate flags and Civil War monuments of Confederate generals serve as an educational reminder of the past, then I would argue that this is what schools and museums are for. While it is critical that the United States not forget the certain abuses of human rights it was founded upon, there are ways of educating people that don’t involve black children playing in a park with a statue of Stonewall Jackson looking down on them, or attending a school named after Robert E. Lee.
In addition to reminding people of the past, these monuments glorify a time when slavery was acceptable. By flying the Confederate flag or keeping these monuments on display in public places, we are demonstrating that we believe that the hateful sentiment once accepted during the Civil War is still acceptable today.
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