A hurtful and divisive symbol


I will admit, I find it odd that in 2022 some people still fly the Confederate flag.

And I don’t just mean people in Mississippi – I mean people in Illinois. I mean people in Ogle County.

I remember when I was in the Air Force stationed in Arkansas and Confederate flag stickers and shirts and banners were pretty common. As many of us remember, Southern rock bands used to display the flag as well.

I honestly never paid that much attention to it when I was younger. But as I got older and learned more about its history, and the Confederacy in general, that flag became more and more problematic.

And in 2022, flying the Confederate flag is something that doesn’t make anyone look good. While many still cling to the whole “Southern heritage” argument, that flag is about much more than that.

And much worse.

The flag represents a confederation of states that left the United States in 1860 and 1861. The reason? These states wanted to protect the inhumane institution of slavery. That is what the Civil War was about. Full stop. People might want to pretend that wasn’t the reason, but it was.

I hope we can all agree that slavery was clearly a horrible, evil thing. We should be ashamed of that past.

We should also be ashamed of the flag. The flag now used to represent the Confederacy is generally the Confederate battle flag. It was carried by insurrectionists on Jan. 6, which says some things about those law breakers that should make all of us in the country sad and angry.

It is also, strangely, something that more than one current candidate for political office are embracing.

Let’s be clear about something: This flag represents the oppression of people who were enslaved. And it clearly represents white supremacy. And it represents people who were traitors to the U.S.

All of those things are shameful, and I don’t believe these flags belong anywhere in public – except in a museum.

But people, of course, have the right to express their feeling and views by hanging that flag outside their home, or wearing it on their shorts. I support your right to do so.

But by doing that, you are telling the world that you are OK with the things that flag represents. So, I ask you – are you OK with slavery? Are you OK with white supremacy? If so, then you are flying the right flag. If not, you might want to reconsider your use of it.

My parents are from the South. Almost all my cousins and aunts and uncles still live there. But that flag was something my family never flew or embraced. I am glad for that, but plenty of people haven’t gotten that message. Or maybe they have gotten the message, but they just don’t care.

When you fly a Confederate flag, your neighbors will likely assume some bad things about you, even if they aren’t true. And any black friends or neighbors will find it outright offensive. In fact, many people would.

So if you fly one of these symbols of hate, it might be time to reconsider. It is not fun, and it’s not showing what a rebel you are. It is a hurtful and divisive symbol. As a society we have to move past items like this that so many find painful.

Brad Jennings is the editor of the Ogle County Life.

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