My Turn, Carol Pomeroy: Confederate flag should not be celebrated
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2023
By Carol Pomeroy
The Confederate States of American was created in 1861 when 11 states seceded from the United States of America, which was created 85 years earlier on July 4, 1776.
The Confederate States of America had three different national flags from 1861 through 1865.
The first national flag of the Confederacy was known as the “Stars and Bars” and was used from March 1, 1861 to May 1, 1863. The second flag known as the “Stainless Banner” was used from May 1, 1863 to March 4, 1865. The third flag known as the “Blood-Stained Banner” was used March 4, 1865 until the war effectively ended when the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, surrendered his troops on April 9, 1865.
In addition to the three national flags, multiple other flags were used by individual states, army and naval groups. However, the flag that was most associated with the Confederacy was the Battle Flag of the army of Northern Virginia. That is the flag that racists and white supremacists display today and that is the flag that the town of Faith allows in its Fourth of July parade.
The Confederate flag largely disappeared after the Civil War. The growing battle over the Reconstruction South’s racial order of Jim Crow segregation brought back the Confederate flag’s use as a political symbol. Supporters of the States Rights Party in 1948 used the flag as a symbol of support for segregation and the denial of fundamental human and civil rights for African Americans. The use of the Confederate flag as a symbol of segregation became more widespread and more violent after the United States Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. Southern states were resisting federally mandated integration and incorporated the flag into their official symbolism.
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, murdered nine African American worshipers during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. A widely circulated photo of Roof on the internet showed him holding a gun and the Confederate flag. After capture, Roof said the purpose of the murders was to start a race war. The shooting increased the awareness of racial violence and terrorism in the United states and led to the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol grounds on June 10, 2015.
On June 23, 2015, NASCAR said, “NASCAR will continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.” NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag at all its events and properties. They said the presence of the flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and industry.”
On June 22, 2015, Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears all announced bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise. Also during 2015, Harley-Davidson banned the use of the Confederate flag on their products.
On May 19, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives voted successfully to ban the display of Confederate flags on flagpoles at Veterans Administration cemeteries. The ban was contained in an amendment (House amendment 592, 114th Congress) to House Bill 2822, and appropriations bill.
The Unite the Right rally was a white supremacist and Neo-Nazis event that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia Aug. 11-12, 2017, to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee. In addition to white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, marchers included members of the alt-right, Neo-Confederates, Neo-Fascists, Klansmen and far-right militias. Some groups chanted racist and antisemitic slogans and carried weapons, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, Confederate battle flags and other symbols of various past and present antisemitic and anti-Islamic groups. The rally sparked a national debate over Confederate iconography, racial violence and white supremacy.
Following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the removal of Confederate symbols accelerated. On June 5, 2020, the Marine Corps Commanders were directed to identify and remove the display of the Confederate battle flag or its depiction within work places, common access areas and public areas on all the installation worldwide. On June 9, 2020, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, directed his staff to begin drafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag “from all public spaces and work areas aboard Naval installations, ships, aircraft and submarines.” On July 17, 2000, the Pentagon banned the Confederate battle flag from U.S. military installations.
Kevin Seefried was flying the Confederate flag when he and his son entered the Capitol through a broken window during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Many other rioters flew the Confederate flag outside the Capitol building as well. The flag is still flown at many white supremacist meetings and protests. It is associated with years of racial injustice and embodies everything from hatred to personal intimidation. There are people who claim that the battle flag represents Southern heritage. The problem with that claim is that the heritage it symbolizes is also that of enslavement, inequality, violence and injustice.
The Fourth of July celebrates our independence as a nation from England’s control as the result of the Revolutionary War. The adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declared the 13 colonies to be free and independent of England. On Sept. 9, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a new name, the United States of America, to replace the original name that was the “United Colonies.”
The Confederate flag has nothing to do with the celebration of the United Colonies becoming a new nation. The Civil War was an act of rebellion and treason against the Union and the US Constitution. It does not in any way represent the creation of the United States of America. It represents those states that seceded on order to preserve the right to own and control other human beings who were captured in Africa and forced into slavery.
The Confederacy never represented the United States of American. The Confederate flag does not represent anyone whose skin color is not white. It does not represent anyone whose religious beliefs are other that Christianity.
How is it that this flag should be included and celebrated in a Fourth of July parade?
Simply stated: It should not!
What is the message the town of Faith wants to convey? Is it one of welcoming and inclusiveness or is it one of exclusion and division?
The Faith Town Board has every ability to make that decision just as the federal government, other states, cities and towns have made the decision to remove the Confederate flag and other Confederate symbols from public places. Corporate sponsors should also consider the message that they are sending to their patrons and customers. Is it one of unity or is it one of division, and if it is one of unity then they should withhold their financial support as long as the Confederate flag is part of the parade.
The flag should only be displayed on private property or in museums. It does not belong in public places.
Carol Pomeroy lives in Salisbury.