My Turn, Carol Pomeroy: What the Confederate flag really represents

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Confederate flag represents the pseudo-history of the Lost Cause myth which mitigates the atrocities of slavery. The Lost Cause denied that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War and instead was in defense of states’ rights and was necessary to protect their agrarian economy. The reality is that the states’ rights that proponents espoused was the right to own slaves.

The real history of slavery and the treatment of Black and brown people is being silenced. If that history was allowed to be taught perhaps more people would understand why the Confederate flag is so hurtful and a form of intimidation to people of color. This shouldn’t be a political issue or labeled as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. It’s an issue of respecting all people regardless of the color of their skin, their religious affiliation, their country of origin or their gender identity.

The Confederate flag has been flown at White Nationalism events and protests. They believe that white people are inherently superior to all other racial and ethnic groups. To fly the flag is to exert white identity and support white supremacy. Today the Confederate flag is regularly weaponized by neo-Nazis and far-right extremist groups as they seek to intimidate African Americans and to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred.

Those who favor continuing to fly the flag claim that it represents their heritage and not racism or hate. They claim personal expression or freedom of speech as their basis. The belief that one can display such a symbol that does have a history of slavery, segregation, racism, inequality and brokenness does not take any responsibility for acknowledging what actually took place in the past or continues to take place in today’s society.

The Confederate flag flown in a war lost by the Confederacy 158 years ago does not belong in public places or in the Faith Fourth of July parade. Wouldn’t Faith want to be seen as a town that encourages rather than intimidates, includes rather than excludes, unifies rather than divides?

As it stands now Faith is not seen as a welcoming town for all people. That can change. Retire the flag. I’m sure the good people of Faith and its leadership can find more creative and innovative ways to acknowledge their Southern heritage than to continue to use a symbol of racism, hate and intimidation.

Carol Pomeroy lives in Salisbury.