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What is your first response when you see a Confederate flag displayed?


MercyA
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Perception of Confederate flag symbol  

172 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think when you see a Confederate flag displayed on someone's personal property (a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, a home flag pole)? Please choose the option that most closely fits your first reaction.

    • They are racist.
      50
    • They are proud of their southern heritage.
      14
    • They are dangerous and/or deliberately trying to intimidate minorities.
      9
    • They are white supremacists.
      20
    • They are ill-informed or uneducated.
      33
    • Obligatory other (please explain).
      16
    • All of the above.
      30


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I mentioned in another topic that Confederate flags are increasing in popularity in my northern small town. I also mentioned that a vendor at our local fair sells them every year. He did it again this year (see pic). Someone also unfurled one of the flags and let it fly while riding the "Yo-Yo", a high swings ride. 

I'm not happy with my town for approving the vendor.

What is your first reaction when you see a Confederate flag on someone's apparel or personal property?

IMG_7451.JPG

Edited by MercyA
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My answer doesn't fall into a clear category.  But I guess I think of people who are ignorant, who have an arrogant pride -- like they're trying to make a statement that they're tough and that they don't give a whip about whether other people are hurt by it, who are likely misinformed and are prone to believing conspiracy theories, who do not support the Black Lives Matter movement, and who feel that they have a right to own a gun and carry it wherever they dang well please.   I'm from the North.

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I voted “uneducated “ as an I-don’t-know-them surface assumption, but I recognize that many are the other awful things. Arsewipes come in a variety of flavors.  The whole uneducated thing isn’t a valid excuse in 2021, but I’d rather not going around punching strangers. 

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I couldn’t decide whether to choose racist or white supremacist, but felt like the ones I see around here are displayed by people who lean toward supremacy so chose that option.  Fortunately I don’t see too many of them here in NY.

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I voted obligatory other.

I wish there was an "all of the above" choice. 

In my most optimistically charitable moments I hope they're uninformed/ignorant. In my most realistic moments I know they're very dangerous. Not just to minorities, but to anyone who disagrees with them.

Edited by Pawz4me
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You will hear some here (in the South) say that the flag is supposed to represent southern heritage, and that others make it into something it’s not. 
 

Others do it just to make some sort of statement and seem to be the sort of person you might want to stay away from. 
 

The person with the car up on blocks, a dog tied out back, and a Confederate flag hanging off their porch…well they could be of any number of mindsets. Usually, it’s not good. And it makes me sad to say that. This feels like unfair generalizing. But I’ve lived here my whole life. This is just the way it is. 🙁

Again, some of them, though, just see it as a part of their southern heritage. 

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Yep, I'd go with all of the above. My first reaction is to be very uncomfortable. I know it could be any of those reasons, but none of them make me feel any more charitably towards them. I just want to put distance between me and them.

Editing to add I'd lump ignorant and Southern heritage together. Not meaning you are ignorant if you have Southern heritage, lol. Just if you use that flag to display pride in your Southern heritage.

 

Edited by livetoread
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12 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

Again, some of them, though, just see it as a part of their southern heritage. 

I've lived in the south for near 20 years, and heard the "It's our heritage!" comment many times.  That and "The South will rise again!" 

Like, what does that mean exactly?  A heritage of what? Describe it, and explain how that heritage exists independent of all the ugly stuff that goes along with the confederate flag. 

I've never gotten an explanation that isn't derived from The Lost Cause argument.  

ETA: My grandma was born in Germany. Some of my relatives fought in WWII for the wrong side. I guess one could argue that the n@zi flag is part of my heritage, but it's a heritage I strongly and angrily reject. 

 

Edited by MissLemon
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4 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

Just to be clear, I’m not defending the heritage argument, just explaining the view that some seem to have. 

I know; I was just running with my thoughts on it, as a Yankee 🙄 living in the south. I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. 

Edited by MissLemon
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I picked “All of the Above,” but I don’t necessarily think ALL of them every single time. But I generally think they are being obtuse about what the flag has come to symbolize (now) - and that’s my most generous assumption. 

For some applications, I think it has to do with Confederate heritage, but not typically. (For instance, I just walked past a church graveyard and someone has put a mini Confederate flag on the grave of someone who was a soldier in life.  Since “southern heritage” is the only thing that makes sense for a gravesite, presumably that’s what it meant for the person who placed it. 
 

But other applications - like waving off the back of a pickup truck - symbolizes the negative things to me 100%. It’s also hard to miss that those applications also usually have a certain political figure supported concurrently. 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

For some applications, I think it has to do with Confederate heritage, but not typically. (For instance, I just walked past a church graveyard and someone has put a mini Confederate flag on the grave of someone who was a soldier in life.  Since “southern heritage” is the only thing that makes sense for a gravesite, presumably that’s what it meant for the person who placed it. 

How would you interpret it if someone placed mini n@zi flags on the graves of WWII German soldiers? Would you interpret it as support of German heritage?  Or something else? 

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8 minutes ago, MissLemon said:

How would you interpret it if someone placed mini n@zi flags on the graves of WWII German soldiers? Would you interpret it as support of German heritage?  Or something else? 

Well, I haven’t ever seen that; I’m pretty sure most everybody has got the memo not to use a Nazi flag for anything (innocent). I very much look forward to the day when the same is true for the Confederate flag, but I’m not holding my breath. I loathe the thing, but I can’t see what point there would be in using it to symbolize white supremacy, racism, etc., by putting it on a church grave at a tiny 1800s church in a historic town. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t shoot the messenger; I despise that flag. 

Edited by Quill
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I selected all of the above, but in reality I don’t think that people who display the “confederate flag” are necessarily uneducated. I think most are making at least a partially informed, deliberate choice. They are proud  of the fact that their ancestors owned other people (proud of the history) and they don’t see anything wrong with it. Not only that, they want to preserve that way of life as much as possible.
 

Lest anyone think I’m uninformed, I’m born, raised and am living in the south. I was taught that the Civil War was about states’s rights, without being taught that it was about the state’s right to allow ownership and abuse of other people. I was also taught that “carpetbaggers” were bad. I was not taught about the Wilmington Coups & similar events, the Tulsa massacre or the Civil Rights movement. I spent my life in Georgia as close as twenty minutes from downtown Atlanta and no further than 45 minutes away and didn’t have any idea who Martin Luther King, Jr. was until the Federal holiday came about when I was in my mid twenties. When I visit the area where I spent my teen years, I can still go directly to the house where the head of the state KKK lived and his family is still well known and respected in the community. I have “southern credentials.” 

Edited by TechWife
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Country hick?

 We have a young couple who lives across our country road. (Unfortunately while we live out in the country without close neighbors, we have one house directly across from us and it’s rental.) 😞

 

He’s probably very early twenties at best. His favorite hobby is racing a four wheeler up and down the road over and over and over again. His best friend of black and he is white. He drives a rigged up truck with big wheels, a redneck sticker, and a confederate flag. Oy. What compels one to fulfill a stereotype?

ETA: Around here I don’t think most folks think of it as racial but as country. I chose uneducated. 

Edited by BlsdMama
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Just now, Quill said:

Well, I haven’t ever seen that; I’m pretty sure most everybody has got the memo not to use a Nazi flag for anything. I very much look forward to the day when the same is true for the Confederate flag, but I’m not holding my breath. I loathe the thing, but I can’t see what point there would be in using it to symbolize white supremacy, racism, etc., by putting it on a church grave at a tiny 1800s church in a historic town. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Don’t shoot the messenger; I despise that flag. 

Not shooting the messenger.

I see the confederate flag get dismissed as "heritage", like there's all this good stuff about the heritage symbolized by the flag, but it's being overshadowed by that pesky slavery and secession thing, and we should politely ignore it because it's someone's great-great-great grandpa in the grave with the tiny flag.  

I'm not sure what positive message anyone could be sending by putting that flag on a church grave.  I think a lot of the "heritage" argument is unexamined by the many of the people putting it forward as an explanation. 

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I live in the north (PNW) and it wasn't something I saw much of as a kid and never thought much about.  When I saw confederate flags it was at a civil war reenactment, so it made sense to have them there.

In the last number of years I have seen more around on houses and trucks.  There is one that really bothers me that we drive by often that is half US flag and half confederate.  Usually when I see them around I think that the person is willfully ignorant.  Most know that it is decisive and hurtful, but they choose to ignore that and push for their rights.  I think for some it is just a childish form of rebellion.

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Wow interesting question. I have never seen that flag IRL. Growing up when I did my first thought is Dukes of Hazard. Which I know is silly but it got me thinking that maybe it’s like the South’s version of the Don’t Tread on Me flag, as in that same kind of attitude. It could represent a certain opposition to authority. Southern heritage I guess but they lost the war and that flag has baggage so it’s kind of a weird southern pride thing if that’s the case. And then there’s the obvious racist redneck connections. 

Edited by Plum
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11 minutes ago, MissLemon said:

Not shooting the messenger.

I see the confederate flag get dismissed as "heritage", like there's all this good stuff about the heritage symbolized by the flag, but it's being overshadowed by that pesky slavery and secession thing, and we should politely ignore it because it's someone's great-great-great grandpa in the grave with the tiny flag.  

I'm not sure what positive message anyone could be sending by putting that flag on a church grave.  I think a lot of the "heritage" argument is unexamined by the many of the people putting it forward as an explanation. 

I completely agree with you. I absolutely think the heritage argument is unexamined. I have literally used the Nazi flag as an analogous argument IRL, as I have partial German ancestry. 
 

I don’t think the confederate flag should be displayed or used in anything but a reenactment exercise. I’d be thrilled if they banned the thing and, as I indicated above, I think all the negative things when I see one. Even on a grave, it’s a negative for me; I was just pointing out that I doubt the intent of someone putting it on a grave is much about those other things. 

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1 hour ago, MercyA said:

Someone also unfurled one of the flags and let it fly while riding the "Yo-Yo", a high swings ride. 

 

 

1 hour ago, *Jessica* said:

I couldn’t decide whether to choose racist or white supremacist, but felt like the ones I see around here are displayed by people who lean toward supremacy so chose that option.  

I went back and forth between the same two, but settled on racist. After reading Mercy’s post though, that use (unfurling on the ride) would definitely be read as white supremacist to me. 

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30 minutes ago, Loowit said:

I live in the north (PNW) and it wasn't something I saw much of as a kid and never thought much about.  When I saw confederate flags it was at a civil war reenactment, so it made sense to have them there.

In the last number of years I have seen more around on houses and trucks.  There is one that really bothers me that we drive by often that is half US flag and half confederate.  Usually when I see them around I think that the person is willfully ignorant.  Most know that it is decisive and hurtful, but they choose to ignore that and push for their rights.  I think for some it is just a childish form of rebellion.

I’ve also noticed it more in the PNW in the last several years, especially in more rural areas. It’s sad, but not surprising given the political climate.

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I don't really care if they think it's "heritage" that they're proud of. If they're proud of that heritage, they're proud of racism and white supremacy, whether they're willing to vocalize it that way or not.

And I say this as a southerner.

So I can't choose all of the above because that's just an excuse. Maybe some are ignorant of this connection, but it's willful ignorance at this point. If you don't understand that flag stands for racism and white supremacy, then you have been literally plugging your ears and saying lalalalala every time anyone has tried to educate you.

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Ok....complicated answer here.

I grew up with a 6 ft confederate flag in our play room.   I was born in SC but we moved to Michigan when I was young.  The flag flew in that room until about 2017.

My mom I honestly think that my mother viewed it as our Southern heritage (although she was born and raised in Michigan).  I have never known her to be racist at all.  I was raised in a white rural area.

The flag wasn't put up when she moved and that is a good thing.   I would say she is more uneducated as to the meaning of it......and she did not start flying it or have other symbols recently when it became popular in our area.

I do see quite a few confederate flags flying down in our more rural area of Michigan....and don't like it.

On another front, my father (never lived with us), had a KKK badge.   He was quite racist and was of the mindset that women are best barefoot and pregnant type idea.  The thing is, he was NOT white himself.  

In the end, his funeral service was done by a Black female pastor....which I thought was pretty ironic.

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Someone I don't care to get to know better. At best, they're willfully ignorant. At worst, they're dangerous. Unless it's a Civil war reenactment or in a museum, it doesn't belong.  

 

BTW, I feel the same way about the Gadsden flag. It's been so adopted by a specific branch of people, usually the same ones who fly the Confederate flag, that it automatically warns me away. Which is kind of appropriate for a rattlesnake....

 

I will say that it has gotten easier now that MS has changed their state flag, since it used to be that when I'd drive a few miles south, I'd see the Confederate flag everywhere, and have to remind myself that it was because it was part of the state flag and not a political statement. I much prefer the magnolia. 

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In my area--white supremacist. We're too far away for many people to have actual ties to the South, and based on other symbols, bumper stickers etc. that I see it associated with--white supremacy is what makes sense.

Fortunately I don't see confederate flags often.

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I voted other, although it's complicated and many of the given choices are likely involved.

My first thought: redneck.  It's a lifestyle.  Pickup truck, country music, beer, guns, and the confederate flag.

 

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

I picked “All of the Above,” but I don’t necessarily think ALL of them every single time. But I generally think they are being obtuse about what the flag has come to symbolize (now) - and that’s my most generous assumption. 

For some applications, I think it has to do with Confederate heritage, but not typically. (For instance, I just walked past a church graveyard and someone has put a mini Confederate flag on the grave of someone who was a soldier in life.  Since “southern heritage” is the only thing that makes sense for a gravesite, presumably that’s what it meant for the person who placed it. 
 

But other applications - like waving off the back of a pickup truck - symbolizes the negative things to me 100%. It’s also hard to miss that those applications also usually have a certain political figure supported concurrently. 

I had the good fortune to visit the American war cemetery in Luxembourg a few years ago. A few miles from it is a cemetery for German casualties from both world wars. There are ZERO n@zi flags in evidence. It's quite different from the American; both are perfectly maintained, but it's dark, somber, and pretty much empty. 

Here's a link to its location. https://g.co/kgs/L5Fiy7

I tell myself that the person flying a Confederate flag is a poorly educated idiot. I'm from tx, though. 

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2 hours ago, Dmmetler said:

Someone I don't care to get to know better. At best, they're willfully ignorant. At worst, they're dangerous.

 

2 hours ago, Junie said:

My first thought: redneck.  It's a lifestyle.  Pickup truck, country music, beer, guns, and the confederate flag.

 

3 hours ago, Plum said:

Growing up when I did my first thought is Dukes of Hazard. Which I know is silly but it got me thinking that maybe it’s like the South’s version of the Don’t Tread on Me flag, as in that same kind of attitude. It could represent a certain opposition to authority. 

All of the above (quotes, not the "all of the above" option). My gut reaction is disgust.

I've lived in the upper South all my life. Mostly, when I used to see that flag, it was on a rundown old farmhouse we'd pass regularly (c. 1970s and '80s). So, rednecks, possibly with some Dukes of Hazzard influence (one of the most obnoxious tv shows from my babysitting years; it was amazing how many parents wanted to  let their kids watch it before bed). I think it's always embodied a certain defiance and willful ignorance, but that stupid show probably popularized it as a "country" motif to a degree.

More recently I've been disturbed to see it displayed in ways that are intentionally confrontational and required a lot of money to arrange. There's a group which has erected at least a couple of them in very prominent sites directly adjacent to interstate highways, for example, on very tall flagpoles. They're on private land, supposedly (probably, I guess) Confederate camps or some such at one time. That's deliberate confrontation masquerading as historical interest, and I don't buy it as heritage or ignorance for a moment. It's vile.

Edited by Innisfree
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I voted all of the above, but not necessarily all at one time. My first reaction is to flip it off. 

My next reaction is they probably don't even know the history of the flag, because if it's heritage they're after, they're flying the wrong d*** flag in the first place. 

Last year, a house up the street flew the historicaly correct Confederate flag, but for one day only. We've never seen it out since. 

 

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6 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

dukes of hazzard.  Yes.  People who have this secret fantasy that they are Luke or Bo.  

I admit, it doesn't bother me to see it on an orange Dodge Charger in a car museum (apparently there were a ton of those things used in the show, because a lot of car museums have them)

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I have seen a Confederate flag displayed here only on a few rare occasions, in an individual's house window or car. My initial reaction does not fall into any of the poll categories, which are all about assuming something about the person displaying the flag.

My reaction is my personal/individual reaction -- I feel sickened, saddened, and hurt for those who have been hurt by what the Confederate flag historically represented.

I am not a minority, and I do not live in the North or the South -- I live in the Southwest, which most Southerns tend to think of as an alien place 😉 , according to a relative who grew up in the same place I did, and who lived for a time in the Deep South. 

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1 hour ago, Junie said:

My first thought: redneck.  It's a lifestyle.  Pickup truck, country music, beer, guns, and the confederate flag.

I'm from the South and that's what we thought of them growing up. Redneck. And Dukes of Hazard. (Some of the actors actually came to one my school festivals.)

Nowadays, I think they're ridiculous. Especially the guys driving pickup trucks with those flags hanging from the back. There's no way they don't know what it represents or that it would be offensive or intimidating or hurtful to many people. 

Now the guys walking around in camouflage with rifles and carrying that flag? Racist. Plain and simple. They've been taught to hate.

I don't mind the flags in museums or at Civil War historical sites. My back yard abuts one of the defense lines. It happened and we can't forget it.

I check-marked all of the above. People are complicated. If I were to ask this same question at one of my family reunions, I'd get a lot of different answers.

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Not being from the South or the North -- being from a state that wasn't a state yet in the Civil War, it screams Dukes of Hazzard & Nascar to me.

I have no feelings of ill will toward those displaying it or wearing it because it has never meant any of the other things to me. Likely, y'all think I'm naive, sheltered, and possibly too optimistic about people's intentions. It is what it is. I don't personally wear it or display it--I am not a big fan of Bo, Luke, or Nascar.

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I saw it painted or flying on cars and trucks periodically as a kid in the rural Midwest, back when Bo and Luke Duke were driving the General Lee on TV.  The people who displayed it were rednecks, good-ol'-boy types who liked to hate the local sheriff and some of his deputies for occasionally spoiling their fun as they raced around in their souped-up cars and pickups.  While I did see a certain amount of racism from them, I really don't think that was the intent in flying/hanging the flag on their trucks or painting it on their cars.  They just wanted to be like Bo and Luke. 

I'm a bit farther north now in a city, and I rarely see it here.  I occasionally see one redneck guy flying two Confederate flags from his pickup bed as he speeds down the road, but that's an anomaly here.  I don't know his motive.  It could be anything from your list, or it could be that The Dukes of Hazard is being shown in reruns again, and he wants to be Bo or Luke.  He certainly drives like they did.

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I posted all of the above.  In my area I definitely think more racist - supremacy since we aren't in the south and the heritage would be in general a couple generations removed.  

 In the town where my husband family is I think mostly ignorant/uneducated/ never thought about it just something they have always done. Also kind of redneck proud.  Not that I approve and they are definitely still racist but it's a different flavor than in my area.

Edited by rebcoola
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So I work in a WWII Museum ... the other day I got a call from someone wanting to make a donation. 

He proceeded to explain that they had a very large ceremonial nazi flag and to explain what great condition it is in and so forth... then the guy stopped himself and said "wait, I need to explain..." (like it sort of occurred to him  that "let me tell you about my great, enormous Nazi flag" didn't look great lol) "My wife and I were at an estate sale and we found the flag and my wife insisted we must buy it and get it into a museum before some skinhead finds it". 

My grandfather had a Confederate flag on a shelf in his basement. No idea of its provenance or purpose. It was never discussed just we kids played in the  basement and dug around a lot. It wasnt displayed it was in a pile of old stuff. Perhaps it belonged to his parents and he didnt know what to do with it. No idea.

Edited by theelfqueen
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I grew up in the Southwest and have lived in the New South (Raleigh) for 3 years. Half of the people in the state were born elsewhere and there's a huge influx of people from the Midwest, Northeast, and West.

What do I think when I see it? The Confederacy and its army threw away their American citizenship by seceding from the union and killed American soldiers-it's the flag of treason against the United States. All Confederate generals should've been hanged for treason as should all politicians voting for secession.  Lincoln didn't have it in him to do The Necessary and lead in that direction at then end.

People who are truly not anywhere on the racist spectrum would never in any way be associated with a Confederate flag.

***Note*** After WWII there was a migration out of The South and other parts of the country. It's when my maternal grandparents went to the Southwest from Kentucky.  Plenty of Southerners moved for job opportunities, which is why those flags pop up in places like the Midwest along with other places.

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1 hour ago, elegantlion said:

I voted all of the above, but not necessarily all at one time. My first reaction is to flip it off. 

Same. Admittedly a big part of the reason I don't actually do that is because I don't want to be assaulted or worse. 😬

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