Longtime readers of this space know which part of Accidental Racist would troll me the hardest: the popularity of the Confederate flag.
The song will come and go, but the treasonous, racist symbol (whose design is far superior to the American flag) will still be displayed everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon.
Brad Paisley implies the flag is about Southern Heritage, as though from the distant, sepia-toned past. He’s wrong. Southerners weren’t using it until the Civil Rights movement.
- From 1865 (the end of the Civil War) until the 1950s SOUTHERNERS DID NOT USE THE “REBEL FLAG” AS A SYMBOL OF “NATIONAL” PRIDE OR “SOUTHERN” IDENTITY.
- In the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement began advocating for racial change around the US, and particularly in the South. Members sought the end of Jim Crow and to have full rights as citizens of the United States, which they had been denied since at least the end of Reconstruction in 1877.
- In response, many Southerners adopted the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of resistance to federal efforts to end Jim Crow and to end segregation. Just as Southerners fought the federal government to protect slavery and states’ rights, they would now fight the federal government to protect segregation and states’ rights.
- The Rebel Flag was, is and remains a symbol of a movement that would have, in its time, protected slavery, and would, today, protect segregation and racial bias. The notion that it is a naive symbol of a culture is utter nonsense.
It isn’t about slavery per se, it’s about segregation. In the 20th century, the Stars and Bars were a kind of campaign logo for Jim Crow laws, which didn’t end until 1965.
That wasn’t very long ago. Using a Confederate flag as a segregationist symbol is well within living memory. When Dixiecrats heard Martin Luther King was shot, they flew that flag on their front porch in support of the shooter.
There’s a 55 year old black man working in downtown Atlanta right now. He can remember having to use “Colored” drinking fountains when he was in second grade. He can remember “Whites Only” counters and moving to the back of the bus. He’s not from the distant past. He’s still in the workforce. He’s a full decade away from retirement. This hypothetical black man might not even have stayed in the South. He might be your boss or your coworker. He could be Stanley from The Office (actor Leslie Baker, age 55). In fact, he’s only 10 years older than LL Cool J, who turned 45 this year.