The Tampa Tribune
Published: September 13, 2008
Symbol Of Repression
I am angry. Every morning during my commute to work, a giant Confederate flag greets me like a slap in the face at the junction of Interstates 4 and 75. This virulent symbol is a constant remainder of the South’s failed attempt to defend the unconscionable practice of slavery.
The Confederate flag is a powerful symbol of both slavery and segregation. When the South seceded from the Union to defend the institution of slavery, all slaves in the South came to fear the Confederate battle flag. To slaves, the flag represented the cruelty of the slave system and the idea of the indefinite bondage of human beings. The flag still carries this historical baggage and by 1948, the Dixiecrat Party used it as a symbol to galvanize support for segregation.
Some proponents of the flag argue that it merely represents heritage, not hate. However, this statement is flawed considering the flag’s historical usage. It represents a racist call to the Old South in which both slavery and lynching’s were the norm. Proponents of the flag merely appear to be couching their thinly veiled prejudice behind the Confederate flag.
This flag is unacceptable in our society. Our country has made incredible strides toward healing some of the wounds from our checkered past. My drive to work reminds me that there is still much work that needs to be done.
No Hatred Shown
Regarding "Rebel Flag Up For Good, Site Owner Says" (Metro, Sept. 4):
As if there are not enough things in this world to get riled up about, when I read a community activist’s statement that she was going to get everyone "riled up" and bring that flag down.
I find things in this world every day that offend me and leave me bewildered at the feelings and ideas of some people, but I acknowledge the rights of others to have their own opinions and feelings about anything. I have the right not to be a part of things that I do not believe in.
The people who have placed the flag have not shown one bit of hatred toward anyone and have bent over backwards to reason with those opposed to it. The only bitterness and hatred that I have seen has been from people like Ms. Williams.
I’ve learned of the controversy over a Confederate battle flag flying on private land in Hillsborough County from an article in the September America’s Civil War magazine.
It upsets me that people who have benefited immensely and advanced their civil rights immensely by utilizing their right to free expression are so vociferously determined to deny freedom of expression to those who have a different opinion regarding that flag.
Nobody is being forced to go out to that private park and look at that flag. If they have a negative opinion connected with that flag, they are free to stay away and not look at it.
Those brave men who fought under that flag fought for their families and their homes against Northern invasion conducted to force them back into the Union. Less than 5 percent of Southern whites owned slaves and the majority of slaves were owned by less than 1 percent of whites. Most Confederate soldiers were poor men and boys who often were hungry and poorly clothed and frequently didn’t have shoes. I find it silly for some people to seriously claim that such Confederate soldiers endured hardship and suffering and died in battle so that a tiny Southern elite could own slaves.
If some people want to ignore Lincoln’s own words after the Battle of Bull Run (or First Manassas as Southerners called it) stating that the Civil War was being fought to save the Union, not to interfere with slavery, those people are free to do so. But they have no business trying to force their erroneous interpretation onto others who disagree.
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