Last weekend, in Charlottesville, Virginia, members and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan protested the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The rally was met with even more protesters denouncing the antiquated beliefs of the KKK.
This event served as an unpleasant reminder that even in 2017, heinous groups like the KKK still exist, and this intolerance is not a thing of the past.
Every day, we are exposed to racism and discrimination. A prominent example of our ignorance is the nonchalant use of the Confederate flag, something we see frequently in Florida.
The Confederate flag, which is often flown by members of the KKK, has long been viewed as a symbol of the South. Those who raise the star-crossed banner associate it with family values. People who consider themselves “country” often raise and wear the flag with the same amount of care as a sorority girl flying an "Alpha Alpha Alpha" flag at the beach. They do it with pride and view the flag as a representation of who they are. Nothing more.
The issue with this form of Southern pride is that the Confederate flag is not something Americans should be proud of. It represents a dark time in American history, and continuing to fly it is a disgrace and a disservice to many Americans.
The Confederate flag originated during the Civil War when it served as a badge of the Southern states. Mind you, the Civil War ended in 1865, and the South lost. Strangely enough, Americans are still found waving it high and proud.
Confederates believed African-Americans did not deserve to be treated as people. They believed it was acceptable to enslave, beat, starve and generally degrade them. Southerners felt so strongly about this that many of them risked their own lives in battle just to defend their right to own slaves.
While we realize the Civil War was not entirely about slavery, it was certainly a main point.
Consider World War II. Although the entire war was not about demolishing the Jewish people, people still have the decency and common sense to not fly the flag of Nazi Germany in 2017. It’s a part of history we all wish to forget.
Similarly, slavery is a part of American history we should be ashamed of. It is not something we should celebrate and flaunt.
The Confederate flag symbolizes nothing more than slavery and oppression. It was the emblem of hatred and ignorance, and continuing to exhibit such a message makes us no better than our ancestors who created it.
You may think this is dramatic. You may think this is another liberal rant and that it’s OK to use the flag because you, yourself, aren’t racist. You may think people are used to it by now and don’t feel threatened when they see the flag. You may think these things because you’ve never been oppressed.
For those who have never been faced with oppression, it can be hard to understand the fear that minorities face every day. When you fly the flag, you’re broadcasting a reminder to the millions of African-Americans and other minorities in the U.S. that only more than 150 years ago, they weren’t considered a person in their country. And even 150 years after they’ve gained their right to be considered a human, they are still fighting for respect.
The Confederate flag is much more than your way to show Southern pride. When you fly the flag, consider what you’re saying. Consider who you’re hurting.