Opinion: Confederate symbol not harmless

Anna DuranBy Anna Duran

I’ll qualify myself as a Yankee. I’ve lived in Iowa my entire life, but my whole paternal family resides south of the Mason Dixon. I know as much about Southern hospitality as I do Midwestern modesty. My culture is represented often in symbolism.

Symbols in culture are important, and they have power.

The Confederate flag was the symbol chosen by the Confederate States of America when they seceded from the nation as whole to protect the institution of slavery, to continue in the practice of keeping other human beings as slaves.

The symbol is not harmless. It has power. It’s a lingering malefaction from a terrible section of American history.

To say that it serves as a reminder of Southern solidarity in the face of Northern aggression is a travesty, a mockery of the fact that people were enslaved in America for 250 years and when finally freed, a few rich white guys said, ‘screw that, I’ll keep my hostages,’ and the Civil War ensued.

What if in 90 years a few nostalgic Germans decided to start waving Nazi flags? Would it be considered a harmless symbol? I know the Nazi swastika is still a symbol of white supremacists. To me, it represents hate and the idea that white skin is better than any other skin.

The Confederate flag means the same thing to me. It doesn’t represent a connection to southern heredity, it doesn’t represent good times gone by. The flag flies directly in the face of equality and feels like a warning. ‘Toe the line, darkie. Wasn’t long ago I could kill you for nothing.’

Slavery and the Holocaust were not the same, but can be considered similarly. Dark and ugly scars on the face of humanity both represent the systematic oppression of a race of people. In the course of both events, millions of people were displaced and murdered.

In Charleston, South Carolina, the Confederate flag waves over the capitol building. Imagine if the city state of Hamburg in Germany decided to raise the Nazi National flag and kept it there. Outrage would ensue.

The pride taken in this flag upsets me greatly. I understand being proud of where you come from; I understand being proud of the accomplishments of your family, city, state, and country. I understand symbolism and crests.

Flying the Confederate bars doesn’t speak to me of pride. It speaks to me of airing the dirtiest of your laundry.

It’s like a face tattoo you picked up in prison. You needed it to fit in at the time, but now you should be trying to get rid of it anyway you can, because you’re different now than you were then. You’re trying to be a little better.

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