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(22,336 posts)
Fri Jul 24, 2015, 08:13 PM Jul 2015

Race, Legacies, and the Confederate Flag


According to Dees, hatred runs deeper than many are recognizing. "The Confederate Flag is symbolic of that hate," explained Dees. He reminded us that in the early days of the civil rights movement, the flag was flown by Alabama's Governor George Wallace as a defiant message to Bobby Kennedy. Wallace was a segregationist and Kennedy was the U.S. Attorney General in charge of enforcing integration laws. Yes, taking down that flag is a beginning, but, as Dees explains, its removal from state capitals is not a remedy for the deep-seated hatred that it represents.

Less than a week after Dees' speech, racial divisiveness intensified outside the South Carolina State House. The New Black Panthers and the Klan held rallies on opposite sides of the Confederate flag issue. The New York Times reported that protesters waved Pan-African, Confederate and Nazi flags. Law enforcement intervened to prevent major violence.

There are those who expect the culture clash to become a quirky, distant memory as flags are finally removed. Isn't that what happened to the zippity doo-dah lyrics of Disney's film, Song of the South? Most of us have a similar distance to the "Way down yonder in the land of cotton" lyrics of the Confederacy's national anthem, Dixie. Yet, these memories do not disappear. Elvis' rendition of Dixie is alive and well on Youtube. So embedded in our society is the word Dixie, that I doubt anyone will ever demand that Dixie cups to be renamed.

Do not underestimate the staying power of Southern memories of the Civil War. The highway that cuts through Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia is called Battlefield Parkway. Down the road is the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park, a living Civil War Museum. Drive around the area and you'll see Civil War battles commemorated with road-side plaques, statues of the fallen, and memorial parks. Ancient canons left over from the war are considered heritage items and, by law, cannot be moved, even if they face your front door.
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