April is National confederate appreciation month. When you hear the word “confederate,” you automatically think about slavery, oppression and the antagonists of the civil war. So, why would so many people still honor and celebrate it? To fully understand and formulate my opinion, I took to the internet. I read a few confederate, union and middle ground perspectives. Through all that reading, my opinion on this topic has changed, but not by much.
The article “Why do people still fly the Confederate flag?” by BBC says many supporters of the confederacy claim that they are honoring the soldiers that fell during the war. They also say that the confederacy represents the “little man.” It’s true what they say, that history is written by the winners. Many think that the war was started over just slavery, but it wasn’t. Slavery was one of the topics, but what they fought over was government interference. The confederate states did not want the Union telling them what to do and they certainly didn’t like the insane taxation that the Union imposed. This is fully explored in the article “slavery and the civil war, not what you think,” by the Huffpost.
Now this is where it gets a little grey. Many modern-day supporters of the confederacy claim that they weren’t fond of slavery. They also claim that they treated their slaves fairly— but slavery still existed. The Union wasn’t so innocent either. They didn’t free the slaves until a year and a half after the war started, when it was “convenient” to their cause. Once the slaves were freed, one of the options that the Union proposed on what to do with them was to deport them all. That doesn’t sound like a nation that freed the slaves out of the “kindness” of their hearts.
The fact of the matter is that slavery existed under both flags. There is no clear protagonist in this story. The confederacy chose to stand up to a higher power and fight for what they believe in. The Union just happened to release the slaves along the way because it benefitted their goal of controlling all the states. If you choose to fly the confederate flag as a symbol of freedom and honoring those that were lost, go for it. However, I do think that the South needs a new symbol to represent what they feel. The confederate flag was made for independence, but it was also made for white supremacy. The South is increasing in diversity and those that represent different races don’t care too much for racism.
Modern-day supporters may not be racist but the symbol that they fly was built with it. The same argument could be said for our flag right now, but I guess it gets a free pass because they conveniently “freed” the slaves. Like I said earlier, modern day supporters of the confederacy need to have a different symbol. We are always moving forward and getting better. We may not be able to change our current flag, but we could change the confederate’s. It’s good to represent freedom and honor those who came before us, so maybe it’s time to choose a new symbol for freedom and equality.