The sad truth about the confederate battle flag is that whatever supporters would say about why it still needs to fly and why it might be worthy of public admiration, hate groups have stolen it from us. Add this to the long, long list of items for which such groups cannot be forgiven. They’ve hijacked it and the theft is an accomplished fact. When that flag goes on display, a message of racism goes with it—whether that is the intended effect or not. For the recipient, the impact can be as in-your-face aggressive as the sight of a swastika—which hate groups often display alongside it.
The swastika got its poor reputation the same way. It spent 3,000 years being revered by various religions and cultures as a symbol meaning “auspiciousness” among other things. Then the Nazis appropriated it. Display it today and you’ll get only one reaction.
Those who would continue to support the public display of the confederate flag really have two questions to ask themselves. One: Does it make any sense to deny that hate groups have stolen the symbol and made it their own? Or should flag supporters continue the battle to wrest the flag away from hate groups—and in doing so, risk offending a good portion of America?
Looking at race relations as they now stand in this country, to me it’s hard to argue that we should be doing less to salve old wounds and resolve old and current injustices.