The Confederate Flag: Losing Integrity of Patriotism

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As the turmoil of life thrusts people into their daily routines, political opinions tend to lay dormant until election time comes back around. As talk of elections reappear, the flames of political debate are relit. Elections serve to paint a clear image of the opinions that are felt across the nation. This past election was a revelation of the nation’s troubled unity. No other election was as divided as this one. With American society split down the middle, it is easy to recognize how fragile our country’s solidity has become. Now we must face an ordeal where patriotism becomes a blur and a lack of patriotism goes un-noticed. One of the most recent unpatriotic acts to be thrown into the light was, the loyalty and display of the confederate flag. A flag that strikes fear in some and pride in others only accentuates the problems that it brings into our society. Loyalty to the confederate flag by its very nature cannot be considered patriotism.

To correctly identify its impact in our society and to deem it as unpatriotic, it is imperative that both the original intent and the evolution of the confederate flag be considered. The confederate flag that is known today was first the battle flag used by the Confederate Virginia Army (Coski). It was created because the official confederate flag “Stars and Bars” was similar to the Union flag and became hard to recognize during battle (Coski). Eventually, it was incorporated into the second confederate flag the “stainless Banner” (Coski). After the war was over its legacy did not end there. The flag was adopted by groups who promoted segregation and the Jim Crowe Laws. A century later its original use was no longer visible and the horrid ideologies that it evolved to express could no longer be washed away. With this we can see that the confederate flag became the symbol for the southern states that succeeded from the Union. This was an action that sparked into America’s bloodiest war. The confederate flag was carried by soldiers of the rebel army. Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans proclaimed in a speech on the day that the last “confederate monument” was being demolished “It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, they may have been, warriors, but in this case they were not patriots”. There lies the issue, American patriotism must stem form a loyalty to the United States of America. All patriotic acts whether it be through support or criticism, must be for the benefit of the country and its integrity. Loyalty to the confederate flag cannot be patriotism because it is a symbol that served to officially differentiate our country from theirs.

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Patriotism in this country can only mean uniting under the ideals and the people that make it what it is. This eclectic society, reflects all races, ethnicities and cultures of the world. This has transformed it into a country that is championed by its diversity. The legal system that unites it has spent the last century building towards the ideal of equal rights and just treatment of all people. The ideals of the confederacy contrasted these ideals it now strives to achieve. Although it is debatable how large a role the institution of slavery played in the secession of the southern states, it is undeniable that it was one of the major selling points of this action. The soldiers that fought against the Union knew that they were fighting “to defend an economic system built on the subjugation of another race in the belief that it was inferior” (Confederate flags). These very soldiers held proudly the confederate flag because it stood for a nation who depended on slavery as the basis of its economy. A profound example of this truth is the words used in Mississippi’s announcement of succession which stated ‘our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest in the world’ (qtd. in Guelzo). In a nation as diverse as this one, a symbol so rooted in racial division cannot be acceptable. The patriotism of this nation lies deeply with its tolerance of all groups of people. Therefore, the racism that is tied to the confederate flag insures it cannot be used as a display of patriotism.

Above all, the actions taken by the Confederate States during the Civil War, are as unpatriotic as it gets. Rather than facing the variation of ideals encountered amongst the different states, the South opted to abandon the Union all together. The confederate flag became a symbol of rebellion. The main reason it replaced the “Stars and Bars” was because the south wanted a flag completely different from the union as the war progressed (Coski). After Robert E. Lee’s victories, Virginia’s battle flag grew popular throughout the south (Coski). It painted a motto of defiance that challenged the integrity of our union. Whether one accepts the fact that the rebel flag is symbol of racism or not, one concrete fact cannot be debated; succession was an act of treason (Guelzo). The confederate flag became the cover photo for the treason that was committed. Showing loyalty to it completely dismantles the role the American flag plays in uniting this vast nation into one. This is its most dangerous attribute; the confederate flag can only serve as treasonous symbol of disunity. Upon its creation, it already served to divide and now it can’t do anything other than that. Therefore, there is no place for such an unpatriotic symbol in this society which struggles to come to agreement on anything.

As society stands today, it directly mirrors the image of disunity readily present. We must come together and set aside all that separates us. With the vast array of people, opinions, and ideals that we find before us, only patriotism can bind us together. The confederate flag which is a symbol that can only serve to partition us further cannot be tolerated as it is far from patriotic. Our patriotism must lay in measures that bring us towards progress so that our differences may be praised and measures that unite may be taken.

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