Hate, Not Heritage

There’s no good reason to proudly display the Confederate flag


Hailey Wachowiak, Reporter

The other day, while I was at lunch, something jarring crossed my view. There was a boy walking around the cafeteria, wearing a Confederate flag hoodie. A few days after that, I saw a kid come into school with the flag on his hat. Others I’ve seen have the flag as a bumper sticker on their cars.

When I see things like that, only one thought goes through my mind — why?  Why is it acceptable to wear or fly a flag that has had such a problematic history?

The people who fly this flag nowadays are labeled as racists and — in my opinion — rightfully so, assuming they understand what the symbol actually means. Anyone who would wear a flag that was flown for the right to own another human being weakens my hope in humanity. The people we see displaying the Confederate flag in public are either ignorant of the flag’s actual meaning or they approve of a vile and outdated institution.

Having lived in a northern state my whole life, I was taught at a young age that the Confederate flag was the flag of the Confederate Army, an army that fought in the American Civil War, at least in part, to maintain the right to own slaves. The South had three different flags at one point, but the one that we all know today was the flag that was brought into battle. Everyone knows the outcome of the Civil War and how it formed the country that we live in today — a country where one cannot own another human being. 

After the loss of the Civil War, Confederate soldiers that survived would place the flag at the graves of their fallen soldiers as a sign of respect. In the late 1940s, the flag was adopted as a symbol of the Dixiecrats, a political party devoted to maintaining segregation. They also opposed President Harry S. Truman’s proposals to instate anti-discrimination laws and make lynching a federal crime.  Later, it could be found on Georgia’s state flag but was removed in 2001.  It is currently still part of the flag of Mississippi.

So why would someone want to wear it to school — or anywhere, for that matter? In Germany, the Nazi flag is illegal to fly, and any Nazi propaganda is prohibited. In the United States, white supremacist meetings commonly feature the Nazi flag flying next to the Confederate one.

Ultimately, this leads to the belief that the flag has racist ties, and — looking at its history — it does.

Some argue that the Confederate flag stands for heritage, not hate.  But in light the flag’s troubled history, what is the reason to fly or wear it now, especially at a public school that accepts students of all races and ethnic backgrounds? Maybe some wear it for attention, for everyone to point and stare. Maybe it’s to be a rebel and upset people. Or maybe, they have a mindset that is stuck in the Jim Crow era.

The teachers at North Allegheny have made it very apparent that it is not acceptable to wear the Army of Northern Virginia or Confederate flag around. Sadly, some kids at this school continue not to listen to the rules by trying to find other ways to smuggle in the flag. Maybe this is a game to them — I just cannot even begin to imagine what is going on in their heads.

In the end, one can argue that the flag stands for freedom — but freedom for whom? The slaves that Southerners owned for over 200 years?