Symbolism

July 8, 2015

The Confederate Stars and Bars battle flag with "I Aint Coming Down" added

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Flags are one of the clearest examples of symbolism in any culture.

Last month, nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina were killed by the alleged (he has not as yet been convicted) gunman, whose web site featured images of himself posing with the Confederate flag-this further exacerbated the issue of that flag as a symbol of hatred and white supremacy given its connection to the culture of slavery in the United States.  Slavery was a most significant reason for the secession of the Southern states, which culminated in the fighting of the Civil War from 1861-1865.  Coincidentally, or maybe not, South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union in 1860.

Sign advertising sale of Confederate memorabilia

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In the wake of the recent South Carolina killings, Wal-Mart, among others, announced that they would no longer sell products carrying an image of the Confederate flag.

Confederate battle flag

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One focus of the issue has now shifted to the South Carolina legislature as the Confederate flag continues to fly at the State House.  The South Carolina Senate voted to take it down and the House is continuing the debate-over 20 amendments have been attached to the bill, some of which propose the replacement of the ‘Stars and Bars’ with another version of the Confederate flag.  Time will tell.

T shirt with Confederate battle flag and the words "I'm Offeneded That You're Offended"

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photographs in this post were made in Gettysburg, PA. a few days after the 2015 anniversary of that cataclysmic battle fought during the Civil War.  The sentiments expressed on the flag, t-shirts, and advertisement leave little to the imagination in terms of intent.

T shirt with Confederate battle flag and the words "If This Flag Offends You You Need A History Lesson!"

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is actually very important to study the entire history so as to be able to come to an informed decision regarding one’s views of an issue.  I would strongly invite you to either give a listen or read the transcript of this episode of The Diane Rehm show from NPR, which presents a history of the Confederate flag and the symbolism it imparts.  Around the 10 minute mark, Bill, a caller from Texas, makes a point about Germany and the swastika.  The swastika was used long before it became associated with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party, as described here.  Bill, and the show’s panel, present a cogent argument about recognizing history without continuing the use of such inflammatory symbols.  Other viewpoints about the Confederate flag are also presented during the show’s discussion.

This article from The Washington Post provides further details with regard to the manner by which Germany has dealt with the swastika and also links that symbol to the debate about the Confederate flag.  It is important to note that the swastika continues to be used as a symbol by neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups.

As this post deals with symbolism, another long-standing issue is the name of the Washington, D.C. football team, which provokes similar controversy.  This is a report about the most recent Federal ruling.

As an aside, I link to so many NPR reports for content because the programs on NPR present some of the most balanced commentary on current issues available.  Going further, the conversations/interviews/reports are completed in a most civilized manner-no one is shouting or over-talking others.  This allows for reasoned presentations of the multiple points-of-view that exist with complex issues.

Take care.

UPDATE:  The Confederate flag has been lowered from the South Carolina Statehouse, as reported here.

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