I don’t know about you, but I have noticed the Confederate flag popping up in places I’ve never seen it before. I live in the northern Midwest, and do you know how many friends I have who own a Confederate flag? Zero. And yet, suddenly some of these same friends are including the Confederate flag in their Facebook profile pictures and sharing stories about how the Civil War was only about states’ rights. Because if you haven’t heard, downplaying slavery as a factor in the Civil War is the newest trend. Texas is even rewriting their textbooks.
Evangelical Christians have stepped up to defend the Confederate flag. And not just in the south. Are you connecting those dots? If not, let me help you. Conservative Christians believe this is a Christian nation under god’s rule. They want a Christian constitution. Some politicians have led them to believe that this is already an actual thing, or at the very least is something that will definitely come to fruition soon. They just need to fight for it. Since marriage equality became the law of the land, states’ rights and religious freedom have become the Christian battle cry. Some politicians are falling over each other to court these Christians. The two have become one. And as we all know, you have to stand by your politics the way you stand by your man.
The Confederate flag’s only defense comes in an imperfect little package of how once upon a time the south used the argument of states’ rights as a means to protect their right to own slaves. Of course, they were certainly not interested in protecting other states’ rights when it meant their property wasn’t being returned. And by property, I mean people. If you want to know how they really felt, I would advise you to visit some online historical newspapers so you can better understand where their heads were at. It’s pure unapologetic racism; but you already knew that. If you want to discuss how the war was so much more than just slavery, you are right. Maybe greed did play a more dominant role. But I would think embracing the Confederate flag as a cherished symbol of states’ rights is maybe not the best PR move for Christians right now.
When I was eight I had a crush on Beau Duke and I spent all my birthday money on the General Lee toy car. The Confederate flag came as a sticker I had to apply as an extra step. Peeling that sticker off and placing it in its proper place is all this northern girl has ever known about southern pride. I don’t get it. You know who else doesn’t get it? My northern Christian friends who suddenly think they need to buy out Cooter’s supply of Dukes of Hazard toys thirty years later. But I do know that no one is legally forcing anyone to hand over their flags. They are just trying to make them feel really bad about flying them. Maybe they should feel bad, and maybe they shouldn’t. But is feeling bad a loss of rights?
Say whatever lovely words you want about the Confederate flag, but I suspect no one is actually surprised that it gets associated with racism. People have always been offended by the Confederate flag, and now it is in the spotlight. Public outcry may influence others to be offended, which will inevitably lead to everyone making demands on everyone else. Politicians, media, celebrities, businesses….they all respond and act according to their beliefs. Welcome to the land of the free. But remember, unpopularity is not persecution. So until the police take someone away for owning a Confederate flag, Christians should take care not to throw that word around as if it means anything in this argument.
Challenging the Confederate flag is clearly being advertised as a challenge to one’s rights to hold on to their unpopular beliefs. Now, how do you suppose we might connect all this to other political issues? Hey, I think I finally figured out why my non-racist friend keeps sending me anti-NAACP articles! She thinks displaying the Confederate flag is the same thing as refusing to provide wedding cakes to lesbians. Except, the two are not the same thing at all. And the right to be unlikable doesn’t need anyone’s protection.
These are just small insignificant battles that happen during a war. It’s always about something bigger, and there will always be another war on the horizon. As long as politicians say the magic words and use a lot of bible quote memes on social media, Christians will follow their lead. Their agenda is for everyone to be legally forced to recognize god’s law. Persecution all around. And by god, I mean an invisible being that only one specific group believes exists. How could that possibly go wrong?
This reminds me of that time in my high school U.S. History class when one girl asked, “Who won the Civil War?” and we all laughed because we lived in a northern state. I’m not sure how that conversation goes in all the other states. I have since learned that reality is subjective. Just because we make laws and win wars doesn’t mean the fight won’t continue. Racism. Women’s rights. Abortion. Marriage equality. Religion.
It’s 2015. And here we are, having an argument about the Confederate flag.