Don’t tolerate Confederate flag

A trailer holding various flags, including the Confederate flag, rolls along in the Ticonderoga Fourth of July parade. Photo provided

This editorial appeared in the Post-Star on July 20:

GLENS FALLS — We are among those puzzled by the habit among upstate residents of displaying the Confederate flag.

As bad as it is, anywhere in the country, to march around with a flag of treason and disunion — a flag emblematic of chattel slavery, our country’s deepest shame — it’s worse to do it here, where every community sent young men to fight and die in battles against that flag.

Yet you see pickup trucks emblazoned with Confederate flag stickers, or with the Confederate flag flapping wildly from the side, all over the region and, at times, driving by the Civil War monuments that stand in the center of our towns, commemorating our dead ancestors.

This tendency to celebrate what we should condemn reached a low point a couple of weeks ago in Ticonderoga, when a participant in the town’s Fourth of July parade, promoted as “the best Fourth in the North,” dragged a trailer holding a fancy four-wheeler and adorned with several flags, including a Confederate flag.

Maybe it’s fitting that a celebration of American independence would be stained by memories of the Confederacy, because slavery was the urgent national issue the signers of the Constitution failed to resolve. That failure bore terrible fruit less than a century later in the Civil War.

We cannot seem to shake free of this legacy of oppression and exploitation, so maybe the way these flags of hate pop up all over our communities — in people’s windows and on their cars and in our parades — serves as a reminder of the racial injustice we refuse to acknowledge and atone for.

Probably, whoever was towing that flag through the streets of Ticonderoga was not thinking about reminding us of racial injustice. Probably, whoever towed that flag through the streets of Ticonderoga was not thinking.

But there is something to consider here, beyond feeling outrage and offense at the public display of a flag of rebellion against our country and hate against our fellow citizens.

How did the Confederate flag become the default display for angry men who want to give the finger to polite society? Why is that display widely tolerated?

The Confederate flag stands, among other things, for the violent subjugation, sexual abuse, assault, rape and murder of human beings. Those acts were part of the system of slavery the Confederacy sought to preserve and expand.

Other flags — spelling out vulgar insults, for example — would carry a far less offensive message. Yet flags spelling out vulgar insults would never be tolerated in the “best Fourth in the North” or any other Fourth of July parade.

Do you know this is not the first time the Confederate flag was displayed in the Ticonderoga July 4th parade, and the previous time, policies were changed in response? Yet again this year, the flag flew, and no one moved to stop it.

The Confederate flag flies in many of our neighborhoods. If challenged, the people flying it will offer some specious defense: they like the way it looks or they were a fan of “The Dukes of Hazzard” or they have a right, it’s a free country, the First Amendment, etc.

We are just not that offended by Confederate flags — not as offended as we should be. Until we get to the point where we see the flag for what it really represents, and refuse to tolerate it, then we will all continue to be oppressed by the hatred and horror of its legacy.

© 2021 Post-Star

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(6) comments

Eagle24

Interesting article and topic that confused me when the issue first surfaced. I always looked at the confederate flag and statues from a historic not personal perspective... growing up I never heard of the issues that are voiced today... I guess it begs the question, what changed? Are we more sensitive... we've all heard the great speeches of MLK and I never heard him comment on the flag, or confederate statues and that includes all of civil rights leaders of the 60's .... is it linked to BLM.. confusing..

rdsouth

One battle at a time. The confederate flag has long been used as an indicator of white supremacist leanings and used as an unofficial equivalent to a "whites only" sign. In the 60s they were focused on getting rid of the open and official "whites only" signs. Now it's past time to get rid of the unofficial private ones, which essentially function as a looming threat. It's a battle flag after all. When your house is beside the entrance to a park and you display a confederate battle flag what is that saying? It is saying "if you don't like this flag you aren't welcome here." It is sort of appropriation of public property in a way, like being flatulent on a bus.

HotelMike

I personally, have seen more Confederate Flags in NNY than I do down south.

Empathy

Interstate highways and their rights of way are owned by the state in which they were built. The State owns the State Roads, the County the County Roads and the Town the Town Roads. According to the stated law, Confederated flags should not be displayed on any public roads because they are all owned by one jurisdiction or other and are public property.

NYRivermaiden

NY passed a law in 2020 deeming the Confederate flag a hate symbol and banning it's display on public property...

hermit thrush

excellent editorial.

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