I was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for many years, so I used to pledge “undying devotion to the flag and the cause for which it stands,” believing that cause was Southern heritage. The flag in this pledge was the CSA Battle Flag, also known as the Rebel Flag. I left the SCV when I discovered that we had a KKKer in my camp, the other members knew it, and they thought it was okay to elect him as a camp officer. Any group that claims to be about heritage not hate would not allow KKKers in the group. Despite comments from the national leadership to the contrary, the SCV is happy to have Klan members in their group because they are a big part of the dwindling number of Southerners who still revere the CSA Battle Flag.
The other aspect of this is that the CSA Battle Flag was the emblem used all over the South during the Jim Crow era as a symbol of white supremacy. It is not so much that the KKK reveres that flag that brands it a racist flag (they actually wave the USA flag as much, if not more than the CSA one). It is that other racists do and have for several decades.
I hate to say how much this bothers me, because I was raised in a time when it was seen by those I knew as the flag of Dixie and that was my homeland. It’s only recently that I have come to realize how much I grew up with blinders on about the things going on all around me, and that flag is a big part of the baggage that we Southerners need to let go of and reject.
I am not one of those who blame my ancestors for doing what I consider bad things. They lived then, I live now, and I don’t know how I would have behaved if I had lived in their time. But I am one of those who are coming to realize that respecting my heritage does not require displaying a flag that so many other people have used in racist ways and that continues to inflame racial division and violence today.
It is time to let the Rebel Flag be a part of history and remove it from active display anywhere other than museums.