Confederate battle flag fliers posted at American University

When I was a kid in Ohio, people thought nothing of flying the Confederate flag, and we used to sing “Dixie” right alongside “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in school. It’s interesting to watch values change over time. I guess that’s what happens when symbols get co-opted by extremist groups.

Or when progress is made…they have always been symbols steeped in historical context, never benign. They surely weren’t present in my childhood in the North.

There are a lot of Confederate flags around Ohio and I always wonder why. Ohio was a union state, an important underground railroad state. One state neighbor to our south was literally created by seceding from the rest of its state in order to NOT be part of the confederacy, and the other was neutral though part of the union. We are surrounded by union states.

Whose heritage is being celebrated with confederate flags flown in Ohio???

My college roommate was from the south and we used to argue about this all the time. I think for many it’s just a southern pride thing and really has not much to do with the underlying Civil War. It doesn’t bother me. People fly pirate flags and all kinds of flags and I don’t give it much credence that they want to pillage or have a desire to steal. I just think people are getting way too ultrasensitive and trying to made broad generalizations that may or may not apply to an individual or what they may be thinking or believing.

I’ve been struggling through Hillbilly Elegy (struggling because the writing quality is poor, IMO) but one of the themes in the book is the mass wave of folks transplanted from places south to Ohio and other parts of the Rust Belt. I wonder, @OHMomof2, if this explains the prevalence of confederacy symbolism in your state?

I have relatives in the deep South. They don’t see it as a “southern pride” thing. They see it for it’s racial symbolism. Perhaps at some point in history, it could be argued that it didn’t represent that. But it does now. One can sugarcoat it but it has been used by those who have an agenda. Why anyone who doesn’t have that agenda would wish to display it when it sends a message to so many and bothers so many is truly beyond my comprehension. I think those that do display it know quite well how it is read by others.

It did from the beginning. When the seceding states proudly wrote that they seceded because they “have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery” (Georgia) and that their “position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world” (Mississippi), it is hard to wash away the idea that the Confederate States (and therefore its symbols like flags) did not have anything to do with slavery or the racism around it.

https://www.civilwar.org/learn/primary-sources/declaration-causes-seceding-states

It actually doesn’t, because they mostly came from West Virginia and Kentucky! WV born out of determination NOT to secede with VA, and KY neutral-to-union.

It’s a puzzle.

Whether or not that is related, note that midwest cities tend to have high levels of racial segregation (with Chicago being the most common example of “the most segregated large city in the US”): https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-most-diverse-cities-are-often-the-most-segregated/

For Ohio in particular, according to the list at the bottom of the above link, Cleveland is highly segregated, Cincinnati is somewhat more segregated than average, and Toledo and Columbus are close to average (marginally more segregated).

Higher racial segregation is probably both a cause and result of higher racism.

Ohio and Michigan have always been “fertile ground” for racism and the KKK. Those who fly the Confederate flag today may have had parents or grandparents in the Klan.

^ just tells me that any Ohioan flying that flag is doing it for racist reasons, not even able to hide behind “heritage”.

As a POC friend of mine says, let them fly them, it tells me who they are without me having to speak to them and find out for myself. A little jerk-alert, if you will.

I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but this recent piece speaks to your premise, @ucbalumnus.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/09/14/segregation-and-changing-populations-shape-regions-politics/

That’s one way to look at it, I suppose… :frowning:

I think the dangerous thing with folks feeling free to fly their flags and such is it gives a voice and boldness to the racism which can manifest into more overt actions. We’ve seen evidence of that lately, IMO. I prefer the cockroaches to hide in the dark.

Ouch. It does put a damper on things as we are looking at a few Ohio schools. I know the schools, students, most residents are not “perturbed” like the flag flyers, but it does mean that people who don’t know the lay of the land (like my S) may need a period of adjustment.

The question I have is this: if we are indeed a nation divided philosophically, is the path forward really an all-out frontal war of “right vs wrong” or some mid-ground requiring sacrifice on both sides and a decision that the ultimate long term solution lies further out in the future? It seems now we’re doing the former and it’s splitting us apart.

I would prefer children not to have to see them.

When I first moved out here around ten years ago, there were a very few very elderly folks flying flags and one very worn and faded Klan advertisement on the side of a barn. As these individuals passed away, their heirs took down the flags and several neighbors expressed to me how relieved they were to cover over that sign on Uncle’s barn about five years back, almost immediately after his funeral.

I had thought the flags were going to be gone in a few years. However, in the weeks following the Charleston massacre, flags went up. Young folks even put them on their trucks, not just decals, but poles flying flags, which I had never before seen. After Charlottesville more flags appeared.

You can interpret that however you want. I know what I think it means.

“if we are indeed a nation divided philosophically, is the path forward really an all-out frontal war of “right vs wrong” or some mid-ground requiring sacrifice on both sides and a decision that the ultimate long term solution lies further out in the future?”

I think that is a valid and important question in a lot of areas but how can that be applied to racism? I’d argue it can’t because where is the mid-ground on the issue?

That’s very depressing and sad to hear, @alh, and it enforces the opinion I expressed above in #17. :frowning:

Yes, you’re right re: racism. But I’d think you’d agree that no one likes to be told that what they’ve believed in for most of their life is evil, the example being confederate figures representing some semblance of admirable characteristics (along with reprehensible ones).

Wouldn’t a mid-ground position be something along on the lines of, ok the statues can stay, but please let the message be that it is kept because of the good things and not the bad. Everyone is human; no one is perfect. How one rises above one’s imperfections is part of how one shows one’s character.

[edited to fix typo]

No - the statues can not stay.

Even my 92 year old friend, and 88 year old friend, whose family backgrounds epitomize the “old south” say the statues can’t stay. They are extremely proud of their grandchildrens’ efforts toward the removal of the statues.

Watching young parents bringing their children, on a sort of pilgrimage to the site, the day after a statue is removed is very moving to me. There is some good history being made around here lately. I really try to concentrate on that.

So no middle ground since the battlelines are purely on racist fronts?

When you read about the history and context of when and why most of those statutes were erected, what are the “good things”? Sincerely interested in knowing.