Anyone who follows news stories involving the Confederate knows all too well that they have been on the rise lately. I’ve been hard pressed to think of a reason as to why this is so. It’s not as if there has been a sharp increase in the number of people undertaking the serious study of American history who also want to advertise this in public. [As an undergraduate I use to walk around campus with a copy of Plato’s Republic (cover facing outward) just to let people know that I was a philosophy major.]
John Crisp offers one answer in an editorial that references two Texas boys who are currently involved in court cases over whether they can wear the Confederate flag as a belt buckle and on a backpack in school.
I suspect that at least some of this interest is perpetuated by the Internet, where sites trafficking in Confederate symbolism have proliferated. Let’s face it: the Confederate battle flag is a handsome banner whose connection to a very dramatic period in our history is attractive. Generally, the preservation of heritage is desirable. But it’s impossible to glean merely the good out of a given set of symbols; they often have another set of less attractive meanings that can’t be eliminated.
In the attempt to control them, however, many of the Confederate Web sites traffic in ideas, as well as in flags and lapel pins. You can buy books like “The South Was Right.” You can discover that Abraham Lincoln was actually a white supremacist. You can learn that, really, in many respects blacks were actually better off before emancipation. It’s not hard to see why the ideas connected to the symbols that many want to preserve make some of our fellow black citizens extremely uncomfortable.
Crisp may have a point. Perhaps all that is going on here is increased marketing along with saavy kids who know how to surf the web. More than likely they have no idea of the history behind their symbol of choice apart from the misinformation that is attached to it on the respective website. I sometimes think that it is part of a larger conspiracy on the part of certain organizations to bring these types of cases to court (LOL).