Confederate Flag Flies Again in Marion County

Okay, time to layer in some complexity, this one is probably not as obvious as you think it is…

1) Marion County has a “five flags” display outside their courthouse, in other words they fly the historic flags of the five nations (France, Spain, Britain, USA, and CSA) which at one time or another have flown over the state of Florida. That the Confederate States was one of those five nations is a historical fact.

2) If you are going to have a “five flags” display, the flag representing the Confederate States should be one of the three (or more counting variations) national flags of the CSA, and not the “battle flag”, which was never used as a national flag. Setting aside for the moment the racial connotations the battle flag has taken on after the war, it simply is not the correct flag to fly to represent the nation that was the Confederate States of America. To Marion County’s credit, the flag they use is the third national flag of the CSA, and not the battle flag.

3) While the display is both historically valid and accurate, one should remember that lynchings were widespread across the South up until the mid 1930’s, and Marion County led the state in the number of lynchings of black men. Florida as a whole had more lynchings of blacks per capita than any other southern state. I’m not sure historical validity and accuracy is of much comfort to the families of those who were murdered not that long ago based on the color of their skin.

4) I wonder why supporters of Marion County’s flag display aren’t doing more to honor and embrace their French, Spanish, and British heritage in the same way they embrace their very brief period under CSA sovereignty. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a royal French or Spanish flag flying from the back of a pickup truck, and Union Flags in these parts are pretty much only used to identify Doctor Who fans (a few of whom do drive pickup trucks).

A quick conversation about a certain flag…

“We should ban the flag, it represents the losing side of a horrible war that nearly destroyed our county, and many people see it as a symbol of hatred and racism.”

“No, we should keep the flag, it’s not about hate. It’s a symbol of our heritage, it represents the pride we have in our culture, our values, our way of life.”

— a conversation that never happened in post-war Germany

A few thoughts on the Confederate Battle Flag….

1) Yeah, I get it, it looks cool.

2) Yeah, I get it, you’re Southern, and you’re proud if it.

3) Yeah, I get it, I understand that the giant battle flag flying at the intersection of I-4 and I-75 is meant to be a memorial to confederate soldiers.

But, none of that matters to me, because…

4) A long time ago I personally decided I would not display it, because I have good friends, friends who are very dear to me, to whom that flag simply IS a symbol of hatred and racism. Now I could spend all my time educating them, and all the new friends and acquaintances I would make throughout my life, on why it’s not really a symbol of hate, at least not when viewed in its proper historical perspective, and why it is nothing more than a harmless symbol of southern pride and heritage. But I thought, even if it were possible, I have much more important things to do with my life.

And it shouldn’t matter to you either…

5) For those who continue to insist that the confederate flag has nothing to do with hate: Are you kidding me? Nothing to do with hate? The KKK adopted it as their flag. It’s their number one go-to symbol. White supremacists everywhere use it as their flag. Pull your head out of your ass, of course it’s a symbol of hate.

Maybe it didn’t start that way, but that is what it has become. Maybe that’s not what it means to you personally, but that most definitely is what it means to others. It’s time we grew up and faced today’s reality.

As a community, having that flag fly at our largest crossroad is like putting up a giant sign that says “Niggers Go Home”. You can talk all day about “History” and “Heritage”, but that’s what it says to the rest of the world. Don’t believe me — I’m sure you pride yourself on having at least one black friend, ask him or her what that flag means to them.

It’s time we grow up, face the truth, understand what the flag symbolizes today, not a hundred and fifty years ago, but today, and recognize it’s time we put our racist relics behind us, and try to act like decent human beings to ALL of God’s children.

And lastly…

6) For those of you who say it’s about “Freedom”. That you have the freedom to fly that flag, that it is your right to display it. Yep, you’re right. You are one hundred percent correct. We live in a free country. By flying that flag, and in a thousand other ways, you have the absolute, constitutionally protected, right to be an asshole.