Symbol of past doesn’t mean bigotry

Story by Tyler Snell, print co-editor-in-chief

As cars stream through small towns in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, red, white and blue can be seen flying next to countless homes. As people walk down the crowded streets of the city, a familiar red, white and blue is seen at every corner. But some of these flags represent a different red, white and blue—one of a Southern past and pride in heritage.

The Confederate flag is a symbol of the South, yet people always seem bitter when the Confederacy is mentioned. Contrary to what most people believe, the modern Confederate flag was not actually flown by the Confederacy during the Civil War. The modern flag was flown by General Robert E. Lee’s Northern Virginia Army.

This symbol of Southern pride was once flown during the era of slavery, but many miss the keywords, “was once.” The symbol now supports constitutional freedoms that many Southerners love and fear will be taken away by the government “up north.”

Our government seems so distant and far removed from our lives, and any time freedoms are threatened people are reminded of a distant tyranny, only this time an ocean does not separate the divide.

Southerners pride themselves in hunting, fishing, owning guns, protecting their families, Southern food and country music. Granted, you do not have to be from or live in the South to experience and enjoy these freedoms.

The Confederate flag is misrepresented. It does not mean Southerners support slavery. It means we pride ourselves in being from the South where Southern hospitality is appreciated, religion is honored and respected and where sweet tea is the drink supremacy. Southerners fly the red, white and blue because we are loyal to our country but we also fly “those other” colors because it is a symbol of heritage and pride of where we were born and raised.

High school and college graduates pride themselves on where they attended school much like people who grow up in the South pride themselves in growing up in this region of the United States.

So when this stigma of being a bigot forms just because a simple flag is flown, supporters of the Confederate flag get angry and do not want it to be taken away simply because others don’t understand its true meaning. Flags symbolize heritage, pride and geography the same way a country’s famous landmarks do.

A flag does not mean we want the old days back. A flag means I appreciate where I grew up and call home, and I do not want to see this simple symbol of my heritage torn from my life, such as Walmart and Amazon refusing to sell any Confederate flags. That seems a little too much like a tyrant ordering me to not express myself.

In a world where expression is applauded, shouldn’t it be okay for me to express my Southern heritage?