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Diatribe: If Your Confederate Flag Offends Your Neighbors You Probably Should Take It Down.

09/28/2011

On the east side of Interstate 65 just south of Nashville, Tennessee, passersby see a huge, ugly fiberglass statue of General Nathaniel Bedford Forrest on a rearing horse.  The statue of the former Confederate General and first national leader of the Ku Klux Klan is surrounded by a large display of Confederate flags.  Commemorating a hero to some and a racist monster to others, the tasteless spectacle, found on a parcel of land owned by an elderly attorney, has been shot at and repaired several times over the years.

A year ago in Summerville, SC a white woman living in a historically black neighborhood began to fly a Confederate flag from her front porch.  Dozens of offended neighbors marched in protest and badgered local government to make her take it down.  The flag remained in place and, earlier this year, neighbors raised funds to build two solid eight-foot high wooden fences on either side of the woman’s property to shield the flag from view.  Shortly thereafter, she installed a higher flag pole.

“I’m here to stay. I didn’t back down and because I didn’t cower the neighbors say I’m the lady who loves her flag and loves her heritage.” Annie Chambers Caddell, Stubborn SC woman who insists on displaying a Confederate flag at her home despite protests from neighbors, local and national civic groups that find it embarrassing and offensive

While some see the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and racism, others insist it’s merely a part of their Southern heritage … a Southern heritage that, in my opinion, is chock full of slavery and racism.  I’m not black and I didn’t have any relatives that fought in the “War Between the States”, but I do have enough compassion to refrain from displaying huge banners that my neighbors find offensive.  Some call it being “civil” or “neighborly”.

I understand what it feels like to be proud of your heritage and the actions of your ancestors.  But, I’ll never understand the desire to flaunt the symbol of the most backward, embarrassing and barbaric period in American history.  Whether it be a banner on your porch, a bumper sticker on your truck or a ghastly eyesore along the interstate, in my opinion the Confederate Flag represents little to be proud of.  And I sincerely doubt that Annie Chambers Caddell’s ancestors will be proud of her.

 

Update 12/18/12 – Texas School Board Bans Confederate Flag.

 

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12 Comments
  1. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t make it wrong. Would *I* fly that flag? No. Would *I* have that statute up? No. But I’m also not Southern. But in my opinion, if you start telling people what they can and can’t do at their own home or their own property? It starts with a flag… where does it end? Today it’s a flag, tomorrow it’s what you choose to drive, then what you feed your own family… oh wait, they’re already trying to do that. It’s a slippery, slippery slope. And a scary one at that.

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    • I do understand that just because we CAN do something it doesn’t mean that we SHOULD. I respect this woman’s rights to hang whatever she wants off of her front porch, just like I respect Westboro Baptist Church’s right to picket soldiers’ funerals. This woman, much like WBC, is clearly exercising her right simply to annoy her neighbors. Part of living in a civilized society involves compromise for the sake of community. She is not a good neighbor.

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      • Yes but you mentioned the neighbors were trying to get the local government to make her take it down. Those are two separate issues. Should she take it down… yes out of goodwill toward her neighbors. Should she be MADE to take it down? Absolutely not. You cannot legislate common sense or kindness of spirit. Nor should you.

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        • Ahh … I see. Good point! Of course, there are neighborhoods that have zoning requirements, etc. I have friends that have to get permission from the “association” before they can paint their front door!

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          • I was going to mention about homeowner associations, but I felt like I was blog hogging already by that point. HO assn is one thing, but that didn’t sound like the case here.

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      • And my saying you didn’t understand was based off you saying you didn’t understand why someone would want to fly the flag. Not a slam in any way.

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  2. As a relative newcomer to the South–though i was born here–I was, and am, deeply offended when i see the Confederate flag.
    I understand heritage, and I understand the need to remember the past so you don’t make those mistakes again, but to celebrate it is very off-putting.

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  3. I understand an appreciation of one’s culture and heritage, but i thought bein’ polite was a part of that for us southerners. she could hang that flag in her living room or her bedroom and see it even more without rubbing her neighbors’ noses in a symbol they find offensive.

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  4. Rene permalink

    I am Southern. I was born in the South and have always lived here. My ancestors fought, I am told, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Some people say that they honestly feel that the Confederate flag is a symbol of their southern-“ness”, as it were. I am always suspicious of that assertion, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. That said, I think that Jewish neighbors would be justifiably offended if the woman flew a flag bearing a swastika to celebrate her German heritage. For some, the Stars and Bars are just as cruel a symbol as that. If she cannot appreciate that, then I offer the following: her symbolism lets me know exactly who she is. It is nothing of which to be proud. Her heritage has nothing to do with that.

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  5. and there’s the fact that the flag she’s forcing on the neighborhood is probably not a flag officially adopted by the confederacy (there was more than one) but one of the battle flags. to me that makes it a symbol of war, not of some proud lost culture.

    i wonder if her neighbors have considered looking into forming a neighborhood association.

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