Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Liberal Rant: The Confederate Flag

As a Texan, the Confederate flag is a part of my past. As a southerner, it's an important part of my history. But as an American and a liberal, I feel rather embarrassed by it. Not because of personal objections, but because of the staunch defense given to it. There exist a good deal of southerners that claim the flag to be an important part of southern heritage, yet either choose to ignore or deny the massive racial implications it carries.

I don’t deny that the Confederate flag holds an important part in American history, but I have to wonder what part of it I, as a southerner, should be proud of. The Confederates were rebels who fought against the United States. They succeeded because an abolitionist was elected president. They fought to keep slavery alive. The last one is the most important here; the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism as much as it is a symbol of the south.

Naturally, many people object to having the Confederate flag on public grounds or in public spaces. And naturally, people in favor of keeping the flag up claim taking it down would First Amendment rights. Both sides have a point; the Confederate flag is technically protected under the First Amendment, even if it does carry heavy racial implications. However, there’s more to the First Amendment than defenders say.

The First Amendment protects many things, but it doesn’t cover everything. Perhaps the most important thing to know is that the First Amendment is not a shield from all consequences. It may prevent you from being arrested by the government, but it’s not a shield for any objections or criticisms from what you say. It doesn’t stop someone from being offended from what you say. So even though the Confederate flag is protected as free speech, it doesn’t stop people from being offended by it.

That being said, I don’t think we have remove all traces of the Confederate flag; we just have to keep it a private matter. A person can still wear Confederate flag memorabilia, but it’s not appropriate to have it on public grounds. It’s possible to remember history without plastering it everywhere, or without tearing it all down.

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