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Short of semaphore, flags can send mixed signals
by Jeff Latcham
Oct 02, 2013 | 19 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stepping up to defend the “Stars and Bars” Confederate battle flag in these days of political correctness and Twitter is a fool’s errand. Different perspectives, however, are worth exploring.

For many, maybe even a majority, it represents slavery, and as such, it is offensive on its face.

That position was voiced by Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez in leading the ban on the flag at functions at the Bee County Expo Center. We don’t doubt his offense at the flag and his conviction in the matter.

History, however, is rarely a simple matter of one-sentence issues, even though we compress it into such on social media. Lost in doing so for the Civil War is to discount major issues such as states’ rights which was in debate in 1860, just is as it is today.

Also overlooked in the condensed conviction of the Stars and Bars was the simple motivation of defending “home.”

In reading the personal accounts of many Texans at the time – the vast majority owned no slaves – defense of home was a prime motivator. Many joined the fray to keep the invading “Yankees” out of Texas and away from loved ones.

National pride remains a primal motivation we see everywhere.

When some of us fly the flag of Mexico here in the United States, are we not celebrating Hispanic culture, roots and, yes, home, even though we’re not in Mexico? It’s not that anyone is advocating revolution or revenge for Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

But the motivation of home when combined with “group think” has sometimes led otherwise potentially good people into awful positions. Ever wonder how a practicing Christian in Germany could have been sucked up into the Nazi movement?

Did the average North Vietnamese soldier really want to live under a repressive communist regime, or was he largely fighting to unite his country and evict the invaders?

One has to wonder how did a practicing Christian in the Confederacy reconcile his religion with the issue of slavery? Home and patriotism aren’t always the best guiding lights in and of themselves.

It’s easy to clearly see the pathway from a historical perspective but also not always easily negotiated in real time.

We don’t fly a Confederate flag. Don’t own one or a T-shirt, hat, decal or bumper sticker with it. But we seriously doubt that the vast majority of people who display the Stars and Bars these days wish to bring slavery back. It’s just a symbol of home and Southern pride in who they are and from whence their people came.

That doesn’t mean others are wrong to take offense at the flag. It’s just the perception between the sender and receiver – a classic communication breakdown. One sees it as one thing, and the other fellow sees it as another.

Six flags over Texas is more than just the name of a theme park. It represents the six national flags that have flown over the state in its various incarnations under Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States and the Confederate States of America.

For many, it’s just history. And home. Before declaring all who display the Stars and Bars as de facto racists, it might not hurt to give them the benefit of the doubt. And if you choose to fly the flag, then just know you will be offending many.

Free speech. Even when embraced, there’s no guarantee everyone will understand your message. Or what beats in your heart
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