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Confederate Flags are Not “History,” They Are Signs of Racism

A recent study has confirmed what I’ve known since high school—the confederate flag mentally encourages racism in people. A group of white college students who were shown the flag had an increase in displays of racist attitudes, as well as a less supportive attitude toward then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. And why wouldn’t it, since it’s been used in every organization from the Ku Klux Klan to the Aryan Nation, and it completely symbolizes a time when people not only sold, bought, used, raped, and killed other people as slaves in this country, but then fought an entire war over trying to keep their “right” to do that?

Don’t give me that crap about the Confederate flag being a symbol of “Southern history” and heritage and whatever garbage you want to spew in order to keep it on your truck. Every person I’ve ever met who had that symbol on his or her vehicle (or in his or her house) has attempted to tell me a racist joke, made a disparaging remark about Black people, or sported extra bumper stickers such as “Speak English or Get Out,” which, I’ve noted before, is highly ironic at best. I once had a crush on a guy who had such a sign on his truck in high school, and when I overheard him laughing about “white bread” versus some words I’d rather not think about, I completely lost interest.

It’s not a symbol of history. It’s a symbol of control, death, and I would even say terrorism. I consider the aforementioned groups terrorist organizations, and find it ironic how we fight the Taliban and worry over Mexicans crossing the border when these own groups operate within our borders legally as citizens. I suppose citizens have more terrorist rights than people from other countries in America.

How would Jewish people feel if you stuck a swastika on your car, for example? Sure, you can argue that it’s a Buddhist symbol known as the Heart Seal, and it’s definitely widely used in the Eastern world as such (as well as a Hindu symbol and other religious symbols). But if you use it today in the West, we know that it means anti-Semitism after the Nazis ruined it for everyone. After an event so horrific, it unfortunately cannot be “taken back.” In fact, I once purchased a Buddhist necklace for a Jewish friend who loved Buddhist culture without knowing it had the sign on the back; when I discovered it I decided not to give it to her and gave her another gift instead.

The thing is, even if you did argue that—say you’re Hindu and you use it—that’s definitely still different from using a symbol that was born out of hatred and privilege and death. And until we stop using it and fostering such hatred across the country, we’re going to keep dealing with bigots like this. I’m not asking for the free speech control to make a ruling; I’m asking for fellow Americans to see what this symbol really means and to refuse to use it.