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The Rebel Flag


The Rebel Flag

(first published in ‘Tales From The Woods’ #9)

(Link: Interesting facts about the Confederate flag in this flag guide illustrating everything there is to know about the flags of the world including what a flag is, which flags are the most popular, as well as the significance of all the different flags of the world.)

There has been a lot of controversy in the States recently over the Confederate or Rebel flag, with attempts to remove the emblem from the State flag of Mississippi and to stop the flag flying on official buildings thruout the South. In Europe and elsewhere the flag of the Confederacy is mainly associated with the musical heritage of the Southern States. It is to be seen at Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly and Country music venues thruout the world. This is because it is the only symbol which identifies that heritage-rich geographical area of the United States which gave birth to jazz, the blues, rhythm and blues, soul, rock’n’roll, rockabilly and country music in its various forms.

No other area of the world has such a rich musical heritage, certainly not any other part of the United States. Even Chicago blues was performed by black musicians who had moved north from the Delta. Therefore to adopt the Stars and Stripes as the symbol of the Southern musical heritage would not be at all appropriate; you might as well use the blue and gold EU flag to represent the British cultural heritage.

Which brings us neatly to the Union Flag or Union Jack. Everything derogatory which is said about the Confederate flag also applies to the Union Jack. Both flags have a racist past and both are used today as symbols of racism by extreme rightwing political groups. The Union Flag flew over the worst excesses of racist colonialism, and has been adopted by the National Front, British National Party and other racist groups – does that mean the Union Jack should be consigned to the dustbin of history?

The American Civil War was a long time ago, even further back in history than the British Empire, which was only dismantled in the middle of the last century. The War Between The States was essentially about the right of States to secede from the Union rather than about the abolition of slavery. If the EU eventually becomes a sort of United States of Europe, we will still retain our national or state flags like the Union Jack to represent our cultural heritage. Similarly in the USA the people of the Southern States need a symbol to identify their heritage.

Many black people voted in the recent referendum to KEEP the Confederate symbol in the State flag of Mississippi, and this should be a lesson to over-zealous liberals. The Confederate flag should be seen as a symbol of both the black and white heritage of the Southern States. The repression of the blacks is part of this heritage, but so is the blues and other Southern black music which speaks of this suffering. Similarly country music speaks of the suffering of poor whites in this deprived area of the USA. Much of the South was devastated by Yankee Union troops in the Civil War, and the whole area was until recent times very poor and backward. Today cities like Dallas and Atlanta have really forged ahead and put the South on the map, but does that mean Southerners should deny their history, their heritage and hide their identity behind the anonymity of the Stars and Stripes?

If the Confederate flag’s racist history means it should never be flown again, then the same is true of the Union Jack. But the meanings of symbols change, and today many black people with ethnic links to the former colonies identify with the Union Flag and are proud to be British, the same as many Southerners, black and white, identify with the Confederate flag. These symbols should be seen in a positive light as representing overcoming slavery, colonialism and racism and moving towards a multi-ethnic community. Nowhere is this epitomized more than in the Southern States where white and black music was first fused together to create Rock’n’Roll, the Southern musical form which more than anything else helped to break down the barriers of segregation. Southerners can rightly be proud of using their music to break down racist barriers, and to many people thruout the world the Confederate flag is indeed a Rebel flag. It represents the rebellious Rock’n’Roll music which the Ku Klux Klan and other rightwing segregationists tried so hard to ban and destroy because it threatened segregation.

To me the Rebel flag represents Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and all the other Southern artists, black and white, who first smashed down the barriers between blacks and whites in the 1950s. Let’s be proud to wave the Rebel flag as representative of the multi-ethnic heritage of the Southern States, whose people, black and white, have seen so much suffering and progress over the last 100 years or so.

If slavery was the low point of the Southern heritage, the fusion of blues and country pioneered by Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams and others was undoubtedly the high point. To me and many others the Confederate flag is a positive symbol of the multicultural legacy the Southern States have given the world.

One Response to “The Rebel Flag”

  1. 1
    Brenda Says:

    I strongly agree with you. I live in New Hampshire USA now. I am from London UK
    I fly the Union Jack and the confederate flag. People from this side of USA have no idea of the history of the confereate flag they are still saying its a racists flag. One of the big reasons are is because the KKK use the flag and have given the flag a racists mark . I will not take the flag down because I fully know its not racists

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