by Shawn Tucker:
I don’t know if I can call myself a “Southerner.” I have lived in North Carolina for 15 years, and I lived in Tallahassee, Florida for four more. I also lived in Oklahoma for three, but that’s on the border. I grew up in Virginia, but it was “Northern Virginia,” and it is frankly stretching things to call it “the South.” I can say “y’all” as natural as can be, and I love a good biscuit, but I was born in Utah.
Simply put, I dislike the Confederate Flag (which is really the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, to be precise) for these reasons: It has historically and is currently too strongly associated with white supremacism and it is a poor symbol for the greatness of the South.
For me, the Confederate flag is too closely tied with white supremacism. It featured prominently in Dylann Storm Roof’s chosen imagery and as part of the race war he sought to inspire. It was also reborn in the South during the late 50’s and 60’s as a racist response to federal integration efforts.
I know many wonderful Southerners who embrace the flag as a symbol of their heritage. Few would describe themselves as racist or white supremacists, and most would not personally associate the flag with those attitudes. But the main reason I dislike the confederate flag is that it is too small, too narrow, too limited, and does not really work as a symbol of the South. To give an example: it does not symbolize for me some great Southerners like the Bedford Boys.
If you have never heard of them or ever been to Bedford Virginia, the Bedford Boys were men who signed up to defend their country and all it stands for during World War II. These soldiers were part of the units that landed in France on D-Day. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a faraway land on that dark morning. These were great Southern men, soldiers defending their country, but for me the Confederate flag does not bring them to mind. These men did not rally under the Confederate flag; they rallied under the flag of the great United States of America.
There are many other great Southern Americans who I do not believe would wave the Confederate flag. They are Southern, but that is not a symbol of a great Southern heritage for them. Those Americans include Harriet Tubman, B.B. King, Jimmy Carter, Jasper Johns, William Faulkner, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Aziz Ansari. Instead of a far too narrow symbol, the South needs a better symbol of its rich, wonderful legacy. I think that a better symbol for that legacy is the very flag the Bedford Boys fought under. Exclusively and proudly waving that flag does not lessen one’s love or respect for the South and the South’s contributions to our great nation.
Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website: motabenquirer.blogspot.com.
Image credit: Emily Barney, modified by Scott Heffernan (used with permission).