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Monday, September 30, 2013

Visual Quiz-- Confederate Flag: Yes or No

~ Black Confederate soldiers (1861)

Its the last Monday in September.. couldn't bring ourselves to waste a moment of time or brainpower addressing the impending government shutdown starting tomorrow..

Its much like a parent telling their teenager that as punishment he/she can't use the car except for going to school and work and to pick up the parents' dry cleaning...

Until the shutdown affects people receiving Social Security, food stamps or military pay which would provoke genuine public wrath, its all a big silly game no matter how you feel on Obamacare.
So instead, we're going to do a visual quiz and we call it 'Confederate Flag: Yes or No'

The inspiration for this was reading an AP article over the weekend that a giant Confederate battle flag was to be displayed along I-95 in Richmond.

Some say the flag represents hate.. to others its Southern pride and honoring Confederate Civil War dead.
~ Private Louis Napoleon Nelson, CSA.. rode with Gen. Forrest;  member of Company M of the 7th Tennessee Cavalry

The flag was co-opted in the early 20th century by the modern Klan and ultimately other hate groups so in a way it takes on that power much like the swastika has been around as a symbol since times of antiquity but of course it was taken over by monsters in the 1930s and now that symbol only possesses one meaning..
Now if those who flew the stars n bars decided to fly the flag just above, no one would have known its meaning even though it was the Confederate flag of the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry which served in the Army of Tennessee then under command of General N.B. Forrest for the duration of the war...

Little piece of interesting trivia:  The Confederate Army in the Western theater called themselves the Army of Tennessee in reference to the state.  The Union called themselves the Army of the Tennessee in reference to the river..
~ Polk Arnold who served with Gen Forrest's Escort Cavalry

Its all about perception, the meanings we give symbols and the power we allow others to control how such symbols are to be interpreted.

And its so much simpler to brand the Confederate flag as evil while looking upon the US flag naively as noble and pure..  We don't recall Jim Crow, the Native American Wars and internment of Japanese Americans during WWII to to under the Stars & Bars...

So let's start with a few flags..  Decide- is this a Confederate flag or not?

The first flag was the first Confederate Naval Jack which was eventually replaced by the middle flag until 1863 when the Stars & Bars represented both Southern Army and Navy.

The last flag is of the current EU (European Union).

OK, let's try some others:

The first flag is the governmental flag of the Confederacy.  This was the flag flown over the Southern capitol at Montgomery, AL and then Richmond, VA for the war's duration.

The 2nd flag is the state Confederate flag of Louisiana (1861-65)

The bottom flag is the current flag of Mississippi flown currently over their capitol building.  The state is now as loyal to the United States as any other.

So how are you doing?  Ready for some more??

The first flag represented those of the Native American Choctaw tribe who fought on the side of the Confederacy.  The Cherokees also fought for the South.

The middle flag is that of the 10th Tennessee Irish Infantry Brigade who fought for the South and suffered heavy losses by war's end.  The bottom flag is that of the 28th Massachusetts Irish Brigade.

Are you starting to get the point?

Here's more.. Confederate or not?

Here all three are Confederate flags.  The top is that of 4th Missouri Infantry Regiment under Gen Van Dorn and was used until their surrender after the fall of Vickburg, MS on July 4th, 1863.

The middle flag is of the 39th North Carolina under major-general John McCown .  He was of Scottish descent which explains the use of the cross of St Andrews.

The bottom flag is of the 39th Georgia Brigade which fought for the Army of Tennessee during the Vicksburg campaign against General Grant (Union).

Here's a couple more to round things out:

So which if any are Confederate flags?

The top flag is that of the 16th Tennessee Infantry Confederate volunteers under General Polk used until they surrendered to the Union in 1863

The middle flag is the naval flag of Estonia and the bottom flag is the naval flag of Russia..

So how did you do?

Flags are merely that... flags.

We create the symbolism and meaning whether it be positive or deviant and worse.  And like certain 'words', we allow others the power to control its definition as well as delineation based on ignorance, guilt and or/cowardice.