What American school child has not been taught to say that I “pledge allegiance to the American flag” during their years in public school? They are taught to honor it, how to display it, and how to dispose of it when it is worn and torn and tattered by age. And even some of them grow up to serve their country and pay for it with their lives, with their loved ones handed a folded American flag as tribute for their service during their death memorial. So flags are important symbols in America. And such a symbol still exists for many Georgians in regards to the Confederate flag of Georgia based upon this Atlanta Journal-Constitution report from June 30.
A parade of at least 150 vehicles traveled the roads in Dalton, Ga. on Sunday to express their passionate support for the freedom to fly the American flag in addition to the Confederate flag of their forefathers. The parade was likely due to the Georgia historical flag recently garnering negative attention due to activist seeking to annihilate the historical symbol from the state altogether. It is not like the flag has not undergone a previous transformation in order to reduce the emblem that has come to represent repression and slavery to so many people of color in the South, but enough of its symbolism still remained to foster yet another new initiative to destroy it.
Rebel parade riders, however, seem to feel that the Confederate flag is not about racism or slavery to them; it is about Georgia’s historical past–and their right to preserve it’s memory (but not the memory of white dominance or black slavery, per se). So while that historical past consists of portions of a history of behavior that has since been agreed to have been wrong towards one race of people, that does not mean Georgians or others in the South necessarily desire to erase history as a means of moving beyond it. In fact, if we do not have the record of history to learn from (including the flags and other forms of expression of such periods), it is said we are doomed to repeat history. And while that should never mean glorifying terrible atrocities or past violence or abuse, it must also not result in the refusal to acknowledge the other aspects of a period of time, for which the Confederate flag holds meaning to some.
On Sunday, however, two Youtube videos went viral in support–and in opposition–to the Dalton, Ga. rebel flag parade, showing that the South is still divided on what the Confederate flag means–and whether freedom is being violated by being asked to not fly it. One video speaker uses profanity and says “God don’t like ugly,” referring to the flying of the Confederate flag. But he thinks nothing about taking the same God’s name in vain as he talks about the flag flyers. And he gets a kick out of seeing some of the parade vehicles crash into one another, which may be why the views on that video are not as high as the next video.
The other Rebel Flag Dalton, Ga. video speaker appears to be in support of the flag parade that wound through a Walmart parking lot on Shugart Road in the city. That video was uploaded with this comment: “It’s not racism it’s defending your rights, after they all parked there were a couple of black and Mexican folks IN the group. This is not about racism”. That video has garnered 140,000 views and counting.