Cultural Appropriation and the Confederate Flag

Don't be the kind of cultural appropriator that everyone loves to hate.  If you're not willing to tow the line for what it means to be a Southerner, then stop acting like you care.

Don’t be the kind of cultural appropriator that everyone loves to hate. If you’re not willing to tow the line for what it means to be a Southerner, then stop acting like you care.

Americans are having a national debate about the symbolism of the Confederate battle flag, but it’s the wrong debate being performed by the wrong people.

This renewed controversy about the Confederate battle flag, in all its variations, has brought about some interesting arguments and comparisons.  The flag’s opponents want to have an open and critical dialogue on the matter, but there are some important things for them to consider before going too far afield.

The Confederate battle flag is “nation wide” now.  The Stars and Bars have become the symbol of resistance for white people all across the country, and it continues to be a loved symbol even in South America.  However, the manner in which people are using the Confederate flag nowadays would have made CSA Vice President A.H. Stephens roll in his grave (provided that somebody doesn’t decide to dig him up under cover of darkness.)

But, how many of us really know what the flag of the Confederacy looked like?  I’ll bet that most people don’t have a clue.  The flag of the Confederacy was not what we’re arguing about right now.  The first Confederate National Flag consisted of,

“Three horizontal stripes of equal height, alternating red and white, with a blue square two-thirds the height of the flag as the canton. Inside the canton are white five-pointed stars of equal size, arranged in a circle and pointing outward.” [Wikipedia]

That’s what the flag of the Confederacy looked like.  What politicians and liberals are arguing about banning right isn’t even a historically accurate or relevant version of what was used by the Confederacy.  The current brouhaha is revolving around the Confederate Naval Jack.  A NAVAL JACK!  The flag that was until recently flown on the South Carolina capitol building’s grounds was used by the Army of Northern Virginia, and it wasn’t even used by the entirety of the CSA’s land army.

The argument at hand is many things, but it is also a perfect example of cultural appropriation.  People all over the country are trying to pick up the Confederate flag, or some variation of it, and use it as their own symbol for something that it was never intended.  I’m going to say it for the record: white people can commit cultural appropriation against other white people.  I’m not sure that cultural appropriation is specifically “bad,” I just think it’s something that happens as a consequence of two or more different ethnic or racial groups being close to each other.

 I’m sure we can find some instances of somebody, like, let’s say, Justin Bieber, using a stereotyped white trash outfit as a tool to express himself with in a public meeting, and while it might be disingenuous and insulting to those who regularly use overalls as part of their daily work routine I don’t think it’s worth getting as worked up over as Tumblr says we should.  According to Wikipedia, cultural appropriation is,

“… the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture. Cultural appropriation may eventually lead to the imitating group being seen as the new face of said cultural practices. As minority cultures are imitated by the dominant culture, observers may begin to falsely associate certain cultural practices with the imitating culture, and not with the people who originated them. This is often seen in cultural outsiders’ use of an oppressed culture’s symbols or other cultural elements, such as music, dance, spiritual ceremonies, modes of dress, speech and social behaviour, among other cultural expressions.” [Wikipedia] (emphasis added)

That’s exactly what is happening here.  You would think that the Left would have a better grasp of this situation since they never miss a beat to attack white people for alleged micro-aggressions or appropriating culture from non-white people, but it’s lost on them.  If they realized what was happening they would know better than to get so worked up like this.

White people, some of whom have zero relation to Confederate veterans nor the South land are taking the flag as a symbol to rally under.  The flag is a symbol for cultural identity, just not the one the Left needs it to be, and that’s why there is a push-back from a large section of White America.  The people who are adopting the flag are appropriating it and using it to express or stand for something different than what it was originally intended.  Thus, the Left’s attack on the Confederate flag isn’t even an attack on the Confederacy or its values, but against white people trying to create a pan-American white identity.

When the Left fights against the Confederate flag they think they’re fighting against a remnant of the Confederacy.  When white people pick up any of the Confederate flags as an expression of identity or cultural values they think they’re promoting and defending something different.  Very few of the people at Confederate flag rallies have a strong grasp of what was happening in the South during the Civil War;  Very few of the people at Confederate flag rallies have any relation or association to Confederate veterans.  The one thing that all white people at Confederate flag rallies do understand is the need for white unity, that’s what this argument should be about.

The Confederate flag is a tool that we use for expressing ourselves and something about our own identity.  If we use the tool incorrectly or in ways that it wasn’t originally intended we can end up hurting ourselves or others in the process.  If you carry a battle flag into public and aren’t going to battle somebody when they steal it from you, then you’re “doing it wrong.”

White people across America who feel compelled to defend parts of their culture and identity need a flag to rally under.  However, the Confederate flag is not a one-size-fits-all tool for expression, and if you aren’t going to defend the Southern way of life you need to stop using it right now.  Southerners do not want, need or appreciate weak-willed men and women from other parts of the country watering down what it means to be a Southerner.

  • Dean D

    Bloody good piece. Interesting look at cultural appropriation.

  • Lew

    Speaking as a Southerner with roots in the deep south and ancestors that fought for the CSA, I like seeing non-Southerners raise the CBF in the face of this culture. It makes me feel like we’re not entirely alone. This IMO is a benign form of appropriation.

  • I am from Ohio, and a few of my ancestors fought on the WV side during the war, but my family proudly uses the Confederate Flag; we use it as an educational tool; then that becomes a springboard to speak about our current situation, and how we need to resist in like manor. Thus, the symbol is for us a symbol of resistance to tyranny and obedience to God.

  • Light Division

    The flag wasn’t used for governmental purposes (as mentioned), but labeling it simply a Naval Jack that was used by the Army of Northern Virginia is certainly misleading.

    The Army of Northern Virginia was the Confederacy’s primary fighting force, and it included regiments from all over the Confederacy. As a matter of fact, its most famed fighters hailed from places like Texas and Georgia (50th Ga Volunteers, anyone?), not Virginia.

    So while I appreciate the sentiment behind the article, Mr. Buhls, and I assume that it was not your intention to marginalize the flag’s historical use in any way, I’d just like to point out that this wasn’t some insignificant “Naval Jack” to our ancestors or a flag for Virginians only– it was the flag under which men from all over the Confederacy fought and died under. That’s why it’s much more meaningful (and relevant) than some official governmental flag– it was a Battle Flag, a flag that men fought for and fought under.

    Just get tired of the whole “that’s not even the real Confederate flag, it was just used by the AofNV”, argument, especially because it’s usually put out there by the anti-flag crowd (though I realize that’s not the case here…). It’s one of those things that, while factually correct, greatly over-simplifies the issue. Saying the Army of Northern Virginia was “just a part of the Confederate army” is like saying today’s U.S. military is “just a part of North America’s fighting forces.”

    Deo Vindice

  • Marc Bahn

    I have to agree with Lew. My background is the same and I’m delighted when I see the flag, South or not. I’ve seen it in Europe. Sure, many people who so appropriate it might not know all about the different flags of the South or the Confederacy, but some do. Some may only find it attractive while plenty recognize it as the preeminent symbol of rebuke of tyrannical abuse of authority.

    We do owe a debt of gratitude to the idiots running the USA. Without this recent purge against the flag and other Southern symbols, the flag might not now be the most well known symbol of rebellion against the very government the whole world* has come to detest.

    *Except The Zionist entity, of course.

  • Harry
  • Lynda

    The White race in its nations (ethne) is the only race that converted to Christianity as a race. It is the only race that became baptised in its nations.

    The Church and the faith of the Church was the foundation of these nation states and their social orders. The great cultural diversity that we still see in the patrimony of the former Christian nation states ultimately derives from the faith of the original baptised populations. I mean, on the continent you can drive a half hour down the road without crossing any sovereign border and you have population that speaks a different language, has a different set of customs, a proud cultural heritage and history, even a different cuisine.

    Race as an organising principle is not sufficient to explain the cultural wealth of the White nations. And even though the enemies of the faith and of the post Christian White Race have the White race as a race in their sights, Whites organising on the principle of race are organising against a perceived enemy. They are not organising for the great postive good and missionary mandate that was the historic source of the strength of the White nations. I mean we are talking about nations that fought a 700 year war against the Islamic invasions on two fronts. So they weren’t short on cultural and racial identity.

    All of the relics of our White nation state heritage are significant as heritage, as history and as talismanic symbols. They can be pressed into service to help forge racial consciousness at this time of racial crisis. But they are no substitute for the ‘in hoc signatio vinces’.

    And they are no substitute for the new Oriflamme and ‘in hoc signatio vinces’ which our Lord revealed in France 100 years before the dawn of our Revolutionary Era inaugurated in France 1789 A.D. Until that time – little victories and big defeats.

By: Thomas Buhls

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