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Phelen: Controversial flag popping up in more places

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

I wouldn’t call myself particularly observant, but I can remember things that I’ve seen a whole bunch of times in a short amount of time. Recently, I’ve been seeing something that actually shocked me at first – but it has now become somewhat mainstream at my high school, and it continues to show up in popular culture. Will someone please tell me why – why on Earth – I keep seeing Confederate flags everywhere?

Prior to about three months ago, the only place I’d ever seen a Confederate flag was in history books and on an occasional bumper sticker while driving in the South. But now I’ve seen phone cases, T-shirts, flip-flops and cover photos on Facebook swearing allegiance to Robert E. Lee.

The excuses I’ve heard vary. One poor girl didn’t seem to know what her bumper sticker meant. I think only one person I’ve seen in Confederate gear legitimately wanted a reinstatement of the Confederate States of America. Most people have an answer that includes “southern pride,” occasionally using the phrase “heritage – not hate.”

As a lifelong northerner, I have never felt compelled to brag about which half of the U.S. I’ve come from to other Americans, especially not on my charm bracelets. Perhaps if I was from a southern state I would feel differently, but somehow, I doubt it. Even if I did want to, I think I could find a better way than displaying a flag that continues to be controversial for what it represents.

I just don’t see the flag as a symbol of the South; I see it as a symbol of a short-lived nation that existed only in protest of President Lincoln. Why protest Lincoln, commonly known as our greatest president? Because Lincoln did not agree with the expansion or maintenance of slavery.

That flag, therefore, does not celebrate southern hospitality and southern belles any more than a swastika celebrates Oktoberfest. As an American, I find it saddening to see the negative parts of our history so ignorantly and brazenly displayed these days.

And as a human, I find the Confederate flag incredibly offensive. So, the next time you think about using the “Rebel Flag” to remember your southern roots – think again. Find something that looks better on you, better on the South, and better on our country.

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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