Symbols are an important part of our culture and human history. Companies carefully create logos and build their "brand" around them. They want us to see that company symbol and associate it with their products and with their values. It's an identifier intended to create associations and companies spend a lot of time, effort and money to carefully develop those associations.
Symbols take on greater meaning as those associations grow. They're hoping it will be the associations holding the company in their light but sometimes our experience overrides their intended meaning. Think of any company logo - Ford, GM, Amazon, Facebook, Exxon - and consider the associations you have. Why? What has been your experience? Those associations may be based on personal experience, news stories, relayed information... Does seeing the logo give you a positive feeling or a negative feeling? Why?
Our symbols are steep in meaning. That's the intention. We don't all look at the same symbol and attached the same meaning. At the heart of the debate over the confederate flag, the argument seems to be over its meaning. Many embracing the flag argue that it is simply a symbol of southern pride. To view it this way, one has to disassociate the history and intended meanings as it first flew in the Civil War and when it was raised again in the 1960's.
The original meaning of the stars and bars confederate flag was succession from the United
States. It symbolized all the reasons behind the effort to succeed. At the end of the civil war, the stars and stripes flew again across the south and much effort was made to heal the wounds that separated this great nation. Confederate flags came down.
The confederate flag was raised again in the 1960's as a symbol of protest against de-segregation. In other words, it was a rallying cry to fight against the civil rights movement for equality. It is the flag embraced by the Ku Klux Klan.
That history and this meaning for this symbol remains. Its a symbol of succession, segregation, oppression, and subjugation. Rallying around that flag is dis-comforting in light of what it symbolizes. Does "southern pride" encompass a continued yearning for succession, segregation, oppression and subjugation? The stars and bars flag is not separate from those. The flag is just a flag. It's not the flag that is offensive. It's what that flag has represented that is offensive. The desire to keep that flag flying raises the question - Do you support all that the flag symbolizes? If so, it explains much about the underlying issues that aren't getting resolved.
Let southern pride raise a new flag that symbolizes hospitality, warm weather, warm hearts, great food, and visits on the porch with an ice cold mint julep.