I believe there are many Mississippians whose support for the confederate flag is sincerely about heritage and family. I also have loved ones who have fought as soldiers. My grandfather fought in World War II. Besides being a soldier, he was a great man and my family is incredibly proud of him. His picture as a young soldier hangs above our mantle, a section of the frame contains his tour ribbons, another showcasing a Purple Heart. In our family, there is a reverence for the Red, White & Blue.
So, I can relate.
But there are many people, such as Native Americans, Japanese, etc., who do not see the American flag in the same light, rather, a cold dark shadow that it casts. Whether these perceptions are rightfully held is moot. The bottom line is that in some cases the flag as a symbol is offensive, alienating potential allies, business partners and neighbors in a shrinking world.
Knowing this, do we brandish the flag without consideration for how it is perceived? Or do we work to mend the bridges; addressing the grievances, deconstructing past offenses and replacing messages of hurt with statements of goodwill? Though this is often described with lofty words such as diplomacy, doing so is simply an acknowledgement of another’s humanity and a nod to their value. While respecting the confederate flag may not make you a racist, an unwillingness to do the work probably does.
However, I believe my fellow Mississippians are willing to do the work. I am.