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Grads Tossed For Rebel Flag — Has the Meaning Changed?

Three seniors in Bloomington, MN, missed walking in their graduation last night as punishment for displaying the Confederate flag on their trucks. For displaying the flag, the three were suspended from all school activities including their own graduation ceremony.

"The Confederate flag is a symbol of, in some cases, hatred, bigotry and it has the potential to create a very disruptive environment," said a spokesperson for the Bloomington School District, on the decision to punish the three. Officials say the Student Code of Conduct prohibits behavior that may provoke or offend other students.

The Confederate flag controversy isn't new, but this part caught my attention — to see how the students defend the actions and the flag,


One of the students punished said, "I'm just a country type of person, country music, big trucks and everything, that's basically all it means to me . . . it has nothing to do with hate and racism, that's just what these parents are teaching their children today."

And then this from another, "We're all big fans of the Dukes of Hazard. It's just us showing we have our own style and we aren't going to conform to whatever anyone else thinks. . . I did not mean to offend anybody. I guess it's how you interpret it. And if I did offend somebody I'm sorry, it wasn't a shot at anyone." To them, the flag is a sign of rebellion, not racism. The student continues, "The confederate army was in rebellion to the US Army who were about money and power. We never took it as racial or anything like that."

And then there's this sticky part of the story: since the school principal is African-American, the students said that's why he was so offended and too harsh with their punishment. Ah.

Is it possible the Confederate flag now means country music, trucks, and non-conformity? Has a Dukes of Hazard modern sensibility erased the history of the symbol?


Join The Conversation
De-Ribas De-Ribas 8 years
If anyone who was offended cares to look up some history, they will see that of the two flags (Confederate and Union) our current flag is the only one that was flown over the slave ships, not the Confederate flag. Just a footnote.
emwatt55 emwatt55 9 years
I am Native American and a PROUD southern woman. I was born in 1985. Neither my parents or I had ANYTHING to do with the Civil War or the Civil rights movement. I come from a long line of poor, struggling southern folks. I will always stand up for the right to fly, tattoo, or display this flag. My husband is currently in Iraq fighting for those rights. Those boys have every right to say or display whatever they want. Guess what? They even have the right to be racist if they want to. Yes, it may be stupid, but that is their right. When the north began to industrialize they had no need for slavery. That's why they wanted to end it. They didn't need it any more. The south's main source of income was from crops. Now look at us. We have a whole new generation of slaves to tend to all the crops around the US. We hire illegal workers and pay them next to nothing and say they are just chasing the American dream. Let me tell you this country has gone to crap. I wish the south was a separate country. I don't protest the American flag my husband wears on his uniform. Even though millions of my ancestors were slaughtered for their land. While the "white" people flew that flag. Do I think that "white" people owe me something because of something that happened before I was even born? NO! Freedom of speech and freedom of expression! I thought we lived in a democracy? I guess not, and we are in Iraq trying to teach them how it's done. Lord, help us all.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
But schools can censor student's behavior when they are on campus--schools can have dress codes. They can outlaw gang colors. And of course you can't bring a gun on campus despite the 2nd amendment. While I don't think the government should ban the confederate flag or start arresting people who display if for hate crimes, I think schools, even public schools, have a right to ban it from school grounds. If they had been driving around town with the flag, no problem. But they brought it on campus, so I think the punishment is appropriate.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I agree that every discontent a person may have with this symbol is perfectly valid. Having said that do we have the right to say to someone you can not display it. In my opinion no and even if we did have the legal right to tell them no my opinion would still be that they should have the right. My defense of their rights is not an agreement of their act it's simply recognition of their right of freedom of expression just like the rest of us.
xoxoxx xoxoxx 9 years
I'm a Louisiana girl, so the flag ain't nothin new to be, but these kids have such a different outlook on what the flag means to them, that I kind of believe it. And as a senior in high school, I do believe its just too much to say that they can't walk. Seniors live for that day. I do hate to think that the principal would do such a thing because of his or her race, but hey, you never know. Hopefully their punishment will be lessened, and they've learned something from this experience.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think that at some point, people have to be responsible for the image that they are projecting to others. It is like walking around with a big fake wedge of Cheddar cheese on your head, and then wondering why in the world people think you are a Green Bay Packers fan? Because that is the image you are putting out there. Of course all southerners aren't racist, and of course there are racists in every state we have. But I think that casual use of this symbol in a way legitimizes racism for some people. The last time I saw a confederate flag on a person, the man also had a white power patch. I have many friends who are minorities, and I have heard most of them say that the Confederate flag makes them feel very threatened. I think we just have to own up to what the symbol has come to stand for. There is a reason that South Carolina is the only southern state to still fly the flag. I think that it is generally accepted as a controversial symbol. Pretending that it is neutral isn't accurate, no matter how much people would try to justify that.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Oh I know MA has its share, but it does make me feel a little better that the ADL doesn't have a big list for MA like it does for Conn.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
*Hopefully, they were run out of town. lol, no comments on my grammar.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
kastarte - Bless your heart, girl. I've encountered some heinous racism up there. It really shocked me because I honestly thought Massachusetts was more progressive than that. I think when I was up there (around 2000-2001), there were some meetings around Bridgewater. Hopefully they got ran out of town!
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Nice they have nothing listed under MA!
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
I live in Mass. and racism, though it isn't something that I have to deal with everyday, does exist. I had heard of the KKK operating recently in Conn but I didn't know there were quite so many groups and militias in Conn. This site goes state by state. If I checked my own, it would probably just give me nightmares.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
kastarte - I remember that there were some when I was going to school up in Massachusetts too. I'm sure they are around! They're like cockroaches - they hide in the walls and only come out at night. Intolerance is everywhere.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 9 years
and with the principal being black this could get real heated! and f or them not to be able to walk is kinda harsh!!
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Oh looks like my sources are right. You don't get much more Yankee that Connecticut!
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 9 years
i don't agree with the flag but they have the right to symbolic speech and can hang any flag they want!!
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
freegracefrom, To add to your point, I've heard it reported that there are KKK meetings in Conneticut. I don't know if my sources are reputable but I have heard it from several different people.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
their attitude might have lead to their punishment more than the actually displaying of the flag. Yeah... I think that's a very strong possibility, kastarte!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Agreed kastarte.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
Racism is indeed very much alive and well, but I think it's kind of pointless to turn it into a North vs South thing because racism is not something that is localized to any one region. I've encountered just as much racism living in the Northeast than I ever have by living in the South. The thing about racists is that they do not wear their racism on a sleeve. There's no one physical characteristic that distinguishes someone as a racist. It's much more insidious than that. It's a false and insulting sterotype that all Southerners are racist. There is a very strong and unique culture that is alive and well in the South ... there's a Southern accent, Southern cooking, Southern music, values, pasttimes, etc etc. You don't happen to see this culture anywhere else. Some people are still proud of this heritage and a fact that they are a part of this culture. The Confederate flag has become really (an admittedly twisted) sort of symbol of this pride. I imagine the reason is because what other symbol stands out as distinguishing the South from any other part of this country? Yes, there are very many pieces of Southern history that are horrific and shameful, including slavery, lynchings and other heartbreaking, flagrant displays of racism (which by the way, happened all over this country and all over the world). I can personally attest to knowing a great deal many people who use the Confederate flag in this manner that are not racist. I can also personally attest to knowing a great deal many more that don't have anything to do with this flag that are racist. Please believe me when I say that I am very much strongly opposed to racial discrimination and want with all of my heart to see racism eradicated forever. This is not the battle that will achieve those ends.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Nascar obviously didn't read all the statements that supported the kids and didn't acknowledge that most of us, myself included felt the punishment was too harsh. But Nascar's reaction brings up the question again of how did these kids act when confronted. Obviously Nas isn't a very resepectful person so I think it can be said that their attitude might have lead to their punishment more than the actually displaying of the flag.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Apparently the "rebellion" they are talking about it lack of logical reasoning.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"i was one of the people in this and i completely support them." So you acknowledge that you know what the flag stands for, and you still support it (and have it for your avtar)? That just kind of supports the argument for the other side.
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