Flags of Our Something, Something

Kanye West confederate flagThe “Stars & Bars” is not what you think it is

The Confederate flag has been in the news for a while now and wouldn’t you know Kanye West became part of the story. The Chicago rapper has made a career of shocking and cringe-worthy statements; Mike Myers can attest. In an opinion piece for The Week, Matthew Walther proclaims Kanye the last American rock star.

I couldn’t agree with author more, but what caught my eye was the line, “In the middle of an ongoing national conversation about police violence and the legacy of racism, walking around a gas station with the Stars and Bars on his back was a crude gesture calculated to make people upset.”

Here’s the problem: the flag on his sleeve is not the “Stars and Bars”, but the Confederate battle flag. This is the Stars & Bars:

Confederate 1st national flag, Stars and Bars

This is the Confederate battle flag:

Confederate battle flag, square

And so is this:

Confederate battle flag, rectangular

The Stars & Bars, officially known as the Confederate national flag, was designed by German-American artist Nicola Marschall in early 1861. Marschall also designed the gray uniforms of the Confederate military. The inspiration for the flag came from both the US flag and that of Austria.

American flag     flag of Austria

Suffice it to say, there was resistance to the national flag, the primary criticism being that it looked too much like Old Glory. In 1863 the Confederate government adopted a new national flag.

Confederate 2nd national flag

You can probably guess why this one was problematic. It looked all too similar to a flag of surrender, so in March of 1865 the Confederacy adopted a third national flag, though by this time the war was near its end and nobody cared anymore.

Confederate 3rd national flag

What’s the point?

Personally, I don’t care about the argument over Confederate flags going on today. Both sides do little more than scream at one another and the arguments have about as much meat and substance as a diseased squirrel. What bothers me are the all-too-common blunders of what should be basic facts that can be verified almost instantaneously through a simple internet search. Mistakes such as these are like misspellings, and if you’re going to call yourself a professional writer, for the love of God you should be able to avoid these snafus.

 

If you’re interested in the history of Confederate flags and don’t mind a little book learnin’ check out John Coski’s The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem, available at Amazon.

 

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