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Battle Cry: Dispute Over Confederate Flag Rises Again in Georgia

A new Georgia license plate features the Confederate battle flag. "To display this is reprehensible," says one civil rights leader.

A new Georgia license plate honoring the Sons of Confederate Veterans is generating controversy. Credit: Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles
A new Georgia license plate honoring the Sons of Confederate Veterans is generating controversy. Credit: Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles

Does a new Georgia specialty license plate honor Southern heritage or celebrate an era of racial oppression?

A new Georgia specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag has fueled a clash between those who believe it honors Confederate heritage and others who view it as a racially charged symbol of oppression, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference spokesman Maynard Eaton said the state should not have sanctioned the battle emblem to appear on a Georgia tag, says ABC News.

"To display this is reprehensible," Eaton said. "We don't have license plates saying 'Black Power.' "

The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans asked that the state issue the new plates. Spokesman Ray McBerry said the group meant no offense and views the plates as a way for people to honor their heritage.

"We believe that everyone has the right to preserve their heritage," he said. "Southerners have as much right to be proud of their heritage as anybody else."

The national group’s website says it upholds the best of American ideals and omits slavery as a factor in the Civil War.

“The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution," says the website. "These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.”

The plate features a Confederate battle flag image in the background that covers the entire plate. It also features a logo of the Sons of Confederate veterans, which includes a smaller version of the flag.

Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 23, 2014 at 11:24 PM
Thank you David for reminding me/us of that fact.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 24, 2014 at 09:26 AM
And you are welcome, and thank you, Deedee....your spirit of both truth and reconciliation is what we need and the more I interact with people all communities of color I find their/your willingness to forgive and move on once the truth of your/their past and present oppression is acknowledged the breath of fresh air which we all need!
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM
To David; Remember, the state of Georgia was a member of the Confederate States of America, which was a legally-formed confederation of states (yes, I know, we'll argue about the legality of it, but, I'll definitely argue that point and I'll win the debate). We had our own "federal" government. We had our own president, our own currency. We had a separate republic. It makes logical sense that states like Georgia would commemorate OUR history. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a historical preservation group just like is the Daughters of the American Revolution. One should not be surprised nor confused that a state that was part of the Confederacy would honor and commemorate that part of our history. Again, using your logic toward the censorship of anything Confederate will one day be used to censor anything and everything, including things you treasure, because somewhere along the line we can find something wrong or something we don't like about anything we want.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM
To Richard, I'd like to mention that this idea of things like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was held in South Africa should be weighed for what it truly is. These commissions are an alternative to things like the Nuremberg Trials. So, in other words, you are implying that people should basically be brought to trial in a formal tribunal and punished, which is what took place in South Africa. Many political prisoners came about from that commission. But look at South Africa, today, almost 20 years later. It is in its worst shape, ever, where it concerns corruption, crime and poverty. Conditions there are brewing for outright civil war. What did the commission accomplish and/or prevent? Interestingly, not everyone was tried and convicted for "human rights violations" through the so-called "Truth and Reconciliation Commission." Those who set off bombs in train stations, shopping centers, on public streets, killing and maiming many, many innocent civilians, weren't brought to justice, but are instead viewed as heroes. So, it is the age-old story, "to the victor goes the spoils." The same is true there and the same is true in the case of the U.S. versus the Confederacy. I'd say that reconciliation between the North and South is quite unparalleled in history. Look at the ranks of our nation's military which has been filled by men of the South. What stronger example of reconciliation is there than is serving the very military against which your fathers and grandfathers fought? More and more I have come to believe that this constant bellowing of the flames of decades and centuries past, are for present gain and are nothing but someone's means of creating industry for self-profit as well as keeping division amongst people for political gain. I see, every day, people of different races and cultures getting along with one another absolutely fine, all over the country. People of varying backgrounds and cultures serve together and form life-lasting bonds through our military (I know because I saw it first-hand). We work together, each and every day. We serve in our churches together. Our children grow up together in our schools. Sure, there are issues which arise between people. You don't even have to be from different racial or cultural backgrounds to have that happen. Here we have a white-majority population who popularly elected a black president... TWICE! So, it doesn't just puzzle me, but it also concerns me when someone continually pushes an agenda for "reconciliation." It reeks of an underlying motive. I wonder why it rears its head in a discussion of a former Confederate state (which has MANY specialty plates issued) providing for a specialty plate for a non-profit organization which exists solely for the purpose of preserving that part of the state's own history. Maybe you aren't aware but the state has had a Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty plate for quite a long time (since the late-1990's, I believe). So, we're a wee bit late in our complaining about it, now.
Cassandra Miles February 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Can't wait to see the rusted out vehicles with the $80 vanity plate. Makes it easier to spot the racists.
"E Pluribus Unum" February 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM
DW...I see you're still at it with your self denial mental gymnastics and masterbation . BTW, did you or any of your cohorts know or are related to the 3 students from Georgia attending Ole Miss and implicated in hanging a noose and the state of Georgia flag with the confederate flag in the design on the historic civil rights statue there? Gee, another example of the noose + confederate flag to strike hate and fear with the use of those images.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Cassandra, you made a bigoted remark, yourself. Yet you probably don't even recognize it. Ironically, two people gave you a thumbs up for such bigotry. Thankfully, again, truth reveals itself. It is impossible to contain and hide truth forever.
Wayne Kelley February 24, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Cassandra, I agree with you, and somebody above who said essentially the same thing. I know some folks who insist on displaying this flag, and they are, without exception, racially prejudiced against African-Americans. Many of them will tell you so, proudly. There are some who will argue to the death (they're pretty easy to pick out of this thread) that it's not about race, but I'd bet they either don't display the thing, or they're lying about their feelings. Of course, the deniers will begin any sentence about race with "I'm not a racist, but ..." which is a code phrase meaning "I am a racist."
Wayne Kelley February 24, 2014 at 01:32 PM
Oh and by the way, I would go so far as to state that I believe that every white person born and raised in the deep South before, say, 1960, deals with their own racist thoughts on an everyday basis. And that includes me. I was born here in 1951, and I had it pounded into my skull every single day of my life in so many obvious and some very subtle ways, that Black people just weren't as good as us in general. In fact, that they weren't quite 100% human. It required a lot of experience and effort to get past that, and I'm still working on it.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 01:39 PM
FYI, EPU, I made a choice to delete and re-add a previous post, but chose to use a different link. I had gone to Google & ran a search on images (of which I had seen many times previously) of the Klan march in Washington, DC, in which you can see MANY U.S. flags being carried (no Confederate flags are seen, by the way). I chose "view image" of one of the images displayed and copied the url. Thing is, I don't subscribe to views and opinions of much of what the site presents on the page from where the link came (Southern nationalism movement), so I chose to disconnect myself from that and to, instead, link to an image from a Civil War discussion page. I don't subscribe to these hardcore views of some of these folk, and I don't want to be associated with them in any form. So, here is a very similar image but from a different source. http://civilwartalk.com/attachments/kkk-marching-under-the-u-s-flag-jpg.20231/ Again, does this use imply the meaning of the U.S. flag?
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 01:58 PM
David, if the Confederate Battle Flag is offensive, then so is the current state flag, is it is designed, explicitly, from the Confederate Stars and Bars, the first flag of the Confederate government. Where does the "I'm offended" stop? http://www.usaflags.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/h/i/historical-1st-confederate-flag.jpg Why would the state of Georgia, a state that was a part of the Confederate States of America, and a state for whom many of its people died fighting for their independence from the U.S., not be a logical and obvious entity within which to preserve that history? I've heard all of these worn-out arguments, time and time again. It is the state flag. It is a monument to the Confederate dead on local/county courthouse grounds. It's the name of a street, etc. People ask, "why are you people still fighting the war." We're not fighting anything. We're just honoring our state's history and ancestors. The fighting begins when the complaints begin.
American Justice February 24, 2014 at 02:01 PM
If you check the history books, you will find most of the ships bringing slaves in to the country, where flying the Union Jack or the French National Flag. Later, in history, 99% of the African towns were "developed" by the British or the French later to be converted to colonies and finally a free nation under African rule.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 02:13 PM
American Justice; good history. Also, the nation of Liberia was founded on the west coast of Africa for the sole purpose of colonizing Africans back to Africa. This was a joint effort between the U.S. government and the American Colonization Society. I have a token that was created to help raise funding for the effort. http://www.hubert-herald.nl/Liberia_bestanden/image005.jpg You can find these on eBay and other places online.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 24, 2014 at 02:40 PM
I have some questions for Darren and anyone who feels they have somewhat of a firm grasp on the history of this country, Africa, and the world when it comes to people of color....how many history books have you read authored by Black Americans and Black Africans? how many scholarly conferences have you attended with presenters by black scholars of history? how many times have you sat and listened to, without interrupting, black folk tell their stories of pain and suffering at the hands of their oppressors? how many close black friends do you have who confide in you their suffering or even their frank viewpoints? how many of Dr. King's books have you read? how many native African authors have you read regarding the colonial history of Africa? How many of your sources are white?
Wayne Kelley February 24, 2014 at 03:38 PM
Darren Wheeler - (I am seriously getting tired of this.) WHO HAS SAID THAT THE STATE OF GA SHOULD NOT PRESERVE ITS HISTORY?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ALL WE HAVE SAID IS THE STATE SHOULDN'T LEGITIMIZE THE EVIL BY DISPLAYING IT ON A LICENSE PLATE. Absolutely the South should preserve its history, as had been done regarding the Holocaust with the Holocaust Museum. In the same way, we should be reminded of this horror lest we be tempted to do it again. And trust me, brother. Next time, it could be you and your (and my) white kin who are under the wheel. So yes, let's remember it, let's study it, let us NEVER forget what our forebears did and we as whites are still benefitting from. Place it where it belongs: in museums, scholarly journals, and text books. NOT on a state-manufactured license plate.
"E Pluribus Unum" February 24, 2014 at 03:50 PM
DW is trying way to hard to convince everyone and himself that he is a decent, nonracist individual, but the more jibberish he throws up the more of a disturbed individual he becomes. He's head deep into the confederate flag is innocent and white supremacy creed. I believe he's working full time on their communication talking points...hahahahaha. A joke.
James Giles February 24, 2014 at 04:07 PM
It is silly of Me to even write a response to Mr. Kelly and His friends but, My none African American Black friends can't understand what inflames the black race so much about other races other than black? If saying to start with "I am not racist" makes Me racist in your eyes well then buddy My best friend that happens to be black, His name is Bernardo is laughing so hard right now just told Me, Damn Brother I guess We are both racist !!! It is so SAD that some black people like You Mr. Kelly are still bogged down in the 1800's !
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 04:21 PM
Wayne, you lay the entire blame of slavery and racism on four years of the history of the South, 1861-1865, which is where you are terribly, terribly wrong, and which is why you associate slavery only with the Confederacy, which is not even laughable. The CSA formed because the states of the South had no voice in the federal government. The numerical majority of the industrial north was used, time and time again, toward financial gain (through import tariffs). When Lincoln ran on the ticket in 1860 and didn't even appear on the ballot in 10 Southern states, it was clear that the South was subservient to the North and they were using the law to do so. You want to study slavery? Go to Newport, Rhode Island, which was one of the busiest (if not "the" busiest) markets for international slave trafficking. Study slave trafficking in west Africa. It wasn't because of European or American traders that it came to exist. It was because it existed that Europeans and, ultimately, Americans joined in with the practice. Associating any and all things Confederate with being representative of slavery completely defies logic and it defies truth. The state of Georgia has no need to relegate our Confederate history to only museums and/or textbooks. It is our history and there is much of it for which to be very proud. We formed our own country, had our own president, our own currency. If anyone is to take offense it is the people of the South by hearing people like you say things like you do in associating Confederate history with the holocaust and other such, which is total nonsense and is an outright insult. There is much, much history there and it is readily available. Read it.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 04:26 PM
Richard, I have several books on history, which were written by black authors. I have some which are very much Afro-centric in their content. I bet I have some books written about black history which you've not read and which I'm sure you don't have. Books about blacks who served in the Confederate army. Blacks who were in the United Confederate Veterans. Blacks who were part of Wade Hampton's Red Shirts who fought against corrupt Reconstruction government in South Carolina. How many speakers have you heard/sat under who spoke in defense of Confederate history? What is your knowledge of early-American slavery and the basis for strong abolitionism and the efforts to send Africans back to Africa? This was long before there was a Confederate States of America. The questions and challenges work both ways, my good friend. If we want true understanding and, as you say, "reconciliation," all things must be considered.
stephen m george jr mpa February 24, 2014 at 04:58 PM
Maya Angelou ...I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is a good read.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 24, 2014 at 05:05 PM
Darren, I didn't ask how many books you have...how many have you read and studied from an "Afrocentric viewpoint"? And what did they say about the treatment of blacks who did not fight for the Confederacy? How were they treated when they were captured ? (or were they captured?) And how did these same noble confederates and their ancestors treat blacks after the war during reconstruction, during Jim Crow,etc. What do your books say about that? What do your books say about what blacks had to withstand in the south during the civil rights movement by those same folk who continued to fly the Confederate flag? Now, switching to S.Africa, what do your books say about how the blacks were treated during apartheid by the white ruling class? Now switch to today and tell me what your books say about why are racially profiled by law enforcement, why they receive harsher sentences than whites, why their net worth is less then 10% of whites, why they are discriminated in housing and jobs (yes, today, yes right here in Cobb and GA). By the way, I don't give the North a pass on their atrocities towards blacks but the southern states are and were a thousand times worse in every respect. And I don't diminish the sacrifices of many poor white southerners who fought against their own self interests for a cause that they believed in, however wrong and misguided they were. But please, any fair person knows that history is replete with gross misinformation regarding those with dark skins, whether here or in Africa....so it is a bit pitiful to complain about some misinformation or misunderstanding regarding the confederacy. It is indicative of those who have been reared in privilege to defend that privilege no matter what. That is why whites need so much healing---we have been living lies---been brainwashed with superiority complexes and constantly reconditioned to believe we somehow are better and know better.
"E Pluribus Unum" February 24, 2014 at 06:07 PM
Oh crap...it just happened. "My best friend is black" card was just played. How funny and so revealing. Clueless again. Wayne, Richard, jMichael and the rest of you on the side of righteousness, justice, and what our Constitution and all the Holy Books say about bigotry, hatred , inequality etc. and ironically values that many proud white bigots hold up as true patriot and American values...well you have much more patience with these yahoos than I do. 30-40 years ago their BS would have been laughed out of town even by today's moderate GOPers. But the extreme wackos took off their robes and put on suites and ties and have now gotten a toe hold into being seen as "credible." Their message is reconstituted racism...simple as that. And they are hiding out in churches, political parties, elected positions and other mainstream positions of influence.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino February 24, 2014 at 06:26 PM
Yes....I am finished with this discussion here as it is like trying to convince your best friend that his mother is a bank robber, even though its been on the news everywhere, and he just can't and doesn't want to believe it. The only place where transformation can take place is in a safe, healing environment--like the workshops we are hosting in Cobb--and which I have invited Derrick and many others to--which are not blame games, where we learn to listen to each other, and where we try to safeguard everyone's self esteem. So long to all for now...
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Bud, insults don't change facts. I don't know what it is of which you are trying to convince anyone. You have a set agenda. The article drew out protesters, having their say with insults about the South and about Confederate history. Everyone spoke and it is plain and clear. If anyone dares to speak in opposition they are automatically a racist or blindly ignorant, according to what I'm reading. But, alas, name-calling when all else fails is nothing new. There is a lot for people to learn about history, far more than what the victors have to tell.
David Tiffany February 24, 2014 at 07:04 PM
Darren, I don't dispute your history, but I dispute your legal implications. The Constitution of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA does not permit a State to promote discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin. Promotion of symbols of historic oppression would - I believe - be in violation of these restrictions. I repeat: If YOU want to get your own decal of the Confederate battle flag, and post it on your vehicle, that's your right. But the State of Georgia of the United States of America should not be enabling such display.
David Tiffany February 24, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Darren, no one has tried to insult the South or Confederate history. The history speaks for itself. All anyone has tried to say is that it is wrong for the State of Georgia to promote a symbol that some of its citizens - and citizens of other states - find offensive.
Wayne Kelley February 24, 2014 at 08:53 PM
I think comparing the history of slavery in the United States, whether in Georgia, in Mississippi, in Rhode Island, in New York City - anywhere it was employed, to the Holocaust, is an extremely apt comparison. Darren, have you ever taken time to read accounts of the conditions and treatment of slaves in this country? It is horrific by anyone's standards. The difference is that Rhode Island voluntarily, as a state, ended slavery within its borders around 1800. Way too late, considering it never should have begun, but at least they decided to end it. Georgia and the other secession states not only didn't end it voluntarily, they went to war to preserve it and killed many tens of thousands of American soldiers in the process. Your argument that the Confederacy was a legitimate federal nation makes it even WORSE. By that logic the CSA was a hostile enemy state to the USA, no different than Germany, Japan, Iraq under Hussein, Afghanistan under Taliban, and so on. How can anyone who glorifies the CSA out of one side of their mouth call themselves a patriotic American out of the other? It's ludicrous.
Wayne Kelley February 24, 2014 at 08:58 PM
For the last time: I don't give a crap who had more slaves, who started it, under whom it flourished, and so on and so on. If there are visible symbols of those others, and if they have a similar history to the Confederacy in terms of waging war against the US, and they appear on Georgia official state instruments, please let me know and I will gladly and loudly condemn them as well. God help me, that is my last comment on this thread, because as someone else said, this is a complete waste of time.
Darren Wheeler February 24, 2014 at 11:55 PM
Wayne, censor the U.S. flag, then, because it flew on slave ships (which a Confederate flag never did) and it represented the government who protected the practice of slavery. And, yes, the reality of the war is even more vivid when you consider that the Confederacy, indeed, was a legitimate nation and, indeed, it was AT WAR with the United States. That is EXACTLY what happened. I'd say I'm stunned that people don't realize that. But knowing how our history is taught (or not taught) I am not at all surprised. The Confederacy had its own constitution, its own president and vice-president, its own postal service with its own stamps, its own currency. Yes, it was a separate nation fighting the United States. BUT!! The only reason it fought against the U.S. is because Lincoln ordered troops to invade the Southern states, otherwise there would have been no war. There could have, instead, been peaceful relations. Slavery would have ended its own death because it was well on its way already. How can one glorify the CSA and call themselves a patriotic American? Because the war and the events surrounding it were 150 years ago. The results of the war were and are just as they are. There is no changing it. The better question is, how can one not grasp that a person can honor their CSA ancestry and heritage and also be a loyal and patriotic American some 150 years later? What is so hard to understand about that?
Ann Hudren February 27, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Still discussing History that you cannot change? A week has passed and the vast majority have moved onto to more prominent issues. History.

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