The latest polling shows that most Americans still view the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride as opposed to racism — an opinion that has not significantly changed in 15 years.
After the last couple of weeks of anti-Confederate hysteria, you don’t have to be a fan of the rebel battle flag to appreciate that the public is basically shrugging their shoulders.
American public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with most describing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride more than one of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And questions about how far to go to remove references to the Confederacy from public life prompt broad racial divides.
The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride. Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.
Among African-Americans, 72% see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, just 25% of whites agree. In the South, the racial divide is even broader. While 75% of Southern whites describe the flag as a symbol of pride and 18% call it a symbol of racism, those figures are almost exactly reversed among Southern African-Americans, with just 11% seeing it as a sign of pride and 75% viewing it as a symbol of racism.
Among whites, there’s a sharp divide by education, and those with more formal education are less apt to see the flag as a symbol of pride. Among whites with a college degree, 51% say it’s a symbol of pride, 41% one of racism. Among those whites who do not have a college degree, 73% say it’s a sign of Southern pride, 18% racism.
President Barack Obama used the occasion of the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney last week to agitate against the Confederate flag.
“For too long we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag had stirred in too many of our citizens,” Obama said during the eulogy.
“It’s true a flag did not cause these murders, but as people from all walks of life … we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride,” Obama said.
“Removing the flag from this state’s Capitol would not be an act of political correctness, it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers, it would simply be an acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong,” Obama said.
Since South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley had already called for removing the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds in the wake of the church massacre, it wasn’t necessary for the president to weigh in. Especially at a funeral. Yet he did, almost as if to give a wink and a nod to the ongoing left-wing pogrom against everything Confederate.
Full disclosure: As a Republican and a Northerner, I feel no nostalgia for the Confederate flag. I sympathize with those who see it as a symbol of racism, and think it’s entirely appropriate to take it down from the grounds of the state capitols.
Having said that, I can also sympathize with people who see the flag as a representation of the valor and tenacity of their ancestors who fought in the Civil War. I consider the left’s crusade to tear down the Confederate flag (and other Confederate symbols) all throughout the South to be another egregious example of their gross and unseemly totalitarian impulses.