I hear that the confederate flag is for rebels, and for people who want to protest against the power of the government.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest lie the racists rely on to justify their attachment to the confederate Flag. It is easy to twist history—it’s in the past. As time goes by there are fewer people who were around ‘back then’ to set the record straight, and with the glut of information on the internet, it is easy to cherry pick one’s ideas from the whole picture to create one’s comfortable reality. But the reality is not comfortable, and the confederate flag is not just a hokey symbol for rebels at heart. The Civil war was, and always will be about slavery. The only reason many in the North even fought was for their ideals. The Northern army was the first army to fight for an idea—the thought that men were free and that slavery was an abomination.

In the south, only a small percentage of the population owned slaves. It was a society that one could compare to a Middle ages society, with royalty (plantation owners) nobles (the upper classes, whose lifestyle was only supported by the free labor slaves provided) and the very small but very prosperous middle class made up of shopkeepers and skilled workers. The rest of the population—the vast rest of it, was poor (white trash) or slaves. Saying that one’s own ancestors (white, Irish, for example) were in the same boat as the black slaves is a dishonest argument. The black population never competed in any way with the immigrants arriving to the cities for the simple reason that the freed slaves were rural, most stayed in the South. They had been promised “ten acres and a mule”, but that never happened, and their skills were very limited. Hardly any were literate. The black slaves had been expected to all go back to their “homeland” in Africa. After the war, they were cast adrift. None had been born in Africa. None spoke the languages of their ancestors nor could even remember (or know—remember, families were torn apart, children sold, communication was limited because slaves were not allowed to travel). One thing people seem to have forgotten was the absolute horror of a slave’s life. No Irish immigrant, no matter how poor, could compare his situation to that of a newly freed slave. The Confederate flag was created for the southern states who wanted to oppose the Northern government. They wanted independence—but why? Because the knew their whole society depended on slaves. The flag is the last vestige of a time when 33% of the population was enslaved, illiterate, abused and despised. The whole economy was carried on the back of the slave and the Southern states understood that their lifestyle was threatened. The flag is an insult to anyone who believes that men should be free. The war was fought on the southern side to keep their slaves and unsustainable way of life, whereas the North fought a Crusade to free their fellow man – even if many did not at that time believe all men were created equal, they believed that slavery was an abomination and that the south had to free its slaves, educate them and pay them wages. The North lost far more men to the war than the south did, but they fought for an ideal. The confederate flag belongs in the same museum as the one that houses the Nazi flag, the South African Boer’s flag and other symbols of oppression. No wonder the white supremacists want to keep it flying. For them, it’s the last vestige of a time when, simply because of their skin color and with no intellectual or physical effort, they were able to rule their tiny world.

In other words, anyone who says the Civil war was not about slavery is wrong, and anyone who loves the confederate flag is uneducated or racist, or both.