Over the years, the Confederate battle flag has become commercialized as a branding device and popularized as an iconoclastic emblem.
From rock bands to bumper stickers, the flag is used to salute a certain defiant attitude to life.
Presumably, that’s why Cameron Bailey, owner of Hillbilly Heaven BBQ, has hoisted it over his new eatery downtown. It not only plays up his southern food theme, it’s a provocative marketing tool.
It has worked in the sense he has provoked a ton of mainstream and social media reaction.
To date, opinion seems pretty much divided as to whether flaunting the flag is an exercise in free speech or political and social insensitivity.
Appropriately enough, given the flag’s history, maybe it’s both.
Truth be told, the controversy looked to be fading until Ticat owner Bob Young gave it new legs this week by asking Bailey to ditch ol’ Dixie.
That was quickly followed by the Community Coalition Against Racism threatening to go to police to seek hate crime-related charges.
It’s easy to see where they’re coming from. It takes a huge effort to judge the flag outside of a racial context. But Young is only partially right when he says it’s a symbol of slavery and intolerance.
If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s really not a black and white issue. It’s as grey as the uniforms worn by soldiers of the Confederate States of America. More than 300,000 southerners died under the flag during the American Civil War, fighting for what they believed to be a just if ultimately lost cause.
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