Strong majority see Confederate battle flag as symbol of pride, not racism: poll

If you are paying attention to the mainstream media, you might be fooled into believing that most Americans want the Confederate battle flag consigned to the dustbin of history because it's a racist symbol.

In fact, a new CNN poll reveals the surprising fact that sentiment with regards to the battle flag hasn't changed much in 15 years: most believe it to be a symbol of Southern pride, not racism.  And while a slim majority agrees the flag should be removed from government property, a majority think that most of the suggested ways to remove the flag from American life are wrong.

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.

Efforts to remove the flag or other references to the Confederacy from public places have emerged in the weeks since nine African-American churchgoers were killed by a white man who said he was trying to start a race war in a Charleston church. But the poll shows the public is mixed on how far those efforts should go, and nearly all flag-related questions reveal broad racial divides.

A majority favors removing the Confederate flag from government property that isn't part of a museum: 55% support that while 43% are opposed. And half support private companies choosing not to sell or manufacture items featuring the Confederate flag: 50% are in favor, 47% opposed.

But most oppose other efforts, including redesigning state flags that feature Confederate emblems or symbols to remove references to the Confederacy (57% oppose that), renaming streets and highways named after Confederate leaders (68% oppose that) and removing tributes to those who fought for the Confederacy from public places (71% oppose that).

The dirty little secret being hidden by the media is that there is more than one legitimate way to view the battle flag.  But that wouldn't be in keeping with the narrative being advanced that all right-minded people oppose displaying the battle flag for any reason.  And if you think it's a symbol of Southern culture, you're an insensitive racist.

The drive to disappear the Confederate battle flag has more to do with the need to hit political opponents over the head by portraying those who don't think as they do as racist than anything else.  And politicians running for cover by urging that the flag, and anything to do with the Confederacy, be banned should take note.

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