Hijacked symbols

dont tred flag

The recent furor that has sprung from the murders in Charleston has caused me to think about the reappropriation of one symbol for totally different uses by those who had no natural connection to the symbol.

Clearly this is the case for the Confederate flag. It’s origins were on the battlefield from a general belonging to a group of states intent on dissolving the Union and creating their own nation, a group of states in armed insurrection against the Federal government.  It was a symbol of a historical group that had a short existence.  Since then, it has been used by many others not directly or even indirectly related to the Confederate stand.  It was used by romanticists, who wanted to foster the Noble Cause that they had fought for and lost.  It was used by groups to signal racial segregation and subjugation under that Cause.  And it has been a stand-in by other groups to signify racial purity and intolerance in Europe when the Nazi flag was banned.  The historical has almost faded (and maybe, as a revolt against the Constitution, it should fade) and now the racial is the dominant image. confederate-flag-722

Speaking of the Nazi flag…..another misapproriated symbol is the swastika. An ancient symbol, it originally was used as a good luck charm.  Appropriated by Hitler at the start of his movement, its meaning now is no longer associated with German nationalism, but almost exclusively with fascism and white power. (Nope, not even going to put the flag here.  Who doesn’t know what it looks like?!)

I wonder what will be the end state of the current example?  The flag is the Gadsden flag.  Created in the Revolutionary War, the basic element is a snake.  Interestingly, the snake was used early by Franklin to raise awareness that the colonies needed to be united.


The united rattlesnake symbol was used on a yellow background by Col Gadsden of South Carolina (interesting, a South Carolina connection here) as the presentation to Commodore Hopkins on the first naval ship under the united colonies.

dont tred flag

Ironic, that the flag and the logo are being used by those who eschew a federal government, who want less unity, who want to go back to the days of a separated snake, to a minimized collective and a maximized distributed.

Just interesting history….living history….in my thoughts.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Terry M Gresham on June 30, 2015 at 1:33 am

    Another thing about the Confederate flag, remember that the South wanted to leave the Union over slavery. The wild thing is that only 26% of the households in the South were slave owners. During the war, the first military draft was done by the South where men ages 18 to 35 who owned less than 20 slaves were required to fight the war for the aristocrats–the wealthy and the few. It became a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight. In the South, included in the things you mentioned, it was also a symbol of support for the aristocracy.


  2. very interesting. Thx!

    sent from my mobile



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