With the Confederate flag in South Carolina coming down, a lot of people have some point to make about the symbol. For most, it seems to be an attempt to prove that the flag isn’t a symbol of racism. Strangely, the effort to prove this seems to involve photoshopping the Confederate flag into images of black people and liberal politicians, as well as sharing (millions of times) a few legitimate images.
In some cases, this seems to be aimed not only at legitimizing the Confederate flag, but at discrediting the politician in question.
You may have seen this one, popularized by Dinesh D’Souza, that portrays a young Hillary Clinton with a Confederate flag in the background.
Look closely at this Hillary photo; isn’t that a Confederate flag behind her on the bookshelf? pic.twitter.com/Og3Q0IKREP
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) July 7, 2015
It was quickly shown to be photoshopped, and Snopes located the original (flag-free) photo.
Fake political campaign buttons have also been designed, falsely implying that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton used Confederate flags in their campaigns.
TT:@ RonSantoFan: That time when Obama had a campaign button featuring the Confederate Flag back in 2012. #tcot #… pic.twitter.com/RTFBICXIeZ
— Clearly Conservative (@PatriotTweetz) June 30, 2015
The latest victim of the flag photoshopping appears to be activist Deray Mckesson, who became well-known in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Deray has since shown up in Black Lives Matter protests around the nation, helped protesters mobilize and organize, and was seated next to Rick Santorum at Sunday services following the mass murder by Dylann Roof in Charleston.
He hasn’t only had a Confederate flag photoshopped onto an image of him — he’s also been (badly) ‘shopped into an image of the General Lee!
And here are other photoshopped gems from my committed and desperate trolls. pic.twitter.com/9koX64K4et
— deray mckesson (@deray) July 12, 2015
Of course, not all of the photos floating around are photoshopped. There are posts going viral that show rappers and hip hop artists wearing outfits bearing the Confederate flag, and the Daily Caller found an old image of Mitch McConnell (who has spoken in favor of the flag’s removal) accepting an award before a large Confederate flag.
Kanye and Ludacris doesn’t seem to have a problem with the confederate flag. pic.twitter.com/nOIWKswuI9
— MacQuillen (@quillen5150) July 6, 2015
Of course, there are certainly black people and liberals who don’t have a problem with the Confederate flag. The Root interviewed just such an activist, who says she owns a Confederate flag and that to her, it symbolizes freedom.
However, all of these images, real or photoshopped, miss an important fact. It is not necessary for any specific individual, or for every individual, to agree that the flag is a symbol of oppression, slavery, and racism, for the flag on government property to send that message.
There is not a claim that every person bearing African-American heritage is offended by the Confederate flag. There is not a claim that the flag committed murders. There is not a claim that removing the flag will end racism.
The claim is simple: that the Confederate flag represents racist sentiments, specifically white supremacy, and the southern states’ attempt to keep slavery as an institution. The images above could refute claims that liberals have “always” been against the flag, and that it is offensive to all black people, if those claims were being made, but they certainly do not refute claims that the flag has racist ties.
To confirm or refute that claim, perhaps we should look at what one of the Confederate flag’s designers said about it, via Politicus USA.
“As a people we are fighting to maintain the heavenly ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause. Such a flag would be a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and sustained by the brave hearts and strong arms of the south, it would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.”
What must be understood is that these images, photoshopped or not, do not negate the most widely-accepted meaning of the Confederate flag, the one espoused by its designer, the meaning that helped inspire Dylann Roof, and the meaning that led to the flag’s downfall in South Carolina this week.
[Image via Dinesh D’Souza]