Are some flags symbols of hatred?

Published 7:21 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Charlottesville, Virginia an assembly of Neo-Nazis and Klansmen partnered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. Protesters dressed in Klan and Neo-Nazi regalia carried flags representing their beliefs were immediately met by counter-protesters, who interpreted them as symbols of hatred.

There was an immediate confrontation among the groups, which led to considerable violence and property damage.

The intense violence and mayhem once again placed the Confederate and Nazi flags center stage.

Can a flag really symbolize hatred under the guise of honoring a group’s heritage?

In the case of James Alex Fields, Jr. a white supremacist, probably so. This young man in attendance at the Charlottesville rally allegedly drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

This tormented young man, not fit enough to remain in the military, forced to leave after less than a year into service of our country, was fit enough to frequently beat his wheelchair-bound mother.

It has been revealed that in 2010 he hit his invalid mother in the head and locked her in the bathroom.

We now know that he was enamored with the white supremacy movement and flags representing the Neo-Nazis and the confederacy.

In a sense, he is not unlike Dylann Roof, who walked into a black Carolina church, killing nine congregants.

Roof used flags that symbolized hatred and racism. In many of his photographs, he was seen proudly waving a Confederate flag in one hand and a weapon in another.

It did not appear, however,  as if he had any respect for the American flag. A New York Times article reported he is alleged to have spat on, even burned the flag.

It is truly difficult for some people to understand why a piece of cloth can stir the angry emotions of so many to the extent that it can cause terror in those who do not embrace or submit to the ideology in which it was created.

If the confederate flag does not symbolize intolerance for others, why has it been appropriated by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan?

This is the question that is always asked by the Southern Poverty Law Center in response to those who embrace the confederate flag. The nonprofit center operates out of Montgomery, Alabama and combat groups like the Klan utilizing education and litigation.

Furthermore, media accounts of the violence in Charlottesville captured photos of the Neo-Nazis in uniforms replete with Swastika symbols, carrying flags also adorned with the symbol.

Everyone is familiar with the swastika, another symbol now synonymous with hatred. Most assume that it was Adolf Hitler’s regime that created it.

The broken cross has been discovered in caves and in other such places such as China, long before it became a symbol of fear. It was actually not initially associated with evil, but with good luck.

Wear the symbol on clothes today, and you are automatically perceived as representing racial and ethnic prejudice.

Dr. Glenn Dowell is an author and columnist who currently lives in Jonesboro, Georgia. He has been a guest speaker on major college campuses , including having appeared on TV programs suchas the Oprah Winfrey Show. He may be reached at