Waving a flag against the Confederacy
October 19, 2015 9:13 PM   Subscribe

I live in a place where the confederate flag has sprouted recently, probably as a reactionary gesture. Is there a union flag I could wave that would be a historically appropriate response to this kind of passive racism? The 36 star assassination flag of Lincoln seems possible, but I could use other suggestions.
posted by Bistle to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you thinking of the Abolitionist Flag? Which I would fly if I were to fly a flag. I also feel that we need Sheldon Cooper.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:20 PM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: There are lots of Union battle flags. Are you in a Union state or does your family have a history in the Union Army? Maybe you can find a flag that's important to you from the era.
Here's a starter article on Union battle flags.
posted by littlewater at 9:20 PM on October 19, 2015

Best answer: What about the pride flag, pride-flag with US stars, or one of the black liberation flags?
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:24 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would fly a flag with "Black Lives Matter" on it, because those racists should be reminded of the actual historical moment they're living in.
posted by thetortoise at 9:28 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: A pride ally flag is certainly one I would fly, but I am trying to pointedly combat the visual pollution of the confederate battle flag. I feel uncomfortable flying a black liberation flag without direct involvement in the movements they represent.
posted by Bistle at 9:29 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Addendum, can anyone point me to an Abolitionist flag flag?
posted by Bistle at 9:36 PM on October 19, 2015

Best answer: The closest I can find to an abolitionist flag for sale is this 20 star flag poster from 1859. Maybe it could be hung in a window?

I was really hoping to find a flag with the "Am I Not A Man And A Brother" image created by Josiah Wedgwood, but can't find any evidence that it was ever used on a flag.
posted by lharmon at 4:29 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is this news story, the guy who owns The FlagMan Store claims to have sold several "John brown abolitionist flags" this past summer. I can't find one on the web site; an email or call should be more fruitful.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:54 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That abolitionist flag is pretty awesome. But still, why not just the U.S. flag? I'm a gay southerner (no longer living in the south, unfortunately), but my family were always making a point by keeping the U.S. flag up when people in the area were opting for the Confederate flag. I've got the U.S. and the pride flag up at my house now, because as much as I bitch about American politics and society I nevertheless get around enough to realize that I'm still very, very happy to live here.

I forget where I read this recently, but we collectively can begin to switch from using the phrase "Union" and simply say "The United States" when in opposition to the Confederacy. That phrase--"The Union"--is just as loaded as "the Confederacy" and maybe unhelpfully giving in to that whole south-will-rise-again mentality. Remind ourselves and others that the U.S. didn't go away or fraction into two different things during the Civil War, rather the Confederacy murderously ditched it.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:48 AM on October 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Depending on how you feel about John Brown, militant abolitionist:

John Brown's Subterranean Pass-Way may have had a flag...or it may be the invention of an auctioneer hawking a portrait of Brown. If nothing else, the discussion is interesting. Here's the portrait of Brown posing with--well, draw your own conclusions.

Then there's the "New England Black Republican, Abolition Rule or Ruin, Disunion Flag" featuring "a wooden Ham & 32 wooden Nutmegs on a Blood red field." That's John Brown on the gallows for a finial. My understanding is that it's an anti-abolitionist jab at Brown's Northern supporters, but why not recontextualize it? Here's the full text of the letter which accompanied the drawing.
posted by pullayup at 12:01 PM on October 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, particularly late afternoon dreaming hotel. This post made me think a lot about the issues you raise. A response to the confederate flag rooted in the past contributes to the power of that awful symbol. I'm still glad I asked though, I did not know about the abolitionist flag and it is awesome. Thanks for all the responses, it gave me a lot to think about.
posted by Bistle at 6:41 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

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