CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{March 28, 2007}   Confederate Flag Simply a Statement of Southern Pride?


Artist John Sims is not about to back down and I rejoice, “Good for him!”

The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee, Florida is hosting a fourteen piece exhibit by the artist. Click here for more on the story. Featured is a display entitled, “The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag,” which features a confederate flag hung by a noose from a gallows.

Damn! I wish I’d thought of that.

All my life, I’ve had to listen to relatives try to rationalize (to themselves?) that the confederate flag stands for southern pride and nothing else.


If you are African-American and you find yourself in the vicinity of a house or vehicle festooned with confederate flags, know this (as if you didn’t already); the owner of that house or vehicle is most certainly racist.

How do I know? Simple; I have a number of uncles, aunts, and cousins (male and female) who display the confederate flag. And I know for a sorry fact they are racist.

Some time ago, I was drinking beer around a campfire with relatives (the same ones who have a giant confederate flag hanging on the side of their barn). One of these people started telling racist jokes. This was going over very well. Seriously. I could tell that this person wasn’t going to stop and I couldn’t, in good conscience, let him continue uncontested. When he paused for a drink of beer, I looked over at him and stated, “You know, you’d be much more effective if you’d wear your white sheet while telling these sick jokes.”

He threw me a nasty look and continued to glare at me the rest of the evening. Ask me if I cared.

Lord, Lord. I remember an uncle back in the day that had a George Wallace for President bumper sticker. And he meant it. At the tender age of ten, even I knew this man’s thinking was skewed.

I have a female cousin who carries a handgun and belongs to a survivalist group. Read this as white supremacist group, for this is exactly what it is.

Another cousin invited my husband to join the Eagles Club. Husband asked what exactly this club was. By way of description, my husband was told that this club was very selective. What! Come again? I suppose if cousin had realized my husband was Catholic (ardently so), the invitation would never have been extended.

I could go on, but I’m getting a headache. Just know that each and every one of these people, clearly racist, has some form of confederate flag on their property. Is my family an anomaly? Of course not.

Don’t give me that shit about southern pride.


(Exhibit by John Sims. Photo from


Karen says:

Good, Marilyn. I totally agree with you.

Tony says:

“Just know that each and every one of these people, clearly racist, has some form of confederate flag on their property.”

Come on. Not everybody who owns a confederate flag is racist. You can’t group everybody together like that.

hard as nails says:

are you sittin’ there tryin’ to tell me that them dukes and uncle jessie didn’t like them there black people?

Mark says:

This was a good article. racisum is certainly alive and well.

Perry says:

Some would argue that living in Cincinnati is a lot like living down south. You don’t need a flag to feel the tension here.

Matt says:

Remember the KKK and that Fountain Square bullshit from a few years ago? Cincinnati IS like being down south.

Theresa says:

I also connect the confederate flag with being racist, but I don’t really think it’s fair to group EVERYBODY from the south that way. I’m trying to change my thinking on this.

Barbara says:

This exhibit, this photo is an insult to anyone with roots in the south. I shouldn’t at all be surprised that this blog would put it up.

Jill says:

Marilyn’s right on the mark here. I agree with her 100%

Marilyn says:

Tony, please note that I stated that each of the people I’ve outlined is clearly racist and they also display confederate flags.

Is it possible that there are folks who fly the confederate flag and who are not racist? Maybe. But in my personal experience, I don’t know any.


Yes, the South had slaves, but that doesn’t mean the North wasn’t racist. There was plenty of racism in the North. It just wasn’t codified into slavery laws. And Lincoln himself was a gradualist; most abolitionists didn’t think he moved fast enough.

And not everyone from the modern South is racist. And there are plenty of people from the modern North who are.

The flag is a convenient place to put all the heat, but I think that by making it the central focus of the race debate in this country, we distract from the real issues of race relations–educational and job opportunity, housing, the prison system (you can’t really call it the “justice” system), etc.

And as much as we all hated the KKK thing on Fountain Square a few years back, we live in a country with free speech (at least the appearance of it, still)–we don’t have to like what they say, but we do have to respect their right to say it. When we start censoring groups’ whose views we don’t agree with, where does that end? Ye olde slippery slope, people.

Donna says:

A confederate flag is just a confederate flag. The picture above is very insulting. Barbara, I’m with you.

Jay says:

Interesting how we view things. Of course when I see a confederate flag I always thing of the south and when I think of the south I think how blacks are treated down there. Yeah, I equal the confederate flag to being racist.

Becky says:

The photo promotes hate. Black or white, that’s not good.

Vickie says:

Wow, don’t know how I feel about this post at all. At least it’s got me thinking.

hard as nails says:

marilyn hates hate. hates it.

Marilyn says:

Heaven forbid we should insult anyone with southern roots!

(Too bad the folks who fly this flag don’t worry about insulting African Americans.)

Man of the Hour says:

Yankee…….GO HOME!

Del says:

I have to go with Marilyn on this one. The south is slave country and being from there, I know that many feel that should still be the case. Displaying the Confederate Flag “Proudy” promotes it. This exhibit doesn’t promote it that way. It’s a good thing.

Charlie Daniels says:

The South’s gonna rise again.

Gregory Flannery says:

Marilyn, I’ve heard the arguments defending the Confederate flag, even a from well educated journalist. In the end, whatever merits the Confederacy had, it was an institution built on and dedicated to perpetuating human bondage. Its symbol is therefore irredeemably repulsive, just as the swastika is. A most excellent blog post!

Harold says:

I’m totally with Marilyn on this one and I’m flat out amazed how so many here don’t get the point. Confederate equals slavery.

puff-on-it says:

hey charlie daniels,
been down to georgia lately? you still treat your black people like second-class citizens.

Rita says:

Racism is abundant in the world as is sexism. The Confederate Flag was a symbol for slavery during the Civil War. The swastika was a symbol for the Nazi Party and the holocaust. The Confederate Flag and the Swastika evokes similar emotions. I could not see the purpose in supporting in any fashion either symbol nor validate its use. It is comfortable for some to rationalize symbols are merely that and no more; I am not one of those people. Nice post Marilyn. Interesting reactions.

Joe says:

A liberal blog beating up on a conservative flag. No shock there.

It’s just a damn flag and if you’re from down south like I am, its part of our history. Nothing more. This so called “exhibit” by this Sims jerk – you think that’s art? It’s a disgrace.

Marilyn says:

If it’s just a damn flag, why are we discussing it here?

Tim says:

This is indeed a wonderful post – the best this week.

I also am amazed, actually more shocked, that some are defending this flag. I view it as a symbol of hate. The exhibit seems very fitting.

Again, Marilyn, great post.

Wally says:

Way, waaaaaaaay too serious here today.

What did everybody have for lunch?

Rita says:

Why would you designate this post as a liberal blog when it is simply promoting respecting the human race?

Joey says:

Rita, what in the hell are you talking about. Just because I think this post is pure bullshit today doesn’t mean I don’t respect all of the human race. Where do you get off?


I hope no one thinks *I’m* defending this flag–I am not, not at all. The point I was trying to make is that racism is everywhere you go, north or south, and that it isn’t the ignorant “rednecks” in this country whose racism (i.e. confederate flags, stickers, etc.) scares me most–it is the racism of people who use complete sentences without double negatives and wear shoes and have all their teeth and just happen to run this country, from the top down that i find the most troubling, because it is sytematic, and very, very powerful. The flag is a distraction to fighting *that* racism. Nameen?

Any reasonable person finds any symbol of hatred abhorrent, it isn’t even arguable. But to attach so much weight to those symbols siphons energy away from the real fight that needs to be fought.

Joey says:

So, “Foxy,” calling our president a racist here? More bullshit.



One need only look at the federal government’s *pathetic* response to hurricane katrina to see that this country has instiutionlized racism, and discrimination against people of low income.

If that’s calling W a racist, I suppose I am. It happened on his watch.

Matt says:

Of course Bush is a racist, the whole family is. Look at Barbara Bush to start with.

Marilyn says:

FoxyR, I hear what you are saying.

And, of course, racism isn’t confined to white/black configurations. Look at the shameful behavior of our government in their treatment of muslims and/or anyone from the middle east after 9/11.

Look back a bit and see how the US made prison camps for all Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor.

It’s time for people to stop and look and become aware of what is happening — inside their heads and outside in the world. And work to make changes.

Joey says:

One need only look at the federal government’s *pathetic* response to hurricane katrina to see that this country has instiutionlized racism, and discrimination against people of low income.

Typical. When someone wants to fault George Bush on something, yeah – bring up hurricane Katrina. It was a damn hurricane – not exactly a planned event.

Marilyn says:

Joey, I can think of multiple reasons to fault GW…

Lies that lead to a war he had planned long before and a government that is taking away the middle class to name only two. But I kinda wanted to stay on the topic at hand.

hard as nails says:

george bush doesn’t see color. in fact, he doesn’t see anything.


Katrina wasn’t a planned event (insert collective DUH, here) but the response to it should have been.

It was utterly chaotic, haphazard, frankly, half-assed, and the response even now is still pitifully flawed.

This administration works for the wealthy, and yes, the white. The poor and the black, yellow, brown, red, are SOL. Look at W’s cuts to the Trio programs, just for one example.

Forget the Confederate flag being offensive–W and his administration’s policies are working to make Old Glory offensive around the world, too. And that is criminal.

Jackie says:

Here! Here!! FoxyRoxy!!!

Joey says:

This administration works for the wealthy, and yes, the white.

More typical “crying” from bleeding-heart liberals. Nothing you say here surprises me.

Polly says:

Let me sum up what most of us here realize when we read your words: You are full of shit.

Gus_J says:

Flags are silly. Anything that divides people is lame, we are all one race. Society appropriately looks down on gang crime and the pack mentality then finds it necessary to fly colors themselves for a sense of unity or division. The only appropriate use of a flag is for physical visual identification.

It is important that we not limit free speech under any circumstances.

Anyway, as the old saying goes… It’s better for people to think you are an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

As far as the flags official use (like by South Carolina) It’s just inappropriate for practical reasons. That war was fought and decided. Traditionally only the victors colors fly.

I feel the same way when I see a colonial flag or nazi flag.

“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.”
-Bob Marley

Karen says:

All of it, nicely put, Gus 🙂

hard as nails says:

Joey, I can think of multiple reasons to fault GW…

also, how can you support somebody who eats little kittens for lunch?

Julie says:


When I read your post this morning, I nodded my head yes in agreement, thinking there would be few comments today. I mean, who wouldn’t agree with your statement, who wouldn’t agree with your stance on hate?

I was wrong. Boy was I ever and boy am I ever disappointed. So many here “defending” a flag that brings shame.

Frankly, I’m shaken.

Marilyn says:

Julie, I’m with you. I was expecting 99% agreement with my post. I’m really, really thrown by the dissent here.

I wonder if Larry had to delete even more offensive comments?

It’s sad. We have so far to go. And I wonder if we will ever get there.

Ben says:

I’m from Mississippi, born and raised there. Racist when I was growing up, terribly so. I left, couldn’t take it, but I go back every so often to visit relatives.

Is it better? A little, but it’s still Mississippi.

This was a good, thoughtful column. I can’t find much wrong with it. In fact nothing at all.

Johnson says:


Marilyn says:

Ben, there is one time in American history that I wish I could have experienced — the civil rights movement.

To any interested parties, go to and look up under the American Experience heading a comprehensive series on the civil rights movement.

In so many ways I feel as if my parenting was a failure. However, the one single thing I did best was to teach my children that racism is morally wrong. They fully understood this.

Rita says:

I am totally shocked by the reactions to this post. When Marilyn said she was writing this, I thought it would be her usual great and well written post but the intensity of some of the anger her takes by breath away.

Joey – Your post “It’s just flag.” “Katrina was just a damn hurricane.” “Just because I think this post is pure bullshit today doesn’t mean I don’t respect all of the human race”. I didn’t say that you didn’t respect the human race. Your comments did. You have some serious anger issues.

Tim Graves says:

“I am totally shocked by the reactions to this post.”

This is what you call turning over a rock. No one living here should be surprised. Look how we treat our citizens in Over-the-Rhine.

Rita says:

I know there is racism; I guess I was shocked because I can’t understand this type and level of hate and total lack of insight and ownership of these bigoted feelings/beliefs. Are we really sure that George Wallace really died? I think we have met some of his clones. I am Obviously naive.

Man of the Hour says:

Don’t give me that shit about southern pride.

…..Isn’t this a breakfast sausage?

Marilyn says:

Damn, MOH, methinks you are correct!

MMMMM, sausage!

Jack says:

Tennessee Pride is the name.

You’re welcome

John Sims says:

Thanks Marilyn

For the support. Hit me up at


John Sims

John Sims says:

oh forgot to say that I tried to bring my work to the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincy. They were not very responsive! That’s ok – stay tune for my movie !!!!


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