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Mass murder at church in Charleston, SC, and the aftermath

Part 9 of 11: 2015-JUL
132 pro-Confederate flag rallies held.
Walton County in Florida replaces flag -- sort of.
Does the flag increase racism among Whites?

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This topic is continued from Part 8

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2015-JUL-28: Pro-Confederate Flag rallies held:

The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups across the U.S. They reported that 132 rallies have been held promoting the rebel flag since the shootings in Charleston, SC. on JUN-17. An additional 29 rallies had been planned for the near future:


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2015-JUL-28: Walton County, FL removed the confederate battle flag from courthouse lawn, sort of:

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. In response, Walton County, FL commissioners voted to fly the rebel flag -- the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia -- beside the Walton County courthouse in DeFuniak Springs, FL.. It was located adjacent to a Civil War monument.

Rebel Flag

rebel flag

On JUL-28, apparently in response to the decision by the South Carolina Legislature to remove its rebel flag, the county commissioners voted to remove their flag as well. But they then decided, unanimously, to replace it with a "stars and bars" flag which was the first official flag of the Confederate States in 1861. It has seven stars -- one for each state in the original Confederacy: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. 2

Confederate States' Flag, 1861

original stars and bars flag

They wanted to fly a version of the Confederate States Flag with 13 stars, indicating the total number of states that eventually attempted to leave the Union. However, they were unable to find one. So they installed the seven-stars version as a temporary measure.

Daniel Uhlfelder, a member of a local group that is opposed to the flying of these flags by the county, eloquently said:

"It’s perplexing how this is perceived as any compromise. ... They replaced a symbol of segregation with a symbol of slavery and secession. ...When you go into a courthouse, you shouldn’t have your prejudice amplified."

His wife, Michelle Uhlfelder, who is also active in the group, issued an email, saying:

"Diet Coke and Coke are still the same thing: a Coke product.

The Confederate flag and the Confederate battle flag on Walton County's Courthouse lawn endorse the same statement: this County does not believe in equal rights for all within the halls of justice."

Commissioner Sara Commander said:

"The soil of Walton County has been enriched with the blood and sweat of the people who came before every one of us, some who fought and died in the war between the states. I want to honor all of those who came before us, but I also want to be cognizant of those that the present flag seems to offend." 2

Terms like "The war between the states," and "The war of northern aggression" are commonly used to refer to the civil war.

The article in the Huffington Post attracted 314 comments within three days. 2 Some compared the nobility of the Confederate states' cause with that of the Revolutionary War which obtained freedom from Great Britain. Gene Yeon, who read the article, responded by posting a comment:

"Let's see... one of those wars was so that people could be free from tyranny and oppression and the other was so that tyrants and oppressors could continue to profit off of human lives. The fact that you can't figure out the difference says a lot."

Dennis Koziol, a reader of the article, posted a comment:

"I made a compromise. I replaced my Confederate flag - with two Confederate flags. Anybody want to compromise some more?"

Rick Shawer from Florida posted his comment:

"To me the flag represents the spirit that gave birth to America (we were in fact rebellious when this nation was born), but I realize that to an awful lot of my brothers and sisters in America, it represents slavery and racism. It is for this reason, I think the flag should be retired. I do not deny that the war was fought in a large part on account of slavery and having roots in the South, I hate that fact. I can't do anything about that, but even worse is the idea that [present-day] White Supremacists have adopted the flag for their own kind of hatred. 2

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Does the presence of the Rebel Flag increase racism among Whites?

During 2010, Psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger headed a team of researchers at Florida State University. They studied the effects that exposure to the image of the confederate flag causes to people's level of racism:

  • In one test, a group of 130 university students were subliminally exposed to either the rebel flag or "a neutral symbol made up of colored lines." The image was flashed on their computer screens for a time interval so brief that they could not consciously see the flag. The students were then asked which of four presidential candidates they were likely to vote for. The white students in the test who had been exposed to the flag were significantly less likely to vote for President Obama, the only Black person among the four candidates for the presidency. The black students were unaffected.

  • In a second test, a group of 58 white students sat at a desk where a folder had been previously left. It had sticker with a rebel flag attached. Another 58 students sat at a desk with a folder that did not contain a sticker. They then read a story about a:

    "... young black man named Robert who engaged in ambiguously negative and aggressive behavior."

    Afterwards, the students were asked to rate the man in the story. Those students who saw the confederate flag rated the man more negatively.

The research team published their paper in the journal Political Psychology. The Journal's web site published an article about the results of their project on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court held a hearing in a case filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The State of Texas had banned the rebel flag from the group's specialty license plates and the group wanted it reinstalled. The article commented:

"... the study suggests exposure to the Confederate flag triggers unconscious attitudes of racial bias in white Americans -- including those who believe they are free of prejudice. That’s something worth pondering as the court considers whether the flag has a proper place on a license plate." 3

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They ruled in mid-2015 that the information on license plates consisted of "speech" by the state, and not by the Sons of Confederate Veterans or of the vehicle owner. Therefore Texas could place any message that they wanted to promote without infringing on the freedom of speech of "The Sons" or of the owner of the car.

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This topic continues in Part 10

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Amanda Terkel, "There Have Been 132 Pro-Confederate Flag Rallies Since The Charleston Shooting, and there are more to come," Huffington Post, 2015-JUL-28, at:
  2. Hilary Hanson, "County Removes Confederate Flag, Replaces It With Another Confederate Flag," Huffington Post, 2015-JUL-29, at:
  3. Tom Jacobs, "The Image of a Confederate Flag Is Far From Harmless," Pacific Standard, 2015-MAR-23, at:

Site navigation: Home > Religious violence > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs... > Murders in churches > Charleston > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-JUN-27
Last updated 2015-OCT-22
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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