Much has been made about the fact that Sen. George Allen (R-Va) used to have a Confederate battle flag hanging in his living room. Allen has long dismissed questions about this with the explanation that it was part of a flag collection. However, recent revelations suggest that the “collection” may actually have only consisted of two flags – the Confederate flag and the U.S. flag.
Be that as it may, I really don’t care if George Allen had a Confederate flag hanging on his wall when he was a young man. I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise, as I had a Confederate flag hanging on my wall in high school and through the first couple years of college. To me the flag was simply a symbol of regional pride and heritage. So, the mere fact that Allen similarly owned and privately displayed a Confederate flag 20 or 30 years ago does not automatically mean that he is or was a racist.
However, I would feel a lot better about Allen’s flag history if he had simply explained it, as I do, as a symbol of Southern (not white, Southern) pride. That would admittedly be a bit tough to swallow considering the fact that he was born in California and never lived in the South until he transferred from UCLA to the University of Virginia as a sophomore in college, but it would be a lot less suspect than the apparently bogus flag collection story. But, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it….
Back to my flag – one day I returned to my dorm room and found that the flag, while still hanging on the wall, had been torn into four pieces. A few of my fraternity brothers who hailed from north of the Mason-Dixon came in laughing, and took the opportunity to remind me that the North had won the war. I took the hint and that was the end of my Confederate flag-hanging days.