Confederate Flags In Minnesota: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING.

Even if you somehow still believe the Confederate battle flag doesn’t symbolize racism and white supremacy (sorry, but to many, many people it does) and even if you think it should be legal for private individuals to fly on their own property as a form of free speech, there’s still absolutely no way anyone in the state of Minnesota should be flying that flag.

Depicts the First Minnesota.
Depicts the First Minnesota.

It is unquestionably profoundly cruel to black people and other minorities to fly that flag, but it’s also incredibly, incredibly disrespectful to Minnesota and its veterans.

You don’t have to be keen on Minnesota history to know that Minnesota was the first state to offer troops to President Lincoln to fight with the Union in the Civil War. All you have to do is graduate from sixth grade in Minnesota, since this is a fact taught in the standard Minnesota history class that year, along with information about the voyageurs, the wild rice trade, logging, and Pig’s Eye. (That’s the former name of St. Paul. No, seriously.)

The first group, the appropriately named First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, among many others, fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.

What they don’t tell 12-year-olds is that on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, the First Minnesota held the line against the Confederates, despite having the highest casualty rate in the entire Union army– 83%. They charged into a situation where they were outnumbered four-to-one.

They went anyway, and most of them died fighting against everything the Confederate battle flag stands for.

First Minnesota is legendary for its heroism at Gettysburg.

Minnesota helped elect Lincoln. Minnesota, barely even a state at the time, sent 11 infantry regiments, 2 companies of sharpshooters, units of artillery and cavalry and sailors too, plus the men who served in the African American units.

More than 2,500 Minnesotans died in that war, fighting against the Confederates. Flying the Confederate flag in this state is disgusting, and not only is it a declaration of hostility to minorities, it’s a slap in the face to the First Volunteer Volunteer Infantry Regiment and to the entire state of Minnesota and all its heritage.

29 Responses

  1. Jake

    This is the epitome of what is wrong this country today; people like you being way over the top, sensitivity-wise. This article wasn’t biased at all now was it? Chill out. How and why are you writing opinion articles for an area of the country such as this (primarily conservative). Take your liberal protest propaganda elsewhere where someone will actually care.

  2. david m anderson

    Thank You! What I just don’t understand is where is the outrage from the public?
    How many black soldiers have died for this country and OUR FLAG? Piss on the stupid confederate flag! Piss on the the morons who display it!

    David M Anderson

    1. I wouldn’t go that far.

      But I do think people need to recognize that many, many people of many races see the flag as a racist symbol, even if it may not always have been one (whether it was or not is a disputed point that is not on the topic of my original post).

    2. Nancy Gertner

      Um, isn’t this a blog, where the blog owner can express whatever opinion they wish? And commenters may comment as they wish? ” . . . area of the country such as this . . . Conservative . . . ” has the person that made that comment ever been in Minnesota? I don’t think so! But no matter if conservative or liberal. I know descendants of Corporal George B. Clarke, who survived the Battle of Gettysburg. I don’t think either the conservative, liberal, or libertarian ones would appreciate some youngster pissing on his grave. Which is what this flag parading feels like to me. History shows he left a widow, three young sons (under age 6) and a pension of $11 a month when he died in 1887. Shall we honor that sacrifice by parading a Rebel flag? I don’t think so.,

      1. I do have comments on moderation for now, just in case, because this topic can get quite heated. So far everyone has been very civil, though, and all comments have been posted. Thanks, folks, I do appreciate your comments and your politeness!

        In fairness to the other commenter (whom I still do not agree with), he or she may be commenting from North Dakota, which is quite conservative, particularly compared with the generally blue state of Minnesota.

  3. Eric Rommesmo

    So what you are saying, is because Minnesota was a Union State, supported Lincoln and the Union, United States of America, no one in the State of Minnesota should be offered their 1st Ammenrnt right to Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Expression and fly the BATTLE FLAG, not the Confederate States of America OFFICIAL FLAG, in response of all the PC ballywho since the unfortunate shootings in South Carolina?
    This seems quite CONTRADICTORY, to someone willing to uphold and DEFEND the Constitution of The United States of America.
    Because I’m sure there may have been at least One or Two Confederate Sympathizers in the WHOLE State of Minnesota back then!
    But Icould be wrong!!!!

    1. No. I didn’t say no one should be allowed to fly it.

      I said no one should fly it, because it’s extremely disrespectful to Minnesota veterans. And I do believe that.

      People are legally allowed to do many things they should not do; I think this is one of them.

    2. Greg

      the battle flag was incorporated into the official flag two years into the war, so the stars and bars were a part of the official flag of the Confederate States of America. There were Nazi sympathizers in Minnesota, would it be appropriate to fly the swastika at a 4th of July parade? In both instances the people flying the flag were in vehicles that represented another entity, therefore their speech can be controlled by the entity they were representing. Yes people have free speech, but free speech can have very negative consequences.

      1. I don’t really think it’s a free speech issue to tell people they should choose not to fly the swastika, the Confederate flag or other symbols of their choice; it would be if someone was advocating banning the display of the symbol on private property, though.

        But I don’t think anyone is advocating that here.

        However, people should definitely choose not to fly the swastika or the Confederate flag.

    3. Bob Woodbury

      Like to split hairs because we have a weak argument, do we Eric? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, NOT a battle flag.

  4. Mike

    Slavery, in this country, was started by the British since we were a possession of England. After the War of Independence, it was the flag of the United States of America that flew over all the states, including the slave states, for almost a hundred years. There didn’t have to be a war in the first place. Nobody had to die fighting his fellow countrymen. Lincoln started the war as a way to strengthen his newly formed Republican Party. The war was all about politics, not slavery. Slavery was ended in England and other countries without fighting a war and it should have ended here the same way. Sadly, a lot of the history that is taught in schools is pure propaganda.

  5. Andrew

    When I see the rebel flag to me it represents a time in our history which should never be forgotten. It’s a time when our country was divided. Yes slavery was a big issue but it was divided with the industrialized North and the more laid back south. The south had a completely different view on all things political. Slavery was just one of those. Our country was still very young and states were fighting for states rights. Just as we still do today. The states were fighting for what they believed our founding fathers wanted. Which is a federal government with power but not to much power. As we can see today most would agree the federal government has to much power and it so happened to come from these events in history. I could blab all day long on how I view the flag but to me I view it as a part of history. General Lee was probably one of the greatest Generals this country has ever had. He didn’t like slavery but believed in his great state of Virginia. He fought for his STATE that was his reasoning. He didn’t fight for slavery. And since the argument is about his state battle flag (not the actual confederate flag) That’s how I view it. Ooo I’m not defending slavery or the confederacy. I’m someone that loves history. Just as I can say I think Rommel was a great General for Germany doesn’t mean I support the Nazis. Our country is becoming to much of a PC state.

      1. Andrew

        So you think that a confederate flag shouldn’t be flown in Minnesota because it’s disrespectful to Minnesota veterans of the civil war? I couldn’t disagree more. The civil war split families. Brothers fought against brothers. Yes it was a horrible time and we disagreed on things but that’s what makes America great! We can argue and move on. Just as he would respect me I would respect him. I would fly his flag as a remembrance to him below our flag. It’s a show of respect for those that also lost there lives. You can’t always just think of the soldiers that lost lives on the winning side especially with the civil war.

        O and Minnesota fought primarily against the Alabama regiment at Gettysburg and would have saw the bars and stars flag of the confederacy or regimental flags. Not the flag of Northern Virginia which is the rebel flag your referring to.

        Last I’ve never flown a rebel flag but I truly do respect the history of it. Many lives were lost fighting for and against it. All American lives and that’s something we should never forget.

        1. I don’t agree. I think newborn Minnesota’s sacrifice is worth respecting, especially in its own state, and I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to fly a rebel flag here.

          Thank you for posting, though.

  6. J Olson

    I am sorry but there are not any Veterans still alive from that war. So are you saying that someone flying a Confederate Flag is somehow disrespectful to Iraqi war veterans like me? I think it is very disrespectful to Veterans to use them as a political tool in your argument.

      1. J Olson

        It is just you said:
        “incredibly disrespectful to Minnesota and its veterans.” And also said:
        “I said no one should fly it, because it’s extremely disrespectful to Minnesota veterans. And I do believe that.”

        I wanted to make sure you were not lumping in all the MN Veterans currently alive as a tool to your highly political argument.

        1. The veterans I am specifically talking about are those who died fighting in the Civil War, and those who survived fighting in it. However, one could certainly make the case for all their descendants as well.

  7. Mike

    I wonder if it is profoundly cruel to Native Americans to fly the flag of the United States of America?

  8. Jodi B

    Great essay. I appreciate your POV and the MN history lesson. You are spot on. The meanings of symbols, words, and actions change over time all the time. The swastika, blackface, the cross, football team names (hello UND), colors (red & blue states, go green, etc.), clothes hangers, & school house steps. School house steps, you ask? Yes, as in, all you doofuses, haters, & rednecks are going to be looking as foolish as George Wallace standing on the school house steps if you can’t appreciate how the nuances of the Confederate flag have changed over the past 50 years. Get on the right side of history.

    1. Many people have somehow forgotten the First Minnesota, and Minnesotan service in the Civil War, and that is distressing to me. I’ve remembered it ever since sixth grade, along with the charming story of the man who kept St. Peter from being the state Capitol by stealing the bill and holing up in a bar until it expired. (They left out that the bar was a bordello, of course, because it was a book for sixth-graders.)

  9. zac

    Your piece is written well and I completely understand your just sharing an opinion and not a research paper and I would also say that most likely MN in general supports your opinion, but I am from Arkansas (living in MN) and that troublesome flag means something completely different to me than what probably most folks think it does. It has represented a reluctance to bend the knee and a spirit of independent “can do attitude” that only a redneck in the holler of the Ozarks could know. I am also caucasian too so perhaps my view would be skewed otherwise but nonetheless I am not alone in my way of viewing the Confederate flag. I hope not all people think that the possession of a Confederate flag is a display of hate, slavery, and disrespect from the person bearing it because we all view symbols differently depending on our culture. I often times feel like media in general thinks I should be ashamed to be a caucasian from the South because I must be racist and uneducated and if I don’t mind the Confederate flag well that just puts the cherry on top! Anyways in closing I liked reading your piece and I only wanted to share a different take on the display of the flag. God bless America eh?

    1. I’m pretty familiar with attitudes about the flag, yes.

      However, anyone who flies it likely is as well, and they fly it knowing full well what it has stood for to all the groups that have flown it, from the actual Confederates to the KKK to the Duke boys to those who feel it represents pride in the South. If you choose to fly it while being aware of all those meanings, that is your choice.

      I do not think it’s a good one, but that is my choice, not yours.

    2. Nikolai

      right on…
      Confederate flag. represents people fighting to right to be free. free to live the union. and linkoln was racist as hell. don’t tell me he fought against slavery…

Comments are closed.