I get it.
Most of you who now feel threatened or offended by the controversy surrounding the display of the Confederate flag are not proponents of slavery. You're proud of your heritage and you feel like the U.S. and the rest of the world are progressing past your beliefs. The things you hold dear are being left behind. You want to defend your symbol.
If you are proud of your freedom, you should be proud of my freedom. If you rejoice in your rights, you should rejoice in the rights of gay Americans which were recently affirmed by the Supreme Court. If you ever feel like your liberties are being threatened, you should shout from the highest rooftops in protest when the liberties of ANY Americans are threatened. If you want society to respect your traditions and values, you should be aware and sensitive to how those traditions and values affected (and continue to affect) others.
I don't advocate outlawing any symbol but the only symbols that should be on government lands or buildings are unifying, national (or state-level) symbols. Honestly, even though I was thrilled by the step forward in marriage equality, I was uncomfortable by the White House and SF City Hall being lit in Rainbow Pride colors, but I can live with it being a one time celebratory event. I can't and won't condone someone's religious or divisive symbols on permanent display on government buildings.
I have as much claim to the Confederate battle flag (the Stars and Bars) as anyone. I was born in and spent my childhood in Texas. My family, on both sides, are from Texas going back at least 4 generations and prior to that, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee are my ancestral homes. If you trace my roots back far enough, you'll see the names of my forebears on the roles of proud Confederate Army units from the Civil War. We weren't big plantation owners; not moneyed landed gentry; there's no Tara in my inheritance. We were regular, small farmers and tradesmen. Did any of my ancestors own slaves? I don't really know. Given the economic evidence, it's doubtful.
I don't need a symbol to be proud of where I'm from. You shouldn't either. And insisting on exercising your freedoms even knowing what evil and pain it represents for many is just down-right mean. Just because you have a freedom doesn't mean it is right (or wise) to exercise it.
Ignorance causes Bigotry
I've never, ever, heard my parents utter a bigoted word. Growing up in our conservative, evangelical household, other people were referred to with God's love. With my grandparents, the prejudice was ingrained, but not outwardly hateful. I remember my grandfather, a poor sharecropper his whole life, sitting there in the 1970s describing a man who would come by to do odd jobs and peddle goods in East Texas: He's a negro BUT really a good boy and hard worker. It was only as an adult I realized the bigotry of such a statement, but it was totally natural to my grandfather. To him, the good qualities of this man were unexpected because he was black. This shows ignorance (or lack of experience) from my grandfather, but not hate.
40+ years later, this type of bigotry still permeates our society. We don't know each other. So unless you are lying about why you want a Confederate flag, give it up. Show some compassion and display instead a symbol of freedom for all. May I suggest the American flag?