Now in the wake of the terrible Charleston church killings in which a white youth who took pictures of himself with a gun and the flag, killed nine black worshipers, politicians have been racing to distance themselves from the Confederate flag. The Republican party has been in the vanguard with Mitt Romney leading the way. In the past some Republicans have defended the right to fly this flag which is odd really when you consider Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
The Confederate battle flag still flies close to South Carolina's capitol
I'm not sure this flag should have any place in the American psyche but the fact it does says much about the American psyche. There have also been reports this week of a large upsurge in demand for products with the Confederate flag on, perhaps in anticipation of a ban.
Locally people have been going even further and calling for the removal of Confederate war memorials from the Civil War which frankly I think is stupid because these soldiers died in large numbers, admittedly fighting for a disturbing cause. The Confederate flag flying in official places is a different matter entirely.
Here are five little known facts about the Confederate flag.
1 - It was never the official flag of the Confederacy. Instead, it was the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee.
2 - The Confederate battle flag came into widespread use during anti desegregation protests in the mid 20th century. It's modern use is closely mired in racism. It was adopted by South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond who ran for president on a segregation ticket.
3 - Mississippi, which has a good claim to be the most backward and depressing state in the US, is the only state to feature the battle flag in its state flag.
4 - The battle flag was also called the Southern Cross.
5 - General Robert E. Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia, was closely associated with the flag but he rejected the symbols of the Civil War after his defeat and no flags flew at his funeral.