Thursday, July 30, 2015

History of racism: the confederate flag in Canada

That debate over display of the Confederate flag that developed after the Charleston church murders is no longer exclusively American. The Nova Scotia-based Citizens against White Supremacy has launched a campaign to have display of the Confederate flag considered a hate crime across Canada.

Among the leaders of the project is Dalhousie University historian and director of its Transitional Year Program, Isaac Saney, a scholar of Cuban and African history.

A lot of Canadians probably associate that flag mostly with Duke boy cars, Texas barbecue, and immoderate beer consumption.  But there has been an interesting revaluation going on in the United States, much of it driven by historians of public memory, of how closely the Confederate flag maps with resistance to civil rights and to efforts to preserve the triumphs of segregationist and white-supremacy regimes. The removal of Confederate regalia from the South Carolina legislative grounds may be only the start, as retailers stop stocking it and manufacturers abandon its imagery.

Canada has a much more developed tradition of hate-crime legislation and empowered Human Rights Tribunals. Watch for someone to try applying those to Confederate flag displays in Canada.
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