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Poll: Conservatives More Comfortable With Confederate Flag Than Rainbow Flag

Confederate Battle Flag

A new poll finds that conservatives are more comfortable with public display of the Confederate Battle Flag than they are with the display of the Rainbow Flag that has become associated with the gay rights movement and same-sex marriage:

Public Policy Polling found that the Americans polled were more offended by the rainbow flag than the confederate flag, the latter of which has remained a controversial image since the American Civil War and for many holds oppressive and racist symbolism.

The results stem from two questions presented to 649 American voters: “Do you think high school students should be allowed to wear confederate flags to school, or not?” and “Do you think high school students should be allowed to wear gay pride flags to school, or not?”

42 percent of the voters polled defined themselves as “somewhat conservative” and 34 percent said they were “very conservative,” while only 3 percent stated they were “somewhat liberal” and 20 percent identified as “moderate.”

Public Policy Polling found that

43 percent of people feel high school students should be allowed to wear confederate flags to school, while only 28 percent felt students should be able to sport the Pride flag. A whopping 57 percent of those polled felt that high schoolers shouldn’t be allowed to wear gay flags to school.

Jonathan Caphart puts it well:

Folks, the Confederate flag is no better than a Swastika. It is a symbol of white supremacy, hate and oppression that has no place in American political discourse. That Kanye West wants to co-opt the rebel banner is as noble as it is futile. Meanwhile, the rainbow that is the gay pride flag symbolizes inclusion and acceptance. Oftentimes, usually in other countries, the words “pace” or “peace” can be found emblazoned on it. The rainbow flag is the very antithesis of the Confederate flag. That the latter is deemed more acceptable than the former is deplorable.

Capehart is right, of course, but is anyone really surprised by this?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Two things:

    #1 No sh!t Sherlock.

    #2 Is it any surprise that this comes from a party that venerates the past and fears the future?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  2. C. Clavin says:

    This is a sad commentary, indeed.
    Exclusion versus inclusion.
    Science versus ignorance.
    Obstruction versus being constructive.
    This is what defines the GOP today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  3. CSK says:

    The Confederate flag represents, literally, another country. So why would a self-styled true American patriot fly it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Proving beyond a doubt that we are in a post-racial society, and discrimination is a thing of the past.

    /sarcasm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  5. mattbernius says:

    I’m not sure too much should be drawn from a survey involving this limited a pool of participants (less than 700 people) — especially without further data (i.e. geographic distribution of the same size).

    BTW, here are the poll results from the three questions on this topic (I think the answer options to the third question are particularly poor):

    Q3 Do you think high school students should be allowed to wear confederate flags to school, or not?
    Think they should…………………………………….. 43%
    Think they should not……………………………….. 37%
    Not sure …………………………………………………. 19%

    Q4 Do you think high school students should be allowed to wear gay pride flags to school, or
    not?
    Think they should…………………………………….. 28%
    Think they should not……………………………….. 57%
    Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

    Q5 Do you think it’s more appropriate for high school students to wear gay pride flags or
    confederate flags to school?
    Gay pride flags………………………………………… 9%
    Confederate flags ……………………………………. 38%
    Not sure …………………………………………………. 52%

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Mu says:

    The confederate flag is a symbol for something from the past, easily gentrified as “good ol’ times”. The pride flag represents a threat to today’s mindset, as such making people uncomfortable. As such, the poll doesn’t really show a surprise result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  7. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:

    I was wondering about the geographic distribution. I don’t think you’d find a lot of support for displaying the Confederate flag in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, or Rhode Island. Maybe in a few isolated pockets of New Hampshire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  8. mattbernius says:

    @CSK:
    To some degree it depends on *where* you look in the North. I tend to think urban conservatives would have a lot less support for the stars and bars. That said all bets are off once you move towards the more rural areas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:

    True. But I was speaking specifically about New England, the area I know best. I can’t speak for the rural pockets of, say, Ohio or Pennsylvania or Illinois. In any case, urban, suburban, and even rural conservatives in New England tend to be fiscal and/or foreign policy conservatives, and liberal or laissez-faire on social issues. Massachusetts was, after all, the first state to legalize gay marriage, and there wasn’t any outcry from the local conservatives. An openly gay Republican ran to replace Ed Markey. He lost, but it wasn’t because he has a husband.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. JohnMcC says:

    My old Dad (the most wonderful friend and role model I ever had and a real conservative to his core) loved to fly the Stars and Bars. When he moved to San Jose CA he found that his flag was often stolen in the middle of the night by more politically correct neighbors (he supposed). He fretted about this for a while then decided that a good solution that would allow him to honor his Alabama roots while avoiding unpleasantness was to fly the REAL flag of the Confederacy. Today my Mom continues his practice. If you drive by a pleasant little California home under Mount Tamalpais and notice the Bonny Blue Flag flying proudly, that’s my folks’ house.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  11. Todd says:

    @mattbernius:

    I agree with you, that not much of a conclusion can be drawn from this poll based on those questions. Personally, I’m a proponent of gay rights, and no fan of the confederate flag. However, if I was to answer those specific questions honestly …

    3) should a confederate flag shirt be allowed? Yes

    4) should a gay pride flag be allowed? Yes

    5) which is more appropriate? I’d probably go with not sure, but only because “neither” wasn’t an option.

    To me there’s a huge difference between saying something is not appropriate, and saying it should be banned.

    Actually, again to show how flawed this poll is, I could probably also honestly answer “no” to both of those questions, since it does say students in a school. (change it to “at the mall” and there’s no ambiguity) … although changing the setting to the mall would probably also cause my answer to #5 to lean more towards the rainbow flag being less inappropriate. (both symbols are inappropriate in school .. the Confederate flag is inappropriate pretty much everywhere (IMO) .. but still shouldn’t be banned)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I think also that there’s probably a decent-sized subset of the population that is comfortable-to-indifferent with gay rights in general, but is queasy about any sort of display of sexuality among high schoolers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    Poll: Conservatives More Comfortable With Confederate Flag Than Rainbow Flag

    Poll: Conservatives More Comfortable With Treason Than Love.

    That….seems about right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  14. Dave D says:

    @CSK: Having lived a majority of my life in Wisconsin and now living in Iowa I have always been shocked by how many rural northerners fly the stars and bars. Likely these same people had ancestors that fought against such armed rebellion. However, it has been noted before in various articles on this site, the flag was revived in the ’50’s in opposition to ending segregation and thus now stands only for racism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  15. Tillman says:

    Frankly, I’d be uncomfortable with both. I expect high school teenagers to have a better sense of fashion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. mattbernius says:

    @Todd:

    5) which is more appropriate? I’d probably go with not sure, but only because “neither” wasn’t an option.

    To me there’s a huge difference between saying something is not appropriate, and saying it should be banned

    Exactly my issue with the third question. And I suspect that many might have gone with “not sure” because “neither” wasn’t an option.

    It just seems to me that this section of the survey was intended to create a story for PPP, not to actually seriously attempt to quantify any worthwhile data point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. al-Ameda says:

    People should feel free to wear either flag to school, although bearing or wearing the Confederate Flag may have the consequence of causing many people to believe that those showing the Confederate Flag are racist.

    I wouldn’t bother bringing any flag to school, that said, if I had to bring one of those 2 flags, I’d bring the rainbow flag because I’d rather people have the opinion that I’m gay than that I’m a racist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Folks, the Confederate flag is no better than a Swastika.

    This guy self-Godwinned himself. I have no interest in sticking up for the Confederacy, but I feel the need to point out that the Confederate agenda did not include 1) world conquest and 2) genocide.

    On the other hand, I find myself tempted towards physical violence when I see idiots with Che shirts, or wearing red stars or CCCP banners.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  19. anjin-san says:

    I have no interest in sticking up for the Confederacy

    Really? Because the team you have chosen to be on loves them some Confederacy. Perhaps you simply don’t understand the people you choose to associate yourself with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  20. anjin-san says:

    I find myself tempted towards physical violence when I see idiots with Che shirts, or wearing red stars or CCCP banners.

    A. Thats an impressive respect for freedom of though and expression you have there.

    B. Probably not a good idea. I am betting a 13 year old girl in a Che shirt could kick your ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  21. James Pearce says:

    I’s like to see how this shakes out in Libertarian circles. My guess? A similar result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    On the other hand, I find myself tempted towards physical violence when I see idiots with Che shirts, or wearing red stars or CCCP banners.

    Really? I like the irony of the communist icons turned into kitsch for trendies. I was walking through Chinatown the other day and saw a pic of Mao in the window partially covered by a sign saying, “CASH ONLY, NO REFUNDS.” I nearly spit out my drink.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    On the other hand, I find myself tempted towards physical violence when I see idiots with Che shirts, or wearing red stars or CCCP banners.

    Hmmmm…. Things to add to my wardrobe…. Thanks Jenos!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: OK, I can see the irony there, and I’d find that more entertaining than infuriating.

    The Che thing, though… the guy was a racist, homophobic sociopath who personally murdered hundreds of people, and was responsible for the deaths of many, many more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. aFloridian says:

    I am very proud of my ancestors that fought against the United States. I don’t see them as traitors, to the US but as patriots to their home states in the Deep South. They are traitors in the same sense that the “Founding Fathers” during the Revolutionary War were. Which is to say, yeah, they were, but somehow it’s ok. Both “sides” have revision-ed that war so much I really wonder how much most Americans understand about it today. Obviously slavery was the driving economic and social force behind the war, but I also don’t believe that the entire South mobilized and went to war to defend a right they could not exercise, though the oligarchical intelligentsia obviously understood that to be the principal reason. When people tell me it’s state’s rights, I generally say, “Uh, yeah, the state’s right to allow slavery.” Simply put, I’m proud of my ancestors for taking a stand and defending their home states.

    I used to display the flag when I was younger. Never on those tacky shirts like they have now though. But the problem with the flag is not so much it’s original meaning (battle flag under which poor white soldiers fought for their states – under the control of the planter elites – who were really fighting to maintain the institution of slavery) is disconnected enough from the plantation and the Confederacy itself (by the way people, “The Stars and Bars” is NOT the Confederate Battle Flag..seriously…) that I could probably rationalize it as a universal symbol of the South. It’s only natural, given our unique history and culture, that Southerners would want to display pride in their region.

    The real problem is the symbol’s meaning in most modern minds, who associate the flag with white supremacy and the racial strife of the 20th century, from the KKK to George Wallace/Bull Connor, and up to the neo-nazi’s who have co-opted the flag today and fly it even in other countries with no understanding of America and its history. Showing it now risks to close an association with these types. I like what the commenter said above about flying the actual Stars & Bars (or the Bonnie Blue Flag? These are also different). Sometimes (not saying in his case) those are the ones you really need to watch out for, the one’s who know their history well enough to send that message without alerting our sadly uneducated population, who probably thinks the flag pictured above WAS the CSA’s flag. Once deep in the sticks in Alabama, I saw someone flying the third flag of the Confederacy (the white flag with red bar at the end). People may cite 50 different reasons for flying the “Confederate Flag” (e.g.”I like Grits”) but anyone flying the Confederacy’s final flag is definitely making a political statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. slimslowslider says:

    Anxiously awaiting the flaggers to show up on this thread…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  27. Rick Almeida says:

    @Grewgills:

    I like the irony of the communist icons turned into kitsch for trendies.

    One of my prized possessions is a Chairman Mao watch I bought in Tiananmen Square in 2006. It’s wind up, and Mao’s outstretched arms are the hands. It keeps terrible time, but…from my cold, dead hands and all that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. JohnMcC says:

    @aFloridian: The reaction of most of my relatives who still live in AL to the typical Stars-and-Bars wearer or displayer is a sort of upper-class distain. They might fly it at an Ol’ Miss football game, but those red-necks ‘stole it from us’.

    Which, yes, shows that the class divide in Dixie is still a major fact of life there (or maybe ‘here’ since I’m a Floridian too now) but gets little appreciation from anyone not raised in the deep south.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. wr says:

    The good news is that for most people who fly the flag, as aFloridian sasy, it doesn’t mean “I wish the South had won the war.”

    The bad news is that for an awful lot of them it means “I hate ni@@ers and Messicans.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The Che thing, though… the guy was a racist, homophobic sociopath who personally murdered hundreds of people, and was responsible for the deaths of many, many more.

    So it really gets you angry that one individual was like that, but not so much that an entire society was? Really? Is this one of those “one death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” things?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1