I have seen so much misinformation on this (mainly posted on Facebook). It’s just wrong to let it pass as if it were OK.
#1, any person should, and certainly will, be able to display the confederate battle flag. I’m glad when they do, so I know that they are willfully ignorant and not a person to be taken seriously. Really, I think those who display the stars and bars generally fall into one of three categories: those who are maliciously ignorant (KKK, Fox News), those who are apathetically ignorant (the Duke boys), and those who are unable to detach with love (these are the people claiming “heritage”).
#2, governments need to really think about what flags they post, and where. IMO, governments should stay away from flying any flag other than the one representing their own jurisdiction, and any jurisdiction they are under. Maybe putting up flags to greet visitors is OK, but certainly not the flag of a failed revolution, for decades.
#3, if you are an American, this flag is first a symbol of treason. An armed attack against the USA, by an army, organized as a country, with a flag. You can’t fly both flags. They are opposites. If you call yourself a patriotic American, it’s simple. The Stars and Stripes is your only national flag.
#4, the civil war was about one thing: slavery. See this article from the Atlantic:
Fighting for slavery presented problems abroad, and so Confederate diplomats came up with the notion of emphasizing “states rights” over “slavery”—the first manifestation of what would later become a plank in the foundation of Lost Cause mythology.
The first people to question that mythology were themselves Confederates, distraught to find their motives downplayed or treated as embarassments. A Richmond-based newspaper offered the following:
‘The people of the South,’ says a contemporary, ‘are not fighting for slavery but for independence.’ Let us look into this matter. It is an easy task, we think, to show up this new-fangled heresy — a heresy calculated to do us no good, for it cannot deceive foreign statesmen nor peoples, nor mislead any one here nor in Yankeeland. . . Our doctrine is this: WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED, and for the preservation of other institutions of which slavery is the groundwork.
Even after the war, as the Lost Cause rose, many veterans remained clear about why they had rallied to the Confederate flag. “I’ve never heard of any other cause than slavery,” wrote Confederate commander John S. Mosby. The progeny of the Confederacy repeatedly invoked slavery as the war’s cause.
And here is another excellent post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/01/why-do-people-believe-myths-about-the-confederacy-because-our-textbooks-and-monuments-are-wrong/?tid=pm_opinions_pop_b
Perhaps most perniciously, neo-Confederates now claim that the South seceded over states’ rights. Yet when each state left the Union, its leaders made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. In its “Declaration of the Causes Which Impel the State of Texas to Secede From the Federal Union,” for example, the secession convention of Texas listed the states that had offended the delegates: “Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.” Governments there had exercised states’ rights by passing laws that interfered with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Some no longer let slave owners “transit” across their territory with slaves. “States’ rights” were what Texas was seceding against. Texas also made clear what it was seceding for — white supremacy:
#5, this is not a new controversy. From a 1999 article http://www.scpronet.com/point/9909/p04.html
chronicling the recent history of the flag in Charleston:
Hollis remembers the day the Confederate flag was hoisted over the State House to commemorate the war. The centennial kicked off on April 11, 1961, with a re-creation of the firing on Fort Sumter. The flag went up for the opening celebrations.
“The flag is being flown this week at the request of Aiken Rep. John A. May,” reported The State on April 12. May didn’t introduce his resolution until the next legislative session. By the time the resolution passed on March 16, 1962, the flag had been flying for nearly a year. (This explains why the flag is often erroneously reported to have gone up in 1962).
“May told us he was going to introduce a resolution to fly the flag for a year from the capitol. I was against the flag going up,” Hollis said, “but I kept quiet and went along. I didn’t want to get into it with the UDC girls.” The resolution that passed didn’t include a time for the flag to come down and, therefore, “it just stayed up,” Hollis said. “Nobody raised a question.”
The whole article provides context and is worth a read.