Heritage = hate

I’m sure you’ve heard the “it’s not hate, it’s heritage” line about flying the Confederate Flag.  Of course, the heritage is one of hate and white supremacy.  I really enjoyed reading about this new research from Logan Strother, Spencer Piston, and Thomas Ogorzalek,  showing that those who most support the Confederate flag, actually know least about Confederate history/heritage:

In an effort to answer this question of regional pride or racial prejudice with data—rather than the heated rhetoric that typifies the debate—we analyzed two surveys of white Southerners: one of residents of Georgia, the other of residents of South Carolina. Our study is the first to rigorously compare the relative influence of racial prejudice and purportedly non-racist Southern pride on support for the Confederate battle emblem. We contend that if some whites support the flag because it represents a legacy in which they feel pride, then we should expect those people also to be knowledgeable about Confederate Civil War history. That is, for pride in Confederate heritage to be meaningful, a person would first have to know something about that history. On the other hand, if racial prejudice is the key reason that whites support Confederate symbols, then we should see that racially prejudiced attitudes are more widely held among white supporters of the Confederate flag than among its white opponents… [emphases mine]

Figure 2 shows the key findings. The more questions about Southern Civil War history that a participant answered correctly, the less likely it was that the person favors the Confederate flag. Indeed, people who failed to answer any question correctly (i.e. could not name a single Civil War battle, nor identify William Tecumseh Sherman) were more than twice as likely to favor the Confederate flag than were people who got all of the questions correct. Importantly, we found that this relationship holds even after statistically controlling for a number of factors, such as education, age, and political ideology. In sum, we find little support for the “heritage” argument in our survey of white Georgians.

And the key figure is here:

Figure 2. Knowledge of Confederate history and support for the Confederate flag among white Georgians

Of course, I’m sure you are no more surprised than I am.  Still, it is nice to see the biases one has (i.e., confederate flag lovers are basically racist) confirmed by solid social science.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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