I have lived in the South for a majority of my life. Even as a child I never understood the flags that people flew that represented the South. I had always learned (in the great liberal institutions) that the Confederacy had lost the war and was no longer a country.
Then why? Why were people still flying flags representing a country that did not even exist?
I have always heard that the Confederate flag stood for many things, rebels, state's rights, a certain way of life. To me it has always stood for racism and slavery, nothing more nothing less.
It has always amused me when I hear some of the same people that fly the Confederate flag complain when they see a sports star displaying the flag of their home country rather than the United States. I doubt that they would understand the blatant hypocrisy so I have never actually attempted to explain it to them.
One thing that has always bothered me is all the talk of how brave these men in the southern states were. The last time I checked secession is a crime in the Constitution. They violated the Constitution yet we are supposed to honor them? Yes they were fighting for states rights but for a cause that was immoral at best, keeping the institution of slavery going.
There has always been a question of who actually started the Civil War. The facts in this case are that the South seceded from the Union, the United States still had a military post in South Carolina that they were holding. The Confederate Army fired upon that military post and the war began. Trying to discern from that who was to blame is quite tricky. Was the United States to blame because they chose to stay a military post that was technically in another country? Was the South to blame for firing on a United States military post, no matter where it was located?
What is most interesting about the war is that Lincoln never actually freed all slaves. He only freed slaves in the South, with the Emancipation Proclamation, but that was in a time of war, and the areas that he freed the slaves were in another country at the time. He did not free the slaves in the bordering slave states that never seceded. He also did not free the slaves that were in the South but were controlled by the Union.
In the end, it can be said that the reason that a lot of people in the South still have issues with letting go is the treatment by the United States government over the South following the war. The Democrats (and Lincoln) favored total re-admition to the Union in an effort to get past the unpleasantness of the war. Andrew Johnson and the Republicans, however, wanted the South to pay for daring to secede from the Union. We never got a chance to see what Lincoln's plan would have been or if it would have made things easier for all involved, but we did get to see Johnson's plan come to fruition.
The South was divided into military districts until a state had crafted a new Constitution. Once the state was re-admitted into the Union a new state government was formed, often with politicians not even from that state.
The South was left in economic ruin and the federal government under Andrew Johnson did absolutely nothing to help them. This is a large reason why the Democratic Party held power for so long in the South. It was the Democratic Party that came to the rescue in the 1780s after a decade of Republican rule throwing the carpetbaggers out of the South.
In the end, though, the Confederacy had lost the war and the country was no more. I bristle when I hear cries of "The South shall rise again" or the even more inane "The South won the war", because it is coming from people that say they love the United States. I do not understand it. Maybe I am not supposed to.