Symbolic Meaning and the Confederate Battle Flag

Abstract
The Confederate Battle Flag (CBF) is in the news again. On January 16th, 2000, 46,000 people came to Columbia, South Carolina, to protest its display over the state’s capital dome. On July 1st, the CBF was removed. But on the same day, it was raised in front of the Statehouse steps. The controversy has received a great deal of media coverage and was a factor in the 2000 presidential primaries. CBF displays raise a philosophical question I wish to address: What determines whether a symbol or symbol-display is racist? I will focus on the CBF because of its contemporary relevance. But the discussion will shed light on the general issue of when a symbol or symbol-display has a particular meaning and when it does not
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