Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Confederate Flag in Europe

I've posted a Photo Gallery of pictures showing the Confederate flag on display in Europe's Imaginary wild west and country scene.

It's one of the most striking of all the striking visual images of the wild west scene in Europe. The Stars and Bars (or Southern Cross) is used on its own or in tandem with the American flag, the Stars and Stripes. It’s found as decoration, on T-shirts, pins, jewelry, backdrops, logos, you name it.

For most country music fans in the scene, the flag seems to represent pure “rebel-hood” or the anti-Establishment, rather than to have a direct link with the Civil War, Confederacy, or slavery, i.e. connotations that it evokes in the United States. “They don't now much about the history of the southern cross and for them it's not important, it’s a link to freedom and rebellion against the establishment and their normal life,” one German member of the scene, a former employee of one of the Pullman City wild west theme parks and a close observer of hobbyist and other behavior, told me. Rockabilly fans also use it as a symbol of their favorite music -- album covers often feature the image.

Nonetheless, outside the country scene per se, some skinhead and neo-Nazi groups also use the flag -- as a symbol of racism, to link them to the Ku Klux Klan and other extremists.

The photos I've posted show the Rebel flag in its country scene incarnation in, various countries -- Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy.