It is an irony that the symbol of the old Confederacy has become the most prominent victim of the June 17 massacre in Charleston, S.C., rather than the three men and six women who were slaughtered at church.
Though the Stars and Bars served as the battle flag for the Confederate Army, it only became a totem of the South in opposition to the integrationist push of the 1950s and 1960s, when it was adopted by the Dixiecrats—Southern Democrats repelled by their party’s embrace of civil rights.
Those disgruntled white Democrats were aggressively recruited by the GOP through Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which was exceedingly successful in transforming the Dixiecrat South into Republican central. Alienated Republican Michael Lofgen, a former staff member of the House and Senate Budget Committee, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in 2013 that the GOP has become, in the past few decades, “an insurrectionist, neo-Confederate party.” Or, as Paul Krugman put it in a June 22 column, “Race made Reaganism possible.”
Some see the Tea Party as the latest manifestation of the GOP’s neo-Confederate march.