When even the last surviving member of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd is calling the confederate flag racist, it may be that it’s long past time to redesign your state flag. I’m looking at you, Mississippi.
During an interview on CNN, surviving original member Gary Rossington said:
“Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that’s what it was about,” Rossington said. “We didn’t want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things.”
Following a near-immediate fan backlash, Rossington backpedaled from his stance, stating that the band would still be flying the rebel flag at its shows.
Does the confederate flag have any place in popular music? More than a few bands have incorporated disturbing iconography into their image for both shock value and as a symbol of their rebellious personae, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister’s obsession with Nazi symbolism being just one example. Are there some symbols absolutely beyond the pale even in nominally transgressive art forms like heavy metal or punk? Does their usage depend on the intention and context?