I am a Northerner. I grew up in a northern state. I have at least one ancestor who fought for the North in the Civil War. I am a member of a Northern Civil War reenacting unit and am a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. I do not agree with the South’s reasons for secession or its practices of slavery, and consider men like Jefferson Davis and JEB Stuart to be some of the great villains of American history.
As a Civil War reenactor I have read thousands of pages on the subject from a variety of sources from Shelby Foote and Bruce Caton to many of the primary sources. The Southern leaders wanted to establish a separate country where slavery was legal and where a racial caste system was permanent with blacks being property of the white dominant class. They started the Civil War, but not every Southerner was for slavery or secession. In some areas of the South, the majority did not favor secession and in some of those areas, the Southern leaders had to resort to military force and intimidation to keep them in line. It is evident from the writings of individual Southerners that they weren’t fighting for slavery, either. They were fighting for home, hearth, and freedom from what they saw as a government in Washington that was trying to encroach upon their freedom.
As a Civil War reenactor I have a number of friends who serve in Confederate reenacting units and relatives from the South. They are proud of their Southern heritage. They know slavery was wrong. They are not proud of being Southern because of slavery, but because being Southern means having a free spirit and being independent minded. It’s the rebel spirit and the rebel yell. They don’t see the Confederate Battle flag in its various forms as an emblem of slavery, but an emblem of freedom, and whether or not someone else likes it, those beliefs need to be respected. If they want to fly the Confederate Battle flag in its various forms it is their right and they should just be left alone.