If the USA went to many of its battles in the Middle-East with a different flag, say a battle flag, would you say that flag doesn’t represent American interests, or isn’t representative of the country? I don’t think such an argument could be made to convince me entirely. I think every single country would assume that that battle flag is an American flag, as it is exclusively used by Americans. The fact that the battle flag is only used for military operations doesn’t mean its not American.
But instead of a silly (and poor) analogy, lets look at the actual confederate battle flag. It was preferred overtime compared to other flags utilized by the military branch of the confederacy, and grew in popularity as the preferred flag to bear for many confederate soldiers and confederate controlled territory. It was even added as a major part of several flag designs later adopted by the confederate federal government (though not for very long).
I would argue that flag is directly related to, and has all the taint of, the southern aristocrats who sought to enforce their vision of slavery and the master class upon all southerners. Why? Because when the slave owners used propaganda and lies to sell their future of a better country, they had poor white southerners rally behind that flag, to represent their interests, and to represent their defiance of the Union (the USA). The flag did also become the most popular flag across the confederacy. Clearly, this flag was a very important symbol to the civil war.
Just look at many of the actual constitutions, both from confederate states and the confederate federal government, issued. Which proudly proclaimed the slave agenda. The master class (white aristocrats who owned large number of slaves and land for profit) totally controlled the politics, economics, and military of that region. They kept the hatred going between the slaves and the poor whites in that area, because the master class needed to distract the poverty stricken whites of the south with an enemy to prevent them from revolting against the master class (rather ironically) for using free labor to disenfranchise the poor whites. This is because the slave culture was so deeply ingrained and part of the “southern” way of life that giving it up would totally destroy that culture and region. The master class did everything it could to promote hatred towards the slaves, so as to keep their lucrative positions of power.
The master class, having the south under its control to dictate policy and military action, definitely used the confederate battle flag, and many other confederate flags, to defend, promote, and justify its separation from the Union. Make no mistake. The Secession from the Union (and the North) was entirely because of slavery. The master class abused federal powers over states rights for as long as they had the seats in the federal government. As soon as that advantage was no longer going to protect the master class, they used the rhetoric of states rights to justify their actions, which was to preserve the institution of slavery and the economic raping of the southern population.
Immediately after the war, tensions between the South and the North were awful, and were not repairing quickly. Northern efforts to rebuild the Southern economy were haphazard at best, and really not that effective. In order to help smooth over relations and solidify the South’s reinclusion into the Union, both academically and publicly to save face, revisionist history happened almost immediately after the civil war to paint the Confederacy as a brave, noble, and just war for states rights. This is far from the truth. The poor whites who fought for the master class were manipulated into fighting for the institution of slavery, for which was the cause of their own economic destitution.
The confederate battle flag is a symbol of southern heritage, ancestry, and values. Based on slavery. If you want to argue that the flag is a symbol of states rights, or doesn’t relate to slavery because the master class manipulated everyone into following it for their own ideas, you can do that. But I think its pretty obvious that if you are saying the confederate flag is for state’s rights, that it was a lie told to many good men. If you want something to represent state’s rights, look for something that isn’t so tattered in such an awful history.
(Finally, as a little bit at the end, that very particular confederate battle flag isn’t exclusive to all the above. Pretty much every confederate flag flown in support of the civil war is just as guilty of all that I described above).