Flags are offensive only for their complexity

The knee-jerk reaction to wipe out the Confederate battle flag because of horrible shootings got a few of us to wondering about flags. Specifically, we couldn’t remember what the Georgia flag looks like these days.

I grew up with a flag that had a field of blue abutting, yes, a version of the battle flag. It was easily identifiable because it was shown introducing any Georgia filmstrip or movie we watched in class. We could draw it from memory.

It endured from 1956 to 2001, when it was transformed into some gargoyle of cloth that no school child with a box of crayons could reproduce. Remember? It was a field of blue (obviously, I am relying on the Internet’s memory for this description) with a gold seal and, below that, a strip showing past flags and national flags.

One of those five was the Georgia flag I grew up, with the battle flag on it. That’s something you won’t find on TV Land and the General Lee. When The Dukes of Hazzard was removed from the network for showing an “offensive” flag, a co-worker quizzically asked, “Uh, what about Hogan’s Heroes?”

The complex flag was unpopular, so it was changed into a field of blue, smaller than before, next to three horizontal strips: red, white, red. Looking back, I saw that it was the same pattern the state had used since 1879 until the Confederate flag was added in 1956. Not inspiring, but still, so much better than that flag bearing all the little flags.

The South Carolina flag confuses me, too. Its palm tree and crescent moon always remind me of date trees, camels, sand – and what does any of this have to do with the state?

Before you start writing me in protest, consider Tennessee. Its flag has three stars in a tiny circle that reminds me as much of InGen – the fictional company that built Jurassic Park – as the Volunteer State.

Most states, as a matter of fact, have flags as complex as the one Georgia adopted and shook off. Many have seals that only Sheldon Cooper could Crayola from memory: Utah, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and so on.

On the other hand, Wyoming shows the profile of a buffalo, California a bear, Iowa an eagle and Louisiana, bless its heart, a pelican. (“His bill can hold more than his belican.”)

Alabama’s flag is a rare study in simplicity: a white flag with a red cross of St. Andrew. Even the state’s past governors could have rendered a presentable version of it while standing in schoolhouse doors.

Probably the scariest flag is that of Maryland, which shows the arms of the early Calvert and Crossland families. Two identical corners are gold and black designs, the other two, red and white. It sounds innocuous, but becomes a Magic Eye pattern that never comes into focus.

Last, as usual, there is Mississippi, which still contains the Confederate battle flag. At least, it did when I wrote this on Saturday.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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