Here’s why the Confederate flag is flown outside the US

Confederate Flag South Carolina
The Confederate flag is seen flying on the Capitol grounds a day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call for the Confederate flag to be removed on June 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the slaying of nine African-Americans at a historically black church, retailers and states are rejecting a symbol of America’s racist history — the Confederate flag. 

But even if America is successful in obliterating the Confederate flag, it will not disappear off the face of the Earth. That’s because the American-born flag has found a home in several other places around the world — some of which are well aware of the negative connotation the flag holds.

Here are some of those places:


Italians in the south of Italy and Americans in the American South view the Confederate flag in a very similar way, according to the Washington Post. Southern Italians, inspired by the Civil War, adopted the Confederate flag as a sign of rebellion around the time they were absorbed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

“We too are a defeated people,” an unnamed professor in Naples said, according to the Post. “Once we were a rich and independent country, and then they came from the North and conquered us and took our wealth and power away to Rome.”


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Descendants of American Southerners wearing Confederate-era dresses and uniforms dance during a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War in Santa Barbara D’Oeste, Brazil, April 26, 2015. Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

In post-Civil War America, thousands of Southerners fled the country and headed to Brazil, enticed by the Brazilian government’s offer of land grants. Slavery was also still legal in Brazil at the time.

Roughly 150 years later, that mass emigration is evident in an annual Dixie-themed festival in Brazil’s southeastern Sao Paulo state. The festival draws thousands of Brazilians who trace their ancestry back to the American South, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian said that the Brazilians, many of whom are of mixed race, do not view the Confederate flag in a negative way. 

“To me it’s a positive symbol of my heritage,” Keila Padovese Armelin, a festival attendee, told the Guardian. “For us, it doesn’t have a negative connotation at all.”


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A muscle car at a Swedish Raggare festival Youtube/Drop0815

In a central part of Sweden called Dalarna, people love American kitsch. This Swedish sub-culture called “raggare” has a fascination with 1950s American pop-culture.

As the Washington Post reported in 2013, in Dalarna “men strut around in cowboy hats and leather boots. American flags flutter outside family homes, and posters advertise hamburger bars and 1950s nostalgia markets.” 

The Post says in Sweden — void of any political context — the Confederate flag represents another piece of Americana.


In Germany, the Confederate flag is not void of political context. European skinheads and neo-Nazi groups have adopted the Confederate flag and variations of it because of its historical context as a symbol of racism and white supremacy.

In addition, the Atlantic reports that American Civil War reenactments have become popular in Germany, with many Germans choosing to side with the Confederacy.

Wolfgang Hochbruck, a professor of American Studies at the University of Freiburg, told the Atlantic this is because “some of the Confederate reenactors in Germany are acting out Nazi fantasies of racial superiority.”

Northern Ireland

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The Red Hand Defenders, a Loyalist Ulster paramilitary group, march with Confederate flags in Newtownstewart in Northern Ireland in 2011 Youtube/AdiProd256

In Northern Ireland, the Red Hand Defenders, an extremist protestant paramilitary group, march with the Confederate flag. According to theWashington Post,they do this because many Confederate soldiers were from Ulster — a part of Northern Ireland. One such famous example is the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson


A woman walks with a flag of Novorossiya (New Russia) during a rally on Lenin Square in the center of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, October 4, 2014. Reuters

During the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, pro-Russian separatistshave taken up a variation of the Confederate flag as a symbol of their own movement. It is called the flag of Novorossiya or “New Russia” and it bears a striking resemblance to the flag of the American south.

However, the founder of the flag asserts this similarity is purely coincidental. He told Slate he found the design for the flag “online somewhere”. 

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