Although it's true that the Civil War was in large inspired by the increased federalization of the North coming in conflict with the state's rights philosophy of the South, sfc's view of the soldiers' motivations is far too self-serving - how many of them fought "so the damn yankees won't tell us what to do with our slaves"? It's also interesting how Confederate apologists use the subjective nature of perception when defending the flag, when most of them are pretty damn set about which way of life is right, and if you don't agree with them, better stay away.

Interestingly enough, the rebel flag design is becoming increasingly popular with Southern blacks. There's a company that sells various merchandise - shirts, hats, flags - using the rebel flag design but using the colors of red, green and black - colors more commonly associated with black identity groups and such. Besides being a good example of coopting derisive terms, it's amusing because it pisses off nearly everyone. Always a worthy goal.

sfc: Sorry, I must not have been clear. What I mean is, back then many whites viewed blacks as an inferior race intended only for servitude. (Even most Northerners disliked blacks; they just didn't think they should be slaves) Some of the soldiers truly felt that blacks deserved slavery, and objected to their emancipation, even if they themselves did not own slaves. A lot of people risk their lives for ridiculous things. Jihad, anyone?

As for coopting derisive terms, I personally dislike the approach and the argument, but I mention it when I think it's valid.