For the United States, the Confederate flag has been a source of controversy. The president of a clothing brand in Argentina views it quite differently.
According to Mimi Dwyer’s opinion piece for Al Jazeera America, a clothing brand in Argentina called John L. Cook adopted the rebel flag as its logo after Ramiro Fita, the brand’s founder, first discovered one in Baltimore while in the merchant navy.
Dwyer spoke to Fita’s son, Emiliano, who is the current president of Cook. He explained what the flag represents for the company his parents started in Argentina in 1975.
"It’s just the brand’s logo," he told Dwyer. "It symbolizes the history of self-improvement and love in the lives of my parents."
As Cook’s logo, the Confederate flag shows up on the brand’s merchandise and social media accounts, including posts featuring quotes attributed to poet, author and activist Maya Angelou and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In light of Dylann Roof's attack on a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the subsequent taking down of the Confederate flag at the state's Capitol grounds, the flag is a symbol of racial injustice for many in the United States. In Argentina, it's viewed differently especially for the teens who support Cook and its merchandise.
"I think that if a person likes their clothes, then they like them," 14-year-old Irina Bergman told Dwyer after learning what the flag represents for many in the United States. "The logo is just a logo and that’s that."
Others don't agree and have made their views public. "Stop using the confederate sign of hate," wrote one commenter on Cook's Facebook page. "Well these guys may want to change their brand logo rather sooner than later... LOL #getaclue," wrote someone else.
A Change.org petition has also been set up requesting Cook to change its logo and currently has 239 supporters. Today reports that Elena Morin, a resident of Argentina who grew up in New York, started the petition.
"Cook's Argentinian customers really have no idea what the logo represents," she told Today. "'The Dukes of Hazzard' was popular on TV in Argentina in the '80s, so I'm sure a lot of older people recognize the flag from that, but they don't recognize its meaning in the larger context of U.S. racial politics, or how it's been used as a racist symbol."
For now, it is unknown whether the petition will motivate the brand's president to replace the logo. As reported by Dwyer for Al Jazeera America, he "didn't respond to subsequent questions asking if he planned to change it."
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