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|At the root of the question as to whether the flag itself (not just the recent use of it) is a racist symbol is the question of whether you think the Civil War was fought purely to protect the "institution" of slavery. If you think it was, then there's no way it isn't a symbol of racism. If you're a "state's rights" person, then you probably disagree.
I have the luxury of being almost detached from the argument, since I have little use for symbolism, period. And yes that includes the American flag. Ideas are embodied in ideals and actions, not cheap pieces of cloth made in China. But that's just me...