The Confederate flag symbolizes an era of brutal racism and systematic oppression. The fact that national retailers likes Wal-mart and Amazon have removed any reference to the flag on the items they sell is a testament to the fact that the nation is ready to move on from the Confederate flag. But the flag everyone talks about when they say "the Confederate flag" was never actually the flag of the Confederacy. CGP Grey explains.
So it turns out the Confederacy were as bad at designing flags as they were at winning civil wars. The original "Bonnie Blue" was too Yankee for Dixieland, the follow-up "Stars and Bars" was basically a minor variation on the U.S.A. flag, the "Stainless Banner" was just a blank white flag with a smidge of color in the corner, etc. etc. etc.
The "Confederate flag" we know today -- and now have a much harder time shopping for -- was actually the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee. It's certainly a striking design, and was eventually incorporated into what was actually the flag of the Confederacy. But it would be wrong to call the "Confederate flag" a symbol of heritage or a proud past. It was a battle flag, used to wage war. The only battle left is to put the flag away for good.