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Tipsheet

Sorry, Louisiana, Quebec, and France: The Fleur-De-Lis Might Be Racist Now

Now that the Confederate Flag has been effectively dealt with, the outrage machine is turning on another symbol: the fleur-de-lis.

A video posted by USA Today on Friday posed the simple question: "Is the fleur-de-lis racist?"

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Point of order: how can a symbol supposedly have "roots" in the French Revolution (which lasted from 1789 to 1799) if it were also used in the Code Noir of 1724? (The earliest recorded use of the symbol was in the twelfth century, far, far before the French Revolution.)

While I'm glad Fitzmorris took the rational route and said that it's pointless to ban the symbol, it's still troubling that this conversation is being held. Despite its supposed "dark" history, the vast majority of the uses of the fleur-de-lis throughout history have been positive. Nobody in Louisiana is displaying a fleur-de-lis to try to intimidate or scare others. The fleur-de-lis is used as a symbol of France (and its former territories), and as a religious symbol for the Holy Trinity. It's featured prominently on several royal coats of arms as well as on Quebec's provincial flag. In 2008, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed a bill designating the fleur-de-lis as an official state symbol.

The modern context and usage of the fleur-de-lis in Louisiana is a far cry from the Code Noir centuries ago. This is important to consider. The fleur-de-lis is a unifying symbol of Louisiana residents and Francophone peoples. It is not a symbol of racism.

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