Posted on December 5, 2023

Scottish Country Music Venue Ends Display of Confederate Flag

Claire Moses, New York Times, November 29, 2023

A country and western music venue in Scotland, nearly 4,000 miles and 150 years removed from the Civil War, voted this week to end its controversial display of the Confederate flag.

Until recently, a night of live music at the Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, a members’ club that holds public events, would end with what it described as a salute to the war’s dead and a ceremonial folding of the Confederate battle flag, which to many in the United States and abroad is a symbol of white supremacy.

After years of rising tension, the club’s leadership announced last month that it would ban the flag’s display, a move that exploded into a rift among the organization’s 200 or so members, most of whom are white and Scottish.

During an emergency meeting on Monday, they voted, narrowly and by secret ballot, to uphold the decision banning the flag, 50-48.

The flag had been displayed in the club, which offers live music, line dancing and a saloon bar, since it opened in 1974, more than a century after the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy forces.

Chris McDowell, the club secretary at Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry, said that efforts to remove the flag had been ongoing for a few years. Visitors had often been unhappy to see the flag on display, Ms. McDowell said, which had resulted in verbal incidents as well as the cancellations of some bookings and events.

Among the cancellations was The National Theater of Scotland, which does not have a building of its own and tours around the country.

“Unfortunately due to the displaying of the Confederate Flag at the venue we have withdrawn our interest,” the theater group said in October, adding that going ahead with a show there would be “inappropriate and insensitive to our audiences, artists and arts workers.”

Despite the criticism, last year, the flag survived another effort to remove it and replace it with a specially designed one after a show of hands at a meeting signaled support, Ms. McDowell said.


The ceremony in which the Confederate flag is shown is described by the club as a tribute to those who died during the war. It is one of two regularly held during a night at the Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, according to the club’s website, the other involving the Mexican flag and meant to honor those who died in the 1836 battle of the Alamo.

The club’s website says the club uses the Confederate flag “due to the fact that this part of America supplied us then, as now, with most of the trends that influence our music, dress and dance.”