Tom Petty Thinks Touring With Confederate Flag Was ‘Downright Stupid’

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In the wake of the tragic mass murder at a Charleston church in May, people around the United States have been taking a hard look at what it means to fly the Confederate flag. South Carolina has already opted to remove the flag from their state capitol and several other Southern states appear to be following suit.

The debate around the flag has spread into the music world as well, with noted non-Southerner Kid Rock supporting the display of the flag, while singers like Tom Petty are apologizing for using it. Petty wrote an op-ed for Rolling Stone apologizing for using the flag during his Southern Accents tour. Petty would bring the flag out during the song “Rebels,” but now the singer says he regrets that decision.

“The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida. I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant.”

Petty said he was careless with his use of the flag, and it became part of the marketing for the 1985 tour.

“I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.”

Petty said the Confederate flag use was attracting a bad crowd. He asked that no one bring any Confederate flags to the shows and scrubbed a photo of the flag from the tour from later releases of a live album. Beyond his own usage, Petty says that “that flag shouldn’t have any part in our government” and encourages his fellow Southerners to “think how [the flag] looks to a black person.”

“It’s just awful. It’s like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn’t be on flagpoles,” he said. Petty ended his argument by pointing out that there are much larger issues that need Americans’ attention.

“Beyond the flag issue, we’re living in a time that I never thought we’d see. The way we’re losing black men and citizens in general is horrific… we should be more concerned with why the police are getting away with targeting black men and killing them for no reason. That’s a bigger issue than the flag.”

That’s a far cry from “Kiss my ass.”

(Via Rolling Stone)