WWE Hall Of Famer Michael Hayes Explained Why The Freebirds Used Confederate Flags When They Wrestled

The 2016 WWE Hall of Fame class announcements have so far raised a few eyebrows for the people who have been included. We got a black pimp, a cop who rocked the Georgia State flag with a Confederate emblem on it on his arm, and a group of self-described rednecks who also wore Confederate flags to the ring. Michael PS Hayes, one of the Fabulous Freebirds, addressed the Confederate flag issue and its origin for the group on the Ric Flair podcast:

When we came to Texas, the Von Erichs would proudly take a flag from a fan in the audience and it’d be a Texas flag…And being the nemesis in the storyline, we started taking the Georgia flag, which had the Rebel flag in it; which I always thought — just from a flag perspective — was a gorgeous flag. We started making our clothes out of the Rebel flags because, hello, we’re rebellious. It never had anything to do with being racist. People, said ‘well, they painted their faces like the Rebel flag.’ Well, if you look at history, the first and only time we ever started painting our faces was when we were going against the Road Warriors — who painted their faces and were notoriously known for being from the north.

That makes a lot of sense, and let’s face it, the ’80s when Hayes and the rest of the Freebirds were wearing Confederate Flags was a different time where people didn’t even think about the symbolism. They just blindly waved flags without thinking about the history. That’s fine. Hayes, though, continued:

…People read so much into that, but I get it. Some stupid idiot in South Carolina did a reprehensible, despicable act. And good thing I wasn’t in charge because he would have never gone to court. We would have shot him. I don’t think clothes and images make bad people. I think bad people are bad people.

Going to pick a few nits here: People haven’t been upset at the Confederate flag because Dylann Roof killed nine people in Charleston in 2015. The flag discussion has been around for a while now with the strong push to remove Confederate symbolism dating back to the ’90s. Roof and his violence didn’t begin the discussion of removing the flag. It just got us to the point of “Okay, this is getting dumb. Why are we still supporting this symbolism of racism and slavery?” I also don’t think that images make bad people. However, if you still choose to wear something that represents centuries of oppression regardless of how it makes millions of other people feel, then you’re probably an asshole.

But back to Hayes. I don’t think that he and the Freebirds were being racist or anything when they wore Confederate flags. They just weren’t as woke as they should have been. It’s not like he walked to the ring yelling “I’m more of a n*gger than you are” to people in the crowd or anything.