Ta-Nehisa Coates is a little late with his take on the Brad Paisley song "Accidental Racist." (Here's Phillip Tutor's column from April.) Regardless, Coates' remarks are worth a read.
If you accept that the Confederacy fought to preserve and expand slavery, then you might begin to understand how the descendants of the enslaved might regard symbols of that era. And you might also begin to understand that "offense" doesn't even begin to cover it. Reading Penthouse while having Christmas dinner with your grandmother is offensive. Donning the symbols of those who fought for right to sell Henry Brown's wife and child is immoral.
It is important to speak this way. Nothing is changed by banishing the Confederate Flag out of a desire to be polite or inoffensive. The Confederate Flag should not die because black people have come to feel a certain way about their country, it should die when white people come to feel a certain way about themselves. It can't be for me. It has to be for you.
For a different perspective, we bring you this clip from the Colbert Report: