- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Singer Tom Petty said he was “downright stupid” to use the Confederate flag as a backdrop for his Southern Accents tour in 1985, explaining that he was ignorant at the time to what the flag “actually meant.”

“The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida,” the 64-year-old musician told Rolling Stone. “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. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse, and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.”

Mr. Petty said it was a mistake to use the flag as the symbol for the song “Rebels,” which is spoken from the point of view of the character, who talks about Southern traditions.

“I felt stupid. If I had just been a little more observant about things going on around me, it wouldn’t have happened,” he told Rolling Stone. “I still feel bad about it. I’ve just always regretted it. I would never do anything to hurt someone.”

Mr. Petty said he supported South Carolina’s decision to remove the flag from statehouse grounds and said the symbol “shouldn’t represent us in any way.”

“People just need to think about how it looks to a black person,” he said. “It’s just awful. It’s like how a swastika looks to a Jewish person. It just shouldn’t be on flagpoles.”

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