Eric A. Jacobson: What is occurring in the heart of the old Confederate capital It is just another example of how the public is moving beyond the one-sided imagery of the Lost Cause. It is also happening across the nation.
In fact, one very important factor that the Flaggers folks, Chastain, etc, don’t understand, and likely never will, is that the vast majority of people really don’t “support” their view of the flag. I deal with guests and tourists who are actually visiting a Civil War battlefield site and the flag issue is so far down on the list it doesn’t even rank.
Odious Andy Hall: That’s a central conceit of the “heritage” folks generally — they have convinced themselves that support for Confederate symbols runs wide and deep, at least among “real” southerners, and if only they could be made aware of their heritage, they’d come out in full-throated support of it the old Confederacy.
At the same time, though, they find it increasingly necessary to go through rhetorical gymnastics to show that people who disagree with them aren’t “real” southerners by one or another measure they find suitable at the moment. Fine, whatever. If they want to wall off increasingly-large swathes of the community — people who shop, and vote, and go to museums, and attend college, and go to church, and all the other things that people do — then they’re only marginalizing themselves as butternut revanchists, more worthy of ridicule and scorn than serious consideration.
"... public is moving beyond the one-sided imagery of the Lost Cause...."
Ah, no, it's not moving away. It is being pushed away. The NAACP has been orchestrating a war on Confederate heritage for years, perhaps decades, beginning with their resolution that the Confederate battle flag is an "odious blight on the universe."
Really. On the whole flippin' universe.
Local NAACP chapters across the South (or other groups that are NAACP lookalikes -- in Pensacola, it's the "Movement for Change") have been leading the way in their communities -- being "offended" and then telling local governments how offended they are and they need to have Confederate this or that removed from the community. These efforts in individual communities are so similar, you can tell they've been scripted.
Fellow travelers in other leftist and anti-tradition organizations and, of course, academia and the media, jump on their bandwagon and help push for the change. "Pushing for the change" involves demonizing those who oppose it -- those who support visible items of Confederate heritage and have the gall to say so -- as "racists" and "white supremacists" and, no joke, "KKK."
As time passes, being labeled a "racist" and "white supremacist" and "KKK" has become increasingly charged with serious, negative consequences, and so fewer and fewer people have visibly opposed this war on their heritage, even when they do not agree with it and are appalled by it.
They don't speak out because we in the USA no longer have the freedom to do so without repercussions. It's not that people don't "support" our view of the flag, Mr. Jacobson. And yes, Odious Andy, support for Confederate symbols does run wide and deep, at least among “real” southerners -- but they are disinclined to express it. Well, let's just say it like it is -- they are afraid to show their support for it because of the increasingly negative repercussions.
High school kids are singled out for demonizing if they wear a Confederate flag on their clothing, or fly one from their vehicle -- forced to turn their shirt inside out, or sent home, or expelled from school. People who visibly support Confederate heritage are harassed at work, demoted, fired. Worst of all, heritage supporters have been victimized by crime. A Mississippi man's flag is burned while it is displayed on the owner's property ... a woman and her toddler are shot at and she suspects its because she had Confederate symbols on her car. Bricks through windows, slashed tires, beatings ... People who experience this aren't difficult to convince -- you're safer denying the heritage you love.
Levin has a long-standing position of claiming Confederate heritage is "receding," that more and more people are either becoming disinterested in or averse to it. I'm sure he knows this is not true, and that the incidents of harassment and persecution are increasingly responsible for the effectiveness of the war on heritage. But he continues to pretend.
Which brings me to a group of people who are not afraid to stand up for Confederate heritage in a very public way -- the Virginia Flaggers. Why do the floggers Levin, Simpson, Hall and their fellow floggers and floggerettes so hate the VaFlaggers? Why have they kept up a steady drum-beat of lies, ridicule, harassment, and persecution of the VaFlaggers for years, demonizing them as "racists" and "white supremacists" while, paradoxically claiming the group has no effect? Why do they take an exceedingly small number of genuine but tiny negatives about the group (because no human endeavor is perfect) and push the idea that this totally defines them?
Well, I'll tell you why. What the Virginia Flaggers are showing the world is that you CAN publicly and visibly stand in support of Confederate heritage -- and withstand the repercussions that follow. You can push back against the efforts to eradicate Confederate heritage from the daily, public life of the South. You can become a heritage warrior, fighting not only to preserve Confederate heritage but also fighting for the right to honor our Confederate ancestors without repercussions.
Their message to critics and enemies is, "We do not demand that you join us, or even agree with us. However, we do demand that you respect our right to honor our heritage, and that you stop the war on all things Confederate, stop the blatant disrespect of our heroes and their history, stop the removal our flags, monuments and other Confederate artifacts."
Their message to the like-minded but intimidated is, "Join us! We are making a difference in this culture war." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Virginia Flagger message that the floggers fear and hate the most. The last thing they want is a resurgence of the Southern pride our battle flags engender, and a vibrant and growing heritage community.
The other Virginia Flagger activity critics hate is the raising of large battle flags beside major thoroughfares on private property where they are highly visible -- and where they teach an unmistakable lesson. Battle flags flying as a symbol of the South's culture and heritage, and especially as memorials to the men who fought to defend the South from invasion, don't hurt anybody.
Cities in Virginia where the flags fly have not crumbled; tsunamis have not wiped out the Virginia coast. The flags have not caused crop failures or the breakdown of civil government. As this begins to dawn on the public, they might look at the war on heritage, the flag removals, the name changes and so on, as excessive and unnecessary -- even detrimental to the culture of Virginia and the South.
So, no, Levin, Odious Andy and Jacobson -- the public isn't "moving" away from Confederate heritage. They are being pushed away -- manipulated by a deliberately orchestrated culture war. And we heritage folks are fighting back. We're not very savvy about it yet -- we're not trained "community organizers" and "social justice warriors" carefully schooled in Alinsky-ite rules. We are having to learn OJT. But, inspired by the work and success of the Virginia Flaggers, we are learning.