Another Flag Incident: You Can Guess Which Flag

Looks like the David School in Floyd County, Kentucky has decided to boycott a game with Allen Central High School over their fans waving of the Confederate flag during the game.  The David School basketball team includes one black player.  Ned Pillersdorf, the David School’s athletic director and boys basketball coach said that when the black player was taking a foul shot the fans made it a point "waving the Confederate flag at him."

Allen Central Principal Lorena Hall and her students have defended their
Confederate emblems, saying they symbolize strength, independence and pride.

"It has nothing to do with racism," Hall said in a recent interview with The
Associated Press. "It’s a part of us." She declined to comment Thursday.

Principal Hall is probably right, but should it matter to her that another team finds the waving of the flag to be offensive?  Where are the Souther heritage folks on this one?  Check out the photo of the two kids holding the school flag.  Exactly which Confederate unit carried this particular flag into battle and isn’t this image offensive to people who believe the flag to be sacred?

Check out the shoulder sleeve and shoulder loop insignias that are available for the school’s JROTC.  I’m going to have to order me a pair for Christmas.

19 comments… add one
  • Good for them. I look forward to the day when the stars and bars are treated with as much contempt as the Swastika.

    Which reminds me — I have heard John Coski (the flag’s biographer) and Gary Gallagher say that comparisons between the Confederacy and Nazi Germany are unfounded. I think the comparisons are perfectly founded.

    Of course, the South did not commit genocide. But the Nazis and the Confederates both made white supremacy a cornerstone of their governments. The way the Nazis used Soviet citizens for slave labor parallels the Confederate slave hunt in Pennsylvania. And one cannot look at the pictures of emaciated soldiers from Andersonville prison and not think of Auschwitz.

    The argument that the Confederate flag stands not for racism but for “Southern pride” is nonsense. I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and my personal experience has been that people who display Confederate symbolism are mostly overt racists, and those who are not overtly racist are almost certainly covert racists (much like most of the white population, sadly).

    If the notion that the Confederate flag symbolizes “the best of the South,” as Ed Ayers has put it — our Christian virtue, our military leadership, etc., then why can’t the same argument be made for the Swastika? Why can’t the Swastika stand for German pride — pride in the exploits of Germany’s fabled military leaders, its great scientists and philosophers, its deep and rich cultural heritage?

    Of course, to make such an argument would be pure sophistry. The Swastika is so wrapped up in the white supremacist ideology of Nazism that it cannot be extricated from it. And the same thing applies to the Confederate flag.

  • Of course the swastika is inextricably linked to Nazi ideology – it was the banner of the Nazi party first, then later the emblem of Germany. This accounts for some of the differences between the Swastika and the Confederate flag in popular memory. The Swastika was always associated with an explicit set of political and ideological goals in a way the Confederate flag never was. Coski details the somewhat ambiguous nature of the Confederate battle-flag in his book.

    Is there any basis for your comparison between Nazi Germany and the Confederacy other than the fact that you find both regimes morally repugnant? There is a great difference in scale between Auschwitz and Andersonville and Gettysburg versus Barbarossa. The greater scale of the Nazi project lies with its extremely different ideology. It seems to me that you are using this comparison simply to generate an emotional reaction.

  • The historical evidence, as described by William Marvel and others, does not show that the Confederates deliberately mistreated their prisoners at Andersonville. And it is often pointed out that Confederate prisoners in the North often suffered just as severely. The Union government had the resources to properly care for the prisoners in their hands, but chose not to utilize them. Please note that I am no Confederate partisan; these facts are part of the historical record.

  • By the way, Kevin: perhaps you should consider dropping the comments option on your blog, a la Dimitri Rotov. Why should you have to read outright insults from people like this “spaniard?”

  • Peter,

    If the Swastika cannot be extricated from Nazi ideology, then why doesn’t the same thing apply to the Confederate flag and Confederate ideology?

    The Confederate flag was created by the Confederate military — which, according to Gary Gallagher and others, was the embodiment of southern nationalism.

    The symbolism of the Confederate flag is inextricably linked to the Confederacy and therefore to slavery and white supremacy (to say nothing of the meaning the flag took on during Reconstruction and in the Jim Crow South).

    The difference of scale between Auschwitz and Andersonville, or Barbarossa and Gettysburg, is obvious and does not need to be pointed out. I was making a _comparison_; an analogy. Not an equation.

    People often compare the trench warfare around Petersburg to the trench warfare that occurred during World War I. Of course Petersburg was small peanuts compared to World War I, but that does not mean the comparison isn’t valid.

    If things had to be absolutely identical in order to compare them, then there would be no such thing as a valid historical analogy, because no two historical events are exactly alike. The question is rather, are these two events similar enough to warrant a comparison? I think in this case they certainly are.

  • Will,

    I have not read Marvel, but from what I understand, the evidence indicates that there was indeed an element of deliberate mistreatment of POWs on both sides. I recall reading somewhere that local citizens tried to bring food to starving prisoners in Andersonville but were turned away.

    As for the comments section of this blog, I think it should stay. For every annoying post by some troll there are five or more posts by someone thoughtful and intelligent.

    I find the lack of a comments section on Rotov’s blog extremely frustrating. I really wish I could reply to his incessant McPherson bashing, his snotty attitude toward any form of history that isn’t turgid and academic as possible, etc.

  • Justin,
    What was “Confederate ideology”? There is no coherent answer to this question in the same way that one can answer the question what was “Nazi ideology.” The Confederate battle-flag is a much more ambiguous symbol than the Swastika.

    Comparisons are worthwhile when they provide new ways of approaching the topic. Rather than using the comparison for insight, you are using it to interject loaded terminology. Your reasoning is that the Confederacy and Nazis were racist, their flags are symbols of their ideology, so the flags are symbols of racism. This is true, but does it help us understand anything or does it obscure things? Put another way, why didn’t you compare the Confederate battle-flag to the Union Jack, the Japanese rising-sun flag, or the US flag for that matter?

    I am not disagreeing about the Confederate battle-flag having racist connotations, or that slavery was central to the Confederacy, but rather jumping immediately to Nazis is needlessly provocative (and inaccurate).

  • Justin: In Marvel’s “Andersonville” he discusses the incident of civilians being turned away when they brought food for prisoners. From what I remember, there were fears that the small amount of supplies being handed out to 30,000 prisoners would lead to a riot. This was the same reason why the Confederates didn’t issue out the measly supply of uniforms (less than 100) which the Federal government had sent to Andersonville for its sons in enemy hands. To avoid riots and fights in the stockade, they were given to paroled prisoners working on the outside.

  • Peter,

    I think one can reasonably speak of a “Confederate ideology” as embodied by the philosophy of the leaders of the secessionist movement — the fire eaters and later the leaders of the Confederacy itself. Of course, there was a spectrum of opinion among Confederates (Nazis likewise did not agree on everything) but they all shared a basic belief in the institution of slavery and white supremacy. I’m sure you are familiar with Stephens’s “Cornerstone Speech.”

    You make an interesting point about the American flag and the Union Jack. To people in Southeast Asia, the American flag probably represents nothing more than the imperialist slaughter that our government forced them to endure at the cost of millions of lives. To people all over the world, the Union Jack is a symbol of the imperialism, arrogance, and despotism of the former British Empire.

    However, I think _these_ symbols have a much more ambiguous in meaning — they are infinitely more ambiguous than the Confederate flag. For one, the governments of America and Great Britain have existed for centuries, and thus have long, deep, and complicated histories. Second, while one can certainly point to a horrible litany of crimes and misdeeds committed by British and U.S. imperialism, one can also produce a similar litany of positive accomplishments and contributions to humanity that have come out of those two countries.

    The same cannote be said of the Confederate and Nazi regimes, which were both short-lived exercises in fascism that contributed nothing to the world but the deaths of hundreds of thousands (or in the case of the Nazis, tens of millions) of people.

    Much of what you are saying about the ambiguity of the Confederate flag could just as easily be said of the German flag. Nazism was not solely an ideology of white supremacy. The Nazi political program also included such things as anti-communism, vast funding for public works, the abolition of child labor, the establishment of welfare for old aged citizens, etc.

    Suppose I decided to wear a Swastika because I admire Hitler not as an anti-Semite or an imperialist, but as the man who brought Germany into the 20th century by helping to modernize the economy and set the groundwork for the modern Keynesian welfare state. Of course, that would be ridiculous, because the stain of Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust and Operation Barbarossa are so extreme that they overshadow everything else that the Nazi regime did.

    I feel the same way about the Confederacy and its defense of slavery and white supremacy.

  • Will,

    I had actually had that same thought myself. It sounds like a reasonable explanation.

    There are many who claim that the famine in the Ukraine during the 1930s was intentionally engineered by the government of the Soviet Union.

    As one piece of evidence to defend this claim, they point to the fact that the Soviet government sealed off the Ukraine.

    But in reality, this was done because the government did not want a flood of refugees to come across the border and turn a regional famine into a generalized crisis. Regimes that have to deal with famine typcially try to isolate it geographically.

    I suspected the same might be true of Andersonville. Thanks for the input.

  • Dear Kevin ,
    Although I disagree with most of what you write , (vis -a -vis Voltaire ) , I admire your energy and enthusiasm . If only every Civil War blogger could write as much ! Thanks for putting the rest of us “en garde !”
    all for the old flag ,
    David Corbett

  • I’ve always thought of the blogosphere as a place to disagree and challenge people who have similar interests. I am not in a popularity contest and I am not necessarily interested in making friends with anyone – whatever that means in the online world.

    I am much more interested in hearing from people who disagree with me as long as they do so in a rational manner. I found your little jab at me on another blog as just a little silly. I’m not even sure what it means to be called a “carpetbagger”, but so be it. Let me know what you think as the rest is of little consequence.

  • To all, — Let’s stay away from the Nazi references. These references are usually utilized as a means to bring out some kind of emotional reaction. As history they are almost useless. In short, it’s a non-starter.

  • So…the US gets a pass on her 89 years of slavery and genocde on Native Americans because of the good that has also been done. Who knows what great things may have come from the CSA? 4yrs of war-12yrs
    of reconstruction;and save your lame comments about”we
    would still have slavery today!” I do wonder how many of my people would have survived. I wonder.
    Steve Edmondson
    2gr grandson Pleasant Jones
    full blooded Cherokee
    Confederate soldier
    56th VA

  • Kevin,
    Your comparrison between my ancestors and Nazi Germany can be recieved no other way but as an outragous comment made by someone who has no regared for recgonizing the wrongs of its own goverment. my family owned slaves. however these slaves familys are still aquantied with my family to this day. we get together on every holiday and celabrate together. our histories are firmly rooted to the same concept. That there were a great many black and white Southerners who got along perfectly. Both of us fly the flag for our ancestors that fell carring it. And ill be damned if you put our family in the same catogory as hitler and his nazi cronies. so if you would like any insight from the morgan family ( whos ancestors were slaves of mine) then i will be all to happy to have them write you and give there insight as well.

    Danny Owen

  • Is truth allowed on this forum?


    Ohioan Mickey McGuire suggested the flag be removed.

    Iranian reporter Samira Jafari write a left leaning article about the school and it’s symbols.

    Racial Agitator with a bullhorn Louis Coleman from Louisville travels to Floyd County and demands the flag be removed.

    New York Lawyer and Divid Coach Ned Pillersdorf states a ‘taunting’ took place at their last basketball meeting with ACHS, and he is calling for a boycott.

    The meeting was 1 year ago. Video tape of the game shows no taunting, no flag waving at the black player, and numerous witnesses have suggested not only did nothing untowards happen, but that David students themselves wear Dixie Outfitter and Confederate Flag shirts themselves.

    The Kentucky High School Atletica Association (KHSAA) rules offer nothing to support a boycott, nor discuss the ‘taunting’ charge that Pillersdorf has claimed.

    Basically what we have here are a bunch of Carpet Bagging outsiders coming into a small peaceful community forcing their PC liberal agenda on these good folks.

    The best thing that can be done before Pillersdorf and Coleman are nationally embarrassed at the next school board meeting with the witnesses, pictures and video tape is to drop their New York agenda.

  • Thanks for sharing your perspective Billy.

  • Flag Holidays

    Questions about the use of the Coat of Arms and the Mexican Flag. January 19, 2006: Ina

  • “The flags of the Confederate States were very important and a matter of great pride to those living in the Confederacy. They are also a matter of great pride for their descendants as part of their heritage and history” William Churchill

    “Any society which suppress the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols has sown the seeds for its own destruction” William Wallace


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