Well, not that commander-in-chief. One of my readers was kind enough to forward an email sent to members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans from their commander-in-chief, Chuck McMichael, who expresses concern over the misuse and abuse of the Confederate flag by its own members. What follows is McMichael’s directive:
I have never been a fan of “novelty or specialty” flags that incorporate the use of our Battle Flag; I would think you all know the ones I refer to. It might be festooned with the likeness of a musical artist, some slogan or an image of popular culture, or any icon not part of the original flags carried by our Confederate forebears. These distasteful designs demean the accuracy and dignity of the flag. Can you think of anything that one could add to a Confederate Battle Flag that improves it? I cannot. Recently, a picture was circulated through email servers of purported SCV members with a flag that features the CBF on one part and the image of the President-elect on the other. The display of any modern politician or other individuals, integrated into the design of the Confederate Battle Flag, regardless of political affiliation, is undeserved and highly inappropriate
Directive from the Commander in Chief:
All Compatriots, Camps and Division should always display Confederate Flags in a respectful manner. Novelty flags that make use of our Battle Flag should have no place at an SCV function of any type. We should not sell these, display them or allowed them to be displayed at any SCV function. This does not include a Camp or Division Flag that incorporates an original CSA design, or reproduction flags that carry battle honours.
I find it interesting that McMichael’s directive only addresses flags, but says nothing about the wide range of products sold, which include the image of the Confederate flag. Perhaps it is worth browsing the SCV’s store once it goes back online. My guess is that there is probably too much money to be made from the sale of such products to warrant such an outcry. The fact that the top dog in the SCV had to scold its own members for improperly displaying the flag in such a blatant manner is quite telling. First, I have to wonder what percentage of SCV members tend to think of the flag primarily as a political symbol rather than as the flag that their forebears carried into battle. From another perspective, the use of the flag in contemporary politics falls easily within the history of the last 60 years. This is a history which saw Confederate flags raised above statehouses in response to the federal government’s support of civil rights in the 1950s and its more general use as a symbol of “Massive Resistance.” Perhaps McMichaels is the one who needs to read his history.
If I knew where he lived I would send along a copy of John Coski’s The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2005).