SCV Hoists Another Big Ass Confederate Flag

Here’s a sure fire way to announce to the world just how irrelevant you are.  More to the point, the SCV would have us believe that this is nothing more than an attempt to honor the men who carried this flag into battle, but anyone with an undergraduate degree in child psychology can see that this is a classic example of children who are desperate to be seen and acknowledged.  The best part of this ceremony, however, is the inclusion of everyone’s favorite black Confederate, H.K. Edgerton.  He is in classic form:

This place should be full of black folks.  I don’t know why [I’m the only one here]. Maybe your newspaper should have told them to come to celebrate and sing Dixie and salute our flag. It’s a shame white folks and black folks make people think this is an evil flag. This is a southern flag. You can’t attack this flag and call yourself a southerner. You can call yourself a traitor….I represent four and a half million black folks who’ve been beat down and would love to be here, too.  If they tell you they wouldn’t be, the first thing you ask is where they’re from. Then you tell them to go on back.

Tracking Civil War memory can at times be downright fun.  Way to go boys.

If the SCV were really interested in ensuring that the flag is interpreted “properly” they would retire it and push for its display only in museums where it can be given the kind of attention it deserves.  As always my thinking on this issue has been influenced by John Coski’s The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (Harvard University Press, 2006).

88 comments… add one

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 9, 2009

    “This is a southern flag. You can’t attack this flag and call yourself a southerner. You can call yourself a traitor.”

    Consider me the first to add the word “traitor” to my name, then. Respectfully displaying a flag on your own private property is one thing. Hoisting a big flag that is unavoidably visible to everyone is another. Now, the woman who was my mother’s best friend, and about whom I have spoken on this blog, and who almost lost her twins when the white hospital would not admit her until a white doctor forced the hospital to admit her ( I know I am repeating this incident, but I will continue to repeat it until someone hears me, with your permission, Kevin) will have to–in her old age–drive by this flag that represents the worst dark miserable days of her life every time she goes to the mall. I am not remotely amused. With all due respect, the SCV can go to hell. (Sorry Kevin, There are no polite words for this. What is really going on here?)

    Sherree the Scalawag Traitor

  • Dan Wright Jun 9, 2009

    It would seem obvious – lose the war, take down the flag. Its appropriate place is museums.

  • Eric A. Jacobson Jun 9, 2009

    East Tennessee (where Bristol is at) was so pro-Union during the Civil War that ol’ Rebel battle flag would have lasted about five minutes. If they were really interested in preserving Civil War history in Bristol they should have hoisted a 34-star Union flag!!!!

    • Kevin Levin Jun 9, 2009

      Eric,

      Good point, but history has never proven to be much of an obstacle for the SCV. :)

  • Robert Moore Jun 9, 2009

    “This is a southern flag. You can’t attack this flag and call yourself a southerner. You can call yourself a traitor.”

    The traitor comment is warped and shows no appreciation, no consideration for the many Southerners who have a problem with the flag and why they have a problem with it. Like I’ve said before, the flag is a layered symbol. You can’t ignore the postwar history of the flag and the fact that much of that history was filled with blatant hatred and the fact that there is living memory of the years of the flag used as a symbol of hate. Because the national organization of the SCV allows this and even endorses this within its membership, the organization will not get the respect it seeks. Not only that, but who can possibly take this, as a representation of the organization, as a serious understanding of Southern history? These types of things do not promote an understanding of history and heritage, but I feel they do expedite an ending.

  • Michael Lynch Jun 9, 2009

    Every time I hear about a heritage organization spending money on huge flags and statues, I wonder how much money they spent that could’ve gone into battlefield preservation or museum programming.

    –ML

  • Kevin Levin Jun 9, 2009

    Robert,

    Of course it’s a ridiculous statement and one that only works to alienate Edgerton from thoughtful discussion. But is also points to what I take to be a difference between the consumption of the past as history as opposed to heritage. Of course, the two overlap at some point, but we ought to ask whether we are driven by critical questions that acknowledge the complexity of events such as the Civil War as well as an understanding of an entire region or are we motivated by personal/emotional identification with something larger?

  • Robert Moore Jun 9, 2009

    Kevin, Exactly, and as you also remarked, history does not appear to impede many of those who want to take the path of heritage; heritage actually being the filter that regulates the history that these people consume. There is nothing wrong with the two (heritage and history) overlapping as long as the history guides the heritage. We can still appreciate the heritage, we can still appreciate (to some degree) the experiences of our ancestors, but sometimes it seems that “heritage” is some sort of “dream state,” while history is the wake-up call. The heritage guiding the history does little more than serve as the foundations for self-delusion.

    Clearly, Edgerton’s comment shows us that his “understanding” of Southern heritage and sentiment during the war only goes so far, and it’s not very far. Of course, this is no news.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 9, 2009

    Thanks, Eric. I didn’t know that. I am not from East Tennessee, but close–Southwest Virginia. Hoisting a big Confederate flag in a public space in that manner is like opening a wound for some black men and women, right when those men and women should be enjoying, at last, the tremendous progress made in race relations and the election of our first African American President. It is the height of disrespect. The media seems to be feeding the fears of some segments of the population and contributing to further polarization of the nation–both liberal and conservative media outlets. I think that the best antidote to that is education. So many people don’t know their own history. Also, the overriding current narrative of history seems to me to leave white Southerners with no valid place in history, and thus, helps to make a false, idealized history attractive. I think it is a legitimate question for historians to ask themselves what contributions white Southerners have made to American history, beyond the obvious contributions of men like Thomas Jefferson, and to pursue the study of those contributions. The ending of racism goes hand in hand with this, in my opinion. Continuing to point fingers at one another will ensure a divided nation. That is why I appreciate serious scholarship. I am deeply suspicious of historical narratives that devolve into simplistic morality plays. I am doubly suspicious of reactionary narratives recast as something new. A former local leader of the NAACP said the best thing to do is to ignore the hoisting of the flag. I am going to follow his lead, and continue to hope for a day of true understanding. A recent online conversation with a talented monument maker who has established good and respectful relations with his neighbors has given me great hope. Before this flag went up, I wonder if anyone thought to show the same respect and asked the black community if they minded? A poll was taken, perhaps? A survey? No, I didn’t think so. It was always personal. But now it is really personal. We are talking about my family–my African American family. I am not smiling. Not even close. Thank you, Kevin. I am going to retire my comments for today out of respect for you and your readers. I cannot be objective about this. In fact, I don’t even want to be objective. Sherree

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 9, 2009

    Robert,

    I just read your comments. You are truly a brilliant man, and so are you, Kevin. You are both brilliant and dedicated.

    This one has hit me hard. Sorry. Really hard. Sherree

  • James F. Epperson Jun 9, 2009

    It is true that the Confederate flag probably would not have been popular in Bristol during the war, but we need to remember that East Tennessee, like Kentucky, joined the Confederacy only after the war was over ;-)

  • Mike Jun 9, 2009

    As my professor of psychology told me nothing or no one can make you feel bad unless you let it. That is something Sherree you need to grasp and incorporate into your life. Life is too precious to be held captive by a Flag. I stated the other day that When the NAACP calls off the dogs over the Battle Flag the energy and drive to fly them all over the South. Don’t blame the SCV they are just reacting to the insanity of the NAACP.

  • Robert Moore Jun 9, 2009

    James, I’ve seen similar things written about Kentucky… that there was more Confederate sentiment in the state after the war than during it. Still, East Tennessee was a source of heartburn for the Confederacy during the war.

  • Larry Cebula Jun 9, 2009

    These huge public monuments are often favored by regimes and movements that have lost their popular support or at least confidence in their own rightness. I am thinking of the massive “soviet realist” statues of Mother Russia, or various concrete monuments erected by dictators from Baghdad to Jakarta. I don’t have the training in psychology to adequately analyze the phenomena, but the over-sized garden statuary attempts to legitimize regimes that have lost their moral or intellectual legitimacy.

    In the United States we have been relatively immune to such gigantism, the occasional Rushmore aside. But I fear we are falling into the habit, and not jus the neo-Confederates. After 9-11 my former campus suddenly sprouted a flagpole many times higher than any building on campus adorned with an American flag that my be visible from space. On a typically windy day the flap flap flap nearly made your ears pop. I see a lot of similar big-ass American flags along the interstates these days.

    Or take a look at the huge useless monument–the “Freedom Towers”–to be built at the site of the Twin Towers. “We’ll show you, we’ll build a taller building than the one you destroyed! We win!!” A self-confident people don’t do this sort of thing.

  • Mike Jun 9, 2009

    Sorry I meant to write that the Drive to flag the flags will die off when the NAACP calls the dogs off.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 9, 2009

      Mike,

      I’ve been very critical of the NAACP’s stance on the issue of the Confederate flag, but I think you exaggerate their importance here. I do agree that these silly displays of Confederate heritage are in part a function of a defensive stance, but that has little to do with the NAACP. At this point you don’t need to refer to black Americans at all if you are looking for a negative impression of the SCV. In fact, much of the criticism now comes from white Southerners who do not identify with the organization or its goals.

  • Ken Noe Jun 9, 2009

    For what it’s worth, Bristol and Sullivan County as a whole were pretty strongly pro-secession. Indeed, Todd Groce has pointed out how pro-Confederate sentiments were common all along the railroad that ran from Bristol to Chattanooga. (I found the same in Southwest Virginia). Tracy McKenzie likewise depicts Knoxville as a truly divided city in 1861. In Appalachia, that is to say, not even East Tennessee was a Unionist monolith. Not that the complications and nuances of historical reality have anything to do with the “big” issue at hand, of course.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 9, 2009

    Mike,

    I appreciate your comments. There is wisdom in what you have said concerning how a person views himself or herself and how outside forces should not be allowed to prevail. I agree with that. That is not what I am talking about, however. I am talking about centuries of oppression and the attempted annihilation of self and dignity of the men and women of one race by the men and women of another race, and the continual resurfacing of vestiges of this legacy. I have put a face on this issue as it has again manifested itself in modern society–the face of a beautiful and courageous black woman, who suffered the abuses of Jim Crow and who is old now and deserves our deepest respect. If you don’t understand that; I really don’t know how to help you understand it. I know that you have interactions with the African American community as well. If the black men and women in your community don’t object to the flag’s display, that is their right. They should be given a choice, however. That is my point. Also, Kevin is right. There are many white Southerners who do not agree with the flag’s display as well. Thank you again for your perspective, and for your thoughtful comments. The flag flies. The SCV won. It seems that it is an empty victory, though, wouldn’t you agree, when it continues to divide communities. Sherree

  • chris meekins Jun 10, 2009

    What’s the line from Shrek when he first visits the towering city of Duloc? “Do you think he’s maybe compensating for something”… its what I ask myself when I see things like such a large over-sized flag: what are they compensating for?

  • Mike Jun 10, 2009

    Kevin the South has been over ran with Northern Transplants the past 30 years to the point that some sections of the South are devoid of anything Southern except the food. So I take that comment bout White Southerner being against the SCV with a grain of Salt. They are either uninformed, hate history or they are Transplants from the North.
    On the NAACP I just sharing what a Texas State SCV official said in a speech I heard last year at Confederate Vets Day Activities at the Cemetery.

    Sherree Let’s be Honest; All but four years of those acts took place under Old Glory the US Flag. The Federal government could have stopped Jim Crow dead in its tracks but didn’t until Dr King Brought it to the Nations attention.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 10, 2009

      Mike,

      I think you do a disservice to the myriad ways in which Southerners of various stripes remember and commemorate their past. A large percentage of these “northern transplants” your refer to are black Americans who are returning to the region of their grandparents. Atlanta is a great example of where this has occurred. My point is simply that none of the questions posed in this post can be addressed with vague generalizations and a need to see the past/present in a certain way.

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Mike, Take it with as much salt as you like, but I am a Southerner, born and raised in the South, and I also know other Southerners, white and black, who are also of a like mind that some SCV actions do more harm to our collective heritage than good. I was also a member of the SCV for over 20 years…

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 10, 2009

    Mike,

    We are not going to get into this who is more southern topic are we? Is 1739 as an entrance date into Virginia’s history early enough for my ancestors to qualify as Southerners? How about my Cherokee ancestors? My people still live at the foot of the same mountain beneath which they settled in 1781. Part of the original log cabin is still standing–barely–but it is still there.

    I know that the entire nation is to blame for the failure of race relations. We, in the South, have our own special place in that history, however, and we need to own up to it. George Wallace did not come from Maine. Remember him? Segregation then! Segregation now! Segregation forever! Remember that? I do.

    You are an historian, Mike. Stick it out with Blight. He gets it. And he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to presenting the history of either the North or the South. Sherree

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Ooh, ooh, come on Sherree, let’s play the “who is more Southern game!” I’m so Southern, even my closest kin in blue were Southern. :-)

  • chris meekins Jun 10, 2009

    Rule of thumb back home from the swamps of eastern NC was (and still is) you ain’t [local flavor] Southern until you have family in the southern soil (i.e cemetery). I’m with Robert, let’s play the “I am too more Southern than you game.” Its bound to [more local flavor] be a whole lota fun.

  • Woodrowfan Jun 10, 2009

    Every time I hear about a heritage organization spending money on huge flags and statues, I wonder how much money they spent that could’ve gone into battlefield preservation or museum programming. –ML

    yeah, but those things don’t tick off Blacks or Yankees. What good is it if it doesn’t anger someone you can’t stand?

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Chris, What part of Eastern N.C.? I spent a fair amount of time growing up in that area, in a couple of places from Jacksonville, Greenville, Havelock, Cedar Point, and Beaufort (and, for those non-North Carolinians, it’s not pronounced like they do it for the similarly spelled town down in S.C.). That said, too flat down that way for me, though I did spend a fair amount of time enjoying the beaches (primarily Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle).

    O.k., commercial break is over… let’s resume the “I’m more Southern game.”

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    “you ain’t [local flavor] Southern until you have family in the southern soil (i.e cemetery).”

    Chris,

    Applying this rule of thumb to the reality that so many Union soldiers are buried in Southern soil, do you realize how many “Southerners” are thereby automatically created north of the Mason-Dixon line?

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 10, 2009

    Oh, lol.

    Ok. The who is more Southern game.

    How do you pronounce Appalachia?? Is it Ap-pa-lay-cha or Ap-pa-latch-a??

    Mike, I’ll bet you and I would agree on this one. It irks me to no end when someone on PBS (which I generally like, mind you) pronounces the word “Appalachia” as Ap-pa-lay-cha. I don’t even why it irks me. It just does. Does that make me a redneck or a hillbilly?

  • chris meekins Jun 10, 2009

    Oh, my, I would have to say mountain folk is a case unto them selves – no offense meant. My neck of the woods is so far north and east that we often think we were Virginians – our power company was VEPCO and the major paper was the Virginian Pilot /Ledger Star (although we have a small newspaper in my home town).

    Robert, your observation about northern Union soldiers is true – But if you notice we set them apart in a cemetery of their own. A little piece of Yankee land right here in the South {tongue firmly in cheek}. And their kin folk did not stay around or move down to tend those graves (a near mortal sin, you know). [This is an interesting study in itself - the movement to re-inter soldiers].

    Deeper I go to my roots in the swamps the more the game is played – locals pronounce my name with a short vowel sound – Mickens – but my folks in the bigger city stick that long vowel in there – Meek -ins.

    I must admit, now that Sheree has it out there, I probably will not feel comfortable the next to I say Appalachia – I will be second guessing myself.

    Shazam!

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Sherree,

    I’m not positive, but you just might have a bit of “hill-neck” left in ya! Here’s the test… how do you pronounce the area of land generally found in a rut between mountains? It begins with an “h.”

  • Dave Tatum Jun 10, 2009

    Hi Folks !

    Wow BIG FLAG ? Who is more southern ?

    OK Who is more southern , My first ancestor was Nathanial Tatum arrived in Jamestown VA in 1619, as an indentured servent. Do I win ?

    As an active S.C.V. member I appluad the efforts of the Florida Members.
    I once asked the commander of Virginias S.C.V. ” If the battle flag offendes
    so many people why don’t we display the first national flag ?
    His reply makes sense to me, ” If we give in on the battle flag what’s next ?”

    I agree What is the next item to be swept under the rug? What happened to Lee Jackson Day ? Well it became Lee, Jackson, King day in Virginia. Then the N.A.A.C.P. cried foul. Lee Jackson Day was moved to the Friday before King Day ! It no longer is shown on calanders, In Virginia, state workers have the choice to have whichever day off they choose.
    The NAACP, ( National Association Against Confederate People ) Defies my logic.
    Case in point – The SCV did a dedication in Chesapeake VA. Mr Lassiter who was a confederate, had this misfortune of having his grave moved due to urban expansion. His family as well.
    That was bad enough, however the slave graves that were directly behind his were put in dump trucks and hauled away. As a human being ” This was wrong I said”
    I attempted to contact the NAACP several times to offer my assistance, No Reply!
    Malcom X has a stamp in the US Post Office, I’ve no problem with that!
    But Just try to put a Robert E Lee stamp in the Post Office, The NAACP will go balistic !

    As for the Huge Battle flag Let me quote Malcom X .
    “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

    My SCV Brothers are standing for something !

    http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/news/2009/jun/01/preserving-tapestry/

    have a Nice Day
    “Dave Tatum

    • Kevin Levin Jun 10, 2009

      Dave,

      As far as I am concerned the NAACP has every right to protest the Confederate battle flag. After all, many African Americans identify it with slavery as well as the “massive resistance” movement during the civil rights movement. To deny this is to ignore an integral part of the history of that symbol. You can’t simply pick and choose how to frame the history of a symbol and expect others to comply or cry foul if they disagree. That’s the nature of symbols. They are constantly being reinterpreted.

      By the way, R.E. Lee already has his very own stamp.

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Chris,

    I know what you mean about re-interred Union soldiers. I frequent Staunton and Winchester National Cemeteries and know of a few that weren’t reburied because families in this area were a bit nervous about revealing why a Union soldier was buried in the nearby woods or under the corncrib. I know of four unknown Union soldiers buried in a woods in my home county.

    I’ve been to the far ends of N.C. (I went to Western Carolina for my freshman year… man oh man, Cullowhee was wayyyy back in the hills) and as Virginian as I am, in the right company, can slip right into the different range of dialects of the two regions. In all, I lived in N.C. fifteen years.

  • Eric Jun 10, 2009

    I live in a Tampa neighborhood and I would say most people in the area support the Confederate Flag. I will also say the home value in my neighborhood is between $350,000 to over $750,000. I’m ready to move back up north. My kids go to school where most of the kids where Confederate flag shirts and let me remind you this is about 30 minutes north of Tampa. Florida is very racist.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 10, 2009

      Eric,

      Thanks for the comment. My guess is that Florida’s racial problems are no more problematic than in many other parts of the country. Let’s not jump from supporting the Confederate flag to being a racist. The issue is much more complex.

  • chris meekins Jun 10, 2009

    And Bobby Lee has a stain glass window in the National Cathedral to boot. Right next to Jackson if memory serves. They are gorgeous but one wonders how visitors see those windows.

    Robert, its all this cussed education I have been after – its ruined my local speech. Unless I get my dander up – my daughter tells me it all comes back then. Reckon that is so. As for Yankees in the woods, well, maybe its time for those boys to find a better resting place.

  • Eric Jun 10, 2009

    I could not believe the amount of people who showed up for the Confederate Flag raising ceremony in Tampa (world’s largest confederate flag located at I-4 and I-75). I drove by and there had to be over 8000 supporters. The news stated anywhere from 6000 to 10,000 supporters showed up. This many supporters in one area should have us all concerned.

  • Robert Moore Jun 10, 2009

    Chris,

    I’m working on getting the fellas headstones. I don’t think the VA will pay to move them to Staunton Natl. Cem (where all the others from the area were moved). The Natl Cem is actually at capacity.

    Yup, I think the continued pursuit of higher education does make a lot of us sound more like midwesterners. Ha! “Reckon” is something I never dropped and sometimes a little Appalachian (in addition to being a “Pirate,” I’m also a former Catamount, so “Appalachian” can be a dirty word when used in conjunction with “State”) Germanic slang creeps into my choice of words.

  • Dave Tatum Jun 10, 2009

    Mr Levin.

    That’s the one thing about America, you can protest against what ever you wish to.
    But Mr Levin you circumvented my query , When I extended an offer to the NAACP
    to help with a violation of human deacency I was Ignored.
    You stated “You can’t simply pick and choose how to frame the history of a symbol and expect others to comply or cry foul if they disagree” Isn’t that what the NAACP is doing? If I misinterpreted your statement I am sorry.
    Kevin why are you concerned about people protecting their heritage ? Has anyone threatened you ?
    Eric If you fear for your childrens safety, I-95 North is still open.
    By all means do exactly what the Confederate Soldier did, protect what you cherrish most ! If I were in fear for my familys safety I would do whatever nessasary to protect them.
    More Battle flags are on the way folks, like it or not ! And I hope you exercise you right to protest them. The more you protest, the more flags will go up. And stay up !
    Then people may be forced to realize ” Slavery was the sin of a nation”

    Take care, and God Bless.

    Dave Tatum

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to ignore your question, but I’m not sure what you want me to say. Are you really surprised that black Americans would rather not work with the SCV? No, no one has threatened me, but I fail to see what that has to do with anything.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    Lol again. I don’t know where to start.

    Kevin, you have done it again–ie, you have actually gotten people to start talking to one another. That is an amazing accomplishment in itself!

    Chris,

    “Oh, my, I would have to say mountain folk is a case unto them selves – no offense meant”

    None taken. You have stated a fact.

    Robert,

    “I’m not positive, but you just might have a bit of “hill-neck” left in ya! Here’s the test… how do you pronounce the area of land generally found in a rut between mountains? It begins with an “h.”

    That depends upon the party to whom I’m speaking, which says a lot, doesn’t it? Also, it is a lot of fun to pull that dialect out, make some poor unsuspecting person think you are a hill-neck, lure him or her into the trap, and make him or her face his or her bias.

    Why does a regional dialect–or any dialect for that matter–immediately elicit certain reactions? Because people don’t know their own culture, so they allow others to define them, and define them rather poorly at that. I am not talking about history now. I am talking about culture.

    I remember reading some online analysis of the White Top Mountain folk festival and laughing until tears were literally rolling down my face at how ridiculous it was. I had the real good fortune and privilege to know actual people ( being one of their “kin”) who were descendants of the men and women who either hunted on, or near, White Top as their ancestors had done for thousands of years before they were forced off their land–the valley below White Top still yielding dozens of arrowheads and spear tips every time spring comes and a field is plowed–and who intermarried, in my case, with men and women who “settled” White Top because it was their part of a “New World” (and who are now almost universally caricatured)–and there was magic in those hills, and there still is. No one can write, or think, that out of existence. Some time when you are in North Carolina, go to the Cherokee reservation and watch the Eagle Dancers. Then, if you happen to get the chance, go to the UVA library, and look up Horton Barker. Horton was a blind “folk” singer. (Horty Barker was not a folk singer, but never mind.) I heard Horton Barker sing, acappella, “Wayfaring Stranger” one Sunday morning forty seven years ago–and sing it for his people and not to sing pretty for the people who later studied him–and if ever the sound of human suffering entered a human voice, it was through the voice of Horton Barker. I obviously never forgot that. Neither did I forget the sound of wind sweeping up through the pine trees, or of cicadas singing in the sunken swamp beyond my grandmother’s house (which was in town, but still there was a swamp) or the sound of my grandmother’s voice as she told me stories sitting at the kitchen table, with moonlight coming through the open screen door. (Really. There was moonlight. No magnolias. But moonlight) ) There were stories of black panthers who roamed the valley still when she was a girl, and of her grandfather holding court outside beneath the pine trees (he was a local magistrate) and of her grandmother, daughter of a Cherokee woman, who wove with a loom, and took a rifle and helped to fight off the “bushwhackers” who came to steal what food she had left. What was missing from these stories was a myth of a lost cause, a hatred of “Yankees”, a Confederate flag, reverence for Robert E Lee, and adherence to a “color” line, since my grandmother was intimately involved with the black community in our area, and flaunted Jim Crow laws. Also, the UDC “portrait of a southern lady” does not describe my great great grandmother at all. She was a midwife and an herbal healer and an extremely tough woman. The stories my grandmother told centered around her and a black panther that circled the tree tops when she (my great great grandmother) was a girl and was walking through the woods from one mountain to another, and that my great great grandmother had to either outwit, or end up the panther’s dinner.(These stories were repeated by my great great grandmother’s other grandchildren as well, with variations, so I would say that this particular panther really existed)

    I enter this small portion of my family history into this forum in order to ask a question, since I fully understand that everyone has a history, and that every history is equally valid and interesting. The question is as follows: what are we talking about? I know that some people identify with the SCV, and that they identify closely with it. I can’t identify with the SCV at all, however. I can identify with Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, though. In fact, when I first read that book, I went into mourning when Ben, one of Wolfe’s characters, died. The characters in the novel were real to me, because I knew those people. They were my people. Thomas Wolfe was “my people”. Where did they go? More importantly, where did the memory of them go?

    Dave,

    You have one fascinating history. You may have some Indigenous ancestors as well. (I use the word “Indigenous” out of respect for an Ojibway Elder who is a friend of mine and a linguist) I salute your ancestors, Dave.

    Eric,

    You live in a neighborhood that is way out of my price range, so I can’t speak to that, or about your area of Florida. Where I live, though, racists can be found in some surprising segments of the population, and disprove the theory that changing demographics will forever transform the racist old south into a brave new world. Racists come from all areas of the country, and when they relocate, they bring their racism with them. It is often just more subtle than hoisting a big flag. An “Indian” mound where I and my Cherokee and Seminole friends have done ceremonies and said prayers for years, is in an exclusive neighborhood, having been sold as private property years ago, then transferred to the government. Even though the government bought the mound (like you can buy something like a ceremonial mound, which is, in itself, an outrageous idea) you have to drive down a private road. Recently, the residents of this community decided that they had had enough of our ceremonies, so they proposed to put up a gate and “allow” us to enter the mound when they said we could, as in the hours of 10 AM to 4 Pm. The ceremonies of Native men and women follow the cycles of the moon, and also the daily rising and setting of the sun. Thus, this was not a feasible alternative. I have met some wonderful people in this community who are against turning the community into a gated community and refusing us entrance, but they have not prevailed. In addition, the last time I went to the mound, the old structure in which the history of the mound had been housed for years had been torn down, and in its place a new structure built. In this new structure, a small plaque of what looks like a Christian saint carrying a cross has been placed. The plaque is tastefully done, which makes it that much more of an insult. Educated, sophisticated men and women should know better. Most of the men and women who live in this development are not local people, since very few local people–black, white, or native–can afford to live there. They are men and women who moved here from somewhere else. So, who is the racist? Or, beyond even racism, who is the one creating barriers of class that help to ensure that racism continues? The same thing is happening in parts of North Carolina. One of my relatives in law, who used to go, when she was a child, to swim in an area that had falls, now cannot enter that area because a gate went up and she is locked out. I had an interesting conversation with her in which she told me about how some new friends of hers asked her to attend a new, upscale quilt making class to learn how to make “Appalachian” quilts. She smiled and declined and didn’t say anything, because she is a very mild mannered woman. Then she opened up the chest in which she keeps the quilts that she used to help her grandmother make, and held them, and remembered how she used to crawl up under the quilting frame for her grandmother, since she was small enough to get under it. I don’t think she needs to be taught how to do and be who she already is. Thanks Kevin. If this comment is too long, you really don’t need to post it. At least you will have read it. I was deeply saddened by the events yesterday at the holocaust museum. I don’t know what to think about that yet. Sherree

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Sherree,

      I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of the discussion of late. While I hate to regulate the comments section I think my hard stance on a few hot heads has improved things over all.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    I agree, Kevin. We need to talk to one another, not through or past one another, and I believe that we are.

    Thank you. Truly. Sherree

  • Robert Moore Jun 11, 2009

    Sherree,

    O.K., the test of remaining elements of a “hill-neck” is to find out how one pronounces the word “hollow” as in “Sleepy Hollow.” Honestly, I find myself hardpressed to pronounce it in proper form, but it seems natural to pronounce it as “holler.” Therefore, the “hill-neck” still dwells within me! :-)

  • chris meekins Jun 11, 2009

    NPR had a piece this morning on a freshet in the hills of Tennessee – sure ‘nough when the local person’s statement came on she said “the holler turned to mud.” New Jersey might be bucolic enough for Hollows but everyone knows that south of there we have hollers. Even a swamp man like me knows they are hollers.

  • Dave Tatum Jun 11, 2009

    Sherree

    Your amazing, and clairvoyant. One of my ancestors married one of Pocahontas ’ nieces. As soon as I can figure out how to open a casino, Please come by and you can cut the ribbon. All joking aside I would love to have the chance to meet you in person.
    you above all others I have met here are as far away from my line of thinking on the flag issue. Yet the respect you have shown me is not overlooked. Thank You !

    Kevin Why would Black folks not wish to work with the S.C.V. ? Good question !
    Dr King who was one of historys greatest men said /

    “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood”

    So the answer of why the NAACP is unwilling to work with an SCV member – It doesn’t fit their agenda.
    As for the concern over the large assembly at the Flag raising.
    I fail to see your point !
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Best wishes to all. May God Bless.

    Dave Tatum
    ( “Will you know the bell of Truth when you hear it ring ?”)

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that the NAACP shouldn’t work with the SCV. All I am suggesting is that it should come as no surprise that they do not. Furthermore, that they don’t doesn’t necessarily reflect in any way on the extent to which they work with other organizations. I assume they work with a wide range of groups.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    Ok hill-neck and swamp man….oh….lol indeed. Of course it’s “holler”. I thought everyone knew that.

    “Holler” is a way to over exercise your vocal cords, or a geographical location between two mountains that are real close together. Often a holler is very muddy. “Hollow” refers to a state of physical emptiness, as in “that is a hollow log”. Or, more grandly–to a state of spiritual hopelessness, as in T.S. Eliot’s “We are the Hollow Men.” Let’s not get confused here.

    Here’s one: “set a spell”. “Come on in here and set a spell.” Have you ever heard that expression? (Caution. If you are talking to an old timer, you better know what that means, because if you don’t “set” for a sufficient length of time, or eat some biscuits, and maybe drink some sweetened ice tea that was sweetened when the tea was hot, your goose is cooked)

  • Mike Jun 11, 2009

    Sherree, you’re correct everyone born and raised in the South has some special pronunciations of the English language. And No I do not want to start who is more Southern, but my earliest came over 1625 to Virginia.

    If I ever meet you we will have to set a spell over a cup of coffee.

    Kevin, I will agree with you and Robert to a point. The Truth is that none of us are as correct as we would wish since the South is so complex.

    As Dave said More Battle Flags are coming.

  • Dave Tatum Jun 11, 2009

    Thanks Kevin.

    I will be the first to admit ” Im a bit radical in my views”
    The snub by the NAACP / with regards to the desecration of the slaves graves did come as a surprise to me.
    To have anyone’s grave dug up and hauled away in a dump truck to who knows where, violates human dignity. I must add this was not the result of the S.C.V. The contractor who was doing the work was responsible. The S.C.V simply did a dedication for a Confederate who fought for Virginia.
    MY next monument will be for Henry Tatum, A lieutenant in the Continental Army 5th foot infantry !
    He also fought for independence from a government that was imposing unjust tariffs, and forcing Virginia to take UNWANTED slaves. In the early part of VA history Virginia was opposed to the Crown’s insistence that slaves be used in the new world !
    ( More information upon request)
    So my guess is I will have someone somewhere who is opposed to his monument !
    As mentioned I had one neighbor who complained to the city about my monument. I only have two !
    One is a white family the other is black. The white family was the one that complained. When the first story A few years ago was in the paper I stated that It “ Aint coming down !”
    AFTER this was printed in the paper I spoke with my Black neighbor, I offered to remove the monument if he was offended by it ! His reply “ How’s your new Granddaughter doing ?”

    BestWishes to all, May God Bless.

    Dave Tatum.

    ( “Will you know the bell of Truth when you hear it ring ?” )

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      I appreciate your comments and your willingness to engage in dialog.

      I’m not surprised that your black neighbor didn’t have much trouble with your monument. Like I’ve said all along it’s much too easy to generalize along racial lines about how people view the past. And hey, it’s a pretty cool monument. :)

      “He also fought for independence from a government that was imposing unjust tariffs, and forcing Virginia to take UNWANTED slaves. In the early part of VA history Virginia was opposed to the Crown’s insistence that slaves be used in the new world!”

      Yes, you will have to supply additional information, but please do not send a post-Civil War speech. What I would like to see is a wartime document (letter/diary) in which Tatum says this. Virginia was not forced to take unwanted slaves; in fact, throughout the antebellum period Virginia continued to supply the Deep South with slaves. The tariff argument is not credible and I suggest you read _Modernizing a Slave Economy_ by John Majewski http://www.amazon.com/Modernizing-Slave-Economy-Economic-Confederate/dp/0807832510/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244733809&sr=8-1

      Finally, I don’t know what you are talking about when you suggest that VA was opposed to slavery early on. In fact, the opposite is true by the 1680s as the colony moved from indentured servants to African slaves.

      Thanks again.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    Dave,

    Thank you for your kind words! Don’t get carried away with singing my praises, though. Kevin is the one who deserves the accolades, not me. This is a very complicated blog in which several in depth, often difficult, conversations take place at once, and Kevin monitors them all.

    Associating Indigenous men and women with casinos is a stereotype. You know that, though. The history of Pocahantas is truly fascinating.

    Let’s go back to the original point of this post for a moment. Do you know what it is like to have terrible fear? (I think the answer may be yes, based on some of your experiences that you shared with all of us) Imagine now, living in a perpetual state of fear because of the color of your skin. At any moment things can go the wrong way, and you have no one to depend on, not even law enforcement officials, because law enforcement officials are not on your side. That is the way it was during Jim Crow, and then later, into the civil rights era. The Confederate flag was the terrible symbol of that time. Now, with the election of our first African American President, it should be a time of happiness for people like my mother’s best friend about whom I have spoken on Kevin’s blog. She is not a member of the NAACP. She is just a citizen. Now she has to endure the flying of a flag that represents a terrible time in her life again, however, and she does not have that many years left. You put the flag on your private property in a respectful manner. These big flags are in public spaces, however. As I said above, there is a difference. It is ok to agree to disagree. It is not ok to force your beliefs on others, and that is what the SCV is doing. And it’s even beyond that. But I am going to stop there.

    Dave, in all truthfulness. I don’t think you belong in the SCV. Or maybe you do, in a good way. Get them to stop this, will you? Sherree

  • Dave Tatum Jun 11, 2009

    Kevin,

    On 20 March 1772, the following petition was forwarded to the King by the Virginia House of Burgesses:

    We implore your Majesty’s paternal assistance in averting a calamity of a most alarming nature. The importation of slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath long been considered as a trade of great inhumanity, and under its present encouragement we have too much reason to fear will endanger the very existence of your Majesty’s American dominions. We are sensible that some of your Majesty’s subjects may reap emoluments from this sort of traffic, but when we consider that it greatly retards the settlement of the colonies with more useful inhabitants and may in time have the most destructive influence, we presume to hope that the interests of a few will be disregarded when placed in competition with the security and happiness of such numbers of your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects. We, therefore, beseech your Majesty to remove all these restraints on your Majesty’s Governor in this colony which inhibits their assenting to such laws as might check so pernicious a consequence.

    (This was four years before The First American Revolution !)

    I have no letters from Henry Tatum/ so what you wish to see I cannot provide.

    But on the provided link I hope you will find the information I stated .

    http://www.southernslavery.com/articles/history_slave_trade.htm

    Take Care and, May God Bless.

    Dave Tatum

    ( “Will you know the bell of Truth When you hear it ring ?” )

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      Thanks, but I am well aware of the Virginia petition. I admit that I’m not sure what point you are making. Revolutionary rhetoric led to a number of states and other organizations to debate the morality of slavery, including the slave trade. On a number of occasions Virginians debated this issue and as late as 1831 voted against the gradual abolition of slavery. It’s a fascinating subject.

  • Bob Pollock Jun 11, 2009

    Hello All!

    I had an incredible day at Corinth and Shiloh yesterday! The Interpretive Center at Corinth is very well done. There were a few things I think were left out, but these places can only present so much information, and we all know how complicated history is.

    Shiloh is absolutely beautiful. I have read so much about it for years, but I have so much clearer an understanding of what happened there now. We purchased the audio tour CD and spent more than five hours driving and walking around.

    After the battle, and because of the heat, Grant had the dead quickly buried on the battlefield. Federals were later moved to the National Cemetery. Confederates were put in mass graves, where they remain today. My first reaction upon seeing one of these Confederate graves was “Damn Fools!” With all due respect to the readers of this blog who still want to venerate the Confederacy, and in response to the issue of the “big ass flags,” I am not a Southerner and so allow me to quote Southern historian Charles Joyner who wrote:

    “I am a Southerner, and I love the South. But I reject the notion that the test of one’s loyalty to the region is reverence for the Confederacy… [Secessionists] precipitated the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the right of some southerners to hold other southerners in bondage. In retrospect, it is difficult to see how anyone who truly loves the South can ponder the disastrous Confederate experiment without more regret than pride. When the folly of our ancestors in breaking up the Union, brings down pain and poverty upon three generations of southerners we do not serve the region well by praising them for it.”

    Just a few yards away from one of the Confederate graves is a monument to the 29th Indiana Infantry. The 29th arrived with Buell on the evening of the first day. On April 7 they were put front and center of the Union lines and endured two hours of heavy fighting. The 29th included two younger brothers of my great-great grandfather who were twins. The twins survived Shiloh, but one of them was later captured at Chickamauga and died in Andersonville prison.

    It is argued here that these big ass flags are an offense to African Americans. Perhaps this should be reason enough not to put them up, but I would add that the fight was not only for freedom for slaves (indeed, in the beginning most Northerners weren’t even fighting for abolition), it was about freedom for all. It was about whether or not a representative democracy could survive. I am white, and believe I have my freedom today because the United States survived. To those of you who are so afraid of the federal government, I ask, what makes you so sure that state governments are capable of protecting your freedom? I am not a westerner, a northerner, a southerner, or any other regional tag, I am an American! As an American, I say to those responsible for these big ass flags, you have the freedom to put them up because you live in America, but the results of your actions may not be what you expect.

  • Dave Tatum Jun 11, 2009

    Kevin:

    Either I’m too dumb or your too smart ! In my past several post I have tried as beat as I am able to explain the previous post.
    Some times I must rely on humor to make up for my lack of education.
    After all someone had to build the colleges !
    ” What we have here is a failure to communicate” (Cool Hand Luke)
    So I shall take Mr Lincolns advice for one time !
    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ”

    Best Wishes to all, May God Bless

    Dave Tatum

    ( “Will you know the bell of Truth When you hear it ring ?” )

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      I’m sorry that I don’t know exactly what you are referring to, but I know all too well that humor doesn’t always come through clearly in the blogosphere. Sorry about that.

  • Bob Pollock Jun 11, 2009

    In case it’s not apparent, I want to clarify that my “Damn Fools!” response was one of deep sadness at the sacrifice of life, represented by those Confederate graves, in a cause that I believe was wholly unjustified. What might the south and the entire country have gained from the lives of these young men, and their descendents had they lived to have descendents?

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    Dave,

    You held your own very well. The blogosphere can be a very difficult forum within which to communicate.

    Kevin,

    Thanks again. I think we should all recognize how remarkable it is that we have such wide and divergent viewpoints, and that we are able to converse without cyber clobbering each other. Your most recent post in which you include a picture with African American women in bathing suit attire adorned by the Confederate flag turns this issue inside out. Maybe in time, it just won’t matter. Can you imagine a black woman wearing a “Confederate” bikini in 1969? In a way, these women have taken over the symbol and redefined it for themselves. It’s a new world, new generation, new century. I’m all for it. Let’s move forward with the young people. It is amazing what a tenacious hold on memory and emotion this war and its legacy have for so many who identify with both the south and the north, myself included. Perhaps laughing at it is the best medicine. “Confederate Cannibals” or “Grant the local Bartender” make as much, or more sense as a lot of ways in which the war is remembered. In fact, I think I will watch both videos right now as a wrap up to this thread. Sherree

  • David Tatm Jr Jun 11, 2009

    Thanks Sherree.

    When not visiting Kevin’s blog I am on line looking for a job.
    So I was a little late getting the news about the Holocaust Shooting.
    For the first time in my life I am ashamed to wear my flag in public.
    The actions of one man so filled with hate has made it hard for me to
    display the flag, what if someone were to connect my view as being connected with his.
    My interpretation of what the flag stands for could easily be misunderstood by someone who doesn’t know me.
    I’ve not given up on the battle flag, but I have now been reminded of how it looks from the other side of the mirror.
    My prayers go out to family of the guard who was killed. And my thanks to the guard who stopped him.
    I hope its not seen as a empty gesture but the 3rd National flag that fly’s in front of my home will be at half staff.

    May God protect us all.

    Dave Tatum

    • Kevin Levin Jun 11, 2009

      Dave,

      First, I think we all share your thoughts and prayers for the family of Stephen T. Johns. Unfortunately, that is part of the history of the Confederate flag and is one of the points I tried to make in my most recent post. Your comments clearly reflects the frustration of having a symbol that is near and dear to you ripped away and used for nefarious purposes. Now, I would first suggest that some people might view its initial use with suspicion, but if we move beyond that it is impossible to ignore the way in which the flag was used during the civil rights movement. Bobby gets around this by suggesting that those who would focus on this aspect of the flag are in need of education, but that is to ignore the fundamental problem of the flag’s history. So few people who identify with the flag as you do will ever try to look at this from another perspective. You did and I take my hat off to you. I think empathy is one of the most human of emotions.

      Finally, good luck with securing a job.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 11, 2009

    Dave,

    You have a heart of gold. I am very proud to meet you.

    BTW, I didn’t inhale either!

    Until next time,

    Sherree

  • chris meekins Jun 11, 2009

    Hey Sherree, ah yes, “set a spell.” Spell is one of my favorites and back home we use it in several ways. Like you we use it as an indicator of time – set a spell, stay a spell. We also use it like most folks to indicate making a word from letters – c-a-t spells cat. Some of the folks back home would still give you a knowing glance if you suggested so-and-so- was a witch and had cast a spell on you. Spell in this case is a potion or incantation – a form of control. And lastly, one of my true favorites, we us spell to indicate relief from a doing a task – give me the broom Sherree and I will spell you from sweeping. Spell is certainly a down home term.

    And where I am from we do not “turn off” the lights we “cut” them off – as if they still had wicks like candles or lanterns. If your light switch is a button style then you must “mash” the button and “cut off” the lights.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 12, 2009

    Very interesting, Chris. We “cut off” our lights, too. And, as you state, the language indicates a different way of viewing this simple act. To turn off a light is somewhat abstract. The person toggling the switch is casually involved. “Cutting off” a light, involves the man, woman, or child doing so, even if just in language, as if, indeed, an imaginative candle flame is being extinguished! I am not familiar with the use of the word “spell” to indicate “relief from doing a task”. That is a new one for me.

    The ridicule of regional dialects is used by some as a way to stereotype. Stereotypes are damaging, and when adopted on a large scale by a society, can be dangerous, as we all know, and have discussed, and as this post implicitly addresses. A major issue that still has not been dealt with in breaking down racial barriers is class, in my opinion (as in socio economic class, and not as in “he has class”. )

    The socio economic lines of class are rigidly drawn in our nation. I am surprised at the widespread acceptance of terms like “redneck” and “poor white” and the usage of these terms by men and women in educated segments of our society. There seems to be an unspoken consensus that it is not only all right to denigrate men and women of certain socio economic classes; but that it is a duty and moral obligation to do so. This is germane to the topics that Kevin explores in his blog, and it is germane to this post, since if we continue to tell men and women of extreme intelligence, and who have a vibrant history in this nation, that they are irrelevant, and even despicable, and that hopefully changing demographics will eliminate their presence on earth; organizations that promote false history will continue to flourish. I have learned how to see the Civil War and issues related to it from many different angles in reading this blog, and I have concluded that there is no one “correct” perspective. “All is true”, as the great bard said in one of his plays, and a play, the title of which I cannot remember right now, having read it too many years ago.

    A commenter on another blog made such a concise statement concerning this topic, that I have included it in my comment, Kevin, if you think it is appropriate to post it. This man did not have an email address listed with the comment, so I cannot email him and ask permission to quote him. I can only hope that he will not object to the fact that I admire his statement enough that I do not believe that I can state my thoughts on this issue any better. Here is the comment:

    “I am a northerner, born and bred. During my formative years and throughout my collegiate experience, I accepted as gospel that many of the stories of wanton destruction and carnage from Sherman’s March was just southern hyperbole. I always believed that if there was some truth to it all, so what, they deserved it. The south perpetuated a cruel and inhuman system of involuntary servitude through a minority of plutocrats, they seceded from the union, they convinced the majority of their population (non slave holders) that their fight was noble, and they brought on a violent war that killed hundreds of thousands.

    Over the past couple of years, I decided to trace my roots through genealogical research. One branch happens to come from Tennessee, with Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina origins. In trying to discover information on my earliest ancestors, I discovered the records in over a dozen counties (in the three previously mentioned states) going back no further than 1864. These include birth, marriage, and death records, along with land deeds, civil court files, and church records. In reading the correspondence and diaries from the Civil War generation residents of these counties (found in several prominent university archives), I found many overlapping references to federal troops under Sherman’s (or some underling of his) command firing the town. I guess it’s possible that all these individuals got together, burned their own buildings, and decided to say that federal troops did it in all their personal correspondence and diary entries, but that sounds a little thin. I have no doubt that some supply depots, factories, and other structures were torched by locals to prevent them from falling in federal hands. However, torching their own homes, city halls, libraries, universities, and churches does not make any sense. Many of General Sherman’s orders to his subordinates from that campaign are also quite illuminating.

    I now feel some sympathy for those southerners. Many towns lost an entire generation of young men and more. Many also lost much of their local identity as their institutions burned. Most were not slave owners and most were just as racist as northerners – by contemporary standards.”

    My point is not to open a contentious debate about what Sherman did or did not do, or about what his place in history should be, but to show how this perceptive reader’s viewpoint changed when he began to identify with both the south and the north.

    That is what is necessary for us to begin to understand what I perceive to be an evolving worldview that will, in time, inform our national narrative as well. We are all northerners. We are all southerners. We are all westerners. We are all African American. We are all Native Americans. We are all Hispanic. We are all Asian Americans. Jewish Americans. Muslim Americans. We are all.

    We cannot continue to cast the national narrative in the voice of the white man only. When we finally realize this, we will achieve a major paradigm shift in a powerful way that puts an end to internal divisions. I really think that the young people are way ahead of older generations on this issue.. Many very young men and women are surprisingly wise. I again think of the analogy that President Obama used on Memorial Day–that he crossed a bridge that connects Lee to Lincoln in order to reach a cemetery that includes the dead of both the Union and the Confederacy. Only President Obama could do that. He is, in some ways, a visionary.

    In closing–everyone, please “cut off” your TVs and think for yourselves. There is far too much fear mongering taking place on news networks in order to get ratings. And with that, I will now “spell” myself from further comments and spare you. Thanks Kevin. I have to go out of town soon, so you won’t have to wonder what awaits you in the morning, as far as comments from this reader are concerned, when you open up your blog, lol.

    I found this thread to be the best among the many truly excellent threads that you have moderated. I hope that we can all truly begin to talk to one another, and collectively stop violent acts like the one that took place this week. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Stephen T. Johns as well. For some in the media, this event was a story. For the Johns family, Mr. Johns is never coming home again. Sherree

  • Bobby Ray Jun 12, 2009

    This may slighlty be off topic, but it does involve the Confederate Flag. If we as a people start allowing the Federal Government the ability to outlaw itmes that others deem offensive than we are essentially agreeing to give up our freedoms. If our lawmakers ban the Confederate Flag than where does it stop????? Every single American has something that offends them, should we ban all of those items as well? If you do not like the flag than look the other way. I see more racist up north than I ever have down south. Well, than again northerners (white and black) are more rude and the African Americans are more problamatic up north as are the whites. Blacks and whites get along in the south. We do not need northerners coming down here telling us how to live.

    Eric,
    There is nothing wrong with the Confederate Flag in Tampa. If you do not like the south please go back up north. I would never move up north and try and tell those people they are living the wrong way!

  • Bobby Edwards Jun 12, 2009

    Kevin and Mike,

    ie Northern Transplants – I don’t have any problems with the ones that married my sisters and in some way became members of the family and assimilated into Southern ways and culture. My brother-in-law is a Marketing Representative for a rural Southern Electric Co., and many of the areas provide power to the communities along the Rivers and Golfing regions. It’s the style of Community Government and Regulations that Wayne says the Out of Stater’s are always trying to challenge. He’s said that he’s heard – “We do this differently up North” is a common refrain. Currently, we are experiencing the “Second Great Wave of Northern Agression”, and this time they are not shooting us, this time they are just trying to change all of the Local Regulations and Customs. I just came back from a Military Reunion in Charleston, S.C., and many of the attendees were from Northern States who have retired in the South, and my Buddies tell me that love it down South. Perhaps, with Transplants like Kevin Levin we will at some point in time Mellow Him a bit to the point where he will also want to claim Southern Citizenship.

    It’s a cinch that we are not going to see him flying in Southern Flags though.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 12, 2009

      Bobby,

      With all due respect, the idea of a second northern invasion is silly and really isn’t worth much of a response. People having been moving from region to region from the beginning. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries many white Americans gradually moved south after disembarking in northern ports. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries hundreds of thousands of black Americans moved to the midwest (Exodusters) as well as the North. Stop thinking of the South as static – it has nothing to do with history whatsoever and only fuels an irrational notion of regionalism.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 12, 2009

    Kevin,

    As far as I am concerned, you are a southerner and a true gentleman. You might not want to be one, though, based on some of the inhospitable attitudes that you have been exposed to while running this blog.

    In this nation, we all come from somewhere else, unless you happen to be Native American. That is why my Ojibway friend uses the term “Indigenous” to describe the nations that were here when the first European arrived. (Many “Indians” call the US “Grandmother Turtle Island”, so think on that when you start feeling territorial. This land belonged to someone else before it belonged to your ancestors, and in the end, it belongs to no group of people, but to Gitchi Manitou (or God, if you prefer.) There is a vast unknown history in this nation that precedes the “birth of the nation”, and history is indeed not static, so Bobby and Bobby back off, and let’s all learn how to understand one another. Kevin is open minded and he is trying to help bridge the gap between northerners and southerners, so give him some breathing room, please. Thanks. Sherree

    • Kevin Levin Jun 12, 2009

      Sherree,

      As always, I appreciate the kind words and support.

      I’ve made my home in Virginia now going on ten years. Apart from where I grew up in New Jersey this is the longest amount of time that I’ve spent in one place and I’ve loved every minute of it. Virginia is an incredibly beautiful place and I consider myself very lucky to call this my home. Although my roots are thin, I feel as though I have established in a number of ways. I teach its children, write about its history, and was even educated here.

      It’s funny to read emails from people who believe me to be a threat or think that I am attacking “Southern Heritage” or that I just plain hate the South. How could anyone spend as much time as I do driving to Virginia’s historic sites (today it was Spotsylvania) and reading about the rich history of the region and hate it at the same time? I am willing to wager that my knowledge of Southern history is far and away more sophisticated than the people who hurl such accusations my way. It’s laughable.

      To be completely honest, I love living in the South.

  • Bobby Edwards Jun 12, 2009

    Kevin,

    Sorry you took offense to the Northern Invasion. Let’s Call the Issue “Demographics Shifts from North to South”. Hey, I am not trying to be a Pain in the Ass – Just Factual.

    There’s Something Very Positive in the South that Causes these Demographic Shifts:

    “The Mason-Dixon Line between North and South has come to have a new meaning: the demarcation between stagnant America and surging America. Every state from Maine to the Mississippi River, the heart of the Democratic electorate, has a growth rate less than the national average. This is the Old America that is losing population and political power.

    Practically every southern state from Virginia to Texas enjoys double-digit growth and welcomes new House seats with each Census. This is the New America.

    Since 2000, the South has added 3.2 million more people. That’s about the same number that the Northeast and Midwest have lost. In 2000, states in the South and the West gained 12 additional House seats. The Northeast and Midwest lost 10.”

    http://www.mije.org/bobbibowman/democrats-victory-highlights-emerging-next-south

    Kevin, For those in the South who have since the 1950′s have had their population Increase Four Fold or Morse, – “Invasion”, Just Joking, but it sure feels like it, especially here in Virginia.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 13, 2009

      My point is simply that population shifts have taken place in every section of the country at different times. To characterize it as an invasion is simply to share your own perspective, but it tells us nothing about the reasons behind these shifts. Actually, many of them can be explained simply as wanting a better life. It’s easy to get hung up on boundaries as constituting something fixed or wall-like.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 13, 2009

    Kevin,

    You deserve nothing but kind words, support, respect, and admiration from your readers, and you have all the aforementioned. In my assessment, the strong emotion that comes your way is due to the fact that you are the messenger. Messengers are always either walking point or on the front lines, and they are exposed to combat that others are not–even when it is intellectual combat–which is what this battle for memory is, in essence.

    The disconnect between the way that the history of the Civil War has been taught in the north and in the south (and in the rest of the country, too, I suppose) and the disconnect between the level of understanding between members of the academic community and the general public is so great, that I believe that there needs to be a sort of educational halfway house in which a common ground can be established, and a common ground in which one side is not accusing the other side. That is what political groups do–accuse. Not educators.

    I enjoyed watching the sesquicentennial symposium in Richmond very much. I didn’t find it to be balanced, though. And what I perceived to be imbalance had nothing to do with the intent of the scholars who participated. It had to do with the sometimes insular nature of the academic community in which scholar is speaking to scholar, and the existence of another possibility, point of view, or theory does not even occur. The historiography of the Civil War is so perfected at this point, that there are multiple set answers to any and all queries that might challenge that historiography, so that it appears to me that what scholars are actually arguing and expounding upon is an elegant theory, the parameters of which are well established and not to be questioned. That is exactly when it is time for the theory to go. Or, to use an analogy from literature, Tennyson said that when he was writing and editing his work, that he had phrases that were “his little darlings”, and that when he recognized his little darlings, he had to get rid of them, because they impeded his work.

    Now, switch over to the general public. For those who are Civil War enthusiasts, or for those who are “in the know”; this is all part of the game and fun. For those whose ancestors were northerners, or who consider themselves northerners and identify with the northern perspective concerning the Civil War, all is well, because their ancestors are presented as heroic, and their side of the narrative, is the heroic side. (I know that we all say that there are no “heroes” or “heroic” themes in the historiography of the Civil War, but I personally don’t find that to be true) For those from the south or who consider themselves southerners, and whose ancestors were not Unionists, or disaffected Confederates, (that they know of!) and who are not, themselves, educators, and who do not know of the subtleties of theory and of local studies, and for whom the historiography can conceivably be interpreted as one in which they are basically being told that their ancestors were the most despicable men and women who ever walked the earth, and that they deserve ridicule and worse, it is not a game, and the immediate response, by many, to those from other parts of the country who condemn the south, is that men and women who live in glass houses should not throw stones (in one variation of that sentiment or another, and in varied ways of expression) since this entire nation was, and is, racist. (I recently read about “sundown towns”, in which black men and women were at risk of being beaten or even killed if they were found in these towns after dark. When I first read the article, I scanned it, because I had to get off of the computer, and I thought that one of the towns mentioned was Harlan, Kentucky. When I went back and reread the article, the town in question was Hawthorne, California. Of course, the south didn’t need sundown towns, because the entire south was a sundown town. My point is that using the south as a scapegoat for racism, the Civil War, and slavery, does have consequences, and those consequences are that the rest of the nation does not have to face, confront, and remedy its own racist past–and present. Instead, there is an almost cathartic aspect in blaming the south for this national tragedy, and a failure to accept responsibility by the rest of the country. On the other hand, those who are diehard Lost Cause proponents and who did not learn the lessons of either the war or of the civil rights era, are holding the entire nation back )

    None of this is a game for African American men and women throughout the nation, and the emphasis during the sesquicentennial absolutely must be on the history of black men and women, as David Blight and others have said. The Civil War was an enormous tragedy for everyone concerned. But for no group of people was that tragedy greater than for African American men and women who entered the nation’s history as slaves, and who were given a bittersweet victory that it took another one hundred years to realize, and more, because we are still not where we need to be.

    I particularly appreciated your observation that the participants in the sesquicentennial symposium were subdued and not in a celebratory mood, Kevin–as in “We won!–because, there are no winners, in this “game”, as you know. Perhaps to reach a true understanding of our history, the sesquicentennial symposia to come should include a history of slavery, a history of the Civil War, a history of the years after the Civil War, and a history of the civil rights era, in an effort to really educate the public in a sober, and eye opening, way. The narrative neatly packaged from 1859 to 1865, does not tell the whole story of north, south, east, or west. As for those who continue to attack you–that is not ok. Your readers support you, Kevin. Sherree

    • Kevin Levin Jun 13, 2009

      Sherree,

      I think you make a number of excellent points here. No doubt, scholarship can and does often stagnate along certain interpretive lines. That’s just the nature of the beast and perhaps (especially with the more academic side of things) has something to do with how the process of scholarship is structured. Once in a while someone comes along and stirs the pot, which leads to new questions, etc. In some ways it’s a conservative process. As to your comment re: the sesquicentennial event in Richmond I also tend to agree. At times it did seem like the historians on stage were simply talking to one another, but what are the alternatives when you have an audience of roughly 1,500. I’ve read so much of the literature that nothing anyone said on stage came as a surprise to me. And yes, there is sometimes a feeling of let’s move on and look at it another way. In other ways, however, I thought the scope of the discussion was quite broad and forced the audience to think about a number of central issues from a different perspective.

  • Sherree Tannen Jun 13, 2009

    What you have said is also true, Kevin. The symposium was extremely educational. What was somewhat jarring for me, though, was the facility with which the historians all seemed to agree with one another, except for very nuanced distinctions. I don’t think that very many non university educated people who were listening could have gleaned from the conversation that the south wasn’t monolithic in its response to the war, or could have found many of the other topics that we cover on your blog. All in all, though, the symposium was great!

    I don’t know what the answer is. I do wish that there was a way to reach a wide general audience in a positive way. I think it would make a difference. In the work place of one of my relatives, as part of an educational project, a small mini course was taught on Thomas Jefferson. According to my relative, many of the people who were in the class were shocked to learn details about Jefferson’s thoughts about slaves. This did not have a negative impact. On the contrary, it helped the men and women gain understanding and a measure of empathy for their fellow citizens whose skin color is black (and beautiful, in my estimation, I might add) The class was taught in a constructive way, and not by accusing any group of people for the legacy of slavery. Maybe we need a course entitled “The History of the Civil War for the General Public 101″. Perhaps someone who reads your blog will develop such a course. Who knows.

  • Ed "Casey" Billhimer Sep 7, 2009

    I’m soo000000000 tired if hearing that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of hatred. In reality,
    to those who are trying to be “historically” correct, the current problem with the displaying of the Stars and Bars didn’t come into effect until racial tensions erupted during the 1960s. Unfortunately the “Good Ole Boys”, the KKK and other White Supremist groups chose the Confederate Battle Flag as one of their symbols of hatred toward our black brothers and sisters back then. If only they had chosen another flag perhaps the hatred toward our Southern heritage symbol, under which so many loyal southerners died, would have not developed. I challenge anyone reading this reply to find a pre-WWII photograph of the Klu Klux Klan flying a Confederate Battle Flag. You will see “Old Glory”, our flag of the United States of America, as well as the holy cross prominately displayed – but no Confederate flag. Why aren’t one or both of these items symbols of hatred? Most of us are proud of our U. S. Flag and what it represents and are proud that we were established as “one nation under God”. So why can’t the true Southern heritage groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans proudly
    display and promote the symbol of their heritage without being condemned. I am proud and honored to admit that I’m a Confederate-American. We Americans are all brothers and sisters regardless of color and have come a long way since the 1960s. Its great that today’s generation does
    not have to experience the racial tensions that were so strong forty years ago. If only………………….

    • Kevin Levin Sep 7, 2009

      Ed,

      Thanks for taking the time to write. Actually, the flag reappeared in the mid-1950s following the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. As you are no doubt well aware it was used by various states as a symbol of defiance against what they believed was unjustified federal intrusion. In other words, your characterization that the flag was hijacked by the KKK and others is simply inaccurate in that it fails to address the full story. You are correct in pointing out that the Confederate flag was rarely seen in public before WWII. The SCV has every right to fly the flag on private property. To suggest, however, that African Americans and others are mistaken in their perception of the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate ignores the relevant history.

      The best history of the Confederate flag is John Coski’s _The Confederate Battle Flag_ (Harvard University Press). Coski is one our foremost experts on the flag and a historian at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. I highly recommend it to you.

  • David Tatum Jr Sep 7, 2009

    Jumpin Jackrabbits !

    Ok African Americans have every right to be Apprehensive of the Battle Flag !
    As Native Americans have the right to be Apprehensive of the Stars and Stripes.
    But just a thought ! The Italian flag has changed since WWII a bit !
    Shouldn’t all Americans be Apprehensive of it ? like the Swastika !
    What about the flag of Japan ?
    Like it or not the flag of Confederate soldiers is here to stay !
    But in truth the flag you see in Tampa is NOT the Battle Flag !
    It is the Naval Jack. The Battle Flag is square !
    Perhaps the flag could be the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Tennessee,
    IF the white bands That represent Gods protection were a bit wider.
    It is my opinion that the Battle Flag is flown on the field of battle, not from a building !
    The Battle flag has a place at monuments as well.
    But to each his own. America ain’t it great ?

    Best Wishes to All and God Bless

    Dave Tatum

    • Kevin Levin Sep 7, 2009

      We can go around on this issue again if you so choose. I fail to see how bringing up other symbols helps us in any way to better understand the divisiveness of the Confederate flag. Whether or not the flag in Tampa is round, square, rectangular, or triangular it shouldn’t be any surprise as to why many Americans find it offensive given its history.

      Yes, America is a wonderful place.

  • David Tatum Sep 7, 2009

    Kevin
    I shall try to explain my statement. ( Me & you need to have a beer one evening and I don’t drink )
    OK – I brought up the other flags to show that no matter what symbol you display some
    one will have a beef with it. I stated that Black Americans have every right to be
    Apprehensive of the Battle flag, as it was and is used as a tool of intimidation.
    And given your passion for historical accuracy, I decided to try to inform you of the correct
    Description of a Battle Flag, as opposed to the other types.
    I also stated that the Battle Flag Belongs on a battle field, not on a building !
    Flying a Battle flag from your front porch is not the correct way to display it.
    Just as we have rules to display the Stars and Stripes, rules are in place about the correct display of the Battle Flag. I was informed of this by a state commander of the S.C.V.
    Flying the battle flag is permissible at battle fields and monuments.
    I hope this helps explain my statement and reasons for it.

    Dave Tatum

  • Kevin Levin Sep 7, 2009

    Dave,

    I appreciate the follow up. I appreciate the reference to the distinction, but I was trying to point out that it probably doesn’t/shouldn’t make a difference given the symbolism. I find it funny that you would cite the SCV as an example of the proper way to fly a flag. Do you really believe that what is flying over the highway outside of Tampa is appropriate or a proper commemoration of Confederate soldiers. In addition, I urge you to browse the SCV websites. There you will see what they really believe about the proper display of the flag. Most of them link to websites that sell all kinds of crap with the Confederate flag on it. The SCV is the last group that I would consult on the proper display of the flag.

    By the way, I don’t drink much at all so perhaps a couple of iced teas will work. :)

  • David Tatum Sep 8, 2009

    Kevin

    That huge flag in Tampa and other locations are doing exactly what they are intended to do.
    Get noticed, and start folks talking. This is my opinion as I have no Idea what is in the hearts of others.
    It may very well be a recruitment tool, as you know today’s youth doesn’t seem to have a clue about the war.

    As for the “Crap” at links on the S.C.V. web site, One mans trash is another mans treasure.
    The SCV is like any other organization, it needs funds to operate.

    One thing I hate is to see a Naval Jack with Elvis, or a pit bull in the center. it’s a disgrace.
    ( Remember the Naval Jack is rectangular )

    The Man I spoke with is a former Commander of the Army of Northern VA. SCV. He is an honest and hard working man who truly loves our organization.

    I can’t help but feel you have a bone to pick with the SCV. I will extend an invitation to you.
    If you are in the area on the 4th Monday of the month, come to a camp meeting as my guest.
    Unannounced no mention of blogs books or anything, as an unknown. Sit in on the meeting have dinner With the camp, listen to what is said listen to the evening’s program and judge the actions of the camp for yourself. If you can show me an iota of racist activity I will resign.
    Or if you prefer I can make arrangements for you to be the speaker. You won’t get rich but you will get gas money and a sack of peanuts.
    The ball is in your court ! And the Ice tea comes with the dinner !

    Dave Tatum

    • Kevin Levin Sep 8, 2009

      David,

      I very much appreciate the invitation to join you at your SCV meeting. Unfortunately, my busy schedule prevents me from doing so. Actually, I’ve attended a number of meetings as a guest as well as speaker. I’ve had different experiences, some good and some bad. I do not “have a bone to pick” with the SCV beyond my questions about how they go about remembering the past and often distorting the historical record.

      If the links to the garbage is simply a matter of fund raising problems than that doesn’t reflect well on the SCV. So, we are saying it’s ok to denigrate the Confederate flag as long as it makes us a buck. Thanks again for the invite.

  • Brett Moffatt Sep 11, 2009

    Kevin,
    I, as a member of the SCV, do not think it is OK to denigrate any Confederate flag. I design t-shirts that educate and honour our heritage. The SCV has often denounced those who misuse the flag. (by the way, I was at the flag raising in Tennessee in June)
    It’s not only remembering the past and honouring our ancestors; the SCV has an important task trying to educate the public, which is taught lies about history in most public schools. If people understood history, we’d have a lot fewer problems today. It’s been 20 years since “The South Was Right” was published, almost 10 years since “When in the Course of Human Events” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to U.S. History”, yet the advances in research have not made a great impact in the education system in general. So we must try harder.
    The use of the Confederate battle flag around the world as a symbol of liberty and the struggle against tyranny is well documented and understood in other countries. It is the continued abuse the media inflicts upon us. The issue of the flag is a simple one: If one uses it properly, there is no problem. If one uses it as a tool of hate, it is not the flag, but the heart of the person that is the problem. Until you change the person, you cannot move forward.
    Sincerely,
    Brett Moffatt

    • Kevin Levin Sep 12, 2009

      Brett,

      First, thanks fort taking the time to write. It’s safe to say that most books published in the field of Civil War history have had little impact on the broader society. I consider the three books you referenced to be entirely inadequate when it comes to explaining much of anything related to the Civil War. They do appeal to those who continue to maintain a “Lost Cause” version of the war and I suspect they will continue to do so into the future. There have been very important advances in our understanding of the Civil War over the last 20 years that take us way beyond books such as Kennedy’s.

      As for the flag, you can no doubt find it being used as a symbol of liberty and freedom, but that does not negate the fact that it was and continues to be used as a symbol of hate. No one has a monopoly on determining the final meaning of a symbol as controversial as the flag and I believe those people who believe it to be a symbol of hate are justified based on the historical facts – specifically the 1950s and 60s. Finally, I have come across way too many distortions of the past by the SCV (specifically in regard to so-called black Confederates) to take the idea of an educational mission seriously. This is not to say that there are not some very smart and honest members who care about the past.

  • Name Sep 15, 2009

    I'm a Southerner and yet I would never support the flag of the people enslaving and murdering, raping and burning, beheading, dismembering, ect… my ancestors. But I guess this idiot knows me better then myself and knows that really I wish I could be there acting a damned fool… I wouldn't like to be there and I'm from South Carolina…

    Clayton Bigsby anyone?

  • msimons Nov 2, 2009

    Kevin I was told by a local SCV Leader here in TX that more are coming all across the South over the next 5 years.

  • msimons Nov 2, 2009

    Kevin I was told by a local SCV Leader here in TX that more are coming all across the South over the next 5 years.

Leave a Comment