Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia
I’ve taken a little time this morning to check out the responses surrounding the Confederate flag in Lexington, Virginia. I am struck by the over-the-top/vitriolic nature of much of what is being posted around the Internet. Blanket generalizations are being issued about what motivated the city council as well as emotional statements promising never to return to the city. It seems to boil down to the belief that Southern heritage has been violated or the rights of southerners have somehow been cruelly violated. What are we to make of this?
These people seem to forget that Lexington is a southern town and its residents, who I assume we must include within that same category, arrived at a decision as to how they wish their community to be represented or how they wish their tax dollars to be used. Southerners have spoken loud and clear through their councilmen. Even more interesting is the fact that this is the clearest example of local government in action. No despotic power from the outside forced this decision on the good folks of Lexington. For a group of people who consistently go into fits and seizures about the dangers of federal power and the tyrant Lincoln you would think that they would celebrate democracy in action on the most local level.
It comes down to the question of who is and who is not a Southerner. I see Civil War memory at work here on a number of levels.