The Lost Cause Loses in Lexington

Confederate Flag Used as Symbol of "Massive Resistance" in Public Schools During Civil Rights Movement

While I am much more interested in how many t-shirts H.K. Edgerton sold, I would remiss if I didn’t note for the record that the City Council of Lexington voted last night to maintain the ordinance preventing the display of the Confederate flag on city street poles.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans have made a big deal about this, but the issue was never whether the flag could be displayed in parades and other venues.  In fact, the ordinance doesn’t change much of anything in terms of the visibility of the flag.

What will be lost on most people is that while the local SCV put on a good show the city council allowed the residents of Lexington to speak first and it looks like the majority (both black and white) supported the maintaining of the ordinance.  Ultimately, this is a local issue.  Public spaces that commemorate the past have always reflected the will of the people – more specifically, the will of those who are given a voice in local government.  I suspect that very few people in Lexington have any desire to push their rich history under a rug.  What they are saying is that the public display of the Confederate flag on poles that are supported by their own tax dollars do not reflect their values.  No doubt, many will take up the mantle of victimization, but that is not what this is about.

Don’t worry boys, it looks like the ACLU may come to your rescue.

11 comments… add one

  • Lyle Smith Sep 3, 2011

    Kevin,

    Where is there a reference to the ACLU getting involved? I’ve not seen them mentioned in any of the linked articles. I might have missed it though.

    • Andy Hall Sep 3, 2011

      Richmond Times-Dispatch:

      The city attempted nearly 20 years ago to ban the display of the Confederate flag during a parade honoring Jackson. The American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully defended the group’s bid to carry the flag, is closely watching this dispute from afar.

      “City Council could live to regret this ordinance, as it imposes unusually restrictive limits on the use of the light poles,” said Kent Willis, the ACLU’s executive director in Virginia. “Sometime in the future when city officials want to use those light poles to promote a special event, they may find themselves handcuffed by their own lawmaking.”

      Perhaps Mr. Willis could be co-counsel with Kirk Lyons. That would be awesome.

      • Kevin Levin Sep 3, 2011

        Thanks, Andy. I noticed a few references to the ACLU in the news coverage.

    • Brooks D. Simpson Sep 3, 2011

      Lyle–Kent Willis of Virginia’s ACLU has offered some observations about the decision, and he’s been quoted in various reports.

      • Lyle Smith Sep 3, 2011

        Thanks. I think the ordinance is narrowly tailored enough to survive a challenge in court. Mr. Willis makes a great point though.

        • Brooks D. Simpson Sep 3, 2011

          I think the ACLU will keep an eye on this and will take action should certain other flags appear.

  • Billy Bearden Sep 3, 2011

    While awaiting my turn to address the council, I engaged a few ‘pro-ban’ people in the crowd, and not a single one had any objections to the Rainbow Gay pride flag flown earlier in Richmond and hoped they could see our flags replaced with those flags in the pole standards. From that I left sensing a liberal agenda mindset

    • Kevin Levin Sep 3, 2011

      Of course you sensed a “liberal agenda mindset.” :-)

    • Ray O'Hara Sep 3, 2011

      Rainbow Flags don’t celebrate treason or White Supremacy,. The S&Bs and CBF do.
      that is the real issue. The H&H people will take all leave of common sense and say. “hey they are flying flags that promote old home day or the like so we should be able to fly our flag to intimidate others of a non-European heritage.

  • Falcon Taylor Sep 3, 2011

    Hey Kevin – I read your blog all the time & love it. I never comment because alot of the academia talk is, frankly, way above my brain. But while I agree with your opinion on the Confederate flag controversy (and most of what you opine), your statement that it is “much ado about nothing” seems a little too dismissive. To those people, it is very much about “something” – ignorance notwithstanding… They are determined to be backward-looking & progress be damned. I feel sort of bad for them, don’t you? When the remains of Jesse James were being buried again after his 1996 DNA study was finished, they were not allowed to use the confederate flag for his burial ceremony because it might offend some people & I didn’t think that was right. But I just keeping praying that our human race will continue to progress as these knuckle-draggers die off!

    • Kevin Levin Sep 3, 2011

      Thanks for the kind words and for reading. I say that because the decision doesn’t change anything. If you wanted to walk down main street in Lexington right now with a Confederate flag you can do so.

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