UDC Snubs Virginia Flaggers

Update: Margaret Blough reminded me that the UDC has always maintained a strict code for displaying the Confederate flag.  Their concern has always been that liberal use would disconnect it from the Civil War – a lesson the Flaggers and others should take to heart.

Looks like the Virginia Flaggers suffered a setback this week during their ongoing boycott of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for removing Confederate flags from in front of the Pelham Chapel.  The trouble started after the group attempted to take a photograph in front of the national headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Apparently, a representative of the UDC explained to the Flaggers that their presence threatened their status as a tax exempt organization. Someone is going to have to explain that one to me. Interestingly, the UDC does not use the battle flag on their official insignia.

Has the UDC always used the First National as part of their logo or is this a more recent change?  Somehow I doubt that their concern with the Flaggers has solely to do with taxes.

14 responses... add one

My recollection is that the UDC has actually been pretty consistent in its opposition to the modern politicization of the battle flag even from the days of Strom Thurmond and his Dixiecrats. This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t heavily invested in the Lost Cause and Jim Crow. UDC was the moving force behind the overwhelming drive to have Southern school districts name schools after Confederate leaders, especially generals, even when it was not what the residents (white only) of the school district wanted to name their school. However, they had a very strict definition of when it was appropriate to display the battle flag.

Margaret, I think you’ve commented before on the “stab in the back” narrative about World War I that burbled up in Weimar Republic. There’s a certain amount of that going on now in the Confederate heritage movement (note the full title of the video clip), directed with particular vehemence at individuals and organizations like the MoC that the True Southrons should be trying to work with, not against. The rhetoric coming out just in the last few days against the UDC is of the sort normally reserved for, um, “anti-Confederate bloggers”:

guardians embrace treason

The South has been betrayed by her very daughters

they have Sold Their Soul To The Devil, they are Traitors Of The Highest Measure

If it sleeps with the enemy, acts like enemy, talks like the enemy…. It IS the enemy!

. . . and so on. They haven’t suggested lynching the leadership of the UDC, as they have poor Waite Rawls, but it’s coming.

This foolishness will not end well for the folks who talk like this, because they’re actively, willfully, pushing themselves farther and farther outside the bounds of reasonable and rational discussion. With talk like that, they’re making themselves more irrelevant, and taken less seriously, with each breath. Like Edgerton, they win the wild applause of other true believers, but the rest of the world can only gape, and laugh. I don’t know why, exactly, the UDC pushed them off that organization’s property, but given their reaction to it, you can see why they’d want to keep them at arm’s length.

They thrive on the belief that they are under attack. How unfortunate given that there is so much room in which to creatively engage those who have an interest in learning and forging a meaningful connection to the past.

Kevin,

Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you!

Buck

The UDC has used that emblem at least as far back as 1920, although whether that use has been continuous, I cannot say.

As I understand, the stated reason is that their 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization — not just that they themselves don’t pay taxes, but that individuals can deduct donations made to them from their own income taxes — bars them from engaging in explicitly partisan, political activities. The Virginia Flaggers have, among other things, pushed the “Boot Elrod” campaign to defeat Lexington Mayor Mimi Elrod, and (as Brooks has pointed out) their group is also publicly supported by other groups like the SNN and the LoS with an explicit secessionist political platform and, arguably, an emphasis on white Southern identity. The distinctions between Confederate heritage remembrance, Southern nationalism and modern politics get very blurry, very fast when it comes to appropriating the memory of the Confederacy, and the UDC may simply have been trying to draw a bright line in keeping themselves apart from things outside their perceived mission.

It’s also possible that the folks at the UDC headquarters simply didn’t want to be associated with the Flaggers, and gave the tax status excuse because it was the easiest response at that particular moment.

Martha Rogers Van Schaick, President General of the UDC has responded to this event, with this explanation of events leading up to Saturday’s incident:

On December 26, 2011, I responded to Ms. Hathaway advising that Pelham Chapel is not a UDC memorial and that our involvement in this issue could be construed as a ‘political activity’ that would possibly put our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status at risk. I further advised that our Bylaws prevent our involvement in ‘political activity’ and for that reason; the UDC was unable to allow the use of the flag poles located on the front of our UDC Memorial Building. I reminded her that the First National Flag flies daily in front of the UDC Memorial Building in perpetual honor of our Confederate ancestors.

On Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2012, Ms. Hathaway came to our building and asked to speak with me. Mrs. Lucy Steele, Chairman of the Memorial Building Board of Trustees (who was in the building on other business) and I met with Ms. Hathaway. The request was that they be allowed to ‘gather’ on the front of our property. She was advised that we would not allow that.

The request was then made to allow them to ‘gather’ on the back corner of our property. Mrs. Steele pointed out that the property at the back corner belonged to VMFA but that we did not have a problem with it but she would have to seek approval from VMFA.

Ms. Hathaway then asked if the “No Trespassing” signs that had been posted recently were because of them and if they gathered on our property would the police be called. She was told that, as with any trespasser, we would call the police.

We explained to Ms. Hathaway that there have been instances of people sleeping under the bushes around the building. Recently during a work day, a man was seen crouching between the bushes and the building with binoculars which raised questions as to his intentions. The police were called at that time. “No Trespassing” signs were placed on our property in an effort to protect not only our building but our employees as they come and go, often times during early morning and evening hours.

On Saturday, March 10, 2012, during our Annual Spring Board Meeting, the VA Flaggers gathered on the sidewalk in front of the UDC Memorial Building. A short time later, they were observed leaning and perched on the cannons ignoring signs stating do not climb on the cannons. They then moved from the cannons to the steps leading to our building for a group photo. At this point, Mrs. Steele went out to ask them to move from the steps to the sidewalk – some moved immediately. Others remained on the steps. During this time, the Richmond City Police were called.

If this account of events is accurate, the Virginia Flaggers had been warned days in advance that they would not be welcomed, and the police would be called, and they did it anyway. Sort of like the Flagger who had the encounter with the VMFA security guard, and by a remarkable stroke of luck happened to be wearing a recording mic at the time.

Since its founding in 1894, the First National Flag has been used on UDC insigna. It is our logo. It is the First, naturally, with 7 stars. It was chosen to symbolize the birth of the Confederacy and the Birth of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

It’s more basic than an argument over which flag best represents the Confedracy. The UDC leadership declined to get themselves drawn into a pissing match by the Flaggers against their next-door neighbor, the VMFA. After months of making that clear to Hathaway & Co., they warned her not to bring her group on their property. She ignored that, and played the victim when the UDC responded exactly as they said they would.

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