Update: Well, you heard it here first. Tripp Lewis of the Virginia Flaggers declares that Matthew Heimbach is a “good guy.”
The Virginia Flaggers are still intent on placing a large Confederate flag off of Interstate 95 near Richmond, Virginia by the end of September. The Richmond media has interviewed Susan Hathaway and others about their goals in placing the flag in such a prominent place and their preferred interpretation of the Confederate flag. What the major news channels have not done, however, is look into the membership of the Flaggers and whether their talk of Confederate heritage reflects the broader values of the Richmond community.
Thanks to Brooks Simpson (and here) and Andy Hall we are learning more about individual members (or individuals who are claimed as members by the Flaggers) such as Matthew Heimbach. Susan Hathaway and the rest of the Flaggers have gone on record attacking prominent members of Richmond’s history and museum community for their supposed Confederate heritage betrayals. The Virginia Flaggers should be held accountable to the very same standard. Richmonders should ask themselves whether Matthew Heimbach’s view of Confederate heritage represents their own.
This should be important to Richmonders and I believe the Richmond media has a responsibility to look into this story further. The city of Richmond has never been better positioned to reflect on its rich and complex history. It’s museums, including the National Civil War Museum at Tredegar, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond National Battlefield Park, Virginia Historical Society, Valentine Museum and Maggie Walker House, offer residents and visitors multiple windows into the region’s story. It’s commemorative landscape of markers and monuments reflects a city that has embraced and celebrated an ever wider spectrum of stories and legacies.
It may not have been a pressing issue to look into Flagger membership when they were content to walking up and down the Boulevard in front of the VMFA, but as they have emerged in the public’s eye they should expect increased scrutiny when questions are left unanswered or intentionally ignored. There may be nothing that can be done legally to prevent the Flaggers from flying their Confederate flag off of I-95, but Richmonders have an interest in knowing who is donating money and who is working behind the scenes to make this happen. Until then, the Virginia Flaggers’ claims to defending any kind of heritage is bunk.