Sweet Southern Victory in Pensacola, Florida

On Thursday evening Escambia County’s board of county commissioners voted to remove the Confederate flag from the Pensacola Bay Center. This wouldn’t be such important news but for the fact that a certain Southern romance writer and blogger, who monitors what she calls “Flogger” blogs (like mine), happens to live there.

Below is a video of the meeting. The public testimony in favor of removal is really quite passionate. Unfortunately, the video does not include testimony from residents in favor of keeping the flag.

It’s not clear whether our “sweet” friend was in attendance. Perhaps she was too busy monitoring heritage violations elsewhere and overlooked what was happening in her own backyard. After four days of hard rain and clouds here in Boston it looks like the sun is coming out. Perfect timing. 🙂

[Uploaded to YouTube on December 12, 2014]

About Kevin Levin

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and leave a comment if you are so inclined. Looking for more Civil War content? Join the Civil War Memory Facebook group and follow me on Twitter. Check out my book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, which is an ideal introduction to the subject of Civil War memory and the 1864 battle.

32 comments add yours

  1. I looked at her blog and she did not even try to rally support for the CBF flying in her own community. Nor could I find her quoted in the news media coverage of the vote. How odd that a self-styled defender of the CBF decides to take a powder when the controversy comes to her community. Frankly it either reflects her embarrassment to have her neighbors learn of her views or her laziness.

    • Not one word. For someone who is supposedly committed to monitoring heritage violations one would assume that her own blog would be utilized to highlight one taking place right in her own backyard. How embarrassing.

  2. What is “Southern Heritage”? I have come to the conclusion that there is Nothing to be proud of……..unless you are proud of wanting to continue slavery as it was at the time……….to be proud of fighting to expand slavery west to the territories……..to be proud of renouncing a solemn oath to your. Country and Flag, as every military man, (from Lee down), did… ……….to be proud of being so “Devoted” to your Country, that because an election didn’t go your way, you turn your back on it, (not unlike what has been going on since 2008), without the secession. Although, I had to think how sad, (and idiotic), it was to hear governors of states actually use the word in the recent past. Let’s face it…….the founding fathers wanted this to be a Union of States. Anyone who denies this is fooling him or herself. If secession was legal, and one, (or more), of the 13 states didn’t like the way things were going with their New federal government in Richmond, then I suppose they could of seceded from that Government. Where would it of ended? Fifty different countries? No one can say that this is what our founders had in mind in the 1770’s. And, perhaps the worst of the heritage, was religious leaders in the south preaching, (and fighting), for the continued enslavement of other human beings………using the bible, and their supposed stupidity, as reasons. If you withhold education from ANY group of people for 200 plus years, could you expect anything else? No, no, no……..I personally find nothing for the south to be proud of. If your proud of hundreds of thousands of people dying…….for absolutely no reason, then you have some major issues to deal with, and should seek professional help.

    • There’s an old tradition of disparaging “the South”. Jennifer Rae Greeson in her book _Our South_ traces the tradition to the foundation of the US, and locates discussion of “the south” in the larger discourse about the American nation.

      http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674024281

      For another angle on this issue, google “David Jansson” and “internal orientalism”.

      And, if you’ve missed H. L. Mencken’s “The Sahara of the Bozart,” the best-ever piece of southern-culture-bashing, you can read it here.
      http://writing2.richmond.edu/jessid/eng423/restricted/mencken.pdf

      When I was a college boy in Atlanta (Emory, 1960) I read Mencken’s piece with dismay, because it seemed that much of it was probably true, but it was funny. So I read it over and over, perhaps ten times; that experience armor-plated me against south-bashing.

      Finally, here is a musical note from, “Southern Culture on the Skids”.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m3rMrva0To

      I’m unsure just who is being mocked; that’s the way it is with music.

      • Thanks for the link by Southern Culture on the Skids. The CBF looks good as a bikini! I saw them live and may even have a forgotten CD (or gasp record) laying around somewhere. Great rockabilly band.

        On another note the late Joe Bageant, a Winchester WV native, friend of Hunter S. Thompson, humorist, socialist and redneck, has a website with most of his writings ( http://www.joebageant.com/joe/ ) explaining Southern/redneck culture.

  3. No whaling and gnashing of teeth from this quarter, Mr. Watson. No wailing, either. However … coming soon: West Florida Flaggers.

    Perhaps I’ll also beging scouting around the city/county for locations for a giant battle flag…

    • You are within your rights to do so, but regardless of what size flag you erect it cannot undo the fact that the people of Pensacola and Escambia have spoken through their elected officials that the Confederate flag does not represent their values.

      • Sorry, no. This was a done deal long before the meeting and the vote, just like the Bonfield deal 15 years ago was done long before the city council meeting where it was “discussed” after the fact.

        The people of Pensacola and Escambia County spoke through their elected officials? What a joke. Due to prevailing economics, a great many people here are simply trying make a living, pay rent/mortgage, buy food and gas, and provide for their families. You’re an ideologue; the vast majority of people are not. I doubt seriously most residents, particularly in the north part of the county, knew about this vote beforehand — and many probably still don’t.

        These anti-Confederate victories you applaud are not some spontaneous outpouring of rejection of Confederate heritage, Mr. Levin. The are the result of an organized and abundantly funded, behind-the-scenes effort orchestrated largely by people who don’t even live in the areas whose history and heritage they attack. And, no, this is not a conspiracy theory. It’s well documented.

        Most heritage defenders are far from wealthy and are not hardened Alinskyite activists. However, they do increasingly understand that attacks on Confederate heritage is a stepping stone to bigger targets, and hopefully they will learn to defend not only their heritage but their culture before it is all wrested from them in the name of “change.”

        • The are the result of an organized and abundantly funded, behind-the-scenes effort orchestrated largely by people who don’t even live in the areas whose history and heritage they attack.

          Perhaps you should watch the video. I believe everyone who spoke lives in Pensacola and Escambia County and some were life long residents.

          You’re an ideologue; the vast majority of people are not. I doubt seriously most residents, particularly in the north part of the county, knew about this vote beforehand — and many probably still don’t.

          Call me what you will. You apparently had no idea a vote was set to take place. Nothing on your website to indicate that Confederate heritage was under assault in your own backyard. Must be pretty embarrassing.

          All in all, a pretty self-serving explanation that fails to change the fact that thoughtful and concerned residents, who likely are struggling to make ends meet, decided to voice their concerns and bring about change. That’s how democracy works.

        • Let us examine Ms. Chastain’s explanation for why she was completely inactive in the face of the Pensacola vote. First, she writes:

          “Sorry, no. This was a done deal long before the meeting and the vote, just like the Bonfield deal 15 years ago was done long before the city council meeting where it was “discussed” after the fact.”

          She seems to be saying two things in that paragraph:
          1) She knew about the vote in advance and consciously decided not to write about/agitate against it, and
          2) Because it was a “done deal” she did not take action.

          There are several problems with this. First, if it was a “done deal” by the time of the vote, one would have expected that she would have taken action earlier, before the deal was done. In carefully examining her blogs over the last several months, I could not find any references to the effort to remove the Pensacola flag. No attempt to rally the metaphorical troops to try to sway the board. Nothing.

          Second, she seems to say that once something is a “done deal”, the time for protest is past. That is odd. Does she believe that once the City of Lexington, Va. decided to remove Confederate flags from city street lamps that the controversy ended then? What about the situation at Washington and Lee? I don’t recall her opining that once the university president had decided to take the Confederate flag out of the Lee Chapel that the matter ended. Nor did she take the position that the “done deal” at the Virgina Museum of Fine Arts mandated the cessation of flagging.

          Give the Virginia Flaggers credit for being willing to change out of their pajamas, put on their Confederate kepis and sunglasses, get out onto the streets (albeit in ever decreasing numbers), risk the ridicule and anger of their neighbors and exposure as backwards thinking holdovers from the era of Massive Resistance for what they believe in. As my mom would have said “They may not be very smart but at least they have the courage of their convictions.”

          Ms. Chastain also says:
          “I doubt seriously most residents, particularly in the north part of the county, knew about this vote beforehand — and many probably still don’t.”

          If I am an advocate on an issue and people sympathetic to my side don’t know it is being voted on, then that is my fault if I did not make an effort to inform them. The fact that Ms. Chastain, who claims to care passionately about this issue, did not even make the 15 minute expenditure of time to put information about it on her blog, the barest minimum that a concerned citizen could do, speaks volumes about her. She appears nowhere in media coverage of this vote either.

          In stating that locals “still don’t” know about this vote, she evades her own responsibility. She may not have known that the vote was to take place before Thursday, as I suspect, but she does now. She has posted two articles since the flag vote, but neither deals with her hometown vote.

          She also writes that the Pensacola flag vote is “the result of an organized and abundantly funded, behind-the-scenes effort orchestrated largely by people who don’t even live in the areas whose history and heritage they attack. And, no, this is not a conspiracy theory. It’s well documented.”

          She should use her blog to provide the documentation about the big money rolling in to remove the flag from Pensacola. She won’t, because she does not have it.

          Far from being a “well documented” fact, it is, in fact, undocumented.

    • You go, girl! Start your “beging” as soon as possible. However, understand that WFF looks a lot like WTF, which is what I’m sure people will be saying when you start your protests. We’ll be disappointed if we don’t see a website, a FaceBook page, a Twitter account, and five dust jacket designs up within a week, followed in a year by the dedication of a new really big CBF along the interstate. Otherwise, I’m afraid you’ll have failed to honor your ancestors and all those who served the Confederacy … all those sweet southern boys.

      This will be quite the spinoff of the Virginia Flaggers reality/comedy show. Don’t disappoint us.

      • She doesn’t honor a single confederate with her lies. They said why they did what they did and they went to war over it. She and her mentally challenged friends just do not like that and lie about it. They dishonor those confederates every single time they deny what those confederates stated.

  4. Well put David. Andrew Jackson put it similarly: “To shew the absurdity — Congress have the right to admit new states. When territories they are subject to the laws of the Union. The day after admission, they have the right to secede and dissolve it.”
    Andrew Jackson to Martin Van Buren, 25 December 1832

  5. David wrote: “If secession was legal, and one, (or more), of the 13 states didn’t like the way things were going with their New federal government in Richmond, then I suppose they could of seceded from that Government.”

    The CS constitution makers spent a lot of time and energy correcting the mistakes in the US version and clarifying the ambiguities in the old one. But, given the chance to state that any CS state could unilaterally secede, they turned down the opportunity. Evidently secession was OK when it was dastardly Yankees who were being seceded against, but not the Southern chivalry.

    • Bob Huddleston wrote:
      “The CS constitution makers spent a lot of time and energy correcting the mistakes in the US version and clarifying the ambiguities in the old one. But, given the chance to state that any CS state could unilaterally secede, they turned down the opportunity.”

      But that proves little. If the rebels had *explicitly* authorized secession, then one might read that as an admission that it wasn’t present in the 1789 constitution.

      • Hugh, The CS Constitution corrected a number of mistakes and cleared up a number of ambiguities in the US version. The most glaring was to not pussy foot around on slavery!

        Below are some excerpts:

        Preamble

        We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, …

        Sec. 9. (1) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

        ARTICLE IV

        Sec. 2. (1) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

        (3) No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.

        (3) The Confederate States may acquire new territory; …. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

        • Good quotes, Bob.

          I meant to only address the matter of silence on secession. I thought you were making some kind of argument from silence, something like this: Since the rebels didn’t put an explicit state power of secession in the CS constitution, then that silence proves something about their own act of secession. Maybe you didn’t mean to suggest anything like that, and I misunderstood your point.

          Why did you quote these pro-slavery provisions in reply? Did you read my post as some kind of statement about slavery and the rebels?

  6. Another much smaller but similar story from the Sunshine State, though this one is on private property — Since 1992, the large and well-known Woodlawn Cemetery in Gotha, FL (west Orlando area) has maintained a “Five Flags Over Florida” memorial inside their main gate. It features five flag poles on which fly the flags of the “countries” who presided over Florida from its earliest days: Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States. (The Confederate flag was always the First or Second national banner, not the battle flag) There is also a bronze plaque explaining this along with an inscription which reads “Representatives from these five countries presented their flags at a Woodlawn ceremony during the Rotary International Convention on June 14, 1992.”

    I have visited a family gravesite at this cemetery since 1991 and always looked at the flags on my way out. Just a month ago, I noticed a change. The Confederate flag was gone and had been replaced by the well-known, black and white MIA-POW flag. I inquired as to why the change and could not get an answer. On manager surmised it had been a teenage prank. But to date, the MIA-POW replacement flag is still there. It is private property and the owners of the cemetery may do what they wish, nonetheless it does seem to be a bit of a head-scratcher.

  7. Ms. Chastain showed greater alacrity in responding to Kevin than she did to the proposal in her putative home town . Maybe she lives on the net.

      • Yesterday I submitted a comment on her blog asking her to explain her inaction. Although she has posted a couple of things there subsequently, she has posted neither an explanation nor even my question.

        Perhaps this reminder will spur her to action.

        • It simply spurred her to deny that you offered a response. That reminds me of all the times I heard that I had blocked a response from a Confederate heritage folk that in fact never made it into my inbox. So what we have is Ms. Chastain accusing you of the tactics employed by her buddies and like-minded folks.

          The fact remains that you are on the money. She failed in her self-professed mission as a defender of Confederate heritage. She failed to alert her fellow citizens of the impending threat to all she holds dear. Now she looks to become a pale version of Susan Hathaway. Let’s just say that the folks in Pensacola are in for a rich debate, because they deserve to know more about Ms. Chastain as a representative of Confederate heritage.

  8. She says it will take “weeks” to set up the operation. Bathrooms must be scouted! Perhaps they will contract Tripp’s tredegar drone works inc. to do some recon.

Now that you've read the post, share your thoughts.