Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Neo-Confederates

You can’t make up these stories. The other day I told you about two students who posed waving Confederate flags on the Gettysburg battlefield, along with a comment about purchasing slaves.

Yesterday a news story out of Colorado showed a group of students posing with guns and a Confederate flag as part of their prom celebrations.

Finally, we have the Maclay School in Florida, which decided to take their students deeper into the history of the Civil War with a reenactment that included the Confederate flag. Following a parent complaint about the flag, the school’s headmaster offered the following.

Maclay’s teachers are constantly seeking ways to deepen our students’ understanding of history. Project based simulations or hands on exercises are one way we help the students understand what history was truly like through experience and discussion. Our Civil War class this semester involved a reenactment of a battle complete with uniforms, flags, Nerf guns and in-depth discussions.

I do hope you weren’t drinking anything when reading that passage.

I agree with Marc Lamont Hill that in the case of the first two stories we are not talking about bad kids, but their apparent ignorance of the history of the flag is not an excuse. It is a wonderful example of white privilege, that these students do no have to worry about the racial implications of their actions.

It’s nice to hear from concerned parents in all three stories, but this is a teaching opportunity for the history/social studies departments at all three schools. Let’s hope they embrace it.

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“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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14 comments… add one
  • Cyndie Kottkamp May 6, 2015 @ 12:54

    I think this is a wonderful example of race baiting and making a problem where there isn’t one. I am weary of people being offended by any and everything. Grow up.

    • msb May 6, 2015 @ 23:26

      Yes, it’s sad how those kids may have seized on a symbol that large numbers of people object to, waved it around in order to “épater les adultes” and thereby created a statement of hatefulness and/or ignorance that may follow them around well after they grow up. One hopes they mature intellectually, too, to a point at which race baiting doesn’t seem funny or cool.

  • fundrums May 6, 2015 @ 10:12

    The NPS does a great kid’s Civil War camp here in Fredericksburg. I believe they do a ‘soldier’s life experience’ with wooden “muskets” and marching. It’s both tasteful and educational. This business you brought to our attention is ridiculous on so many levels. – Michael Aubrecht

  • Glenn B May 6, 2015 @ 6:28

    When I teach my Civil War course, I take the class outside and line them up in ranks facing each other. I do this to explain why commanders still had to mass their troops shoulder-to-shoulder in order to deliver an effective fire at their enemy. I’ve been doing that ever since my days as an NPS ranger because I think it is an effective means of overcoming the tired and overly-simplistic trope of “Civil War casualties were so high because tactics did not keep up with weaponry.” But do I give them flags and fake guns and have them charge and scream and pretend to shoot at each other? NO WAY! Sure, that might be more fun for them, but I am not sure that it should be “fun” and entertaining to learn the reasons why Civil War casualties were so high. It should be a reflective, somber, and depressing exercise. You can’t tell me that those kids in Florida didn’t hoot and holler and laugh and get worked up over their little mock battle. That isn’t the kind of impact I think an educator should be trying to make when explaining the war’s excessive body count.

    And then to have white kids gleefully waving a Rebel flag while hollering and pretending to be violent? How could an educator NOT know that there would be other students that would take offense, or at the very least, feel “uncomfortable.” Boggles the mind.

    • Kevin Levin May 6, 2015 @ 6:33

      Nailed it, Glenn. I would love to hear from those involved how a Nerf gun adds anything constructive to this exercise.

  • Lyle Smith May 6, 2015 @ 5:46

    Unless these kids are advocating for the return of slavery it’s not accurate to call them “neo-Confederates”. Their white privilege can’t even save them from that these days!

    • Kevin Levin May 6, 2015 @ 5:56

      I wouldn’t read too much into the title. Thought it was catchy.

      • Lisa Laskin May 6, 2015 @ 9:56

        I thought neo-Confederates was a bit strong, too, but my first reaction was idiots, which was just mean.

        • Kevin Levin May 6, 2015 @ 16:37

          I am very careful about how I use that reference, but it was just too good not to pass up for this post.

  • Boyd Harris May 6, 2015 @ 5:38

    One of my family’s most treasured relics is the Nerf gun my great-great-great granddaddy brought back from Appomattox. Damn Yankees took his slip-n-slide. 🙂

    • Kevin Levin May 6, 2015 @ 5:39

      I want to be very clear that I am in no way anti-Nerf gun. 🙂

    • woodrowfan May 6, 2015 @ 16:23

      I eagerly await the painting of Lee and Jackson conferring while sitting astride their Big Wheels…..

  • Eric A. Jacobson May 6, 2015 @ 3:27

    Kevin, I am thrilled to learn that a Waylon Jennings melody and lyric was bouncing around in your head. Well done. Well done I say. 🙂

    • Kevin Levin May 6, 2015 @ 3:30

      Wish I could take credit for it, but a FB friend posted the Colorado story with that comment. Of course, I asked for permission to use it because it is brilliant.

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