Visualizing Confederate Flag Rallies

The Southern Poverty Law Center has put together a map illustrating where the largest and most frequent Confederate flag rallies have taken place over the summer. According to the article, the largest rallies have taken place in Ocala, Florida, North Carolina and in Charleston Columbia, South Carolina in July. Most of these rallies are relatively small. In fact, if you really think about it an overall number of 23,000 is pretty insignificant.

Confederate Flag Rallies

Many of these rallies took place in reaction to the removal of  a flag or threat thereof, but except in a select few examples they have been completely ineffective in convincing communities to keep their Confederate flags flying. It is certainly easy to exaggerate the significance of these rallies since it only takes a few pick-up trucks or loud motorcycles to attract the attention of local media.

As I pointed out the other day, the only Confederate flags that ought to matter are the ones that continue to come down from public property. That is likely to continue. If some people need to drive around with Confederate flags, I say more power to them. They are doing so in full public view and if this is their way of blowing off steam than it is preferable to other types of responses.

And in case you missed it, The College of William and Mary is removing Confederate imagery from a ceremonial silver mace.

So, the next time you see an individual waving a flag, smile, and wish them a good day.

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39 comments… add one
  • Todd Thompson Sep 2, 2015 @ 17:02

    Abraham Lincoln Charleston Illinois 1856 “I am not now nor have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And Inasmuch as they can’t so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of having the superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. Yet I don’t perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position, the Negro should be denied everything. I don’t understand that because I do not want a Negro Woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife. I can just leave here alone.”

    • Kevin Levin Sep 2, 2015 @ 17:07

      Thanks for providing this quote from Lincoln, which is very well known. Without an interpretation it is impossible for anyone to know why it is being presented here. It would be interesting to compare this with what Lincoln had to say about race relations in 1864-65.

  • Kate Casey Aug 18, 2015 @ 21:13

    Kevin Levin–You obviously don”t live or drive around rural areas of Georgia or Appalachia. Like many liberal writers, you probably are sitting in a loft in Brooklyn opining about surveys or dreaming about what Southerners think. I just drove through North Georgia and western North Carolina on two-lane roads. I also attended rallies at Stone mountain and at Chickamauga battlefield. I have never seen so many rebel flags as I have seen in the last two months, and sales at places like Dixie Outfitters are exploding. This has awakened the passion of a group of people who cannot be intimidated and who have little to lose. At the Stone mountain rally almost every participant was concerned about personal safety due to threats, and the number of concealed and unconcealed weapons was mind boggling. Do not kid yourself that this will die down quietly, since huge rallies, including the National Mall, are planned. Nice try hoping to steamroll a heritage you don”t begin to understand though. Just keep demonizing and denigrating, hoping that simply because something offends you it should disappear to suit you.

    • Kate Casey Aug 18, 2015 @ 21:33

      To add to the comments I made about the Stone Mountain GA rally, a black man randomly shot a weapon toward the flag rally group as they entered, and he was quickly arrested. This was an intimidation tactic only on his part. I did not see one vehicle leave the line–instead, some members of the Georgia militia showed up in full gear with semi- automatic weapons. Meanwhile, a counterRally was occurring across the street. I am afraid that some fatalities will occur before this is over in Georgia, but I also believe that is exactly what the current administration wants. If southern whites can be portrayed as ignorant, racist, and violent, then stereotypes can be used to the administration”s benefit.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2015 @ 1:24

        There has been plenty of less than civil behavior to go around on all sides.

        …but I also believe that is exactly what the current administration wants.

        I am sure you do.

        If southern whites can be portrayed as ignorant, racist, and violent, then stereotypes can be used to the administration”s benefit.

        They have done a good job of reinforcing some of those stereotypes on their own.

        • Kate Casey Aug 19, 2015 @ 10:57

          The stone mountain rally organizers evicted a person identified as a KKK. This is in the local media. It was the black group that was doing the cursing, intimidating and shooting.

          • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2015 @ 11:02

            Yes, I am sure the black people were doing all the cursing. 🙂

            • Kate Casey Aug 19, 2015 @ 11:08

              Were you there? I was,

              • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2015 @ 11:17

                And I am confident that you heard every single word spoken. 🙂

            • Michael Williams Aug 19, 2015 @ 20:17

              I’m sure that was happening on both sides.

              But I’m pretty sure that it was the counter protesters more than the people that organized the rally.

              And if I remember correctly there was a white guy with a beard that took from somebody a 1956 Georgia state flag and kept hitting it on the ground.

              I wonder if he was arrested.

          • Michael Williams Aug 19, 2015 @ 20:10

            And he was wearing FUBU shoes lol.

            I don’t think that the rallies and protests are going to die down any time soon.

            And I wonder how long it’s going to be till somebody does one in Lexington Va for what happened at the Lee chapel.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 19, 2015 @ 1:25

      Like I said in the blog post, have a wonderful time. I am not so concerned about Dixie Outfitter flags or any Confederate flags flown by private citizens. You have the right to do so. What I applaud and what we are likely to continue to see is the removal of the Confederate flag from PUBLIC property.

      • Kate Casey Aug 19, 2015 @ 11:11

        You are aware that some major army bases and forts are named for confederates?

  • Marian Latimer Aug 18, 2015 @ 19:20

    Thought you all might enjoy the article from one in my part of the woods. I did watch a video from this one and it was about a half-hour waste of time. The rain came along and was a blessing. They paraded through the middle of nowhere for the most part. I did recognize most of the route. Very disorganized and very broken up.

  • Eric A. Jacobson Aug 18, 2015 @ 13:21

    Along the lines of what Andy posted, I recently drove from Middle Tennessee down into the Mississippi Delta. I counted about five Rebel flags on display on homes and other buildings in rural southwest Tennessee, but not a single one in Mississippi. But to be fair the demographics of southwest Tennessee are not quite the same as the northwest Delta. 🙂

    • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 14:18

      … but not a single one in Mississippi.

      That’s so interesting alongside the map which shows very little activity. I wonder if that will change given the recent advertisement calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state flag in the Clarion-Ledger.

  • Sandi Saunders Aug 18, 2015 @ 12:16

    It is important to track these events because they are so highly emotional and offer more anger than knowledge, which is dangerous. The flag has to come down from government sanction and at some point they will realize that there is no new war…we can hope.

    But zealots can often be dangerous. The white southern male has been feeling pushed, threatened and disrespected for a long time. Some of that may be justified, but none of that is accepted as right in the south. People are actually proud to be less educated, less successful, less wealthy and have less opportunity. Some are proud to show their ignorance, their memorization of propaganda, their distorted version of the war, their disdain for the government, liberals and minorities. What can you do with that?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 12:17

      I think it is important to acknowledge that there is anger on both sides of this issue.

      • kew100 Aug 23, 2015 @ 6:25

        There is anger, but one side may only be giving the finger to the Flag, while the other seems a bit more invested in militant support.

  • MarlaHughes Aug 18, 2015 @ 11:00

    I know the one down near me in Ocala had attendees from all over the nation and even some from foreign countries. Someone made a joke about not being able to understand a group of ‘Confederate tourists’. IMO the 23,000 is the total of ALL rallies, which makes it inaccurate because they weren’t held all in the same day but attendees traveled quite a bit to support other Confederate advocates.

  • Leo Aug 18, 2015 @ 10:37
    • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 10:43

      A great addition to the “Heritage, Not Hate” crowd. They will welcome him with open arms.

    • Andy Hall Aug 19, 2015 @ 15:37

      The clownery continues, this time in Oklahoma:

      A man who was part of an armed “patriot” group guarding a gun store in Oktaha, Oklahoma that recently declared itself “Muslim free” accidentally shot himself at the store on Tuesday, according to local reports. . . .

      The gun fell out of the holster and discharged, with a bullet hitting the man in the wrist, Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said, according to KOTV and the Tulsa World newspaper. The man was expected to survive.

      “I saw several of those gentlemen out there yesterday,” Pearson told “The way they were holding their weapons, with the fingers on the triggers, you can tell a couple of these gentlemen have no idea about weapons safety. It’s like the Clampetts have come to town.”

  • Andy Hall Aug 18, 2015 @ 6:52

    I recently made a long driving trip across Texas and back, almost 1,200 miles, using a somewhat different route each way, and much of it on two-lane rural highways and through small towns. I kept a count of Confederate flags (or variations of them), and counted a total of nine, in seven locations. That’s one place displaying the flag, on average, every 170 miles or so. If there’s a grass-roots surge of support for displaying the CBF, it’s not apparent in this part of the world.

    • Andy Hall Aug 18, 2015 @ 7:14

      I should also have mentioned that sometime in the last year or so, the Dixie Cafe in Hearne, Texas dropped the CBF and “Johnny Reb” slogan it formerly used on its signage, for a more generic, Texas-style Lone Star. You can still see the old version in Google street view.

      • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 7:42

        Chalk another one up for those damn Yankee/liberal/elitist scum. 🙂

  • Ethan Kytle Aug 18, 2015 @ 5:12

    Kevin: The large KKK rally was in Columbia, not Charleston.

  • Andy Hall Aug 18, 2015 @ 4:24

    There was a flag caravan with about a hundred vehicles from Houston to Galveston on July 4, where they ended with a barbecue on East Beach. It got a little press attention, but given the tens of thousands of people who come down to the island and the beach on a summer holiday weekend, it didn’t stand out much once they got down here. Rallies 0f that sort for people with all kinds of interests (e.g., Corvettes) are a common event.

    Apart from that, I’ve seen maybe four “flagging trucks” here over the summer, which I probably wouldn’t have noticed any other year.

  • neukomment Aug 18, 2015 @ 4:16

    That dot up in the thumb area of Michigan is an anomaly if you think of heritage. Michigan’s heritage and history was one of opposition to slavery and secession. The Under Ground Railroad was very active in the parts of southern Michigan along the border with northwestern Ohio. I grew up in that area of Michigan and have lived in Michigan most of my life. Michigan answered the call to arms to put down the rebellion and the sons of Michigan along with the sons of the other loyal states left their blood and life on many a battlefield in the War to Supress the Rebellion. All to say the flag rally in Lapeer, MI was not about heritage or history but politics. I agree with you with regard to keeping any kind of Confederate flag from flying over any government property, federal, state, or local, and that private use of those flags is a matter of free speech however ill- founded that opinion may be. Thank you…

    • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 4:25

      This is assuming that the flag’s meaning is wrapped up only in the events of 1861-1865. It certainly is not.

      • Marian Latimer Aug 18, 2015 @ 19:03

        Perhaps the flag rally in Lapeer, (I’m from Sanilac County, having lived there most of my life, but was born and lived in Detroit for a bit) was to distract from the current scandal of the state rep and his paramour, both tea party/family value folks, with spouses and kids of their own back home and both refusing to resign despite being caught red, well, red whatever.

        Frankly, I’m shocked that the good old boys from up around the Nichols farm didn’t have a rally but then, a dozen rusty pickups in Hemans hardly makes a parade. Yes, there is a Hemans up in the thumb of Michigan and it’s closer to the Nichols place than Decker was, even though Decker got all the press.

        • Marian Latimer Aug 18, 2015 @ 19:13

          Oh, hell, I have to correct myself, I clicked through to the Washington Post article and then to the SPLC website and it seems the rally was in my old home county and the county seat, just this past weekend, in Sandusky, not to be confused with Sandusky, Ohio, or Jerry Sandusky. In all fairness, there is a Walmart there, right next to the Kmart, however, I can feel superior because for a long time, the town I lived in had the only stoplight in the county and now has two. Yup, you’re dealing with some real goobers here. I should have known. The Amish took over where I used to live. The Michigan Militia appears to be alive and well.

  • Annette Jackson Aug 18, 2015 @ 4:07

    Yep, I think this will cool down as long as soon as the hot heads realize that no one is going to rip the battleflag tee shirt off their collective back. I think that as quickly as local community governments have voted to remove the flags it is a movement whose time as come.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 18, 2015 @ 4:36

      I suspect things will quiet down as well once the summer ends, but no one can know for sure. But the point that I want to make is that it doesn’t really matter. Individuals and private organizations are as free to display the flag today as they were before Charleston. That was never the issue.

      • Annette Jackson Aug 18, 2015 @ 5:10

        I agree that it was never the issue, but IMO many flaggers are lead by pure emotion, not facts.

    • James Harrigan Aug 19, 2015 @ 9:47

      Annette, I don’t share your optimism. For white supremacists, it is very important that the Confederate flag be a public, government-sponsored emblem, because flying the flag of white supremacy on government property makes it clear which side the government is on. These people are furious because they are losing, not because they mistakenly think that the government wants to come after their t-shirts and bumper stickers.

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