I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Virginia Flaggers would not be pleased with my recent piece in The Daily Beast. They huffed and puffed on their Facebook page and blog, but failed to use the opportunity to do some serious soul searching. 🙂
Susan Hathaway accused me of engaging “in old, tired ‘7 degrees of separation’ theories to try and link us (and me, especially) to anyone and anything they think will FINALLY turn the public against us. Every example, including the owners of the property on which two of their flags fly, is linked directly to Hathaway and the Flaggers. Their association is based on a decision to partner and be seen publicly.[fn id=”1″]
More confusing, however, is Hathaway’s insistence that every Confederate flag flying along a Virginia highway constitutes a victory.
In fact, we have experienced quite the contrary. Since the first flag was raised on I-95 a little over a month after his failed prediction, we have raised 25 MORE flags in the Commonwealth. We have several flag sites currently under construction, and if everything goes according to schedule, hope to have at least 30 roadside Memorial Flags flying in the Commonwealth before the end of the year.
I mistakenly predicted a few years back that the Flaggers would be unable to organize even a single flag, but to see these flag raisings as a success ignores their very purpose and intention. Every flag was put up following a defeat. In fact, Hathaway is on record in city council meetings threatening that a decision to remove Confederate iconography from public spaces would be followed by a flag raising.
Let’s review these defeats one more time:
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Confederate Memorial Chapel)
- Museum of the Confederacy – Appomattox
- City of Lexington, Virginia
- Washington & Lee University in Lexington
- Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission (trailer exhibit)
- The National Park Service and the entire Civil War 150th commemoration
- City of Danville, Virginia
- Commonwealth of Virginia (SCV license plates/Confederate History Month)
Of course there will be more flags, because there is no sign that communities across Virginia and the rest of the South have finished re-evaluating the appropriateness of Confederate iconography. Even though Hathaway attended its public hearings, the Flaggers have had no impact on the city of Charlottesville’s ongoing discussion about its monuments. And just last week the city of Alexandria voted to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway and possibly move a Confederate monument.
What Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers fail to understand is that not all Confederate battle flags are equal. The Flaggers have always had the right to raise Confederate flags on private property, but no amount of enthusiasm or number can offset the fact that communities and private institutions across Virginia and the rest of the South are declaring, in no uncertain terms, that these symbols do not reflect their values.