What Would Robert E. Lee Do?

Whether or not Washington and Lee’s Law School closes in recognition of the national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King’s contributions to the advancement of social, political, and legal justice is entirely in the hands of the school community.  The university already does quite a bit to honor the slain civil rights leader, but hopefully the administration will listen carefully to their students, who believe the closing of the school next year will send a clear message that brings home the significance of this national holiday.

And given the importance attached to their former president’s moral character, perhaps it would be helpful to ask what Robert E. Lee would do.

The Very Same Thing Can Be Said of Old Glory

My Old Virginia buddy [Williams deleted the post] seems to be upset with me over my recent post on the Confederate flag.  Since Richard’s response is short I will present it here in full:

I’m puzzled though, how come those so “concerned” with the use and display of the Confederate battle flag don’t express the same concern over the United States flag? As one commenter notes, ” the very same thing can be said of Old Glory.” Precisely, but this really isn’t about the proper respect for a flag or even criticism over the use and display of the Confederate flag. It is, as another commenter notes, about “attempts to belittle and bash.” Observe and learn.

You hear this argument all the time, but I still fail to appreciate the point that is being made.  On the one hand, I agree.  The flag of this country has been used in ways that I find morally abhorrent, but is this really all my detractors wish me to say?  Does such an admission tell us anything more about the continuing debate surrounding the Confederate flag?  I think not.

The salient point that is almost always overlooked, however, is that the Confederate flag is not my flag.  And regardless of whether you fly the Confederate flag from your home, salute it, or attach meaning to it, is not your flag either.  The Stars and Stripes (“Old Glory”) is our flag and each of us is responsible for its symbolism.

It represents the nation in which I find myself as a citizen.  The flag symbolizes my rights as an American citizen and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices that so many have made over the years to maintain this democracy.   It represents what America is and what it can be given its founding principles.  No one alive occupies the same place in reference to the Confederate flag so it is silly to suggest that any sort of comparison is justified along these lines.

The funny thing is if I were to make the comparative point, Richard Williams would be the first one to accuse me of being unpatriotic and/or not appreciating American Exceptionalism.

Black Confederates on Russian Radio

Tomorrow at 12 noon [E.S.T.] Myra Chandler Sampson and I will be interviewed on the Voice of Russia radio to discuss our recent Civil War Times article about Silas Chandler and Black Confederates as well as other issues related to Civil War memory.  The interview will be about 45 minutes long and you should be able to listen live.  If not, I will make sure to make it available once it is archived.  Myra and I are looking forward to it.