Freedom of Speech and the Confederate Flag

While I am leading a Civil War battlefield tour this coming week for thirteen students another school group will visit Washington, D.C. to observe the Supreme Court in action. As many of you know beginning on Monday morning the court will consider the case of Walker vs. Sons of Confederate Veterans. The case essentially turns on whether the state of Texas has the right to control the messages on its vanity license plates. The SCV plate includes a Confederate flag.

I hope and expect that the court will rule in favor of free speech. Perhaps such a ruling will result in states doing away with vanity plates altogether to avoid these situations. The case makes for strange bedfellows as I find myself largely in agreement with H.K. Edgerton, though I would not be surprised to learn that he is not the author of this editorial. Continue reading “Freedom of Speech and the Confederate Flag”

“The Friends of Forrest” Includes The Virginia Flaggers

I have absolutely no problem with the Virginia Flaggers voicing their position at the recent hearing in Charlottesville, Virginia over whether Lee-Jackson Day ought to be continued. However, I do believe that the residents of my former home deserve full disclosure. They ought to know who is coming in from outside the community to shape public policy. They ought to know who is threatening them with the raising of Confederate flags on private property in retaliation.

The Virginia Flaggers, including Susan Hathaway, ought to be honest about the people they freely associate with.

Over the weekend I shared a story about a billboard that was placed near the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a group calling itself “The Friends of Forrest.” The story about the billboard and the organization has received a good deal of attention over the past few days. The Guardian even sent a reporter to interview Godwin and other members and is definitely worth your time if you can stomach it. Continue reading ““The Friends of Forrest” Includes The Virginia Flaggers”

The Free State of Jones Delivers Another Nail in the Lost Cause Coffin

The big budget Hollywood movies released during the sesquicentennial have all been decidedly anti-Lost Cause. Think “12 Years a Slave,” “Django,” and “Lincoln.” In contrast, more low budget production such as “Field of Lost Shoes” and Amazon’s recent pilot “Point of Honor” have both been disasters on so many levels.

Both of these recent flops attempted to get Confederate soldiers and civilians on the right side of slavery and white supremacy. Virginia Military Institute cadets befriend a black cook or rescue trapped slaves under wagons while slaveowning West Point cadet chooses to emancipate his family ‘s slaves at the very beginning of the war. Unfortunately, we will never know why he made this decision. Continue reading “The Free State of Jones Delivers Another Nail in the Lost Cause Coffin”

Charlottesville, Virginia No Longer Celebrates Lee-Jackson Day

As of this evening my old home of Charlottesville, Virginia no longer celebrates Lee-Jackson Day. The city joins other communities throughout the Commonwealth that no longer publicly acknowledge this holiday.

The vote is not so much a declaration that Lee and Jackson no longer deserve the kind of reverence they once received, but a confirmation that the community crossed this line at some point in the past. Representatives of the city’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans had every opportunity to voice their displeasure and chose not to do so. This paid city holiday will likely be rolled into one honoring all veterans. That leaves room for those who wish to single out Lee and Jackson or anyone else for that matter.

Looks like Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers attended tonight’s meeting to make a last-minute plea.

We should celebrate a city that allows people from outside the community to voice their opinion. It is unlikely that city councilors gave much thought to Hathaway and the other members of the group who attended the previous meeting. The group plans to find private property to raise one of their flags as a snub to the community. That is their right. It’s nothing more than an indication that their message has once again failed.

The only question that remains unanswered is whether cities like Charlottesville can find productive ways for members of the community to engage one another around such sensitive questions of how their collective past ought to be remembered.

Boston Resident Remembers the Men of the Petersburg Campaign

I’ve expressed more than once my disappointment at not being able to spend more time in Petersburg, Virginia this past year to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war. Apart from my participation in the 150th anniversary of the Crater I’ve had to look on from afar. But about two weeks ago I was suddenly overcome with an urge to commemorate the men on both sides who lived in and braved the earthworks around Petersburg from June 1864 to April 1865.

At first I wasn’t sure what I was constructing, but a few days ago I had one of those Richard Dreyfuss/mashed potato moments of clarity. From that point on my work proceeded with great energy and focus. What you see here is the northwest side of what I am calling Battery 5. Its walls stand 10 ft. in height and 3 ft. thick. This morning I began placing palisades around the wall.

I assure you that other than our neighbors no impressed workers were used in the construction of this section of the line. There are rumors of tunneling activities by the enemy.