Category Archives: Civil War Culture

To Fly or Not Fly the Confederate Flag: It’s All About Context

There seems to be some confusion about my response to yesterday’s story surrounding a list of demands made by students at W&L concerning their school’s relationship with Confederate heritage. Let me assure you that my response is perfectly consistent with positions taken in the past.  Continue reading

No Confederate Flags in Washington & Lee University’s Chapel

Update: Thanks to Stuart W. Sanders, who at one time worked as a docent at the Lee Chapel, for providing some context to this discussion. Update #2: Here is W&L president’s response to “The Committee.”

Statement by "The Committee"

Statement by “The Committee”

I first heard about this story on one of the Southern Heritage Facebook pages, but now a group of black law students at Washington & Lee University, who are demanding that their university distance itself from its Confederate past is gaining some traction [and here]. This push comes on the heels of the steps taken by the city of Lexington to limit the display of the Confederate flag on public property.

The group of students, who call themselves “The Committee” have published a list of demands that includes a formal recognition of MLK Day and an apology from the university for its participation in slavery. They are on shakier ground, in my opinion, with the following two demands. Continue reading

The True Meaning of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederate Flag

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller

There is a reason why white supremacists align themselves with a history that includes individuals like Nathan Bedford Forrest and symbols such as the Confederate flag. The history and legacy of Forrest and the Confederate flag have not been sabotaged or rewritten by such people. They can both be found time and time again as salient symbols for individuals and organizations that embrace racism and antisemitism.

I am not surprised to find that Glenn Miller closely identifies with both. As we all learned yesterday and this morning, Miller is the alleged killer of three people outside of Kansas City, MO at two Jewish community centers. The killings took place on the eve of Passover. It’s a story that hits close to my school community and our thoughts go out to the families. None of the victims was Jewish, but Miller’s intent is clear.

People are free to celebrate and embrace Forrest and the flag, but they have no right to demand or even expect others to follow suit. It’s a lost cause and the sooner we as a nation dispense with celebrating both in public places the better.

This Civil War Buff Has Not Been Disappointed

waiting

Did You Buy Your Toy Soldiers?

As we get closer to April 2015 we will begin to read even more in the way of assessment of the sesquicentennial. The problem with these observations thus far, including this article by Wall Street Journal reporter Cameron McWhirter, is that they take a much too narrow approach to measuring the scope of what has taken place over the past few years and how it will likely impact how Americans will  learn about the Civil War in the future. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with Mr. McWhirter, but unfortunately, nothing that I shared made it into the published version. Continue reading