A Hate Crime Against Confederate Descendants

Rally at Ole Miss in 1962
Rally against integration at Ole Miss in 1962

A couple of days ago an unfortunate incident occurred at the University of Mississippi. Apparently, two men placed a noose and a 2003 Georgia State flag on the James Meredith statue. Most of you know that the design of this particular version of the Georgia flag includes the popular Confederate battle emblem. While it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions about the perpetrators, most people see this as a hate crime directed specifically against the black student body and the broader African-American community.

At least one individual, however, has taken a more inclusive view as to who should rightfully be offended. No need to provide names or links this time.

It was a hate crime. A planned one perhaps, maybe almost certainly so, but a hate crime none-the-less. The crime was against those who saw it and were offended, and equally a hate crime against all Confederate descendants who honor that symbol and their ancestry. This act denigrated us all.

Here are students at Ole Miss protesting the presence of the Confederate flag on campus so as to allow James Meredith to register for classes. Yes, sometimes memory trumps history.

From the State Flag to Your Car’s Exhaust

Georgia Vanity Plate

It’s one of those stories that fires up interest groups on both sides of the Confederate flag debate as well as the mainstream media, which can’t get enough of it. I completely understand why some in Georgia take offense to this particular vanity plate, but it should be remembered that this is a revision of a plate that is already in circulation. Here’s the thing, according to the story:

The state sold a total of 439 of the earlier version in the last two years. There are 35 orders already for the new tag, according to the Revenue Department.

That basically means that the vast majority of Georgians can probably go their entire lives without seeing one of these plates on the back of a car. In other words, there really is no reason to get upset. In fact, Georgians should be reminded that this divisive symbol was once part of their state flag dating back to 1956. We all know what it was meant to symbolize. Now it can only be found next to a car’s exhaust.

Are These the Men Who Burned Columbia, South Carolina?

Burning of ColumbiaThis weekend the Wade Hampton Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans will mark the anniversary of the bombardment of Columbia, South Carolina with a reenactment. The SCV hopes to remind local residents of the destruction wrought by the Union army. According to Don Gordon:

It’s important that we actually understand the true history of our city. We were fighting against the invading army that had burned every town that they came through.

The camp’s website devoted to the burning of Columbia reinforces their preferred narrative: “The responsibility for the burning of Columbia rests on the shoulders of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Federal forces.” Of course, anyone who has bothered to study this event knows that there are any number of questions surrounding what took place on February 17, 1865. Continue reading “Are These the Men Who Burned Columbia, South Carolina?”

A War of Liberation and Empire

One of my favorite books of 2013 was Ari Kelman’s A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek. Kelman’s analysis of the history and memory of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 serves to remind us that the western boundary of the Civil War took place far west of the Mississippi River. For me, the book’s importance comes down to how it challenges a relatively recent and popular memory that places liberation at the center of the narrative. But what happens when we frame the war years around the federal government’s policies on the frontier before during and after the war?  Continue reading “A War of Liberation and Empire”