The Influence of the Confederate Flag on Perceptions of Race

White Youth Holding Confederate Flag During 1965 Selma March

Joyce Ehrlinger, E. Ashby Plant, Richard P. Eibach, Corey J. Columb, Joanna L. Goplen, Jonathan W. Kunstman, David A. Butz, “How Exposure to the Confederate Flag Affects Willingness to Vote for Barack Obama,” Political Pyschology (February 2011): 131-46.

Abstract: Leading up to the 2008 U.S. election, pundits wondered whether Whites, particularly in Southern states, were ready to vote for a Black president. The present paper explores how a common Southern symbol—the Confederate flag—impacted willingness to vote for Barack Obama. We predicted that exposure to the Confederate flag would activate negativity toward Blacks and result in lowered willingness to vote for Obama. As predicted, participants primed with the Confederate flag reported less willingness to vote for Obama than those primed with a neutral symbol. The flag did not affect willingness to vote for White candidates. In a second study, participants primed with the Confederate flag evaluated a hypothetical Black target more negatively than controls. These results suggest that exposure to the Confederate flag results in more negative judgments of Black targets. As such, the prevalence of this flag in the South may have contributed to a reticence for some to vote for Obama because of his race.  [Read the Entire Article]

The Confederacy Has Risen Again

Sketch of MOC exhibit at Appomattox

Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know this from those folks who proclaim themselves defenders of “Southern Heritage.”  Many of these people are preoccupied with silly battles surrounding the display of the Confederate flag.  Anyone who follows this nauseating debate can see that the pro-flag forces are on the losing side of history.  Whether they are willing to acknowledge it or not, the majority of Americans do not want to see the Confederate flag in public spaces and supported with public dollars.  As the title of the post suggests, however, there is reason to celebrate.

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Civil War Memory’s Fatal Attraction

The Burial of Latane (1864)

When I was in the sixth grade I sat behind one of the meanest girls in my math class. I tried to be very careful not to upset her and I did my best to be nice to her. Nothing worked. Our desks had racks below the seats for books and other belongings, but one day I placed my feet on hers and inadvertently began to shake it. Before I knew what was happening this girl turned around in her seat and lunged at me with a finely sharpened pencil. I reacted by placing my right hand in the path of the pencil to protect myself. All I remember is jumping up from my seat and running around the class with a pencil stuck in my hand. The school nurse extracted it, but you can still see the lead in my right hand. Eventually we met up again after college and I learned that she had a huge crush on me that year.

With that in mind I give you the latest example of a poll that my biggest fan, Connie Chastain, set up at her blog. [You can find her blog on your own.] Some of you have already voted, which I greatly appreciate. I had trouble narrowing it down so I took the easy way out by voting, “All of the above.” I would prefer a poll without that option only because I am interested to know who I hate the most out of this list.

Who does Kevin Levin love bashing the most?

~Antebellum Southern white slaveowners
~Confederate soldiers
~All whites of the Confederacy
~The SCV
~The UDC
~The Southern Heritage Preservation FB Group
~Dixie Outfitters
~H.K. Edgerton
~Ann DeWitt
~Other (Specify)
~All of the above

Feel free to vote in the comments section.

Will Dixie Outfitters Pull This Shirt?

Dixie Outfitters t-shirt

Among the images that Civil War Times magazine has chosen to use for my co-authored article with Myra Chandler Sampson about Andrew and Silas Chandler includes the well-known t-shirt by Dixie Outfitters.  We wanted to use something that reflects the story’s popularity as well as the mythology that surrounds the two.  This one has got it all from the claim that Silas was a soldier to the assumption that they remained life long friends.  There is absolutely no evidence for such a claim.  Luckily, I own the shirt after one of my students purchased it for me as a gag gift and was able to make it available to the magazine’s editors.

I must assume that the shirt will be pulled by the company given what we now know about Silas’s legal status during the war as well as crucial elements of the broader story.  Why am I confident that this will be done?  Well, Dixie Outfitters claims on its website to be committed to the “truth of the War for Southern Independence.”  We shall see.

The essay goes to press on Wednesday.