The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Curious Silence on the Confederate Flag Debate

We have heard quite a bit from Sons of Confederate Veterans over the past week in response to the debate over the Confederate flag on the state house grounds in Columbia, South Carolina and beyond. Members claim a direct ancestral connection to Confederate soldiers, which they believe translates into some kind of privileged status regarding all things heritage.

Silent on these issues has been that other venerable Confederate heritage organization, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded two years before the SCV in 1894. [The best history of the organization is Karen Cox’s Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture.] Their silence surrounding the Confederate flag debate is curious given their consistent position limiting the display of the battle flag. The UDC’s position was born out of a concern that any use strictly apart from carefully orchestrated ceremonial events in honor of the soldier would distort its meaning. Continue reading “The United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Curious Silence on the Confederate Flag Debate”

About That Confederate Ancestor of Yours

A constant refrain heard over the past week is that the Confederate battle flag is a revered symbol for the descendants of the men who fought under it between 1861 and 1865. If so, for how many descendants? The Sons of Confederate Veterans certainly embrace the spirit of this claim. According to Wikipedia membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans numbered just over 29,000 in 2014 – an incredibly small number by any estimation. Certainly, one does not have to be a member of the SCV to claim a strong ancestral connection with an ancestor who fought. Perhaps there are many more outside of the SCV who identify the flag with a Confederate ancestor. Perhaps that number is far outstripped by descendants of Confederate soldiers who have never given their ancestor much thought at all.

But what exactly are we acknowledging when the Confederate flag is embraced by a descendant of a soldier who fought and to what extent ought the rest of us acknowledge this as a legitimate interpretation of the flag’s meaning? The embrace of the flag by descendants of Confederate soldiers usually comes with claims about the bravery and steadfastness of their ancestor as well as vague claims about the defense of home and family.

I don’t mean to belittle such beliefs, but there is a problem. Continue reading “About That Confederate Ancestor of Yours”

The ‘Cornerstone’ of the Confederate Flag

Earlier today President Barack Obama eulogized Reverend and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney. There were numerous references to American history, but on this blog, right now, it is his thoughts concerning the Confederate flag that deserve special attention. But first a reminder of an earlier speech. Continue reading “The ‘Cornerstone’ of the Confederate Flag”

Why It Is Still Wrong to Vandalize Confederate Monuments

Yesterday the Governor of Alabama ordered the removal of a Confederate flag located on the statehouse grounds next to a Confederate monument. Given the wave of calls for the removal of Confederate monuments I am surprised that this particular monument was not singled out for removal or even defaced as has been the case in Baltimore, Charleston, and Memphis. I am pleased that neither has occurred as of yet.

In March 2015 I accompanied roughly forty students from Boston on a 5-day civil rights tour of the South that included the city of Montgomery. On one bright early morning I led the group around the statehouse grounds and made it a point to stop by the flag and monument. Many of the students had never seen a Confederate monument up close or given much thought to what they represent. Continue reading “Why It Is Still Wrong to Vandalize Confederate Monuments”

Southern Cities Should Look To Richmond

Since South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced on Wednesday that she supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds a flood of announcements have followed. Today the governor of Alabama ordered the removal of a Confederate flag adjacent to a Confederate memorial on the statehouse grounds and a number of governors are calling for the discontinuation of license plates that feature the flag.

There have been calls for other states to remove Confederate flags from public places as well as demands to change the names of streets named after Confederate heroes. Not surprisingly, some are now calling for the removal of Confederate monuments that adorn public grounds throughout the South. Continue reading “Southern Cities Should Look To Richmond”