Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Neo-Confederates

You can’t make up these stories. The other day I told you about two students who posed waving Confederate flags on the Gettysburg battlefield, along with a comment about purchasing slaves.

Yesterday a news story out of Colorado showed a group of students posing with guns and a Confederate flag as part of their prom celebrations.

Finally, we have the Maclay School in Florida, which decided to take their students deeper into the history of the Civil War with a reenactment that included the Confederate flag. Following a parent complaint about the flag, the school’s headmaster offered the following.

Maclay’s teachers are constantly seeking ways to deepen our students’ understanding of history. Project based simulations or hands on exercises are one way we help the students understand what history was truly like through experience and discussion. Our Civil War class this semester involved a reenactment of a battle complete with uniforms, flags, Nerf guns and in-depth discussions.

I do hope you weren’t drinking anything when reading that passage. Continue reading “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Neo-Confederates”

“Already Bought My First Slave” at Gettysburg

Gettysburg, Confederate flagI was a bit surprised when a couple of students on my recent Civil War trip attempted to purchase Confederate flags at one of the gift shops. Without giving it much thought I intercepted the students at the checkout counter and gently reminded them to think about the history that we had already examined as well as the talk on the history of the Confederate flag that I presented to the entire school. These students were not mean-spirited and perhaps it was just a case of boys being boys, but I did want them to do a little reflection before making the purchase.

Neither student made the purchase, but if it had been made I would have insisted that the flags be kept out of sight. I stand by this decision. I’ve said before that I wish gift shops were a bit more selective about the kinds of souvenirs they sell. It trivializes the history and the very ground, where so many Americans gave their lives. Continue reading ““Already Bought My First Slave” at Gettysburg”

“I Want to See Richmond”

There are a number of powerful images from yesterday’s concluding event in Richmond marking the 150th anniversary of the city’s fall and liberation. This one, however, stood out to me for a number of reasons. Whether intended or not by the individual waving what I believe to be a Third National Flag of the Confederacy, the image itself is open to interpretation.

At first glance it appears that the flag is being waved in defiance. If so, he stands alone as the color guard of the 22nd USCT and the rest of the men remain fixed on their front. An estimated five thousand people attended the ceremony at the state house, which marked the destination of the participants in this parade. This is the only photograph that I’ve seen of a Confederate flag anywhere along the route. The contrast between the marchers and the lackluster way in which this individual holds his flag could not be more apparent. The woman to his right takes no notice of him.

Should this individual’s actions be interpreted as an act of bravery or as the last gasp of the Lost Cause in the former capital of the Confederacy? Perhaps this display is not intended as a protest at all. Continue reading ““I Want to See Richmond””

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”