Even the Museum of the Confederacy/American Civil War Museum gets it. The Confederate battle flag is a toxic symbol that ought to be displayed exclusively in a setting where it can be properly interpreted. You will not find battle flags welcoming visitors at its branches in Richmond or at Appomattox. And as far as I have seen, you will not find the battle flag on its logo and other advertisements. Continue reading
Like many of you I have gone through the full range of emotions over the past few days in response to the shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, St. Paul, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. The violence and multiple narratives that we have now grown use to hearing in response to these incidents fits easily into a long history of racial violence and misunderstanding. It’s easy to slide into the feeling of disillusionment, but at the risk of sounding cliche, I still believe that when it comes to this thorny issue, the moral arc bends in the direction of justice and increased understanding. I have to believe it. Continue reading
For those of you who need a translation of the newspaper headline, it reads “Gone With the Wind.” Very appropriate, indeed.
This coming Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the removal of the Confederate battle flag on the state house grounds of Columbia, South Carolina. At the time I was in Frankfurt, Germany, but as you can see their newspapers gave it front page coverage. To mark the anniversary a group calling itself The South Carolina Secessionist Party will hold a rally calling for the flag to be returned.
If the organization itself wasn’t enough to disgust you, included in its list of speakers is Kirk Lyons of the Southern Legal Resource Center, whose activities within white supremacist circles is well documented. Also scheduled to speak is Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers, which has welcomed more than one white supremacist, including Matthew Heimbach into its ranks. Heimbach recently made news owing to his organization’s presence at a rally in Sacramento, California, which turned violent. Continue reading
Update: Dr. James Merritt speaks in support of the resolution calling for the ban of the Confederate Battle Flag.
Earlier today the members of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from public life. It reads in part:
… we call on all persons, along with public, governmental, and religious institutions to discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag and work diligently to remove vestigial symbols of racism from public life as evidence of the fruits of repentance that we have made for our past bigotries and as a step in good faith toward racial healing in America, to the end that we truly become — in word and deed — ‘one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.’
Read the rest of the resolution here.
By now most of you have heard that yesterday the House of Representatives voted to severely restrict the display of Confederate battle flags at VA cemeteries. The Senate still needs to vote, but there is a good chance that they will follow suit.
I shared a few thoughts about the decision at The Daily Beast. Click here for my other essays at TDB.
The debate over Confederate iconography in public spaces may still be very much alive, but Confederate heritage is dead. The other day I suggested that Confederate heritage organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy ought to confine their activities to specific times and places. Not everyone agreed with the suggestion. Hopefully, it is sufficiently clear that my thoughts on this subject are driven by a firm conviction that interest in commemorative activities is confined to a very small group that will likely continue to decrease. Continue reading
Tomorrow the local UDC and SCV chapters in Charleston, South Carolina will commemorate Confederate Memorial Day in Magnolia Cemetery. It’s a beautiful place that both evokes the scale of death that Confederates experienced and the lengths to which white Southerners went to honor their sacrifice during the postwar years.
As the debate continues surrounding the public display of Confederate iconography across the South, it is becoming more and more difficult to openly celebrate the Lost Cause. Here I am drawing a distinction between those who care little more than whether a local bakery agrees to accept an order for a Confederate battle flag cake and those who have a deeper attachment to Confederate heritage/history. Continue reading
Two recent articles have suggested that push back against Confederate iconography and commemoration is waning since the lowering of the Confederate battle flag in Columbia, South Carolina last summer. A number of states and local communities still recognize April as Confederate History/Heritage Month. This also includes the recognition of Confederate Memorial Day. The media focused a good deal of attention on Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s proclamation and subsequent defense of his decision to carry on the practice this past month. Continue reading