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New Jersey Native, General Phillip Kearny at the Battle of Chantilly

Slap on a Confederate t-shirt for school and when the authorities tell you to remove it claim that your right to celebrate your heritage is being violated.  The mainstream media will eat it up and there are plenty of people, who will embrace you as the latest member of an oppressed group.  Actually, this story about a young New Jersey girl, who was suspended for wearing a sweatshirt with a Confederate flag to school is really a story about an irresponsible mother, who framed the issue this way: “The Indian kids get to wear turbans. The Jewish children can wear yarmulkes. That’s their birth right, their heritage. It’s my daughter’s heritage.”  Can’t you just feel that deep attachment to the South oozing forth.

Yes, the girl in question was born in Virginia, but only lived there for one year.  She is twelve years old.  Are we really suppose to believe that her ties to the South and its history are that strong?  Really?  The young girl admits that she doesn’t understand the history of the flag and I suspect that if we pressed her we would learn that her knowledge of Southern history is just as shallow.  Like I said, this is really a story of an irresponsible mother, who should have known better than to place her daughter in this situation.  Now we learn that the girl is receiving death threats.  Nice work, mom.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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35 comments… add one
  • Billy Bearden Nov 16, 2011 @ 12:17

    Not too sure why General Kearny is involved, but since we are including actual New Jersey war (WSI) time information, lets include this:

    March 18, 1863
    “Be it resolved by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, that . . . the matured and deliberate sense of the people of New Jersey may be known and declared, we their representatives . . . make unto the Federal Government this our solemn


    Against a war waged with the insurgent States for the acomplishment of unconstitutional or partisan purposes; Against a war which has for its object the subjection of any of the States, with a view to their reduction to a territorial condition; Against Proclamations from any source by which, under the plea of “military necessity,” persons in States and Teritories sustaining the Federal Government, and beyond necessary military lines, are held liable to the rigor and severity of military laws; Against the domination of the military over the civil law in States, Territories, or Districts not in a state of insurrection; Against all arrests without warrants; against the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in States and Territories sustaining the Federal Government . . .; Against the creation of new States by the division of existing ones or in any other manner not clearly authorized by the Constitution, and against the right of secession as practically admitted by the action of Congress in admitting as a new state a portion of the State of Virginia

    • Kevin Levin Nov 16, 2011 @ 12:23

      Keep in mind that New Jersey split its electoral votes in 1860 between Lincoln and Douglass and if I remember correctly the state still counted roughly 18 slaves owing to the term of its gradual abolition legislation. McClellan won the state in 1864. New Jersey is a fascinating study geographically. My favorite road it Rt. 40, which runs from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Atlantic City. That entire section of the state is rural and is indistinguishable from points south. It was a very divided state.

      Beyond that I am not sure what point you are trying to make.

  • Karl Gottschalk Nov 16, 2011 @ 10:35

    Reminds me of the time I talked this gal I knew who was going to Brandeis into hanging a confederate flag out of her dorm window. It didn’t fly for long but caused quite a commotion! Ah, the sweet days of my misspent youth!

    • Kevin Levin Nov 16, 2011 @ 10:37

      Sounds like you were really living on the edge, Karl.

    • Billy Bearden Nov 16, 2011 @ 12:22

      The co-writer of “Legally Blonde” did the same CBflag out the dorm window during her senior year at an Ivy League University, but hers stayed up all year.

  • Kevin Levin Nov 16, 2011 @ 2:56

    Update: Looks like the student will be allowed to return to school with her sweatshirt – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MISfj7ewDs

    Another victory for Southern pride and another step closer to a meaningless symbol.

  • Jim Dick Nov 15, 2011 @ 8:37

    Let them wear the flag, fly it, walk on it, sit on it, decorate their houses, make bikinis out of it, and anything else they want to do in order to display it. It’s being turned into a nonsensical piece of trivialized cloth. If this is done the symbol will completely lose all of its value to anyone.
    It would not have been a symbol of white supremecy except it was turned into one by the South during the Civil Rights era. Now it’s becoming a joke. Hopefully the black community will agree with that and basically ignore the controversy and just let the thing be turned into a piece of colored cloth. Symbols only have value if they mean something. Thanks to a lot of people this one is rapidly being “de-symbolized.”

    • Will Hickox Nov 15, 2011 @ 15:26

      The Confederate battle flag was a symbol of white supremacy long before the Civil Rights era, in that it was carried into battle by the soldiers of a nation founded in defense of white supremacy and black slavery and then brandished by advocates of the Lost Cause ever since.

      Should Jews just ignored displays of the swastika in hopes that they will simply wither on the vine if studiously ignored? It seems to me you’re putting all of the burden for the offensive symbology on African-Americans and none on the people who are actually causing the controversy by displaying the flag in the first place.

      • Jim Dick Nov 15, 2011 @ 15:46

        The perception of the men who fought for the Confederacy was not about slavery or white supremecy. The documented evidence shows they fought for a multitude of reasons. It is not uncommon for the soldiers involved in a conflict to fight for different reasons than the reasons why a war started. Just look at our own Vietnam War or the 2003 Iraq War for two recent examples of that.
        My point is that the Confederate flag is being trivialized into a caricture of its former symbolism. It is only offensive if you let it be offensive. We know the real deal.
        As for how black people feel about it, it really is up to them. In my opinion they get to make the ultimate decision. If they decide to ignore the flag, then that’s their decision. As for me, I ignore the flag. I do my work researching and writing on the war and from there I work on educating people on what happened. James Loewen’s new book on the subject is pretty detailed on the subject of educating America on the war and is worth a read. The best way to combat stupidity and ignorance is through education.

        • Michael Nov 15, 2011 @ 19:05

          Correction, Jim: The perception of *some* men who fought for the Confederacy was not about slavery or white supremacy. For *some* others it was all about that. And for the men calling the shots, those at the top, it was definitely about slavery and the maintenance of white supremacy. The documented evidence shows that as well.

          There are class and hierarchic differences when it comes to the reasons people involved in fighting wars do so. People like to cite the reasons of the common man for fighting in any given war, and I’d wager that what you hear on the ground is a lot different than what you hear when the decision and policy makers at the top gather together.

          The planter class and so-called southern aristocracy went to war to fight against what they perceived as the abrogation of their rights to hold slaves and expand slavery. The reasons the common man went to war were likely a baker’s dozen.

          I’m sure the grunts on the ground, fighting in Iraq, had a very different view of what they were fighting for than what Bush and company *knew* that conflict was about.

          • Will Hickox Nov 16, 2011 @ 8:07

            There’s an extensive and on going literature about Civil War soldiers’ motivations for volunteering and fighting. See well-known works by James McPherson, Gary Gallagher, Earl Hess, Chandra Manning, Reid Mitchell, Kenneth Noe, and others. The consensus among current historians seems to be that a large number of soldiers were openly committed to the ideologies of their respective causes, and much more so than were U.S. soldiers in later wars, although as seen in Manning and Gallagher’s most recent books, there is some disagreement as to which ideologies were most dominant, particularly on the Union side.

        • Bob Huddleston Nov 16, 2011 @ 7:57

          “The perception of the men who fought for the Confederacy was not about slavery or white supremecy.”
          No, Jim, they *were* fighting for slavery and white supremacy. See Joseph Glatthaar’s _Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served Under Robert E. Lee_ and find out why the men of the ANV were in the War.

          • Jim Dick Nov 16, 2011 @ 14:26

            Actually, Will and Bob, you bring up a very good point about what men were fighting over. I lean towards the primary sources such as letters and diaries because my training points me to those. However, not everything is in that form. The book by Joseph Glatthaar is a very good example of that. While I don’t think 600 men is enough of a decent sampling (although modern polls do very accurate jobs with small numbers under 1000) to get the true answer, one point is made very clear. That would be the fact that slavery was a pervasive force throughout any slave state.
            I don’t think we’ll ever have a definitive answer on the specific question of whether or not the Confederate soldiers fought for slavery or not. We do know we can’t throw out a blanket statement and say they did. However, with slavery such an entrenched part throughout every level and aspect of the slave states, the question can be asked if they were fighting for the South overall, wouldn’t that mean they were fighting for slavery? We really have a hard time with that don’t we?
            Andy’s comment made me do a quick dig on some information I have and he has a valid point as well. So I will backtrack a bit on my statement on why they fought. They may not have fought for slavery as in for their own slaves if any, but if they fought they had to understand they were fighting for others to own slaves and to continue the institution of slavery. The wording is what is going to be argued about. I think the concept would have to be implicitly understood by anyone who lived in the South. The reason Southern men fought as stated in their letters according to James McPherson in his 1998 book, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, varied greatly. He could only find around 20% of the men stating they were fighting for slavery.
            Again, there were a lot of reasons and not all of them were spelled out, but slavery as part of the Confederacy was the cause of the war. I’m researching the legality of secession for one paper I’m writing at the moment (it definitely isn’t legal or ever has been) and in the process I’m researching another paper I’m writing after that on what was going on in the first four months of 1861 concerning secession. The word “slavery” drips from the writing of the men involved in the first seven states to attempt secession. The creation of the Permanent Constitution was an exercise in two things. One, the elimination of any possible way anyone could eliminate slavery in the Confederacy and two, destroying any ability for actual democracy to exist in the South…mainly to prevent the people from trying to eliminate slavery.
            I think Kevin has the overall idea down pat. Southern pride is trivializing their own symbol. I think it’s ironic. When it comes out on the market as toilet paper in the South that’s when you know it will have lost all of its symbolic value. I’m sure that’s not too far away in the future for it. (Actually it’s already here? http://listicles.com/popculture/12-funniest-items-of-confederate-flag-memorabilia/ IN NORTH CAROLINA???? So much for that symbol.

        • Andy Hall Nov 16, 2011 @ 8:23

          Jim, a Southron blog recently posted what it claims are Confederate recruiting broadsides from 1861. Almost the first line, of the first example, reads, “your soil has been invaded by your Abolition foes. . . .” Clearly at least some Confederate leaders in the Virginia forces saw the protection of slavery against an “Abolition foe” as a cause sufficiently compelling to convince young men to enlist.

  • Billy Bearden Nov 15, 2011 @ 7:03

    What about young ladies who were born and raised in a southern state and or community, who wore a flag as part of their apparel to school, such as Candice Latta or Jaqueline Duty? I sense a different standard here.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 7:05

      It comes down to this: Do you believe that this specific case is about a mother’s and daughter’s deep attachment to “Southern Heritage” or whatever you want to call it? Yes or no.

    • Billy Bearden Nov 15, 2011 @ 7:07

      Candice Hardwick of Latta SC

      • Billy Bearden Nov 15, 2011 @ 20:26

        To answer that 1 specific question, I would not hold much faith in her mothers statement, simply from what you have posted here. The NJ shirt issue is nothing I will be concerned about. But I still see some inconsistancy in your comments about her compared to other situations. Each case is not cookie cutter, yet you whip out a broad brush.

        Over the years I have seen many different shirts on school kids. My wife and I were just tonite relating a story of an incident (based on the similar quote in the movie Armageddon) in my 8th grade class where my buddy was wearing a Kawasaki motorcycle shirt that said “Feel the power between your legs” and the teacher told him to reverse the shirt to hide the image. He said no, and she said dont wear it to her class again.
        Such was life in the late 70s.

        At schools I have seen FUBU shirt wearers, I have seen “Black by popular demand” shirt wearers, I have seen “Meet the F*ckers” shirt wearers (depicting Pres Bush 43 and 1st Lady), and I have seen “All hail the King and Queen” shirt wearers (depicts MLK and Corretta). God only knows what nonsense marketers have applied to likenesses of the current president on childrens attire.

        At my local flea market a mexican vendor sells “Brown Pride” shirts.

        These clothing choices for certain social groups are openly promoted and encouraged (Gay Pride shirts are now court protected speech in schools as is the banning of US Flag shirts.)

        Whatever harm or intimidation that occured in the early 1960s with hooded men waving CBFs on poles is not what is happening on shirts of children in schools in 2011. If it is then prove it to me in the next thread.

  • BorderRuffian Nov 15, 2011 @ 5:32

    “She is twelve years old. Are we really suppose to believe that her ties to the South and its history are that strong? Really? The young girl admits that she doesn’t understand the history of the flag and I suspect that if we pressed her we would learn that her knowledge of Southern history is just as shallow.”

    So she has to pass the Kevin Levin Heritage Test in order to wear a shirt with a Confederate flag? What about the Indian kids with turbans and the Jewish kids with yarmulkes? What is their depth of knowledge about their heritage? Do they have to pass the “Heritage Test” too?

    • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 5:47

      Is this really suppose to be an argument? I’ve made a judgment call here. This girl can wear her sweatshirt wherever she wants, just not at her middle school. Do you really believe that this is a heritage issue? Really? I have heard nothing from the mother or daughter that would point to such a conclusion. The comparison to turbans and yarmulkes is irrelevant because they are not seen as offensive.

    • Andy Hall Nov 15, 2011 @ 6:25

      “What about the Indian kids with turbans and the Jewish kids with yarmulkes?”

      The “Indian kids with turbans” presumably refers to Sikhs, for whom the dastar is a fundamental part of their religious observance. It is considered mandatory for observant Sikhs, as is the yarmulke, or kippah, that’s worn in some branches of Judaism. They are active and even required of actual religious faith, which (as much as you may want to believe it) the Confederate Battle Flag is not.

      It does not speak well of Ms. West that she does not see that distinction.

      • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 6:30

        The mom’s statement is actually quite telling. It’s much more likely that this little stunt of hers is about those Indian and Jewish kids and not about their beloved Virginia.

        • Andy Hall Nov 15, 2011 @ 6:43

          To her credit, Ms. Caddell in South Carolina didn’t stake out her little piece of Dixie using her teenage kid.

        • Ben Railton Nov 15, 2011 @ 15:47

          Hi Kevin,

          Just wanted to agree wholeheartedly with your comment about this being more about the Indian/Jewish kids for this mom. I know neo-confederate identifications go way back, but I would say that a significant portion of them are direct responses to the perceived affronts of multiculturalism. Growing up in Virginia, I heard multiple kids (presumably parroting their parents) say that “if they get Black History Month, we should get Confederate History Month [or Southern History Month].” Never have pronouns been deployed more tellingly.


          • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 17:51

            Hi Ben,

            Good point. The mother sounds very defensive and insecure.

  • William Richardson Nov 15, 2011 @ 4:20

    So let me see, a 12 year old girl, in America, wears a rebel flag shirt to school and she receives death threats ? Hmm who is the “Haters” now ???

    • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 4:21

      Hmm who is the “Haters” now ???

      Could be anyone.

      • William Richardson Nov 15, 2011 @ 17:44

        Including you Kevin ?

        • Kevin Levin Nov 15, 2011 @ 17:46

          Whatever makes it easier for you to sleep at night, William.

          • William Richardson Nov 15, 2011 @ 19:23

            What you can’t say it ? It’s a yes or no question. Or are you afraid to answer it ?

            • Kevin Levin Nov 16, 2011 @ 2:35

              Why do I need to answer such a ridiculous question?

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