A Relic of the Past

Lee Monument, Richmond, Virginia

Last night I received an email asking why I continue to post about the activities and antics of the Virginia Flaggers [see here and here].  It should be obvious given the content of this blog, but let me once again state the obvious.  The Flaggers and their cause provide a clear window into the changing cultural and historical landscape of Richmond and much of the rest of the South.  I should point out that I don’t really have a problem with planting the Confederate flag in front of Pelham Chapel, but apparently the VMFA does and it is their private property.  Andy Hall was kind enough to forward the official UDC response to Susan Hathaway and the Flaggers following their recent incident:

On December 26, 2011, I responded to Ms. Hathaway advising that Pelham Chapel is not a UDC memorial and that our involvement in this issue could be construed as a ‘political activity’ that would possibly put our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status at risk. I further advised that our Bylaws prevent our involvement in ‘political activity’ and for that reason; the UDC was unable to allow the use of the flag poles located on the front of our UDC Memorial Building. I reminded her that the First National Flag flies daily in front of the UDC Memorial Building in perpetual honor of our Confederate ancestors.

On Wednesday afternoon, March 7, 2012, Ms. Hathaway came to our building and asked to speak with me. Mrs. Lucy Steele, Chairman of the Memorial Building Board of Trustees (who was in the building on other business) and I met with Ms. Hathaway. The request was that they be allowed to ‘gather’ on the front of our property. She was advised that we would not allow that.

The request was then made to allow them to ‘gather’ on the back corner of our property. Mrs. Steele pointed out that the property at the back corner belonged to VMFA but that we did not have a problem with it but she would have to seek approval from VMFA.

Ms. Hathaway then asked if the “No Trespassing” signs that had been posted recently were because of them and if they gathered on our property would the police be called. She was told that, as with any trespasser, we would call the police.

We explained to Ms. Hathaway that there have been instances of people sleeping under the bushes around the building. Recently during a work day, a man was seen crouching between the bushes and the building with binoculars which raised questions as to his intentions. The police were called at that time. “No Trespassing” signs were placed on our property in an effort to protect not only our building but our employees as they come and go, often times during early morning and evening hours.

On Saturday, March 10, 2012, during our Annual Spring Board Meeting, the VA Flaggers gathered on the sidewalk in front of the UDC Memorial Building. A short time later, they were observed leaning and perched on the cannons ignoring signs stating do not climb on the cannons. They then moved from the cannons to the steps leading to our building for a group photo. At this point, Mrs. Steele went out to ask them to move from the steps to the sidewalk – some moved immediately. Others remained on the steps. During this time, the Richmond City Police were called.

The UDC could have found a way to accommodate the Flaggers if they had wanted to do so.  It’s safe to say that their “15 Minutes” expired some time ago.  Their fundamental problem is the same problem that the rest of the heritage community faces and that is a continued embrace of the Confederate flag as the beginning and end of Confederate memory.  It reflects a complete lack of creativity as to how to forge meaningful ties to the past for those people who may be disposed to follow.  Although the community believes that their ability to commemorate the past has been threatened, the irony is that there is no better time in the Richmond area to explore the rich history of the Confederacy and the Civil War era.  There is some evidence that tourists are visiting the area for precisely this reason, but apart from a few poorly maintained websites  (some of which are attached to some pretty shady people) and a YouTube page no one is coming to their defense or providing additional support. It is difficult to see the Virginia Flaggers as little more than a relic of the past.

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16 comments… add one
  • Connie Chastain Mar 15, 2012 @ 4:14

    What a load of bullcrap your final paragraph is. What’s happening, Mr. Levin, is that people are tired of being bullied and slandered by authoritarian political correctness (queue Levin’s feigned bewilderment over what PC is) and they’re standing up to it more and more.

    “Their fundamental problem is the same problem that the rest of the heritage community faces and that is a continued embrace of the Confederate flag as the beginning and end of Confederate memory.” Ah, no. That assessment is just a reflection of your wish that the flag would go away.

    For you, and the rest of the PC crowd, the only thing about the Confederacy you want remembered and celebrated is the evilness of white Confederates, the brutality they “deservedly suffered” at the hands of the Union Army, and several generations of deserved social and economic oppression after the war. You glory in all that, don’t you?

    What people like you can’t stand is that some of us see it entirely differently; we see Confederates as fighting with awesome courage to protect their homes, families and communities from a brutal military invader. Nothing symbolizes their courage and their fight like the battle flag.

    I suppose hell will freeze over before you give Susan’s side of all this….

    • Kevin Levin Mar 15, 2012 @ 4:20

      I think this is a wonderful example of why you are left having to use a Facebook page as your mouthpiece and self-published books that I suspect few people read.

      This is the same tired argument that lumps everyone who disagrees with your position into one group and around another vague PC reference. Ms. Hathaway has had every opportunity to state the position of the Flaggers and as far as I can tell it hasn’t gotten her much. If anything her posting of videos, rants on various websites, and alignment with some suspect characters in the “Southern Nationalist” movement have done little more than marginalize the group even further.

      • Brad Mar 15, 2012 @ 8:33

        Wow! I wonder if they’d like to see slavery come back again.

        • Kevin Levin Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:14

          No one wants to bring back slavery. This is just silly.

          • Brad Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:52

            Hyperbole Kevin, Hyperbole 🙂

          • Margaret D. Blough Mar 17, 2012 @ 9:22

            Kevin-I’m not sure if that’s true of Hunter Wallace.

        • Andy Hall Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:59

          No, that don’t want to bring back slavery. But they will gladly point out that slavery was legal at the time, and many slaveholders treated their slaves well, and that slavery still exists in some parts of the world but you never hear about that, and industry in the North was really cruel to its workers, too, and the war was mostly about things other than slavery, and we’re all slaves to the government now because of Lincoln, and why do you people keep talking about slavery anyway, and let’s talk about something else, and stop talking about slavery already!


          • Brad Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:44

            I’m sure this has been endlessly discussed so apologies for bringing it up again but does Stephens’ cornerstone speech mean anything to them?

            • Kevin Levin Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:49

              It comes up and is usually dismissed as irrelevant or as a cue to remind people of the North’s connection to slavery. Stephens’s address is pretty typical and even restrained on the connection between the Confederacy and the maintenance of slavery and white supremacy.

          • Ray O'Hara Mar 18, 2012 @ 7:45

            Andy. they also insist Lincoln didn’t care about the Slaves and his statements that he had no desire to end slavery where it existed so the ACW couldn’t have been about slavery. Then they’ll in the next breath declare that Lincoln then invaded the South to free the slaves.

    • Andy Hall Mar 15, 2012 @ 5:15

      I suppose hell will freeze over before you give Susan’s side of all this….

      Foolishness. Ms. Hathaway, or someone close to her in the leadership of the Virginia Flaggers effort, posted the original video that started this discussion to that group’s own YouTube channel, with a long, detailed description of what supposedly happened. The whole thing is framed to make the Flaggers appear to be the oppressed party, concluding:

      Seems like the UDC has decided to join the VMFA in harassing the Va Flaggers.

      “We have met the enemy…and he is us!”

      There is no acknowledgement whatever of the Flaggers — and Ms. Hathaway, specifically — having been warned repeatedly, as far back as December, that the UDC was unwilling to participate in or host the Flagger’s protest, and (as UDC President General Van Schaick claims) that she was warned explicitly, days before, that the police would be called if the Flaggers came onto the UDC property. The Flaggers have already offered “their side of all this,” and it seems to be so selective in what it tells, and so carefully crafted to make the Flaggers the victims of PC oppression (again), that it calls into question every claim they make.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 15, 2012 @ 5:27

        In a previous video it was clear that the individual who approached a VMFA security guard had a microphone attached, which suggests to me that they were looking for a conflict that could be posted to YouTube. In the end: All hype and no substance.

    • Brooks Simpson Mar 15, 2012 @ 7:02

      Clearly Connie’s hurt at being dissed over at Occidental Dissent. Take this as a cry for attention … and a bid for readers.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 15, 2012 @ 7:09

        I thought I would cut her some slack today and approve a comment. I could just as easily approved those I trash as they all blend into one another as one incoherent rant.

    • Tom Logue Mar 15, 2012 @ 16:26


      I think many people are open to celebrating the bravery, independent spirit and resilience shown by Southern whites during the civil war. But that story needs somehow to address the fact that the half of the population of the South that was white was keeping enslaved the other half of the population of the South that was black. In the past, the story would either ignore the fact that half of the Southerners were enslaving the other half or it would explain how slavery was somehow a benefit to those enslaved. We need to come up with a more truthful and compassionate story. Even in your post, you failed to make even the smallest, tiniest reference to the fact that 4 million Southerners were enslaved at the beginning of the war and free at the end. Those Southerners who gained their freedom also need to be part of the story. No less than the Southern whites, the Southern blacks showed bravery, independent spirit and resilience.

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