23 June 2010

I Fly Both Flags









Based on some recent comments at Civil War Memory, it's clear there are quite a few folks who fail to understand the patriotism of Southerners who, while honoring their Confederate ancestors, still love and remain patriotic in their feelings toward the United States flag and the ideals she is supposed to stand for. This reveals a level of misunderstanding that I was really not all that aware of but, I suppose, should not be surprised by, given today's PC climate and hatred of all things Confederate. One person commented that, "there is a failure to recognize the inherent irony" (in flying both the Confederate battle flag as well as the United States flag).

Really?

First of all, how does one ascertain and declare that the persons flying both flags doesn't "recognize the inherent irony?" Did they stop and interview them? I doubt it. No, more than likely they made assumptions based on their misguided, politically correct beliefs about those who display the Confederate battle flag. Again, not surprising, especially coming from those who are from outside the South. 

Displaying both flags is very common, especially among patriotic Southerners. I do it. My father did it. My grandfather did it. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, have traveled throughout the South, and have seen both flags displayed together countless times here and all over the South. It is also a fairly common sight in many Southern cemeteries.

Is there irony? Yes, and no. On the surface, yes. But when one understands the deep patriotic sympathies of many Southerners whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy during the WBTS, then the irony becomes, shall we say, "less ironic." There is no more irony in flying both of these American flags than there is in folks who fly the United States flag with the British flag. That, too, is fairly common here in Virginia among those who celebrate their common American and British heritage.

I had three great-great grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy and a grandfather who fought for the U.S. in WWI, and another in WWII. Again, I think what we're seeing revealed in these comments is a fundamental lack of knowledge and misunderstanding regarding the deep patriotism of many Southerners whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, as well as for the United States in the many wars since 1861.



































































By the way, if the information and photos in this post challenge your commonly held beliefs, just chalk it us as anecdotal evidence and move along. ;o)

35 comments:

Michael Bradley said...

The ignorance displayed by some bloggers is amazing. While dispraging the SCV it is clear that Mr. Levin knows very little about the organization and has taken very little effort to learn about it.

The oath of induction to the SCV requires a prospective member to swear loyalty to the constitution of the United States. Of course, many Confederates agreed with Jefferson Davis that THEY were upholding the Constitution and that the North had abandoned it. This might make the oath of the SCV less meaningful if one has a suspicious mind which has already been made up to accept another conclusion.

It should also be noted that most SCV camps open their meeteing with the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag even though it contains the word "indivisible." Believe it or not, the SCV has accepted the results of the war so far as unity of the nation is concerned. The UDC opens their meetings the same way.

Whenever I look at "Civil War in Memory" I am struck by the obvious amount of effort put into ridiculing ideas with which the author does not agree and the small amount of time spent on understanding and analying ideas. I am also struck by the amount of effort expended on self-advertising, noting papers written, meetings attended, and books being written. These are the things any good teacher (high school or higher education) does.

Frankly, the content of that particular blog has become a source of amusement.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Michael. Remember that Mr. Levin hails from New Jersey and grew up there. Despite what he and others claim, it is practically impossible to truly understand Southerners who honor their Confederate heritage and who are also patriotic Americans, unless one has grown up here and been impacted by that culture. These academics like to put us under their microscope; poke, prod, and analyze until they find something that confirms their preconceived (and misinformed) perceptions about us.

You are right, however, I often get a good laugh looking back up at them through the microscope.

13thBama said...

Mr. Williams,

I didn't realize Levin was from New Jersey? Which exit? :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B:

Be nice now. NJ now seems to have one of the most effective governors in the country. Maybe they've "seen the light."

Chaps said...

I served a bit in the US armed forces and agree with flying both flags without contradiction.... with one exception. The graves of Confederate soldiers who died during the war should be decorated only with Confederate flags.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Chaps - an important distinction and one with which I agree. Thanks for the reminder.

I believe the gravesite I show here in the post is one of a WWII Vet who was also an SCV member.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,

Since I am the person you quote, let me point out that I also said this:
"It may be a statement on current politics or that they are just honoring their ancestors courage and sacrifice, or any other of the reasons for flying the battle flag that we are all so familiar with. Coski explores all this in his book “The Confederate Battle Flag.”

You have not said anything in your post that Coski didn't explore at length in his book, so please don't assume that I have "politically correct beliefs about those who display the Confederate battle flag." My beliefs are not politically correct, they are historically correct.
You are correct that I have not knocked on my neighbor's door to ascertain exactly why he is flying the two flags. Perhaps I was wrong in my assumption that this particular person fails to recognize the inherent irony in flying the two flags together. Perhaps he knows and displays them anyway. But, the irony is still there, and even you admit it. BTW, I would never challenge my neighbor's right to fly his flag, even if I think he is misguided, and I'm thankful I live in a country where we can all have our own beliefs. Hope you're having a great day.

Bob Pollock

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hi Bob. I have a copy of John's book, but, to be honest, have only flipped through it casually, so I won't respond to what he's written.

"Perhaps I was wrong in my assumption that this particular person fails to recognize the inherent irony in flying the two flags together."

That assumption was the primary motivator for my post. I simply expanded on the thought. I maintain that a lot of people are rather puzzled about the "assumed" contradiction.

"I'm thankful I live in a country where we can all have our own beliefs."

Me too. Thanks for taking the time to clarify your thoughts and comment here. I appreciate it.

Michael Bradley said...

Allow me to quote an eminent Leftist historian, Eugene Genovese:
"We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity--an increaingly successful campaign by the media and an academic eliet to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, of their identity. They are being taught to forgeet their forebears or to remember them with shame...It is one thing to silence people, another to convince them. And to silence them on matters central to their self-respect and dignity is to play a dangerous game--to build up in them harsh resentments that, sooner or later, are liekly to explode and bring out their worst."
preface, p XII

Eugene Genovese, The Southern Tradition, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994

13thBama said...

I have seen the Mexican flag flying in this country and we beat them in a war, yet I bet no one sees the "irony" in that.

So, would a Japanese-American be wrong for flying two flags? The Japanese flag is still the same. Germany's is not, so don't respond with that question.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

"to remember them with shame"

Precisely, which goes to Bob's comment characterizing the display of the battle flag as "misguided." His comment would suggest to me that he believes they should be ashamed to display the flag.

I'm currently reading Genovese's "The Southern Front: History and Politics in the Cultural War." Fascinating at times, rather laborious at others.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B

Interesting question. I think the distinction is that America and Britain were once "united" and our founding is very much connected to English culture by language, customs, etc. And the U.S. and CSA were, prior to the WBTS "united" and were, once again, "united" after the WBTS.

13thBama said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention, nice touch on the picture of the house with both the confederate flag and the Obama sign. That should cause some confusion among the left. HA!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - I'd seen that before. As a matter of fact, I think Kevin Levin posted it during the last election cycle. Nothing unusual, at least 2 members of our SCV camp were Obama supporters and voted for him.

Both my Dad and one of my Grandfathers were huge, dyed in the wool Democrats, big Kennedy fans, hated Republicans, etc, etc, yet both proudly flew and displayed the Confederate battle flag.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,

I was not raised in the South, but I do not believe that one must revere the Confederacy to be a proud Southerner. To me, the South is the United States of America and always has been. Let me quote Southern historian Charles Joyner:

"I am a southerner and I love the South. But I reject the notion that the test of one's loyalty to the region is reverence for the Confederacy... [Secessionists] precipitateded the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the right of some southerners to hold other southerners in perpetual bondage. In retrospect, it is difficult to see how anyone who truly loves the South can ponder the disastrous Confederate experiment without more regret than pride. When the folly of our forefathers in breaking up the Union brings down pain and poverty upon three generations of southerners, we do not serve the region well by praising them for it."

Charles Joyner, "Forget, Hell!" in "Legacy of Disunion: the Enduring Significance of the American Civil War," ed. Susan-Mary Grant and Peter J. Parish (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003), 28.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob:

"I do not believe that one must revere the Confederacy to be a proud Southerner."

Nor do I. But neither do I believe those proud Southerners who do revere the Confederacy are "misguided" or should be marginalized, nor their patriotism questioned. Personally, for me, it's more about revering the men who fought for the Confederacy than revering "the Confederacy."

"[Secessionists] precipitateded (sic) the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the right of some southerners to hold other southerners in perpetual bondage."

That is an over-simplistic explanation of why many Southerners fought and what precipitated the war. As I've noted many times, none of my ancestors owned slaves and, according to what one ancestor said, he fought
because of "them damn invaders."

"When the folly of our forefathers in breaking up the Union brings down pain and poverty upon three generations of southerners, we do not serve the region well by praising them for it."

If one accepts the notion that Lee was acting out of unselfish duty, as I do, then the above statement is irrelevant. Lee and the men who fought for the Confederacy could not predict the future. Besides, there is enough blame that could be directed to the North for the South's "pain and poverty."

“I am opposed to the theory of doing wrong that good may come of it. I hold to the belief that you must act right whatever the consequences.” ~ Lee to his son Custis.

“We had, I was satisfied, sacred principles and rights to defend for which we were duty bound to do our best, even if we perished in the endeavor.” ~ General Lee on why he fought for the South.

13thBama said...

I was not born in the north, but I do not believe northerners need to worry about what I revere and what I don't.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard, I would have been surprised if you had responded any other way. But, thanks for letting me comment. :)
Bob

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob:

It's called consistency my friend. And you are more than welcome. Please feel free to throw in any time. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your comments.

Best,
RW

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B:

It's in their genes. They can't help themselves. Part of their Puritan tendencies.

;o)

Bob Pollock said...

13B:

We have something in common; I wasn't born in the North either.

:)

13thBama said...

We have two things in common. If I was'nt born in the north, I would quickly point that out also :)

BorderRuffian said...

BP:
Let me quote Southern historian Charles Joyner:

"I am a southerner and I love the South. But I reject the notion that the test of one's loyalty to the region is reverence for the Confederacy... [Secessionists] precipitateded the bloodiest war in American history to preserve the right of some southerners to hold other southerners in perpetual bondage...


I suppose this is the sort of thing you have to say to hold your place in the leftist academic world.

Sad.....Sad......

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

BR:

In the interest of fairness here, I don't know if Bob is a leftist or not. Certainly, what you say is true in many instances, but I'm not sure about Mr. Pollock's political leanings. He can share those if he wants to, or remain silent on it if he wants to. That's up to him.

I know some liberal Democrats who are die-hard Confederate heritage enthusiasts. I also know some conservative Republicans who tend to believe that Abe Lincoln is the epitome of American conservatism.

I'm just saying this to point out that politics and views on the North/South debate aren't always predictable but rather nuanced and sometimes complicated. My own Dad and Grandfather would be perfect examples.

Michael Bradley said...

Mr. Pollock is quite right that one does not have to revere the Confederacy. One should respect those who do. One should be knowledgable enough to know that very few Southerners fought to keep another race in bondage any more than many Northerners fought to free another race from bondage. To accept such a notion is to accept the myth of the Holy Cause.

Rebel Raider said...

Mr. Pollock:

In regards to your comments, it seems that you are assuming that others share your presuppositions about the causes of the war. I don't believe one needs to necessarily revere the Confederacy to be a proud southerner, either. However, one should probably understand the complexities and resist embracing simplistic and often times sophomoric notions as to its causes. My ancestors fought for the Confederacy yet none owned slaves. They in turn fought for a state that did not secede over slavery. I am referring to North Carolina; the "atlas of the Confederacy." So named, due to the fact it supplied more soldiers to the war effort than any other state in the Confederacy. North Carolina seceded only after the demand for troops(from Lincoln)came in order to coerce the states back into the union. Governor Ellis saw this(I believe correctly) as a usurpation of power and a violation of the Constitution.

You wrote:

"To me, the South is the United States of America and always has been."

The South to which southerners belong is far older than the political arrangement known as the United States of America.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

RR:

As always, a most insightful comment.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard, Michael, BR, and RR:

Rest assured, I know all the arguments in favor of the Confederacy. You have not said anything here that I haven't heard before. I don't think they hold up under close historical scrutiny, but, no doubt, we could comment and counter-comment indefinitely, and not change each other's minds, which is why I rarely comment here.
But again, I'm glad we live in a country where we can all have our own beliefs.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob:

"we could comment and counter-comment indefinitely"

Precisely, which is why I avoid such debates as well, at least with those like yourself who've already examined the evidence and reached a conclusion. It's pointless.

The same thing could be said about other blogs, like Civil War Memory, as well. Nothing there which I've not heard before and the same thing holds true - any lengthy debate is pointless.

Of course, "close historical scrutiny" is something many others have done and come to quite different conclusions than you. I'm glad we can at least agree on the goodness of a country where we are, at least for the moment, free to "have our own beliefs."

Please feel free to comment in the future.

Best Regards,
Richard

Michael Bradley said...

The idea that there is a single cause for the Civil War is a recent innovation in historiography and is not accepted throughout the community of academic historians, much less among students of the war. It is also under question in the most recent scholarship on the causes of the war. To argue that monocausalism is the correct interpretation of historiography is itself an idea which will not withstand close scrutiny. As Mr. Williams said, too many others have gone over this ground and differ strongly with Mr. Pollock.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Professor Bradley. Let me give a less than perfect analogy to the "causes" of the WBTS. My grandfather died in 1991. On the Cert. of Death, "cause of death" is listed as "Myocardial infarction" (heart attack). Is that what killed him? Yes. However, he had been sick w/ lung cancer for several months. His Dr. told me that the stress on the heart, causing the attack and death was actually brought on by the cancer and associated pain.

So was cancer the actual cause? Yes. But wait, what caused the cancer? My grandfather smoked cigarettes 55 years. The lung cancer was a direct result of smoking. So did smoking cause his death? Yes.

I think you get my point, as clumsy as the illustration is presented.

msimons said...

Intersting reading here and on Kevin's Site. I love the South was born an raised in Arkansas and I have lived in Texas since 1993.
I fly what I want when I want from the Bonnie Blue to the 3rd National. I don't care what anybody things about it. It is my house, my land and rights to do as I please.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Some meddlers remind me of an elderly lady I used to go to church with. She was forever poking her nose in other folks' business, criticizing them, gossiping, pointing out faults, etc. She wasn't very well liked.

msimons said...

Amen Richard!

Lawrence Underwood said...

Wow. Leave for a week and miss out on all the fun. Fly them high.

'We are a band of brothers
And native to the soil.'

I think that is what most folks that aren't from the South just don't truly understand.