03 September 2011

The Lost Cause Wins In Lexington . . .

. . . . in an ironic, kind of twisted way. Allow me to explain. In 1993, the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the City of Lexington over the city's banning the display of Confederate flags during a parade and rededication of the Stonewall Jackson statue in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (owned by the City of Lexington). The SCV won; quite handily. It was, in street terms, a smackdown. As a matter of fact a FEDERAL judge issued an injunction against the city and awarded the SCV (symbolically) one dollar (not Confederate money, by the way). The court also awarded the plaintiffs $3142.75 for attorney's fees. (That would be taxpayer money, by the way.)

The federal court order and injunction read, in part:

permanent injunction shall be entered under which neither the City of Lexington nor any individual, corporation, association or other person or entity under its supervision or within its control, or the employee(s), officer(s), agent(s), or successor(s) in interest of any such person or entity may deny or abridge the right of the plaintiff organization and its members, and of any other person subject to the jurisdiction or authority of the parties enjoined hereby to wear, carry, display or show, at any government-sponsored or government-controlled place or event which is to any extent given over to private expressive activity, the Confederate flag, or other banners, emblems, icons or visual depictions designed to bring into public notice any logo of "stars and bars" that ever was used as a national or battle flag of the Confederacy." [All emphasis is mine.]

Now, a few observations . . . the federal court made its will quite clear. The City of Lexington was permanently forbidden from preventing the display of the Confederate flag (any of them), on any "government-controlled place."

The ordinance recently passed by the City of Lexington did precisely that very thing - in direct and willful violation of a federal judge's order. Now, certain members of Lexington City Council and government have argued, "Oh, but this ordinance was not specifically targeting the Confederate flag - this applies to all non-governmental flags." That is, shall we say, less than honest. The issue that prompted the ordinance was the display of the Second National Confederate flag during Lee-Jackson Day festivities earlier this year. That is common knowledge. I've been told that even certain members of Lexington city council have admitted that - until they were told to shut up by the city attorney.

While the city's argument may comply with the letter of the law, it does not comply with the spirit of the law. Everyone knows what prompted this ordinance. It's been very public. It's well known. It's been all over the news and hotly debated for weeks. If the City of Lexington persists in that ridiculous argument, they are simply making fools of themselves and revealing that they are willing to lie for their cause. Of course, these are politicians, so that really should come as no surprise. Some may be convinced of the city's argument, but most know better.

Whether or not it will be convincing in a courtroom setting before a federal judge who will, of course, be able to read the standing injunction, is quite another matter.

So why do I say the Lost Cause wins in Lexington? It's simple. Because local authorities are thumbing their noses at the will of the federal government - just like they did in 1861. And, for now, in passing this flag ordinance, the local government has won. Southern states passed ordinances of secession at the beginning of the WBTS - the same way the City of Lexington just passed their ordinance. The City of Lexington "seceded" from the court order, so to speak. Since part of the "cause" of the "Lost Cause" was defying the federal government, one could argue that spirit lives on with the Lexington City Council. Interesting how history often repeats itself, isn't it? 

And, one more thing on this issue. There is a lot of misinformation about this issue coming from the usual sources - certain academic Civil War blogs. So let's correct one particular item regarding the public comments at the council meeting regarding the vote and the "will of the people":

This secession ordinance will not be challenged with armies as was the case in 1861. No, this will be challenged in court of law. I wonder if the same side will win this time?


Vince said...

I'm skeptical of how well the "thumbing their noses at the will of the federal government" argument holds up against broader evidence, especially for anyone reading up on the Christiana (PA) resistance, whose 160th anniversary is next Sunday.

13thBama said...

Get rid of em. Someone needs to make sure at election time that this is remembered. I noticed a very left feeling in Staunton the last time I was there. It was disappointing.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I fail to get the connection but to what "broader evidence" are you referring?

A federal court said, basically said, "You cannot disallow the Confederate flag from public display on city controlled property"

The city said, "Ok, we'll disallow all flags, except government flags."

The city's intent is clear and everyone knows it - they did not want to allow the Confederate flag to fly on city property, so they crafted the ordinance to get around the judge's order. Whether or not the ordinance will pass legal muster will be determined by a court, but there is no doubt that is precisely what they did.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - these are the same geniuses who wouldn't allow the MOC to locate in Lexington. One member of council was overheard to have said during a discussion about the MOC and the related tourism it would attract: "That's just what we need, more redneck reenactors in Lexington."

This is the mindset of these elitists. They are extremely narrow minded and short sighted. Since the decision about the MOC was made, the Stonewall Jackson House has been forced, due to poor attendance, to turn over SJH to VMI. Had the MOC been allowed to locate there, that probably would not have happened. Thank you city council.