18 August 2012

So Who's Obsessed With The Confederate Flag?

According to certain bloggers, everyone but them, even though an objectve look at the evidence shows quite the opposite. For example, just search these two academic related history blogs (here and here) using the search phrase "Confederate Flag" and "Confederate Heritage" and see what you get. Quite instructive.

Both Levin and Simpson focus many, if not most, of their posts discussing those who are "obsessed" with the Confederate flag and their Confederate heritage. What, are they envious?

While it's true some folks are obsessed with these topics, I believe it's quite accurate to point out that Levin and Simpson are obsessed with the obsessors.


9 comments:

Kevin at Civil War Memory said...

Hi Richard,

I wouldn't worry too much about the title of my post, which I took from the title that the editors at the Atlantic used. Of course, I am interested in the debates around the Confederate flag. That should be obvious to anyone who reads my blog.

The post was a response to an article in a Charlotte paper: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/08/10/3445968/still-fighting-the-civil-war.html which seems to paint white southerners with an overly simplistic and one-dimensional brush. Seems to me it tells us nothing about where white and black southerners stand on this issue. I offered my take, which I assume is not entirely accurate. What do you think?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Good mornin' Kevin - not worried, just observant. Perhaps obsession is contagious.

"Seems to me it tells us nothing about where white and black southerners stand on this issue."

I agree with you there - nothing new though - as the press, generally, spins more than it actually reports. The views on the flag are not consistent among Southerners - black or white.

But I'd bet most of the places and circles in which the reporter travels and associates is devoid of the Confederate flag, as well as many other "unwashed" traditional American heritage symbols. There's not a lot of flag-waving of any kind among elites these days, now is there?

And, of course, the requisite confession, self-flogging, and cleansing must always be part of the narrative:

"The flag is part of my heritage, too. But it’s not something I’m proud of. Our ancestors fought to keep slavery intact, and the flag is a symbol of that misguided cause. It’s past time we put it away."

Hallelujah, Praise Jesus! Another Southerner cleansed from the sins of their ancestors!

Good grief.

Curious how she includes "our" when referring to Southern ancestors. Perhaps her ancestors fought to keep slavery intact, but mine didn't.

13thBama said...

My ancestors did not fight to keep slavery intact either. They came from North Alabama, which was mostly poor farmers trying to keep what little they had (acreage and animals). They were pulled into a "rich man's war, poor man's fight".

The obsession with the confederate flag is just another convenient waypoint on the road to class warfare. They agitate both sides and pray that will set things off.

Kevin at Civil War Memory said...

"Hallelujah, Praise Jesus! Another Southerner cleansed from the sins of their ancestors!"

That was my initial thought as well, but I also think it is instructive to keep in mind that what one embraces as part of his/her heritage need not necessarily be seen as something to celebrate. We can hold any number of attitudes to what we embrace as part of our story.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Faux shame, in my opinion. But it is hip. I prefer:

"It is indeed a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors." ~ Plutarch

But you're right - "We can hold any number of attitudes to what we embrace as part of our story."

Among my own ancestors can be counted moonshiners, Confederate soldiers, preachers, & politicians. I am proud to be associated with three of those categories and am, of course, ashamed of the politicians.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

PS - thanks for the comments.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B:

"rich man's war, poor man's fight".


Isn't that the way it most often is?

"just another convenient waypoint"

Precisely. I don't deny that some folks feel legitimate dislike toward the Confederate flag, but most of what we're seeing today is political hype for agenda-driven purposes.

It's just another tool which allows many on the left to dismiss Southern arguments about limited government and impugn the South's conservatism.

Most of these folks embrace the perspective of historians like David Blight, which exemplifies that narrative. That's been discussed here before.

Michael R. Bradley said...

Last Tuesday my SCV camp presented an African American storyteller and musician whose focus was the common elements shared by Southerners, black and white. No attempt was made to gloss over differences but similarities were noted.

Thirty eight people were present, 17 of them African Americans. There was a frank discussion about Confederate symbols and the consensus of the African American group was that they had no issues with the public display of the Battleflag on SCV license plates, in the local Confederate cemetery, or at the historic house which is our SCV camp "home."

All in attendance agreed that the use of the Battleflag by hate groups was disgusting but the blame is to be placed on the group, not the symbol. The Klan misuses U.S. flags and Christian crosses, but no one suggests banning those symbols as offensive.

As a member of the Governor's Commission for the Sesquicentennial I have worked closely with reenactors from the USCT to provide color guards at all official events--one U.S. and one C.S. There have been no complaints from anyone about the twin color guards.

Frankly, I see more C.S. flags displayed today in more places than I did 40 and 50 years ago. I have also seen public officials who tried to ban the C.S. flags defeated in local, state, and U.S. elections. Sen. Jim Sasser lost his seat here when his support of Carol Mosley Braun in her opposition to the UDC logo became an issue. Vanderbilt University lost a law suit against the UDC just a few years ago over their attempt to change the name of Confederate Memorial Hall for which the UDC had supplied financing; the Chancellor soon took a post in Ohio. Middle Tennessee State University dropped the attempt to change the name of Forrest Hall (the ROTC building) when the Captain of Cadets, an African American, took a stand supporting Forrest as a model for soldiers to copy. The African American president of the University accepted the argument.

The belief that the affection for C.S. symbols is disappearing in the South is wishful thinking on the part of those who do not, and do not wish to, look objectively at the issue.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Professor Bradley - excellent and intriguing comment.

"Frankly, I see more C.S. flags displayed today in more places than I did 40 and 50 years ago."

So do I. I can always remember them as a kid from time to time here in the Shenandoah Valley - but many more today - on T shirts, bumpers, hats, etc. They are overwhelmingly more prevalent. As already noted, the circles that many of these elites move in certainly aren't going to have a lot of CSA flags. Most of them live in bubbles.

"The belief that the affection for C.S. symbols is disappearing in the South is wishful thinking on the part of those who do not, and do not wish to, look objectively at the issue."

Again, you're spot on. The more they suppress these symbols, the more prevalent they become. Lexington, VA is a perfect example. They're self-deceived.