The 2013 Confederate Heritage Follies Countdown: And the Winner Is …

… you guessed it!

the Flaggers limp effort1. The Little Flag in the Woods: Smarting after a series of setbacks throughout the first half of 2013, the Virginia Flaggers came up with an idea which, while not original, seemed to offer a way to escape the humiliation of Tripp Lewis’s arrest and Rob Walker’s tall tale. They would erect a flagpole along I-95 south of Richmond and put up a really big Confederate flag so that everyone could see their pride in Confederate heritage. Nothing says welcome to Richmond like a Confederate flag … or so we were told.

From the moment the project was announced some people were prone to treat it as a joke, but many Richmonders were unhappy that they would continued to be linked to that albatross known as Confederate heritage. Other Virginians echoed that opposition.  People engaged in mudslinging fights in many a comments section as the media covered the announcement. Although the Flaggers claimed they were simply interested in honoring Confederate heritage, it didn’t take long to discover the seamier side of some of their supporters.

From the beginning this blog said that the Flaggers were firmly within their rights to erect a flagpole and fly their flag, a statement that Flaggers and their allies ignored in their rush to pose as victims who were going to triumph over their foes when the flag went up (as it most surely would, sooner or later). However, it was also worth pondering whether this quest for attention (a hallmark of Flagger activity) might prove problematic. Other bloggers chimed in on this question. Before long the Flaggers were flailing away in response to criticism, a suggestion that the spotlight revealed their shortcomings. Flaggers and their supporters offered ridiculous statements on the past and the present that compounded their foolishness and hysteria. Nor did it help that the Flaggers’ primary spokesperson, Susan Hathaway, took a lower profile for reasons already explained in the countdown. Her stand-ins proved less adept at dealing with the media.

Just when it looked as if things couldn’t get worse, they did, with the discovery that the Virginia Flaggers had embraced outspoken white supremacist Matthew Heimbach as one of their own. Nor did they back away from Heimbach: one Flagger, the always dependable Tripp Lewis, said he was a great guy, while others continued to be his friend (and Susan Hathaway actually asked him to the Flaggers’ picnic). It did not help that Flagger spokesperson Connie Chastain badly fumbled the story at the beginning, only to discover that the ties between Heimbach and the Flaggers (as well as between Heimbach and the Sons of Confederate Veterans) were a bit more extensive than she would have people believe.  Chastain was left to scream and stomp her feet in typical style, to the amusement of many: other Flaggers, including Hathaway, fell silent. Heimbach’s association with the Sons of Confederate Veterans also raised eyebrows among those who had swallowed that organization’s “heritage not hate” slogan.

As September came, Flaggers threatened critics. They tried to explain history.  However, they did take my advice when it came to selecting the flag to flyBut criticism continued and opponents got their say.

Finally, the big day came. And, as it turned out, that was all that was big about it. The flagpole was too short, with trees obscuring the view from the interstate. That it was erected downslope in what appeared to be a depression didn’t help, either.

It was much ado about nothingMedia coverage barely suppressed widespread giggling. Other Richmonders showed us what a really big flag looked like. In the end, it was one big Flagger fail.

It did not take long for the Flaggers’ flag to fade away as a source of attention. Sure, the Flaggers had to address some permit violations, and Grayson Jennings got real upset when someone swiped his excavator. But people who drove by the flag site intending to see it often came away disappointed and underwhelmed, and that’s if they actually got to see the banner (which was no longer the original flag). Meanwhile, Flagger supporters yearned for what might have been.

19 thoughts on “The 2013 Confederate Heritage Follies Countdown: And the Winner Is …

  1. I disagree.

    No way that “Underwhelming Flag” defeats “The Divine Intervention of the Taser Wielder Confederate Defender”

    • There are people who are upset this morning that they didn’t even make the list. I expect someone to continue to go nuts on her blog about assorted matters (including the usual endorsement of homophobia and bigotry).

      Ever notice that we find some of the biggest bigots among those who tell everyone that they are good Christians? Peace on earth and good will toward men, right? As Connie recently noted, show me, don’t tell me. I think we’ve seen enough.

  2. Congrats to the winners! Instead of putting their time, money, and efforts into real battlefield preservation or historical presentation, these folks put a big redneck ‘middle finger’ up next to a highway (where no one will see it.) We could never damage the neo-confederate heritage movement more than folks like Connie and the VA Flaggers have done. They are imploding and their lost cause mission is imploding. Just this month we’ve seen the MOC prepare to merge with Tredegar and expand its focus (well done BTW), NB Forrest High School finally changed its name, the Confederate flag has been banned from NASCAR. The victories are coming and I think they are more responsible for our success than we are. Unfortunately these people wasted the entire sesquicentennial which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to properly acknowledge the past. Instead, they were playing dress up and standing next to television race cars, ranting against the first black president and living up to every stereotype placed on them with their racism, sexism, homophobia, right wing tea-bagger fanaticism and their penchant for letting a mentally ill black man and a miserable author from FL represent them in social media. Well done. Your #1 ranking in the follies is well deserved.

  3. Ah, the Greyson Jennings video on YouTube is set to private now…cannot imagine why?

    This has to be one of the most epic fails in all of the “Heritage Not Hate”‘s History.

  4. I don’t want to speculate but I will, as the whole vandal-monument-incident was manufactured, and the Tripp Lewis arrest incident completely self-instigated, any chance the Grayson Jennings equipment theft at this flag site was also an ‘inside job,’ – used to garner sympathy and support? I saw a show one time that depicted these incredibly desperate people with a disorder in which they intentionally put themselves in precarious situations in order to have people save and support them. I don’t anyone more desperate than this group so I can only assume that…

    • I have seen nothing to suggest that this was an inside job. What we do know is that the Flaggers made it public knowledge that they had yet to take any security precautions, and Connie Chastain went so far as to highlight the continued presence of the machinery in question in a post that pointed to its exact location. That points to something other than a great scheme to draw attention to themselves … it suggests something about their intelligence which we’ve seen confirmed in other matters.

      After all, Connie Chastain continues to draw attention to her practice of cyberstalking and conducting background checks on posters while claiming that she does nothing of the kind. That’s not the mark of a skilled operator. It’s the mark of someone who drew attention to a piece of machinery in an unguarded state.

      The unanswered question remains why no one in the adjoining trailer park noticed or heard anything.

    • There is no evidence that it was an inside job, but I don’t put it past them. I’ve speculated about it myself. It would certainly be a convenient excuse for the trees not being cleared out [and allowing them to conveniently not mention that perhaps the county or the state wouldn't allow the trees to be cleared away and they were simply incompetent in not realizing that in the first place], and as you say it might be a ploy to garner sympathy. They claimed the excavator is back at the site, but when I was there earlier this month I didn’t see it. But again, there is absolutely no evidence of an inside job, and all of this is pure speculation. A more plausible explanation is what Brooks alluded to: the flaggers and their supporters themselves advertised it was there and unguarded and thus told the thieves where they could easily find an excavator they could steal and sell. Still …

      • It is obvious that the project has been an underwhelming success. The Flaggers have promised to put up more flags elsewhere in Virginia, but frankly I don’t think most people will care.

        For the Flaggers, the problem is two-fold: What’s next? Who cares? We’ve had our fun with them, but I doubt anything more needs to be said.

        Then again, never underestimate Tripp Lewis. :)

  5. All excellent points, so in her efforts to publicly ‘support’ the event, Connie more than likely informed the whole world that the flag site was ‘incomplete’ and that the ‘security measures were not yet in place’ – then the event photos and descriptions that she posted (in an effort to make the site actually noticeable) led the alleged thieves right to the construction equipment which was sitting unattended and ripe for the taking. Once again, Connie hurts the cause by ‘helping’ it. Ha! Glad she’s not my gal pal!

  6. I wasted too much time trying to figure out where they might be putting that flag along I-95. It would’ve been a lot more efficient to start with locations adjacent to trailer parks. Duh.

  7. Andy,

    It is easier to maneuver to kiss the Blarney Stone than it is to twist within your car automobile to catch a glimpse of that rag.

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