Bubba’s General Lee Undergoes a Change

Word comes from the Pensacola News Journal that PGA golfer (and two-time Masters champion) Bubba Watson’s going to repaint the “Dukes of Hazzard” General Lee car in his possession, replacing the Confederate Battle Flag adorning the roof with the United States flag. As Watson said on Twitter: “All men ARE created equal, I believe that so I will be painting the American flag over the roof of the General Lee #USA.”

John Schneider, who played “Bo Duke” in the series and who autographed Watson’s car, isn’t happy with the decision. No word yet from Ben Jones, who played “Cooter,” although the chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans is also the proud self-appointed guardian of what he calls Hazzard Nation.

We note that once again Pensacola’s loudest defender of Confederate heritage let this one slip by, although she adores Bubba. Guess she’s not doing too well when it comes to changing hearts and minds toward her favorite cause. Whether she’ll now denounce Watson as she did former Confederate heritage defender Nikki Haley remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, another sweet southern boy has seen the light.

Karen Cooper, Confederate Heritage Celebrity

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a producer at CNN asking for Karen Cooper’s contact information. Apparently Don Lemon wanted to interview her. I thought this was an odd, even clueless inquiry, given what I have written about Ms. Cooper, but then this is Don Lemon’s producer, right? Given that Lemon sometimes comes across as clueless, I should not have been surprised.

This morning I received another inquiry about using material posted on the blog for a story on Ms. Cooper that’s about to appear. Once more, I was puzzled. What was going on?

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The View From the Sidelines: Scholarship and Activism

Some bloggers like to blog. Other bloggers often blog about their fellow bloggers. This begets a process whereby still other bloggers have to decide whether they want to blog about bloggers blogging about bloggers.

It’s an occupational hazard. I don’t particularly care for it, but there are times I believe there’s something worthwhile to say. I’m not sure whether that’s the case in the following instance, but we all make mistakes. Had it not been for a fellow blogger, indeed, the posts that provoked my curiosity would have passed by unnoticed by me altogether.

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An Opportunity For Advocates of Confederate Heritage

You may have heard that the Ku Klux Klan is planning a protest in Columbia, South Carolina, later this month.  A spokesman for the group has spoken out in support of the man who last month slaughtered nine African-Americans in cold blood in a church in Charleston.

It is time for all those advocates of Confederate heritage who tell me that it’s all about heritage, not hate, to stand up and be counted.

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Return From Europe

I’ve just returned from nearly three weeks in Europe, much of which was devoted to visiting battlefields and historic sites. I spent several days at Waterloo, and walked the field all day on the 200th anniversary of the battle on June 18; I also visited in turn Bastogne, Quatre Bras (also on the 200th anniversary of the action there), Ligny (ditto), Ghent, Flanders, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Cambrai, Reims, Verdun, Chateau-Thierry, the Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel, and Metz, before returning to my point of departure, Luxembourg City. It was a busy trip, and it took a day or so to recover fully from over 24 hours of continuous travel.

I’ll be posting my reflections on what I saw in the next several weeks: although I kept up with administering this blog despite uncertain internet connections, I decided to approach the events at Charleston and its aftermath with some caution as well as curiosity for how the story would play out. I’m pleased with that decision, because I think that for me, given where I was, prudence and restraint paid off. However, I know that there were people who wondered what was going on (or why I wasn’t speaking out more frequently on whatever they wanted to hear). I preferred in this instance to watch from afar and select my spots. After all, other historians were quite visible, including several who had not taken part in previous debates about Confederate heritage; moreover, judging from site hits and posts read, I know that this blog served as a resource for others curious about aspects of this discussion. Whether that makes me a “content blogger” is another matter altogether. :)

Should You Be Able to Buy a Confederate Flag?

One of the ramifications of the events of the last several weeks is the decision of many retailers and resellers not to stock Confederate flags for sale. This is, of course, their right, and the people who are complaining about this (and thus implicitly think that some outlets should be forced to carry such items … so much for private enterprise and freedom of choice, folks) miss the point (of course, some of these folks are the same folks who think bakers should not be forced to provide wedding cakes for same-sex marriages, but then consistent logic has never been their strong suit). After all, other providers will still market an assortment of Confederate flags, and we know there will be buyers.

Yet, as we seek some clarity and clear thinking about recent discussions, I think it’s a fair question to ask: should one be allowed to purchase such items? There is, of course, a good argument to be made that one should be allowed to do so (and I’m in that camp). However, if we do see these flags as symbols of hate, when why allow them on the market?

As for myself, I had my eye on a replica of the banner of the 28th North Carolina to purchase for my wife, who had an ancestor serve in that regiment, but I can no longer find it (it disappeared from eBay). I’m sure this will astonish some of my (mindless) critics, who will ignore that statement in their rush to characterize me in whatever way suits their agenda. But I do notice that the Virginia Flaggers were making a lot of noise about raising yet another flag just before the Charleston murders took place (and they did raise it, working alongside another Confederate heritage group recently denounced by the Virginia Division of the CSA). Since then, it’s been rather quiet.

Notes on the Confederate Flag Controversy

It has been an interesting month. We have witnessed changes that would have seemed improbable not all that many years ago. Here are a few observations concerning the controversy over Confederate flags, symbols, and icons:

1. It remains regrettable that it took the murder of nine people in cold blood for Americans to have this discussion. The debating points have been out there for some time.

2. For all the chatter in some quarters about this debate being driven by left liberal Marxist Southern-hating politically-correct academics and their allies in the evil executive branch of the federal government, the politicans who have made the key decisions in several prominent instances were at one time the darlings of the heritage crowd. Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell are not favorites of the radical liberal movement. Neither is the current president of the College of Charleston. The heritage folks may find it difficult to understand how those they once trusted came to betray them, but then they also confuse political correctness with political pragmatism. I don’t believe these politicans experienced a change of heart: however, they know how to count votes.

3. Confederate heritage organizations have proven to be utter failures in achieving their objectives. The ranting and whining remain unchanged, as has the anger and ill-concealed bigotry in many corners. Ben Jones, the chief of heritage operations for the SCV, has proved unable to chart a new path, precisely because he, too, held fast to the traditional mantras. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Ben. I did. As for the various flagging organizations and their cheerleaders, they seem overwhelmed, ineffective, and confused.

4. However, there is hope for these folks. That rests in the overreaction in some quarters as well as the incidents of vandalism against CSA monuments. More on that later.