The Flag Question, Confederate Heritage, and Southern Heritage

Over the last several months the Facebook group “Southern Heritage Preservation Group” has received some attention in the blogosphere.  I suspect it’s because all too often it presents an easy target to ridicule, and because some of the usual characters post in the group.  On the whole I think it’s better to ignore the group, because commenting on it opens the possibility of descending to its level.

That said, I was taken aback by something that appeared on the group this morning … an image of several flags, including the CSA battle flag and the United States flag, part of a color guard dressed in Confederate uniforms.  The image itself seemed unexceptional, but here are some of the comments that followed:

“Why is that Yankee rag flying?” (someone “liked” that comment)

“thats a victor flag/forceing us back into the union istead of soveran states now we are property of washington dc/look up ucc fileing it explains every thing”  (remember, I’m quoting)

Now, the United States flag in question is a 50-star flag, not a Civil War-era flag.

I find this anti-flag ranting offensive.  Here’s a group, always protesting about the need to defend the Confederate flag, and yet they refer to the flag of their own country in such disparaging terms, and question why it is flying.  I’m sure the color guard in question saw things differently, but these ranters, who repeatedly confuse “Confederate heritage” with “Southern heritage,” seem intent on mocking their own American citizenship … and their southern heritage.  Of course, that’s because the South has always been a part of American heritage; one should not confuse “the South” with “the Confederacy,” even during the Civil War; southern history is so much more than the Civil War; and the 50-star US flag these fellows attack is the flag of their country (unless they are willing to renounce their citizenship).

What do you think?

Update:  Here’s more from the anti-US flag crowd:

Well, I see we have some that kow tow to the Yankee Empire’s rag, that’s truly both sad and disgusting.

You can bet I’ll be working to stop the Yankee flag from being flow at any southern organizations events, it’s long past time to put a stop to that submissive behavior on the part of any REAL Southerner. SCV, LoS, or SNC events should NEVER fly the US government’s national textile.

So, stop it, stop it now!

Interesting.  Remember this the next time you hear about how we should all respect the Confederate battle flag, and how it is all about heritage, not hate. 

Sure.

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32 thoughts on “The Flag Question, Confederate Heritage, and Southern Heritage

  1. Al Mackey October 2, 2011 / 9:49 am

    And this would be the same group who would pretend to be sooooo patriotic in other issues.

    I and others who are far, far better men and women than that group of (insert whatever you like) put our lives on the line for their right to say things like that. All we need to hear from them is “Thank you.” They would be wise to confine their remarks to the keyboard and not say them in earshot of a veteran.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 2, 2011 / 9:54 am

      It also interests me that no one’s protested the anti-US flag comments. Apparently there aren’t a lot of patriotic Americans in that group, because you would not have the same silence when it came to the CBF.

      • Michael Furlan October 2, 2011 / 7:17 pm

        The problem is bigger than these few comments would suggest. Anti-American sentiment is “mainstream”

        Palin’s husband was a secessionist, and she addressed and praised the same secessionist group in 2008.

        Perry is on record this year as being respectful of the idea of secession, if not fully endorsing it.

        And Mitt Romney ran away from a question about secession rather than be seen to be against it

        Just google the name and secession to find all the links.

      • MikeD October 2, 2011 / 10:46 pm

        The lack of protest stood out to me also. It stood out quite starkly in juxtaposition to their usual vociferousness when it comes to the CBF. I’ve noted that for some people the whole southern/Confederate conflation comes down to an excuse to reenact “Gone With the Wind” more than it does a desire to preserve southern history and heritage. When you start throwing around names like “scalawag” and “carpetbagger” in reference to ordinary, 21st-century folks, and having damned-near apoplectic fits at the mere mention of Lincoln or Grant you’re not dealin’ with a full deck anyway, no?

  2. TF Smith October 2, 2011 / 9:58 am

    I think they are lunatics who should be regarded as crackpots and cranks; but that’s just me…

    Having said that, I’d expect that somewhere in the un-regulated ranks of this “movement” lurks the next McVeigh. All it would take is an alienated pair like Harris and Klebold (or Leopold and Loeb) to find a cause among the neoconfederates…

    The chapter in Tony Horwitz’ “Confederates in the Attic” dealing with the Westerman murder case is illuminating.

  3. Ray O'Hara October 2, 2011 / 10:25 am

    the SCV types have also infected the ‘This Mighty Scourge. A Civil War Discussion group’ on Facebook.
    the page administrator is not an SCV member. he appears to be a fellow Bay Stater,
    but they have moved in like cockroaches and post the usual SCV stuff, ie: slavery not a cause, Lincoln a tyrant who started the war,. the war is nothing but a series of Yankee atrocities, Men like Champ Ferguson and Bloody Bill Anderson were merely defending their homes and families from attack by the Tyrant Lincoln.

    one compared Lincoln’s response to the attack on Ft Sumter to the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.
    another is upset the Federal Govt won’t provide grave markers for CSA graves or pay to maintain them. and he finds resolutions from 1906 which declare the CSA dead to be American veterans

    If called out they just block you and keep ranting on. if showed the secession documents and speeches they just wave them away and quote DiLorenzo and the like.

    the SCV manages a solid balance of lies and cowardice in debate that makes them too frustrating to deal with.

  4. Jeff Davis October 2, 2011 / 11:14 am

    I think two things. First ignore the group. Nothing good can come from
    “passive Yankee baiting” like this. Second, it is likely more politically driven out of current politics than anything else. As you are already aware, the political divide has drastically grown. You know who these folks are and their sentiments going in. It’s just their extremism become more extreme.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 2, 2011 / 11:43 am

      For the most part, I ignore these folks, and I think it’s fruitless to engage them in debate or discussion. However, this behavior is simply reprehensible (and, given their feelings about the Confederate flag, hypocritical). If they despise their country’s flag, they should renounce their citizenship; if they fail to defend the flag while defending the CSA flag, then we understand that they are patriotic Confederates, not patriotic Americans. Too few people there are defending their nation’s flag (oh, I’m sure some crackpot there will say I’m questioning the patriotism of everyone in the group, but only a liar or an idiot would believe that).

      • Al Mackey October 2, 2011 / 6:03 pm

        I will gladly question the patriotism not only of those who made the reprehensible comments but also those who have commented since those remarks were posted with no objection to those remarks.

      • Charles Lovejoy October 6, 2011 / 1:44 pm

        I ignore them also . I have seen similar type behavior with some people that belong to groups like the SCA(Society for Creative Anachronism) and Renaissance Actors. They seem to get stuck in some kind of psychological time warp. Once they go in character they have difficulty coming out of character and returning to reality. Just one of my observations 🙂 .

  5. Lyle Smith October 2, 2011 / 1:20 pm

    So people who burn the U.S. flag or mock it should “renounce their citizenship”? I don’t think so.

    This happens all the time around the country. Ever been to a college campus Professor Simpson? 🙂 There is always some group of kids who like to mess with the U.S. flag. Right now some Anarchist is probably defiling the flag at the “Occupy Wall Street” gathering in New York.

    Thank God we don’t just shoot them or deport them… unless they’ve truly gone rogue, hide themselves out in Yemen and actively seek out opportunities to kill their fellow Americans. Then I think they’re going to be a little bit of trouble.

    Anyway, stupid is stupid no matter if its on a college campus or at a SCV meeting.

    Reading some of the other posts down the list on the facebook page seems to suggest that most of the people aren’t against the U.S. flag or the U.S. though.

    … one says, “The United States flag should be there!”. Another says, “90% of SCV color guards have a US flag in them that i have seen, we say the pledge too”.

    That doesn’t seem too anti-United States to me. Others on there are stupid, but stupid is everywhere and isn’t going away.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 2, 2011 / 2:50 pm

      I don’t think flag burners are renouncing their citizenship. I think that people who claim they are true Confederates, or say that they are living in occupied territory, etc., are. When you have folks claim they live in “Virginia, CSA,” are they protesting government policy or renouncing an allegiance? And what government policy are they protesting? Emancipation?

      I just want these people to be as good as their word. Not all the folks on the SHPG page share the extreme sentiments I’ve highlighted. I’ve already said that, so I’m not clear as to the point you’re trying to make, although you do declare that the posters I highlighted were “stupid.” As to equating them with protestors or flag burners, well, you advanced that comparison. I didn’t.

      • Lyle Smith October 2, 2011 / 3:52 pm

        Well those who think of themselves as true Confederates living in occupied territory are truly peculiar. I’m totally with you on their idiocy, or what I described as stupid.

        You may not be expressly equating them with protesters or flag burners, but my point is that if this group of people should “renounce their citizenship” for being anti-flag and pro-Confederate, that’s got to apply to all the other people in the U.S. who come out anti-flag and talk about living in occupied territory, or just abhor the United States for its very existence.

        Should Mexican-Americans who express interest in the idea of Reconquista be told to renounce their US citizenship too?

        • Brooks D. Simpson October 2, 2011 / 4:06 pm

          It’s up to the people in question. Let them explain their inconsistency. Offering that observation is not the same thing as forcing them to do anything except face up to their own hypocrisy (I’d cringe if someone advised government action against them: one of the rights of US citizenship is the right of dissent).

          Besides, in this case these people are very, very “flag conscious.” That heightens the hypocrisy. Let them explain themselves. I prefer not to explore their thought processes, such as they are.

          • Lyle Smith October 2, 2011 / 4:39 pm

            That sounds fair to me.

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 2, 2011 / 5:36 pm

            Where I think your point is more telling is when it comes to Native American groups who protest their status within the US. I featured one way back in the first days of this blog.

          • Lyle Smith October 2, 2011 / 6:35 pm

            I remember that post. There are no good answers there. Although so many of us are so “native” now to not have any other place to go as well.

            This reminds me of the Iroquois lacrosse team passport fiasco this past year. The United Kingdom wouldn’t allow them in without a U.S. passport and they didn’t want to use a U.S. passport, but only their Iroquois Confederacy passport. The United States wouldn’t recognize their Iroquois passports either. What a mess.

        • Charles Lovejoy October 6, 2011 / 1:49 pm

          Lyle I have heard some of the same things expressed by several Native American Activist I know.

      • Jeff Davis October 3, 2011 / 12:44 pm

        I don’t think you can have it both ways. If a person feels strong enough to burn the flag, then they are more un-American than those you have targeted above; and as that is the case, they should find another country that suits their tastes. Burning the flag is symbolically tantamount to destroying the country.

        Too often flag burners make a mockery of patriotism by claiming they are trying to change America. Well, a system for change already exists. They have the freedom and the right to take advantage of that system, be a part of it, and help to institute change. Law abiding citizen patriots do it every year, sometimes twice a year. The Founders and Framers built that system to be slow, to give folks time to think about the changes they want to make. Impatience with that system is not acceptable.

        I class flag-burners lower, much lower, than these Confederate hypocrites. There is a difference here, and hypocrisy does not stoop to the level the flag-burners do.

        • Brooks D. Simpson October 3, 2011 / 1:35 pm

          The law says that flag-burning is an acceptable form of protest by American citizens. We may have our own feelings about the act, but part of being an American is accepting rule by law.

          Let’s recall what I said (and what appears to have been forgotten):

          …the 50-star US flag these fellows attack is the flag of their country (unless they are willing to renounce their citizenship).

          Anyone disagree with that statement? Let’s deal with what I said.

  6. Andy Hall October 2, 2011 / 8:36 pm

    Coming late to this discussion.

    Does anyone else notice that they’ve put the United States flag subservient to (in ascending order) the first Confederate national flag, and SCV camp flag, and the Confederate Battle Flag? The senior flag — rightly the U.S. flag in this case — goes to the “flag’s own” right, i.e., to the far left as viewed when facing the group.

    Those idiots shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a color guard. What an embarrassment — to either flag.

    • Robert Baker October 3, 2011 / 9:29 am

      In their defense Andy, and I saw this because I went to watch, when they did the pledge to the 3 flags (U.S., Georgia, Confederate) they actually dropped the level of all the other flags under the U.S. flag. I think those guys were just ignorant as to where the flag was to go.

      That being said, the rhetoric that followed was ridiculous.

    • Charles Lovejoy October 4, 2011 / 6:57 am

      Andy you notice the SCV camps flag? It’s a version of the new Georgia flag not a version of the CBF. I have been told that the local SCV camp where I live as in other areas no longer uses the CBF but versions of the first confederate national and the bonnie blue.

      • Andy Hall October 5, 2011 / 7:59 am

        I did see that.

        There seems to be a lot of variation between how SCV camps do things. There was a discussion recently on one board whether or not to display the U.S. flag at camp meetings (some do, some don’t), and there’s a heated debate going on now on that same board whether the Pledge of Allegiance we all grew up with is some sort of Marxist plot.

        This past January we had a reenactment of a CW battle here, and the CBF was conspicuous in its absence. I suspect that was by design of the organizers, who were heavily promoting it as a draw for tourism, but there was no lack of Confederate reenactors willing to use only the First National. (I’m not sure the CBF was even present at the actual, historical event.)

  7. Mark October 2, 2011 / 9:05 pm

    I agree fully with Brooks that the anti-flag ranting is offensive. Is it possible to rationalize the behavior–to understand it, not defend it–by saying we’ve always had this type of bad thinking in Copperheads and such types? It’s offensive as Hell to me, and we’d like people to know better, but if they are otherwise productive and law abiding citizens then hopefully their opinions are compartmentalized in their crazy zone and doesn’t pollute the rest of their lives, and ours. Anyway, I would like to think we could find some analogy with folks in the past.

    I would ordinarily favor ignoring such folks, but the bad ideas ship sailed and if you hear something long enough you tend to believe it. So I’d want to take any opportunity to simply remind them about the reality of their “imperialist” charge (explicitly or implied.) I’d favor at least putting the answer out there so you can flog them with it once and awhile. Here’s a quote from my Evernote files that provides the basis for a response on that score:

    —————–
    In truth, Southern leaders had a long and relatively independent history of seizing other people’s lands on the bet that they could keep them. They took the Floridas, East and West, almost before the federal government could decently negotiate to accept them virtually as Spanish gifts. Jefferson might have legitimately bought Louisiana, regardless of what the Spanish said about Napoleon’s duplicity in selling it, but the same could not be said of Texas or the Mexican cession. In 1853, two southern diplomats in Europe, in the so-called Ostend Manifesto, insisted that the United States either buy Cuba or seize it in order to make secure the southernmost frontier of slavery. For two years in the same decade, Mississippian William Walker, leading a rag-tag cadre of mostly southerners, took possession of the entire country of Nicaragua and as president opened it to slavery. The South was undeniably imperialistic, and it clearly had no compunctions about seizing other people’s lands. In a sense it pulled off its most important imperialistic venture in 1861 when it simply seized itself from the United States government by the use of force. It could hardly complain in 1865 when it lost itself the same way.
    Crusty old Thad Stevens in Congress argued the case for a Radical Reconstruction precisely upon the ground that the South was conquered territory. “Conquered” meant the conquerers could do with it as they pleased. Ironically, for a few weeks after Appomattox, southerners expected precisely that; more than most Americans they could understand a total expropriation of territory by force. What they could not understand was the North’s halting clumsiness. . . .

    Joel Williamson, “The Soul is Fled”, in “Race and Slavery in America”.
    ———-

  8. Ray O'Hara October 3, 2011 / 9:08 am

    A check in on that SPHC found this gem today

    “Patriotism Is The Most Powerful manifestation of the soul of a race. IT is a collective self-preservation in case of national emergency, the instinct replaces Immediately of self-preservation.
    I Was not Born in the South, I Was not born in America, the greatness of soul purpose, the desire for Independence of people in the South HAS won my heart.
    Ideals of heart captivate my mind and soul
    The South is my nation that I believe
    I am one of your brothers, a child of the South”

    it has 5 likes.and 2 comments approving it.

  9. Keith Harris October 3, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    As of 6:00 Monday evening, four people “liked” the comment you mentioned. I am puzzled to say the least.

  10. Terry Walbert October 5, 2011 / 8:23 am

    Brooks,

    I think your original idea of ignoring these folks is the best. I generally take a live and let live attitude toward the issue. There is so much hypocrsy.

    For example, while I was home sick yesterday I turned on MSNBC at 5 pm. The “Reverend” Al Sharpton, who now has his own show on MSNBC, was complaining that Governor Rick Perry’s endorsement of the display of the Confederate battle flag was “racially insensitive.”

    Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 5, 2011 / 10:08 am

      See, I tend to believe that commentary on Fox or MSNBC all too often resembles people in glass houses with a pike of rocks. In this case, Sharpton’s a pot, but Perry’s a kettle.

  11. Terry Walbert October 5, 2011 / 1:20 pm

    I woudln’t equate Perry with Sharpton unless you can point to instances where Perry’s actions have led to mobs killing people, as in Crown Heights and Harlem.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 5, 2011 / 1:56 pm

      Both individuals have their critics. I’m just not going there. Both exploit racial tensions. That in fact is the point you were making with your pot/kettle comment, which never changes the actual character of the kettle.

      • Ray O'Hara October 5, 2011 / 7:04 pm

        it is possible and usually probable that both the pot and kettle are right about each other.

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