Update on Virginia Flagger Follies

It’s been a fun week in Flagger land. The announcement the the protest group was making plans to erect a fifty-foot-flag pole on private land in Chesterfield County off I-95 so that they could fly a modest 10′ by 15′ Confederate battle flag gave the always attention-hungry Susan Hathaway and company a chance to appear on television (one Flagger, watching herself, commented that she’d have to start losing weight for future appearances). No word yet on whether Tripp Lewis‘s good friend, Rob Walker, will shoot a documentary film commemorating the event.

Not everyone welcomed this announcement. Within a day a Facebook group, calling itself “Richmonders against the Confederate Flag on I-95,” appeared. Other groups also popped up, and, as one might suspect, the media began to search them out as well for reaction. There’s now a petition campaign underway. Elsewhere commentary on the proposal was mixed and rather predictable, if sometimes pointed. Some were humorous. Suffice it to say that not everyone welcomed the idea, and some editorials were blunt about it.

It did not take long for some Flaggers and their supporters to begin whining and name-calling in various message board and comments sections, a sign that they aren’t able simply to stand behind their message. These folks may seek media attention, but they often don’t know how to handle themselves in such situations, giving credence to the notion that they are bitter, angry, and a bit immature. Several reminders of how some Flaggers have handled themselves in past situations have added to that impression.

Flaggers have also embraced their victim mentality, complaining that opponents of the flagpole are against free speech. This suggests just how flawed their understanding of the concept of free speech is. Objecting to the exhibition of the flag is in itself an exercise of free speech. Several opponents of the project have been very careful to say that they aren’t seeking prior restraint: they are simply looking for ways to protest the idea, because they think it is an embarrassment that tars all Richmonders with the Flagger brush. Some opponents have gone so far as to attempt to contact Hathaway to present their opinion, but those who know her by reputation understand how far that will go. Even she is not immune from expressing her frustration through name-calling.

The facts are simple: the Flaggers have the right to erect their flagpole and fly their banner, because the pole will be erected on private property. They need to recognize that other people have the same free speech rights to protest that act. Apparently the Flaggers don’t understand the Constitution very well, but then again, many of them are also southern separatists/nationalists. including the person who helps administer their own blog, a certain Florida-based romance writer.

It’s difficult to escape the feeling that this is all a quest for attention and publicity and has very little to do with heritage. It would have been a shrewd move to erect the flagpole and hoist the banner without any warning and present the result as a fait accompli. Instead, Hathaway’s announcement serves as an attention-getting device, with her as the always media-ready spokesperson. The last time she went public like this, of course, was the Walker taser story shared with her by Tripp Lewis, who is still dealing with the fallout over his arrest at the VMFA. Perhaps the Flaggers will look into having the proceeds from Lewis’s defense fund reallocated to support their endeavor, although I doubt they’ll have a problem raising the initial estimated cost of $3,000. ¬†Maintaining the pole and the lease (Hathaway’s press release says that the Flaggers have “finalized a lease to acquire property”) may be another matter. We can expect reports of attempted vandalism, although, given the Walker episode, we can’t take them at face value. Perhaps anti-Flagger groups will flag the flagpole; perhaps their interest in producing counter messages will bear fruit.

One thing about these sorts of stories: if the interest at first seems intense, it soon dies down, especially once the Sunday papers have had their swing at the issue. Oh, there will be battles in the comments section of many an online article, but even that soon declines. Meanwhile, it’s a long time until September 28. Perhaps the Flaggers should have rethought their media strategy. All they’ve done to date is to allow other southerners to remind us that the Virginia Flaggers represent themselves … and no one else. I doubt that was their intention.

16 thoughts on “Update on Virginia Flagger Follies

  1. M.D. Blough August 11, 2013 / 11:53 am

    One thing is conspicuously missing in the discussions of why the Battle Flag evokes such controversy: Massive Resistance to federal desegregation moves. There are a few allusions to it (one article mentions when public schools were closed in Virginia to avoid integration) but nothing more. Yes, what is said by opponents about the Civil War is true but there simply aren’t the same reactions to the First National Flag of the Confederacy or the legal state flag of South Carolina which is very close to the design of the first flag raised in rebellion in December 1860. I think the aversion of many, not just blacks, has more to do with the 1960s than the 1860s.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 11, 2013 / 12:18 pm

      The problem runs deeper than that. The proposed flag most closely resembles the navy jack that became the symbol of massive resistance. If the Flaggers wanted to honor Confederates from Virginia, they’d consider the square banner of the Army of Northern Virginia. However, the Flaggers don’t understand the heritage of Confederate flags, so of course this was not the direction they went. They don’t grasp the heritage they claim to celebrate.

  2. Joe Lockard August 11, 2013 / 12:42 pm

    It makes one long for Seldom Seen Smith, the wonderful protagonist of Edward Abbey’s anarcho-environmentalist novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. The opening of the novel has a hilarious description of Seldom Seen’s tactics against tall roadside advertising boards. Roadside Confederate flagpoles are even worse visual pollution and environmental blights.

  3. M.D. Blough August 11, 2013 / 1:17 pm

    I finally got through on the issue with a dear friend from North Carolina when I finally asked him what his reaction would be if he were a black man back home and he was walking alone down a rural road and he saw a big old pickup truck flying a huge Battle Flag/Navy Jack and full of good ol’ boys hooting and hollering. Did he believe he would think: “Oh, nice, a bunch of reenactors” or “Oh my god, I better get out of here while I still can!” He was very quiet for a long time and then said, very softly, “Oh my god, I’d better get out of her while I still can.”

    • James H Swor Jr August 11, 2013 / 2:10 pm

      Considering black crime statistics, that reaction youre referring to is more likely to take place among white Southrons who find themselves within the confines of vast areas of any large urban area, i.e. Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, etc, in the South.

    • Hunter Wallace August 11, 2013 / 2:38 pm

      I’ve asked the SPLC the same thing.

      As of this summer, there have already been more murders in Montgomery this year than there were in all of last year. Over 90% of the murderers and the victims are black males who are shooting and killing each other over neighborhood gang turf wars

      http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/interactive/article/99999999/NEWS/399990262/Tsunami-Violence

      My website is listed as a “hate group” by the SPLC, but I have never assaulted anyone in my life, much less killed, raped, or robbed someone. Last time I checked, 100 percent of homicide arrests in Birmingham (this was June 2012 to June 2013) were black males.

      Montgomery is one of the most violent cities in America because of black-on-everyone crime. It’s not because there is a Confederate flag on 1-65, or because I have a Confederate flag on my website, or because of the League of the South.

      Liberals are living in a fantasy world when it comes to violence. Less than a quarter mile from the SPLC, there is a sign that pleads, “Please Montgomery, Stop The Violence.” The actual violence in Montgomery is almost the exclusive prerogative of the black community which voted for Obama and the Democrat Party.

      • Jimmy Dick August 11, 2013 / 5:32 pm

        Care to list the root problem of the crime or do you want to continue living in the conservative fantasy world where you ignore the rest of the people in this country?
        The answer is poverty. The problem is because conservatives don’t want to live in a system that is for everyone and instead want to perpetuate an economic system that is unbalanced and causes the poverty. As long as people keep electing conservatives to office that do not care about the entire population of the US it won’t get any better.

        • James H Swor Jr August 11, 2013 / 6:53 pm

          Liberal hogwash. Hint: its the culture… it always has been.

        • Patrick Young August 11, 2013 / 9:20 pm

          Hunter Wallace’s historical thinking has led him to conclude that “Black Run America (BRA) is the period of American history which we are now living through.” He is just a garden variety pea-brained racist with a thesaurus fast-key.

          • James H Swor Jr August 11, 2013 / 10:51 pm

            The “pea-brained racist” retort is not very convincing argument, Mr Young.

          • Patrick Young August 12, 2013 / 5:41 am

            James, I don’t argue with people who use phrases like Black Run America (BRA) any more than I do with those who refer to our country with phrases like Zionist Occupied Government (ZOG). The invincibly ignorant are never looking for an argument, only a battle.

  4. Hunter Wallace August 11, 2013 / 2:26 pm

    Susan Hathwaway was recently here in Selma, Alabama at the annual Nathan Bedford Forrest birthday celebration at Fort Dixie.

    I had the chance to meet her. I recognized her from all the attention she gets from the Civil War bloggers. She’s a lovely woman. We talked at length about Brooks, Corey Meyer, Kevin Levin, Andy Hall, and Rob Baker. We also talked about Connie Chastain.

    There is already a huge Confederate flag flying just outside of Montgomery on I-65. It has been there for as long as I can remember.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 11, 2013 / 2:29 pm

      I’m so glad we could help you make the connection.

      As Ms. Hathaway says, however, “Quit reading his garbage! Every click gives him site visits and more ‘clout’. I have not read ANY of these Floggers’ troughs in over a year and it has been a very blissful year.”

      So says the woman duped by Rob Walker. But her comments about the issue will make good reading with the interested members of the Richmond media.

    • Corey Meyer August 11, 2013 / 7:00 pm

      She talked about me…brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.

    • Rob Baker August 13, 2013 / 8:01 am

      Nice to be a topic of conversation I suppose.

    • Megan everett August 15, 2013 / 12:40 pm

      There’s one up in Tampa as well now too.. a third national.. I met her in January and will join her for this flag in Va on that weekend. This group wants to educate people. We all have the right of speech.

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