It did not take long for several bloggers who have followed the Virginia Flaggers to respond to my post discussing whether the Flaggers may have overreached with their newest project. Kevin Levin answers the question I posed in the affirmative. Andy Hall suggested that, far from overreach, the I-95 flag project is a de facto admission of defeat, and that by embracing this project, the Flaggers shed any claim to being different than any other heritage group that chooses the well-worn alternative of having a Confederate flag flying along an interstate.
These positions are easily reconciled. This is a cry for attention in the aftermath of failure and, indeed, humiliation. The Flaggers have failed with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Confederacy, and the Lexington city council. Their involvement with Rob Walker backfired badly. Absent innovative ideas, the only way for the Flaggers to get attention was to resort to something already done, where the outcome is predictable. Just look at the media coverage, and tell me what surprises you. It’s the same types of people saying the same type of things, with the exception of those Virginians who have seized upon this opportunity to offer a more constructive response that transcends mere counter-protest.
Unlike Kevin, I think a flag will go up. I’m not as confident that it will stay up, and the reason won’t be vandalism … unless the Flaggers follow Rob Walker’s example and stage an incident, something they’ve been known to do when it comes to confrontations (see Tripp Lewis). People will respond, as they already have, with the intent of discrediting the message that many people associate with the particular flag chosen.
It will be interesting to see whether what the Flaggers foresee as their greatest triumph might just do them in altogether. Whether it’s through overreach or a simple lack of imagination, the result in either case is marginalization.