Kevin Levin has posted what I believe to be a reasonable proposition about the display of a Confederate flag at the Confederate Memorial Chapel in downtown Richmond.
Here’s what I said in the comments:
The situation with the VMFA and the chapel would seem to be easy to resolve. Erect a single freestanding flagpole, and fly the current US flag above the ANV banner. Otherwise, go with three flagpoles, with the US national colors flying highest, followed by the Virginia state flag, and then the ANV flag.
I’ve never understood the failure to reach the middle ground of reasonable compromise on this issue.
The chapel’s a post-Civil War structure, and so a Confederate flag could not fly atop any pole there. But the ANV banner … the “soldier’s flag” — would make sense in appropriate context. One might make a case of Lee’s headquarters flag given the name of the camp that helped provide for the structure, but I’d prefer the square soldiers’ flag of the ANV.
This would be an example of displaying the flag in context.
SECOND UPDATE: The Flaggers have rejected a proposal they claim not to have read. Note that Susan Hathaway failed to speak again. Interesting.
FIRST UPDATE: It did not take long for the Flaggers to respond. Oh well.
… and then …
These people live in a delusion of their own making.
It isn’t as if I haven’t said what I felt about the VMFA controversy before. Or about the Flaggers’ previous projects.
But I don’t smear the Flaggers. They do a good enough job of that on their own. Their childish responses to a proposal made in good faith seem evidence enough that it’s not about heritage but about something else.
In general, Coski’s reasonable middle ground calls for “displaying the flag only as an unambiguously historical or memorial symbol.” This middle ground is the position of practically everybody who might possibly be called a flag critic, including the South Carolina state conference of the NAACP.
The flag supporters grossly exaggerate (cultural genocide, banning the flag everywhere, scrubbing the South of all things Confederate, etc.) what flag critics are actually calling for. And the flag supporters demand that the flag must be displayed as a living symbol for use not only for commemorations but also for rallying cries to inspire giant spews of rhetoric about race, culture, and government.
How so? Because it’s reasonable?
I’ve never said that the Confederate flag should not be displayed at the chapel.
Here’s a letter/column in yesterday’s Post and Courier from the Rev. Joseph A. Darby, 1st Vice-President of the Charleston (South Carolina) branch of the NAACP:
In it he states clearly that his problem with the flying of the Confederate flag at the SC Statehouse is that the display isn’t unambiguously historical but instead confusingly sovereign. If our state government’s display of the flag was unambiguously historical then he would have no problem with the display at all. Furthermore he has no problem with people doing whatever they want with the flag at their own homes, cars, or businesses. He’ll be wary and avoidant but neither protesting nor confronting. Finally, the whole eradication meme and getting rid of tons of monuments is a canard; he has no interest at all in such nonsensical activities.
In his own words:
“Numerous [Post and Courier letter] writers argued that the NAACP wants to eradicate ‘Southern heritage.’ Wrong. The NAACP economic sanctions to relocate the flag — which I helped to write — call for the removal of the flag from ‘positions of sovereignty,’ because the sovereign Confederate States of America lost the Civil War and that nation ceased to exist — we live in the United States of America.
“I usually tell those who make the ‘attack on heritage’ argument three things. The first is that eradicating their ‘heritage’ would mean demolishing more than half of the monuments in our state, and that makes no sense. The second is that heritage lives in one’s heart. If you have to impose your heritage on others by force of law, then you cheapen, demean and belittle your heritage. The third is that I encourage those who embrace Confederate ‘Southern heritage’ to display their flags on their car bumpers and personal paraphernalia and in front of their homes and businesses. That helps some of us to know who to be wary of and what business to avoid.”
Finally, Brooks, your suggestions don’t work at all because you’re mixing historical flags with sovereign flags. The goal for government-sponsored displays of Confederate flags should be, as Coski said, “unambiguously historical.”
See the comment by Elizabeth O’Leary over at Kevin’s site.