It may well be that in the end the Virginia Flaggers may be their own worst enemy. Certainly their current project, unimaginative as it is (flagpoles bearing Confederate battle flags flying by interstates are old news), has invited the attention they once so ardently desired … but they weren’t prepared for this sort of scrutiny.
We are now three weeks away from seeing the flag go up along I-95. This action, and the reaction it has engendered, has led to national (and even international) attention being bestowed upon the Flaggers. You would think this was exactly what Susan Hathaway desired … but within days of her issuing a press release announcing the flagpole project, she vanished from the public airwaves. Other, less capable Flaggers have attempted to fill her shoes, but with mixed results.
So much for what began as a creative way to express one’s unhappiness with an institution’s decision not to fly a Confederate flag in precisely the way one desired (there are Confederate flags aplenty in the Confederate War Memorial Chapel, the Museum of the Confederacy, and in Lexington, Virginia during Lee-Jackson weekend).
After all, flagging is so much fun.
Of course, sometimes it leads to something going wrong …
… or something like this …
… and sometimes it’s even a bit edgier …
… or it degenerates into this:
And that’s not all. As a former employee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts tells us:
In my opinion, the possibility of productive dialogue faded by late 2011 with the intense escalation by the flaggers of rampant hostility toward the museum. This has resulted in a harassment campaign that, including the gauntlets of flags through which many visitors and staff must walk, spreading misinformation and name calling on site and online, bombarding employees and board members with nuisance e-mails and calls, (the group provided links to a web portal that facilitates anonymous accounts), and on occasion making calls to and protesting outside private residences. Such activities have been detrimental to “easy” resolution.
In short, there’s something more than peaceful, law-abiding protest going on here. This is an ongoing effort to harass and provoke confrontation in the hope that the response allows the Flaggers to pose as victims. When confronted with evidence of even more damaging behavior and associations, the Flaggers prove singularly inarticulate in putting forth a response.
I also point all of you to a thoughtful commentary by Patrick Young that appears on Kevin Levin’s blog. Patrick has a good sense on where this all might go.
And yes, this discussion helps us understand the context for the continuing silence of Susan Hathaway. More on that soon.