The Humiliation of Heritage: The Flaggers’ Big Fail

And so, here we are, observing the fallout on the day after the Flaggers’ big moment. Although, given the height of that flagpole, maybe not so big.

The Flaggers are frantically trying to press the reset button on this affair. Now we hear that this is just the first stage … that it was a dedication, not the finished product … that the lighting, fencing, and cameras designed to fend off vandals are still to come … that the Flaggers will sacrifice more trees as Grayson Jennings gets some work out of his machinery.


This is how you display a real flag for all to see.
This is how you display a real big flag for all to see.

Here’s what we know. Nothing the Flaggers can do at this point will make the short flagpole grow taller. Nothing they can do will lift it out of the depression. Nothing they can do will address the matter of the overpass. Nothing they will do will stop the trees around the flag from overwhelming the site in due season, unless they are going to shave the whole place bald so that we can see the nearby trailer park.

And why, after all this “secrecy” about the location of the flagpole, would they reveal it without having put into place the measures designed to protect the site from vandals?

The Flaggers are a strange bunch. They went out of their way to conceal the location of the flagpole, although several of us had a fairly good idea where it was going to be located. David Tatum’s efforts to claim that he was only diverting attention from the location by giving information that confirmed it seem remarkably inept and inane, even for him. Then there’s talk that there will be a clash of protesters. How, pray tell, will the protesters find the location? I didn’t give it away. But the Flaggers need the protection of the police. Fair enough. Then they highlight the absence of protesters as something of note. Let me see … so protesters were supposed to gather at a location of which they were ignorant and trespass on private property to protest a perfectly legal exercise of free speech, however badly it was carried out?

What were you thinking, Flaggers? That the opposition was at least as stupid as you are? No, folks, you’re the trespassers on private property; you’re the folks who confront security guards and have run-ins with the police; you’re the ones who boast that one of your members got arrested in a staged confrontation.

And when it comes to video cameras, vandalism, and security, Flaggers, I have two words for you: Rob Walker.

Really, Flaggers? REALLY?

Many people were not impressed by the Flaggers' latest fiasco.
Many people were not impressed by the Flaggers’ latest fiasco.

My guess is that we’ll hear more spin, more nasty retorts, and, of course, more screeching from Florida (my favorite post last week was a declaration that someone’s favorite targets weren’t posting on the forthcoming unveiling of an insufficient flagpole, which only convinced her that something really nefarious must be going on.

Letting the Flaggers be Flaggers, and watching another Flagger fail, was plan enough. In this case, however, it was covered by the media for all to see … which is more than we can say about the flag in question, which is hard to see.

Look here. And here, entitled “New Confederate Flag hardly visible along I-95.” And here, again demonstrating how hard it is to spot the flag in question. That’s right … look here, and fast, and carefully. I’m just trying to help out the Flaggers so that people will know where to look (they are obviously beyond help themselves).

In fact, protesters had no problem concealing their plans to fly a much larger flag in a far more visible place in downtown Richmond. That’s what competence will do for you.

In retrospect, the whole matter was remarkably funny in spite of itself, like a bad episode of South Park.

Nearly as amusing was the claim by Flagger Jimmy Jones that “the Confederate Flag, which brave Virginians carried into battle in defense of the Commonwealth, should be offered the same respect as the U.S. Flag.” Let’s put it this way, Jimmy, if that were true, you would have placed your flag on a tall pole in an open area for all to see. That you failed to do so was disrespectful.

A Flagger supporter expresses surprise to learn that it’s hard to see a small flag behind the trees.

In the weeks to come, I’m sure we’ll hear more explanations, more excuses, more taunts, maybe even more threats and harassment. Goodness knows, we may even hear from Susan Hathaway. But this effort to try to make an epic fail look like a victory is akin to saying that the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble charge was a resounding success because it eased Confederate supply problems by reducing the number of men who needed to be fed.

Then again, it is heritage, not history. But for the Virginia Flaggers, they leave behind a heritage of incompetence and foolishness that no amount of screaming or yelling can conceal.

For the residents of Richmond who united in opposition to this charade of heritage, it is now time to move forward to forge Richmond’s future.

For the rest of us, it is time to move on. Let the Flaggers stew in their own mess. Annoying one moment, amusing the next, I’m sure the Flaggers have some outrageous plans for the future, which they promise to implement with the same skill they have displayed in the past. For those of us looking for a chuckle, they will prove that they merit their well-earned title as The Gift That Keeps on Giving. But, for the most part, we have better things to do and discuss.

I hope the Flaggers enjoy today’s picnic.

32 thoughts on “The Humiliation of Heritage: The Flaggers’ Big Fail

  1. Ed and Bettie September 29, 2013 / 2:22 pm

    What a beautiful sight to behold the Confederate Battle Flag waving in the breeze, to honor the sacrifices of those Confederate soldiers who fought so hard for their God-given right to self-determination! At last, the CBF is in the public eye, so to speak, and its presence will generate a much needed communication on the true meaning of why the Southern States seceded from the malfunctioning Union in 1860-61. Finally, we have the opportunity to address the lopsided history of that horrific war correctly called “the War for Southern Independence,” and present the perspective from the Southern viewpoint…something that is severely lacking in our public and private school systems in contemporary America. Congratulations, Virginia Flaggers, for your successful campaign to restore the CBF to its rightful place of glory! Deo Vindice!

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 29, 2013 / 4:59 pm

      You just keep on telling yourself that … just like you told us about your contempt for African Americans. You don’t care about their God-given right to self-determination. That’s all we need to know.

      As you say, the rightful place for the CBF is in a depression behind trees so that you have to strain to see it. I’m sure that will change a lot of hearts and minds. It has certainly led to a great deal of laughter this weekend. If that’s how you think we should honor Confederate heritage … by making a mockery of it … then perhaps you are a Flagger in spirit if not in fact.

      Take care.

    • Jimmy Dick September 29, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      Still hiding behind an alias? Too chicken to use a real name? You’re a coward just like that whole group of racists are. God turned his back on your type and you’re still too ignorant to get it through your head.

    • David Tolleris September 29, 2013 / 6:06 pm

      ED and BETTIE

      the good thing about your post is that it gives me a warm feeling in my soul to know that my Union ancestors destroyed you beloved slave loving confederacy. Any time you fools want to try it again… just all come back now ya’ here ?

  2. Thelibertylamp September 29, 2013 / 3:16 pm

    Well, if they do put in all the fancy camera surveillance equipment to guard….well…THAT…I just hope the cams get a good shot if that stupid thing every gets struck by lightning…and they would share the footage….that would complete this epic The Flagger Stooges episode.

  3. 21st c. Richmond marches on September 29, 2013 / 3:17 pm

    And even after trotting the out-of-town zealots over to obstruct visitors at the VaMFA afterwards (reckon Susie Redshirt wasn’t with them for some reason), STILL won’t make a bit of difference. No battle flag will go on the chapel exterior…same result after 2 years of lame antics. I understand museum membership is at a record high. Yep, ineffective is the word.

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 29, 2013 / 5:39 pm

      Oh, I’m sure the folks at the VMFA will be happy when they see this:

      • 21st c. Richmond marches on September 30, 2013 / 6:54 am

        Vanity/Photoshop magazine cover perfect decoration for waiting room of certain design firm. They must be very proud of star employee.

        • Brooks D. Simpson September 30, 2013 / 7:06 am

          I wonder why the Flaggers themselves would draw attention to certain connections if they are so worried about the ramifications. My guess is that it’s time for more media attention starring one Susan Frise Hathaway.

  4. Mike Mihok September 29, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    One could claim that by placing the flag behind a stand of trees, the Flaggers have provided a certain level of vandalism protection.

    • Mike Musick September 29, 2013 / 4:57 pm

      Apropos welcoming motorists along I-95, does anyone else remember a certain billboard outside Fayetteville, NC, in the late 1960s? To see what I’m referring to, go to Google Images and check out “Fayetteville NC KKK billboard.”

      • Brooks D. Simpson September 29, 2013 / 5:01 pm

        Don’t give Hathaway, Heimbach, and company any ideas.

  5. Schroeder September 29, 2013 / 4:21 pm

    ‘Susie Redshirt’? In tears laughing right now. And WHERE did that unsettling picture of Connie Complainer come from – it’s horrifying (above).

    I look forward to the Flaffers next stunt – I am still in shock and actually feel a bit of embarrassment for the motley crew. Jennings will continue to bully and be a foghorn, Lewis will spend his piggy bank savings on ‘intelligence gathering’, Heimbach will continue to be a misguided kid tobogganing downhill, Chastain will continue to obsess about a romanticized South, Susie will keep burning through those red shirts, and poor Cooper…. that’s just a bad issue all around… all could use some therapy in major ways.

  6. Schroeder September 29, 2013 / 4:24 pm

    And who the heck would actually take the time to protest when we had a beautiful United States flag to raise downtown – towering over the commonwealth? I never heard one word from anyone about going into the backwoods somewhere and protesting – they really assumed quite a bit.

  7. Hal Vaughan September 29, 2013 / 4:48 pm

    I wonder – this is on a wooded lot, so where are they going to get the electricity and any networking connections needed to power the cameras and transmit any images.

    So far their competence and ability to solve such problems has not proven to be up to such tasks.

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 29, 2013 / 4:53 pm

      I am sure that this is where the trailer park comes in. 🙂

  8. Patrick Young September 29, 2013 / 5:21 pm

    Size does matter. The erection of an inadequate pole may reflect deeper psychological problems.

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 29, 2013 / 5:29 pm

      I’m sure someone will be inspired to write about this in Hey Arnold! fan fiction.

  9. Joshism September 29, 2013 / 9:44 pm

    This was probably explained at some point in the past and I missed it, but I will ask anyway: Brooks, why the fascination with the VA Flaggers? Everything I’ve heard about them makes them seem like just another kooky fringe group. Are they actually a hot topic in serious Civil War circles and/or getting alot of news coverage? Or is it just a personal fascination?

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 30, 2013 / 7:01 am

      Unlike other groups, the Virginia Flaggers decided that they would insert themselves in the blogosphere: members of the group have appeared in the comments section for years, and they first did so in significant numbers in response to what was then a Virginia-based blog. They also claim a role in educating the public about the American Civil War. There are aspects of them that are comic, and aspects of them that are sad, and part of their charm happens to be their behavior. They are visible in the Richmond area and have done a good job of publicizing their endeavors in the heritage circuit: they’ve used certain parts of social media to advantage at times.

      I have no idea how to define “serious Civil War circles.” I’m serious. Are we talking about scholars? That segment of the general public that takes an interest in the Civil War?

      I’d say that they are a small but visible part of what’s defined as “Civil War memory,” in that they give us a glimpse into one portion of the Confederate heritage movement, how it presents itself, its associations, and how it chooses to tie a particular understanding of the past to present-day concerns. Historians have been studying such groups for years, but they tend to seek their material in the past. Some of them do not see how the memory of the Civil War remains a vibrant concern in some areas, and even as they question and sometimes deplore the role of academic historians in past culture wars, many of them do not always see that their response (or lack thereof) to such groups today will one day provide the raw material from a future study of the same phenomenon in today’s world.

      The flagpole story just fed on itself, and I was amazed at how what I though would be a handful of posts became something more, but that was in part because of the interest of community groups in Richmond who were unhappy with the Flaggers’ project and what it said about Richmond. My own take is that this is one of those things that people claim not to want to read about but can’t stop reading about it (a fact reinforced by the uptick in this blog’s readership numbers). Now that the flag is up, and there’s been a community response, I believe things will settle down, in part because there’s really no more to say at this point. So it’s a story with a happy ending.

      • Joshism October 1, 2013 / 12:01 pm

        Thanks, that explained it quite well.

        I suppose “serious Civil War circles” is a vague term. I think of scholars, authors, the NPS, and other people/organizations that study and/or present history for a wide audience and are considered to be some kind of recognized historical authority.

        • Brooks D. Simpson October 1, 2013 / 12:04 pm

          One of the problems is that many people present themselves as “historians.” The Flaggers had someone do that on their flag-raising ceremony, and the media simply parroted the claim. Putting a bandaid on someone’s finger does not make me a medical doctor, and mixing drinks does not make me either a bartender or a chemist.

  10. Al Mackey September 30, 2013 / 7:11 am

    I’ve heard rumblings that they plan to clear the trees out [now that it’s been pointed out to them that the trees block the view of the flag from the interstate]. Since the trees are outside the fenceline of the property [you can see the fence posts in the photos], does anyone know if they be able to legally do so?

    • Brooks D. Simpson September 30, 2013 / 9:48 am

      There are several legal questions that have emerged in the wake of last Saturday’s event, and I’ll leave it at that.

  11. Jerry Desko September 30, 2013 / 7:30 am

    This is indeed interesting. I spent the better part of a whole day in Richmond this past week end and never noticed the flag or heard of any hub bub about it.

    I guess we were too busy studying the real history at the Tredegar Works, Belle Isle, Chimborazo, Hollywood Cemetery, Chickahominy Bluffs, Beaver Dam Creek, Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Trent House, Savage Station,Glendale, Malvern Hill, Berkeley Plantation and Museum of the Confederacy.

    Some like to study history in an objective and intellectual manner while others want to try to reset the past according to their prejudices.

  12. C.C. LESTERS September 30, 2013 / 3:34 pm


    • Brooks D. Simpson September 30, 2013 / 4:19 pm

      Caps key stuck? And how did you like saluting a flag located in a depression that made it barely visible to its primary audience? Do you consider that a success? Or would it be enough if you could master the intricacies of a computer keyboard?

      Of course, video usually comes courtesy of the Flaggers, who aren’t exactly camera-shy. Just ask Matthew Heimbach.

      • Robert Crawley October 1, 2013 / 4:04 pm

        We can assume that C.C. Lesters knows Matthew Heimbach, since it is Lesters who is pictured in the white t-shirt cheerfully holding the Virginia Flaggers banner during the march that welcomed Heimbach into the ranks.

  13. Flamethrower October 1, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    Today’s classic Connie comment:

    “There are probably white supremacists who are morally superior to you floggers.”

    Oops! Didn’t meen ta endurse dem raysusts dar.

      • Flamethrower October 2, 2013 / 2:41 pm

        On her fiction writer’s website, in her introduction I believe, she said in one statement of her desire to be descended from the Southern aristocracy (thinking she’s so goddess worthy), that is, from slaveowners, and in one of her more recent posts in a thread on her blog (forgot which one) she chastises (pun intended) liberals being on the side of the Southern aristocracy and the Confederacy was formed all only by the non-slaveowning Southerners.

        Just yesterday, I found another racial statement from one of her most loyal, Mike Lamb:

        “But hey, a person’s intelligence or education has nothing to do with being able to make educated decision, much less a wise one. This is why I am all in favor of Jim Crow Laws.”

        Did he ever stick up for the black Confederate lollygags?

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