Have You Ever Wanted Attention?

Several weeks ago, during the government shutdown, Kevin Levin took time out to discuss the circulation of one of his posts on Facebook. The numbers were indeed impressive.

Then there’s this commentary on the Confederate flag at CNN.com … with over 15,000 comments. Really.

So now you know what to do … right? 🙂

(h/t to a friend from Gettysburg)

The Virginia Flaggers Crash a VMFA Event

It’s been four weeks today since the Virginia Flaggers hoisted their little flag along I-95 (don’t blink: you might miss it if you don’t know exactly where to look). The much-ballyhooed event proved underwhelming to most observers, and the entire enterprise proved something of an underwhelming disappointment, perhaps because former Flagger favorite filmmaker Rob Walker wasn’t there to film it.

Crowds at Antietam turn their back on two Virginia Flaggers
Crowds at Antietam turn their back on two Virginia Flaggers

Fearful of fading from public memory, the Flaggers have returned to their old stomping grounds, just outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. While the group has remained astonishingly silent about what flags may fly in front of the Robinson house on the VMFA grounds, and suddenly silent Susan Hathaway is now nowhere to be found, it’s become obvious that the old ways are no longer changing many hearts and minds (as if they ever did). It’s time to find new ways to restore the honor lest the Flaggers find themselves reduced to boasting about victories such as this.

That opportunity appears to be happening today.

The Virginia Flaggers have proudly announced that they are flagging this VMFA event.

VA FLAGGERS Flagging Report/Call to Action! (posted October 25, 2013)

Thursday night, October 24th was a cool night in Richmond, and a fairly quiet one on the Boulevard. 13 Flaggers were able to cover 3 corners on the sidewalk outside of the VMFA, forwarding the colors and protesting the forced removal of Confederate Flags from the Confederate Memorial Chapel.

Foot traffic entering and leaving the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been slow, but that is sure to change tomorrow afternoon, when the VMFA is holding a “Celebrate Hollywood: Costume Party!” The VIRGINIA FLAGGERS will be there, ready to greet the costumed visitors, and educate them about how the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has desecrated the Confederate Memorial Chapel and dishonored American Veterans.

Crowds are likely to be large and we can use all the help we can get. Won’t you take a few hours out of your weekend to stand for those who no longer able? JOIN US tomorrow, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26th, from noon – 4:00 p.m. as we change hearts and minds in the Capital of the Confederacy, and educate visitors and residents about the honor of our Confederate Ancestors and the flags they fought and died beneath!

It’s gonna be a fun day on the Boulevard! Come in costume…or just as you are!

I can’t wait to see Judy Smith’s photographic coverage of the event. And I can’t wait to see how the Flaggers will dress up. You can just guess who I think should play Scarlett O’Hara in her red dress … oh, fiddle-dee-dee!

Here she is, deciding she won’t go to the VMFA:

Sorry, Grayson and Tripp … she turned her back on you.

Of course, when I think of the Flaggers, I think of this:

and this …

Have a good weekend!

Mistake at Monticello

As a graduate of the University of Virginia, I spent four years going to college in what was often called “Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village.” The shadow of the third president was ever-present, although in my case it increased my fondness for Alexander Hamilton.

During my years at UVa historians debated with more heat than light the issue of Thomas Jefferson’s private life, specifically his relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. That debate remains ongoing. But what’s different is how the folks up the little mountain at Monticello address that issue. When I first visited the site back in 1974, there was virtually no mention of slavery as an institution and a few mentions of “servants.” Sally Hemings was virtually invisible as a person or as part of a controversy. That’s no longer the case. Over the years the folks at Monticello have explored the world of Monticello as plantation and factory and as a place where many enslaved black people lived and worked. During my most recent tour several years ago the guide was quite explicit in discussing the current understanding of the Hemings-Jefferson relationship.

So it was with some surprise that I came across this item from Rob Baker concerning what appears on the monticello.org website concerning the Declaration of Independence:

America did not secede from the British Empire to be alone in the world.

Given that the word “secession” now has specific connotations, and that it is the word used by the site, not the quote of a contemporary, Rob believed it was only proper to say that a revolution for independence conducted by colonies against an imperial power wasn’t quite the same thing as a secession of member states from a larger union or confederation. After all, colonies are subordinate parts of an empire, right?

Apparently not at monticello.org. Here’s how someone replied to Rob Baker’s inquiry:

The justification of the word “secede” in the referenced essay is that the 18th century British Empire was a federal union.  Derived from the Latin word foedus meaning “treaty,” a federal union was an alliance or confederation of political entities created for mutual interest or benefit.  Thus, the British American colonies originally entered into this confederation as semi-sovereign polities who agreed to offer loyalty to the British crown in exchange for protection from the British king.  During the Imperial Crisis of the 1760s and 1770s, revolutionary patriots argued that Britain was no longer upholding its end of the bargain—it was neither protecting nor serving the interests of the American colonies.  Instead, British Americans believed that Parliament and King George were impinging on their “rights,” most specifically, property right.  These points became the justification for the colonies’ legitimate secession from the federal union that constituted the British Empire in 1776.  Patriots promptly created their own federal union by establishing and uniting the new American states—this union survived until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Really? The British Empire was a federated union created with the colonies and the empire treated as equal parties? Could we see that document, please? And that’s just the beginning of this travesty of historical explanation, one that betrays a total lack of understanding of the British Empire or English colonization. That the author of the comment has a Ph.D. from UVa makes this even more astonishing … although it reminds me of this.

It’s just as some people have always claimed: mere possession of a Ph.D. in itself does not guarantee sound historical practice. But then I never said it did.