As we continue our countdown of the fifteen most notable moments in Confederate heritage in 2014, I should note that I was fascinated to discover that the primary organization featured in the 2013 countdown was no longer quite so visible. Oh, here and there you would find its members flying around like a group of gnats at events held by other people, But something’s not quite right with the attention-getting efforts of that group. It’s thus out of some compassion that I decided that this part of the countdown would focus on them as a form of simple civil courtesy.
Number 12: Three Flags? Four Flags? Who’s Counting? Who Cares?
Once upon a time the Virginia Flaggers were experts at attracting attention to themselves. Masters of social media, able to flood the internet with endless pictures of a handful of flaggers outside this event or that venue, the group reached a high point in its minds with the erection of a barely-visible flag along I-95 near Chester, Virginia, in September 2013. The Flaggers promised to erect more flag poles, this time making sure that people could see the second flag, flying again along I-95 near Stafford, Virginia, in the spring of 2014. Thus the Burnside Flag joined the Butler Flag as lonely symbols of something (for they were flags flown without context, leaving it to the viewer to determine the message being sent).
Since then we have been told that another two flags have been erected, but one would never know where they were or what they looked like outside of Flagger photography. Their lack of visibility matches the declining visibility of the group. Not nearly so many people show up on the sidewalks outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts any more; promised Flagger protests at Washington & Lee soon faded away; and the Flaggers appear to have abandoned their efforts to attack the Museum of the Confederacy. Flaggers failed to show up at my presentation for the NPS in Fredericksburg in April, and only a handful buzzed around Kevin Levin at NPS ceremonies at the Crater that summer, with a single Flagger sitting silent in the audience, apparently afraid (or simply incapable intellectually) of challenging Kevin’s presentation. No one sees Susan Hathaway outside the VMFA, apparently because she’s afraid to take the same risks embraced by her Confederate ancestors in defending what they believed was right.
Putting up flags along interstates (those symbols of federal power) has gotten to be old hat and no longer is news. It was never very original anyway. There have been no arrests, no court hearings, and certainly no countersuits by Norwood “Tripp” Lewis, despite his threats and what passes for promises (I guess he’s not a man of his word). To be sure, Hathaway continues to tour the southeast in search of speaking opportunities, but even that is in pale imitation of H. K. Edgerton (both like the color red); otherwise, she likes to showcase her ignorance of Reconstruction and the history of wartime emancipation, reminding us that it’s not about history, but some ill-defined “heritage.”
It’s sad, really … the Virginia Flaggers continue to fade away into insignificance, thus removing once source of joy and laughter from my life. But wait … there’s always …
Number 11: Confederate Heritage Abuse Bloggers
For years now we all know that we could depend on Connie Chastain to put a smile on our faces and then to declare that our chuckling at her was really a sign that we were angry or vexed. Then she’d post something that showed she was angry, vexed, and projecting. Sometimes she went crazy; sometimes she spewed nonsense; sometimes she shared her fantasies about violence, which reminded us why she struggled so much as a romance writer, even of the cat litter box liner type; everyone marvelled at her misuse and abuse of history. She’s become more shrill over time, but it’s increasingly resembling white noise (pun intended).
It was left to a Virginian named Jerry Dunford to remind us that Chastain still had some distance to go before she could be judged a bigoted lunatic of the first order (although she still has something to shoot for, I guess). Dunford nearly single-handedly rescued this blog’s “Quote of the Week” section with his livid and lurid denunciations of everyone and everything.
Jerry reminded many of us of a poor man’s George Purvis or a David Tatum or Carl Roden with talent (Tatum struggles to aspire to the depths Dunford wallows in). But what we can say about these folks is that they are very, very funny, although they don’t mean to be. Of course, they will claim that I’m really angry about them, and I guess that makes them feel warm at night, because nothing else and no one else will (although Roden’s “fan fiction” may keep him warm). That these folks cheer on the Virginia Flaggers and sidle up to them (and on occasion admit that they are Flaggers, although never for too long) is a sign of just how classy that operation is.
That is, until this …
Number 10: The Drone
At first you might assume that when I use the word “drone,” I’m referring to these Confederate heritage abuse blogs, which drone on and on and on. Well, you would be partly right, but perhaps the greatest achievement of the Virginia Flaggers this year was Norwood “Tripp” Lewis’s purchase of a drone for “Confederate heritage defense” operations. No one knows how Lewis gathered together the funds to make this purchase; no one knows what happened to his defense fund, either, or the funds that one supposed he would use to file suits against various people. For weeks avid followers of the Virginia Flaggers were treated to images of Tripp and his toy provided by Judy Smith, the Flaggers’ own devoted photographer.
Now, the idea of drones and the Civil War isn’t actually original with Trippy. Recall this article or Jake Boritt’s use of a drone in filming The Gettysburg Story. But Trippy took the idea to new heights, and, as is typical of the Flagger crowd, he interpreted ridicule of the idea as evidence that people were angry. Bless his heart. Perhaps he can use the drone to capture images of those hard-to-see Confederate flags all over Virginia, or perhaps he’s find a way to get into trouble with local authorities again. Given his other tribute to Confederate heritage this year, we see the drone as an improvement over his previous activities.
One drone and three more flags. That about sums up the Virginia Flaggers’ achievements this year. But there are so many more Confederate heritage moments to treasure and remember …