Having arrived at the final two notable moments in Confederate heritage, we bring you this year’s runner-up:
Number Two: The University of Mississippi Wakes Up
In some ways it’s no surprise that the University of Mississippi’s behind the times when it comes to Confederate heritage. After all, it took its namesake state until 1995 to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery … and eighteen more years to forward the notice of that action to Washington. This February the statue commemorating the entry of James Meredith into the university was vandalized. Confederate heritage advocates (including Carl “Hey Arnold!” Roden and Connie “All Alone on the Sidewalk” Chastain) donned their tin foil hats and declared that it was all a Yankee plot, a false flag operation. As usual, they were wrong: university authorities concluded that several sweet southern boys had been at the bottom of the incident (the heritage folks overlooked this, as is their wont: the truth hurts). In fact, in a model of poor timing, the Mid-South Flaggers quickly publicized their interest in flagging the sesquicentennial of the battle of Fort Pillow, where Confederate soldiers under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest slaughtered surrendering African American soldiers on April 12, 1864, committing a war crime that heritage advocates have been in denial about ever since (just as they are in denial about Forrest’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan).
University officials saw things differently. Realizing that they had a problem on their hands, they reassessed the university’s celebration of Confederate heritage, something the university had already in years past attempted to mute. Their proposals, however modest, led to another outbreak of protests by the usual suspects … including none other than H. K. Edgerton, who did not enjoy in 2014 the visibility that was once his. Thus, it came as something of a surprise when members of the Mid-South Flaggers figured out that there were white supremacist nationalists in their midst (something that their fellow flaggers, the Virginia Flaggers, always deny, despite clear evidence to the contrary provided by their photographer and others). They did not embrace the association (again unlike the Virginia Flaggers) and they were not blind to it (unlike Ben Jones and the SCV). In highlighting this reaction on this blog I appear to have struck a nerve. That action should not obscure the Mid-South Flaggers’ rather distasteful behavior in other matters connected with university officials.
We’ve now reached the end of the year, and it looks as if the protests have been ineffective to date. An effort to get a series of propositions on the Mississippi ballot have done little but to make residents of other states with their own Confederate heritage problems say “thank God for Mississippi.” One suspects, however, that efforts to end the use of “Ole Miss” may not fare quite as well. Change may be slow, but it’s happened before.