The Confederate Flag: Three Perspectives

Classes are now underway at Arizona State University. In the courses I teach, I ask students to read texts, evaluate arguments, discuss perspectives, and write essays on various topics. My students know that what I want to see is an argument supported by evidence that can withstand challenge (a disappointment to folks who think it’s all about students telling me what they think I want to hear). It’s not about what to think, but how to think.

So what we have below are several views of the Confederate flag. Watch them. Evaluate them. Enjoy the exercise.

Heritage Begins at Home

Lately the Virginia Flaggers have been struggling to get some positive attention. It hasn’t been easy. They’ve come under fire for a number of reasons, and the best they have offered is embarrassed silence (except, of course, from their mouthpiece, who is another sort of embarrassment altogether). They have taken solace in their go-to move of raising another Confederate Battle Flag to mark a site of a heritage defeat, and Danville, Virginia, has become an especial target, with multiple flags going up.

(Perhaps this compensates for their failure to date to mark Charlottesville in similar fashion.)

The Flaggers are making a good deal of their activities around Danville:


We see that loyal Virginia Flagger and all-around bigot Jerry Dunford, Jr., is cheering on the cause.

But Jerry has a point, and it raises an interesting question:

How many Virginia Flaggers have erected nice long flagpoles in their own front or back yards to demonstrate their Confederate heritage? After all, it’s their own private property, right?

Oh, we’re not talking about little bitty flags flying on the front porch or by the garage, folks … we’re talking about poles that are 50 feet or 75 feet in the air, complete with one of those nice big Confederate Battle Flags unfurled in the breeze. We’re talking about the homes of Susan Hathaway, Tripp Lewis, Barry Isenhour, Grayson Jennings, and Karen Cooper, for starters. And why stop there? Why aren’t these flags flying outside the businesses owned by these folks? Why has no one seen to it that one flies by Glave & Holmes in downtown Richmond? Don’t the folks of Sandston deserve to know where Susan Hathaway lives because it’s where you can find that really big Confederate flag flying over her house?

After all, some of us suspect that this exercise in erecting poles and flying flags isn’t really a celebration of Confederate heritage at all, but just a middle finger of spite and resentment. That’s what Bill Garnett’s comment above suggests. It’s not an act to honor the sacrifices of Confederate soldiers: it’s just being a thorn in the side of others.

If the Virginia Flaggers really mean what they say, they would erect these tall flagpoles in their own yards and by their own businesses. They would show us that they embrace Confederate heritage at home, instead of going all the way to Danville to annoy people.

We await photographs from Judy Smith.