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.

9 thoughts on “The Confederate Flag: Three Perspectives

  1. Sandi Saunders August 22, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    Perspective does matter and a lot goes into what forms anyone’s perspective but facts, reality and truth have to be part of any perspective or it is just propaganda, ala video #1.

  2. bob carey August 22, 2015 / 3:31 pm

    In regards to the “Strength in Numbers” video I find it difficult to develop an argument in opposition because the speakers statements meander so. He starts out with the familiar heritage not hate arguments without being very specific as to what “heritage” is, he talks of Southern values and relates them to Christian values then he identifies St. Andrew as a prophet, when in fact he was one of the 12 Apostles.
    He speaks of his and his neighbors constitutional rights being violated without providing any instances as to how. I can only assume he means his second amendment rights.
    He then concludes with saying how peaceful his group is, then he talks of an upcoming civil war (that only he and six million other informed people know about) which will happen if the country continues on its present course.
    I believe the video represents a 21st century version of the “Lost Cause” the speaker and his allies have invented a bogeyman in the Federal Government, he sincerely believes that he is or is about to become a victim, and just like the “Lost Causers” of the 19th he will attempt to alter and change recent history in order to rationalize that belief.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 23, 2015 / 3:31 pm

      The video suggests to me that people read into the CBF what they need to believe to make sense of their world according to their political beliefs. It has nothing to do with heritage or honoring the service of Confederate military personnel.

  3. Mark Snell August 22, 2015 / 5:53 pm


    A little context, please. I’m going to guess that the second video is narrated in Mandarin Chinese?

  4. Michael Bartley August 24, 2015 / 8:54 am

    Last night I watched a “making off” the Burns documentary on the Civil War. This morning while procrastinating on you tube, I came across this three minute clip from Ken Burns on Face the Nation:

    Not flag specific but a documentarians views on cause, etc. I wonder what weight a “popular” filmmaker holds with young people or is it only boomers that watch his documentaries? Heck, I wonder what you professional historians think of Mr. Burns and his work?

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 24, 2015 / 9:13 am

      Many of us think of Mr. Burns’s work and Mr. Burns himself in different ways. Admitting that the series was both popular and moving does not mean that at times it was not problematic, but Burns’s boastful turn in the immediate aftermath of the series left many scholars irritated, and Burns attributed that to jealousy. As I had just emerged as a freshly-minted Ph.D. (to coin a phrase) at the time the show first aired, I would have had no expectation of being part of the cast of profound-sounding talking heads, but I can recall Burns going overboard about himself. The series inspired more interest in the Civil War even as it presented a dilemma for scholars of how to take advantage of that interest without seeming to be churlish when one questioned the Burns narrative.

  5. Jarret Ruminski August 29, 2015 / 10:31 am

    “The war was pretty much about being free and not being taxed out of house and home.” Really, who can argue with that?

    • Jimmy Dick August 29, 2015 / 4:00 pm

      Sounds great if you’re discussing the American Revolution.

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