Bigotry, Present Politics, and Confederate Heritage Advocates

We often struggle to understand exactly what advocates of Confederate heritage really believe. After all, we know that some people are simply honoring their ancestors without in any way sanctioning the Confederacy as a movement to protect and promote slavery. That those people inevitably risk association with certain other people is unfortunate, although at times their failure to distance themselves from such people doesn’t help.

But we are also aware that many advocates of Confederate heritage engage in that activity in part because their understanding of the Confederacy converges with their present political beliefs. Indeed, in some cases these people don’t understand much about history, and reshape Confederate heritage to support their own political beliefs.

Take these two examples:
CCdomesticterrorists

CCObamasAmericaforBlog

These memes illustrate perfectly the convergence of a professed desire to honor Confederate heritage with a particular political message.

So much for “heritage, not hate.” As we see here, these memes show that it continues to be a heritage of hate.

Nor is that all. This morning, when I checked Twitter, I saw this exchange:

BigotTwitter2

Give Kevin Levin credit for a clever response to this outburst of bigotry from a Confederate heritage advocate.  I wasn’t so nice, and so the following exchange unfolded (to read it in chronological order, read from the bottom up):

BigotonTwitter

The top comment by “Battlefield Tramper” scored a hat trick of errors, but then accuracy has never been the strong point of these Confederate heritage advocates. Hatred is their stock in trade.

And who does “Battlefield Tramper” follow?
BigotFollowerseWhat a surprise. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Virginia Flaggers, and other Confederate heritage mainstays. Defend the heritage indeed … especially this sort of heritage.

And they wonder why people want to take down the Confederate battle flag. Perhaps it’s in part because these are the sorts of people who embrace that flag as representing their heritage and what they believe … which, as we see here, is bigotry and hatred for other people.

Until defenders of Confederate heritage spend as much energy disassociating themselves from such bigots as they do whining about political correctness and disparaging anyone with whom they don’t agree, they have an uphill climb when it comes to changing hearts and minds. Indeed, it stands to reason whether they have hearts and minds, because tolerating such behavior suggests that they don’t use them very often.

27 thoughts on “Bigotry, Present Politics, and Confederate Heritage Advocates

  1. OhioGuy October 18, 2015 / 2:50 pm

    That Nikki Haley is their enemy speaks volumes about their movement and what it stands for. It’s only folks on their friends list that I would worry about. Brooks, I’m sure you are safely on their enemies list, as are some other regular posters here. Sure hope I’ve made enough noise to qualify!😉

    • Andy Hall October 19, 2015 / 8:14 am

      That Nikki Haley is their enemy speaks volumes about their movement and what it stands for.

      .
      “Heritage” battles almost always zero in on some individual, and their lack of southern values (or Confederate ancestors), as the root of the problem. So it is that Nikki Haley, an otherwise very conservative Republican governor, is responsible for the flag coming down in Columbia, rather than the state legislature which took the actual vote. In the same way, changes at the VMFA, Washington & Lee, in Lexington, in Danville, and so on, are pinned on some individual who can be painted as an outsider, rather than events that reflect changes in the community they represent as a whole. There is no recognition — or at least, a public acknowledgement — that these changes likely would have happened regardless of who happened to be the executive or administrator at the time.

      • OhioGuy October 19, 2015 / 3:41 pm

        I’m sure you’re correct, Andy, about their MO, as you know these folks a lot better than I do and have been following their antics for a longer time than I have. However, I’ll point out that it was Nikki Haley, and to lesser extent. Senator Scott, that spearheaded the movement to take down the flag, though it required legislative approval as you point out. So, they could hate on all the legislature who voted for the “take down” bill. But, one target makes it easier. I don’t think they understand that hating on Nikki only increases her popularity among the vast majority of South Carolina citizens. They have yet to figure out that the “red strings” are now in the majority in even the Mother of Secession and that association with their ilk is no longer fashionable in polite southern society.

        On a semi-related matter, I need a little more of your expertise to decipher the current front page at backsass: http://mybacksass.blogspot.com/. What city skyline is this? What is she advocating? Burning it down? Why? [Of course, Cump didn’t burn down half what these idiots claim, but that’s another story for another day.] I’m all for good satire and good humor, even when I’m the brunt of it, but this is just crazy, unless I’m entirely missing her point.

  2. Sandi Saunders October 18, 2015 / 3:36 pm

    The safety of anonymity makes cretins brave, but many are just as bad when they use their real name too. There will be no respect for any organization that allows such ideas,,,and the SCV does.

  3. Lee Hutch October 18, 2015 / 4:34 pm

    Kind of scratching my head on what “Jew History” entails. Sigh. Honoring one’s ancestors is one thing. Using that as a disguise to present one’s political views of a decidedly slanted nature is quite another. I like to think my own Confederate ancestors are rolling their eyes at the actions of some who claim to “honor” their memory.

  4. Kristoffer October 18, 2015 / 4:46 pm

    The anti-semitism is no surprise from a person with Klan tendencies, like Battlefield Tramper.

  5. bob carey October 18, 2015 / 6:40 pm

    If these people have an enemies list put me on it please!!!
    As far as surrendering their flags, I think their ancestors took care of that at Donelson, Vicksburg, Appomattox and Bennetts Farm.
    Somebody please inform this latter day copperhead that one of the more capable Confederates,Judah Benjamin, was Jewish. I would be surprised if he knows who Benjamin was.

  6. Rick25 October 18, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    May I ask why we are even engaging in this idiotic rhetoric by “battlefield tramper”? It’s obvious that the intention of this unidentifiable person is to instigate a a Twitter war. His argument represents absolutely no historically based truths and does nothing more that spews hatred. I rather see historians and scholars alike focus our engeries on meaningful historical debates. Arguments presented by people like “Battlefield Tramper” deserve no attention at all.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 18, 2015 / 8:44 pm

      The argument, no. The anger behind it, well, you can’t understand the Confederate heritage movement without understanding some of its supporters. It just isn’t all about heritage. To ignore such people is to engage in a fundamental misunderstanding of what drives many supporters through our own willful ignoring of these folks.

    • Ira Berkowitz October 19, 2015 / 3:30 pm

      In directly confronting these monsters and their equally monstrous lies, blogs like this one and the one produced by Mr. Levin provide a useful service. I understand the concern about calling attention to crazies. It is a problem. Nonetheless, I am of the view that Professor Simpson and Mr. Levin are providing a very useful service to all of us. Professor Simpson and Mr. Levin are confronting evil and lies with truth. I am grateful for it.

      • Rick25 October 20, 2015 / 3:02 pm

        I understand and respect the notion of confronting these individuals. However, we are missing an important opportunity in light of events over the past summer to raise the historical conversation to a higher level. Or as historian John Hennessy so elegantly put it recently, opening our lenses more broadly to think of history is ways we never have before. Instead, I find these conversations on twitter with individuals who clear goal is to antagonize, as being not at all constructive to the larger conversation. It boils down to a decision that each historian must make for him or herself. Should the energy be spent focusing on a small sector of Americans who ideologies are based on hate and historical inaccuracies or should the energy be spent on continuing to educate main stream americans on areas of history that deserves their attention. By exposing individuals with this hateful rhetorical that in no way or form represents main steam American beliefs, does nothing to advance the historical conversations we should be having.

        • Brooks D. Simpson October 20, 2015 / 5:29 pm

          One can do both. Note John Hennessy himself retweeted a tweet directing people to this post. I think people should spend less time telling other people what to do and do more themselves, especially as these sorts of exchanges waste even more time and do nothing to advance the conversations we “should” be having.

          My suggestion: people who tell other people what to discuss would be wiser to take their own advice and engage in the discussions they believe others should have.

  7. Andy Hall October 19, 2015 / 8:50 am

    The “heritage” folks are just fine with having these rancid specimens in their ranks so long as no one draws attention to their views. John C. Hall of Georgia has publicly expressed much the same views as “Battlefield Tramper” over a long period, but there he was a few weeks ago, sharing the stage and posing for pictures with Susan Hathaway. Or look at Kirk Lyons, who spent the first half of his career wallowing in personal and professional relations with the Klan, neo-nazis, Holocaust deniers and other white supremacists, and the second half of it using H. K. Edgerton as shield to deflect awkward questions (“my best friend is a black man!”) about his past affiliations. Matt Heimbach was repeatedly identified, and praised, by the Virginia Flaggers as one of their group, until he was outted as a Nazi fanboy, at which point they insisted it was all a big mistake and he was never part of their group.

    Given the overlap between Confederate heritage groups and political secessionist groups like the League of the South — the latter group is now publicly (if unofficially) aligning themselves with the Ku Klux Klan on flag protests — I’m not sure there really is a limit to who the heritage crowd will associate with, if they think it will boost their numbers.

    My grandmother used to say that the best-kept secret is the one that everyone already knows. Surely that’s the case here; the heritage crowd knows perfectly well what their support base consists of; their real enmity is reserved for those who draw attention to it.

    • OhioGuy October 19, 2015 / 3:56 pm

      I’m sure you’re correct, Andy, about their MO, as you know these folks a lot better than I do and have been following their antics for a longer time than I have. However, I’ll point out that it was Nikki Haley, and to lesser extent. Senator Scott, that spearheaded the movement to take down the flag, though it required legislative approval as you point out. So, they could hate on all the legislature who voted for the “take down” bill. But, one target makes it easier. I don’t think they understand that hating on Nikki only increases her popularity among the vast majority of South Carolina citizens. They have yet to figure out that the “red strings” are now in the majority in even the Mother of Secession and that association with their ilk is no longer fashionable in polite southern society.

      On a semi-related matter, I need a little more of your expertise to decipher the current front page at backsass: http://mybacksass.blogspot.com/. What city skyline is this? What is she advocating? Burning it down? Why? [Of course, Cump didn’t burn down half what these idiots claim, but that’s another story for another day.] I’m all for good satire and good humor, even when I’m the brunt of it, but this is just crazy, unless I’m entirely missing her point.

      • bob carey October 19, 2015 / 8:57 pm

        I am also perplexed by Chastain’s latest entry, the only thing I can think of is that she is upset with the State of Georgia in regards to the proposals about Stone Mountain. That being said, I don’t think that either of us should be concerned over our inability to interpret her thoughts. [if we could what would that say about us] LOL.
        Sometimes I wish that Cump went to Pensecola instead of Savannah.

        • OhioGuy October 19, 2015 / 9:50 pm

          It is the Atlanta skyline?

          Of course she doesn’t know that at least half of what burned there was burned by the Confederates and not by Cump’s boys. An inconvenient truth?

  8. Pat Young October 19, 2015 / 10:56 am

    While they claim to be solely about heritage, the NeoConfederates litter their sites with memes attacking non-white immigrants as criminals and terrorists. Yet, if one of their followers were to kill an immigrant to protect our white heritage they would duck and cover. They empower hate criminals, but lack the character to take responsibility for the bodies left in their wake.

    • The Lamp October 19, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Battlefield Tamper sounds a lot like Valerie whatshername from up by you, Pat. She describes herself the same way as the description in that Twitter profile.

  9. Rosieomary October 20, 2015 / 5:59 am

    Can blogs and broadcast news organizations replace the job local newspapers could do in reporting, in providing ongoing coverage, to the general public about these groups/individuals and their public messages of hate? I dont see how. The decline of local newspapers – not only the number of them but the amount of space in them – is a problem in today’s society. Arrests of bigots in Georgia, for example, makes national news but so many little stories are not being told in formats that reach-so-as-to inform and educate the general public.

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 20, 2015 / 5:30 pm

      Except there are search engines, and they help point the curious in certain directions.

      • Rosieo October 21, 2015 / 5:32 am

        searching is active…. coming upon a story in a newspaper is passive….coming upon info is how the general public finds out what it doesnt know it doesnt know…. Now what it thinks it knows isnt often right because nonjournalist journalists (eg: Fox News) are telling the stories – and only the BIG stories.

        journalists write the front line of recorded history… not complete/not analyzed…. but the core info gets out there…. and historians use newspapers in their work, too…

        Tech is great – but conventional journalism still hasn’t found its profitable (and therefore meaningful) place in the world tech continues to create….The New York Times might make it… but local newspapers, not so much.

        Comments above in this thread are singing on the same page I’m on – except I want to get at the smaller, local stuff that is part of a whole we dont know about because these isolated events — these smalll events that actually are part of a big, long chain of events — are not reported and so fall like llittle bits through cracks .. This is not at all helpful as people seek in real time to examine a real picture.

        I’m from newspapers and as you know, Dr. S., I’ve noted a couple times that you would have been a great editor and been a noted voice especially back in Civil War days. Your style is perfect for this old job position that is dying off.

        Maybe historians will be the ones who come up with an idea for how front-line history recording can make a reasonable profit and thereby survive. People who appreciate the need and have resources and connections are required.

        Maybe this is an idea for a grant-funded, university-based project: hire some regular reporters to produce a civil rights newspaper – study what they find and evaulate it in terms of how historians in 2061-65 might use the work. I’d volunteer as one of the reporters except I insist on being paid.🙂

  10. Jimmy Dick October 20, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    Shall we brace for the Mouth of the South on BigAss blog to blow her top now that Florida has removed the CBF from the State Seal? Or should we just laugh at her antics?

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