Who Freed the Slaves? David Barton Says White People

Here’s David Barton explaining the end of slavery to Glenn Beck.

Of course, whites had something to do with slavery coming to the American colonies, too, and in supporting it in the United States (I await the usual Confederate heritage apologists claim that black people are to blame for slavery because black people enslaved black people, and, besides, “slavery is a choice.”

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Important if True … Wow.

According to a report about a New York Times report about a recent poll,¬†nearly 20% of Donald Trump’s supporters oppose the Emancipation Proclamation (well, the issuing of “the executive order that freed all slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the federal government”).

Another 17% weren’t sure. So says the report.

Here’s the entire poll. I’m not sure I draw the same conclusions from this poll.

Verdun: 1916-2016

Today marks the centennial of the opening of the battle of Verdun on the Western front. Along with the Somme offensive of the following July, it’s become symbolic in the minds of many people as to the nature of the fighting in northeast France during World War I. Last June I visited the battlefield for the first time — a short introduction, if you will, to a place I had read about and thought about, but had not seen.

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In the months of fighting, with heavy artillery bombardments often the order of the day, entire villages and towns simply disappeared, leaving a cratered landscape that trees struggle to conceal a century later. So it is at Fleury-devant-Douaumont.

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This memorial chapel now marks that site.

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Nearby is a monument to the French soldiers who defended the area.

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The monument is of recent vintage, as this marker reveals.

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To the north is the far more imposing Douaumont Ossuary. If one chooses, they may peer through the windows of the building to see the skeletal remains of some of the 130,000 French and German soldiers who died during months of relentless combat and bombardment.

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Inside the names of more dead are shown along the walls in a space where everything turns blood orange red.

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Outside the rows of graves seem almost endless.

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Note the headstones. French colonial troops died here, too.

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Not too far away is a memorial denoting a tale that French soldiers were buried alive by one bombardment, with their bayonets marking where they had fallen.

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The entire battlefield is a graveyard. I did not observe any children pretending to play soldier.

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Several French forts remain in the area, including Fort Vaux, which the Germans captured.

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The French held Verdun at great cost. “They shall not pass!” became the rallying cry of the defense after the Germans took Fleury. And so they did not. But the statue reminds us of that cost.

Visiting World War I battlefields on the Western front is a distinctly different experience than visiting a Civil War battlefield — at least it was for me. One struggles to comprehend the ebb and flow of combat, often settling for looking at more bite-size portions of the field while relying on maps and the occasional panoramic view to help with the larger picture. But one is far more conscious of sacrifice and death, with cemeteries large and small scattered across the region. More than anything else, I’ll remember that, as well as the silence everywhere. You would never know from the solemn quiet how loud those battlefields once were … unless you listen carefully.

New Revelations About Old Friends

It’s been a fairly quiet year so far in the world of Confederate heritage, especially when it comes to our favorite organization, the Virginia Flaggers. They’ve done nothing of consequence this year that deserves notice. Recently, however, that changed a bit in two instances.

Y’all recall Raymond Agnor, the fellow who allowed the Flaggers to put up a flag on his land northeast of Lexington, Virginia, only to say that he did not want blacks on his property?

(Thus posing something of a problem for Virginia Flagger Karen Cooper, who’s been rather quiet herself lately … )

Well, lookie here: Raymond’s discovered social media. Restoring the Honor offers several fine examples of his work on Twitter. Now everyone can see his racism put on public display.

Of course, the Virginia Flaggers would never dishonor the Confederate flag by associating it with such a vile creature, right? Heritage, not hate, remember? Restore the honor and all that?

Of course they would.

Flagger Role

Just as important, however, is the declaration of Virginia Flagger spokesperson Connie Chastain that the Confederate flag means whatever someone wants it to mean. “It’s not a hate flag,” she complained. “Hate is an attitude that resides in the mind of the person viewing or considering the flag, just as honor does.” So, in short, one can see the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate, racism, prejudice, and intolerance just as much as one can see it as a symbol of home and honor. What you see depends on where you stand.

I can agree with that.

Chastain struggled to regain her balance once she realized that she had put her foot in her mouth. “The feeling of honor I referred to resides in the person, as it is a human emotion” she explained in an effort at clarification. “But the aspect of being an honorable object which is attached to the flag is not a human emotion; it was an attribute imbued to the flag for all time by the men who carried in into battle when they fought to defend families, homes and communities from a barbaric army of invasion.” Good try. But, by Chastain’s own reasoning, the flag was also imbued with the attributes of racism, hatred, intolerance, and prejudice by the people who carried it to protest equality and civil rights … and that may be for all time as well.

The Confederate flag is not inherently anything. People decide what it means to them. Connie Chastain does not get to decide what it should mean to you, or what it means, period. Even she knows better. As she recently put it, “Many people see the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery? Many people don’t see it as a symbol of slavery. Why should only one viewpoint dominate or be considered legitimate?”

In short, there are multiple legitimate viewpoints. Thanks for realizing that, Connie.

With friends like Raymond Agnor and Connie Chastain, Confederate heritage is in trouble.