At last the Virginia Flaggers have found ther ideal candidate for governor: Republican Corey Stewart. He believes that the Confederate Battle Flag is all about heritage, not hate, among other things. It’s a major theme of his campaign.
We’ve been told that the Virginia Flaggers have been changing hearts and minds when it comes to Confederate heritage. Stewart’s candidacy will provide a good test of just how successful they have been, and just how much Virginians have embraced their message. We hope the Flaggers follow Barry Isenhour and support Stewart with all the tools in their arsenal. I’m sure Stewart will welcome the association: it may be one others choose to emphasize.
One of the (not-quite-so) distinctive traits of the Confederate heritage group known as the Virginia Flaggers is their determination to plant Confederate flags across the landscape of the Commonwealth as a way to draw attention to themselves pay tribute to the Confederate soldier. Having fastened on to this approach (which was pioneered by others), the Flaggers have made something of a fetish of the practice, especially in Danville, Virginia, as well as Lexington, Virginia. The process is a simple one: find a landowner willing to allow the Flaggers to erect a flagpole, erect said flagpole, raise a Confederate flag and declare victory.
These events have not been without their comic moments, and here and there we learn that the landowner involved utters sentiments that are doubtless shared (and never condemned) by the Virginia Flaggers organization (although who is or isn’t a Flagger seems a most amorphous concept). However, recently the Flaggers put their foot down, only to discover that they had instead placed said foot in their wide open mouths.
See, last January the Virginia Flaggers raised yet another flag in Rockbridge County. Problem was that they hadn’t done their research beforehand. Local authorities deemed the location of the flagpole a violation of various ordinances and codes.
The Flaggers pledged to support the landowner in question. They also made another pledge on their blog, on March 6, 2017:
Now, I’m sure that sooner or later, this flag may well go up again. Perhaps, as before, the Virginia Flaggers will learn from their sloppy mistakes (remember this one?). Perhaps they will learn not to make promises that they cannot keep. Suffice it to say that this botched operation is the most newsworthy thing they’ve done in quite a while, a tribute to their lack of effectiveness.
On Thursday, March 9, a Stafford County jury recommended that Confederate heritage advocate Jason Sulser spend the next 127 years in jail for charges connected with the possession of child pornography.
Let the usual distancing and obfuscation commence. It is interesting, however, to observe the types of people with whom Susan Hathaway and the Virginia Flaggers do business. Think Susan will visit Jason in his cell?
You’ll notice that I haven’t had much to say about the Virginia Flaggers lately. That’s because they’ve become boring, and that means they have lost their entertainment value, at least for me. That doesn’t mean they don’t continue to deny that they associate with certain people that their own social media demonstrates are their close friends, etc.
I suggest that if you want to follow such stories, you start visiting Restoring the Honor, which keeps track of various stories that don’t reflect well on the Flaggers, especially it comes to the people with whom they associate (even as they vigorously deny as much).
Otherwise, things haven’t changed much. Connie Chastain continues to cackle away, and the Flaggers continue on their merry way, even getting a mention in a New York Times article about recent events in Lexington, Virginia, where the Flaggers journeyed to feed their hot dog habit in honor of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I especially liked the composition of the following photograph:
Nice juxtaposition, don’t you think?
I’m waiting for the usual suspects to Photoshop that out, too. Maybe they’ll replace it with an image of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. That’s the only way Hathaway can appear there, flag pole in hand.
Hathaway sounded a sour note when she reflected on the dour prospects that faced her cause:
“We are losing this war on a lot of fronts,” she said. “And folks, if we don’t learn to come alongside of people who might look a little different than us, who might have a different way of doing things, and find ways that we can work together like we did today, we’re not going to get very far.”
Maybe she was pretending to be a member of the Confederate Congress in early 1865 when it debated whether to allow slaves to become Confederate soldiers.
Now, as we all know, one of the ways in which the Virginia Flaggers declare success is by raising a new Confederate battle flag, take pictures of it, and say it’s a sign of progress. They did exactly that this past weekend.
Most fair-minded people would agree that Hillary Clinton was wrong when she claimed that half of Donald J. Trump’s supporters were “a basket of deplorables.” That claim painted with too broad a brush that tarred too many people.
That said, it is true that some of Trump’s supporters are truly deplorable, especially those who have been associated with what one Pensacola blogger claimed was the future of Confederate heritage … the Virginia Flaggers.
Susan Hathaway supports Trump. Connie Chastain supports Trump. Matthew Heimbach, once a Flagger darling, has actually attacked protesters at a Trump rally.
Chastain’s political views, indeed, appear to be straight out of the Trump playbook.
We’ve seen Confederate flags at Trump rallies, which does little to promote the notion that either the Trump campaign or Confederate heritage is especially tolerant. For Trump supporters outside “the basket,” it’s an unfortunate association.
And then came Friday’s revelation of a video, some eleven years old, of Trump and television program host Billy Bush making crude and lewd comments about women.
Guess who came out swinging for Trump? That’s right, Connie Chastain. Given her obsession with the notion of false rape accusations … a theme that has shaped several of her works of fiction … one might well expect that she would shrug off Trump’s crass talk that smacked of sexual assault and rape. And so she did(check the comments section … where Chastain posts under her own name as well as the name “Polly Graff”).
So much for southern womanhood. We recall that Susan Hathaway once said that Chastain did her “heavy hitting.” Now we have a better idea of what that means.
This weekend, Americans will finally get to see what many of us have been waiting to explore: the opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’ll be at a conference at Illinois State University discussing the Supreme Court decision ex parte Milligan (1866), so I’ll have to wait my turn to step into this museum (I visited the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for the first time in 1966, some fifty years ago, just two years after it opened).
To me, the new museum is for all of us, much as other Smithsonian museums are for all of us (the National Museum of the American Indian comes to mind) as well as other museums on the National Mall (as in the Holocaust Museum). I can’t wait to see what stories the new museum will tell and how they will be told.
That museum looks forward in part by looking backward, suggesting the journey ahead in part by reviewing where one’s been. Elsewhere, however, maybe a hundred miles to the south, people who look backward all the time will also be gathering that weekend. That’s right … the Virginia Flaggers will celebrate their fifth anniversary of existence and three years since the Comedy at Chester was first unveiled. I remember that day very well, and it always brings a smile to my face.
One of the most interesting aspects of writing about Confederate heritage advocates, especially the Virginia Flaggers, is highlighting the associations of various Flaggers with white supremacists, white nationalists, and the like. Mind you, usually these associations are brought to our attention by the Flaggers themselves in social media or elsewhere. Thus it was the Flaggers themselves who hailed Matthew Heimbach as a fellow Flagger and embraced him in one of their marches (even Connie Chastain used one image in preparing a dust cover of yet another never-to-be-published book, as you can see here):
Even Chastain admits Heimbach’s a Flagger. Otherwise she’d never have prepared this design.
But Heimbach isn’t the only white supremacist/white nationalist embraced by Susan Hathaway. Nor does she protest when her writings turn up in anti-Semitic newsletters.
To highlight these association brings all sorts of protests from Flagger defenders and apologists, who have become very inventive if not very persuasive in their responses/excuses.
However, we did not take the pictures. We did not march alongside these people. We did not thank them on social media. We did not allow Flagger writings to appear in bigoted or racist literature.
All of our evidence has been manufactured by the Flaggers themselves as they seek to publicize what they do … and no one is more willing to do that than Susan Frise Hathaway.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone that more Flagger-provided evidence has surfaced linking Susan Hathaway to yet another white supremacist, one with a fondness for the Ku Klux Klan … Steven Monk.
Here are some images Mr. Monk shared on a social media group page:
Sometimes Mr. Monk wears gray. Sometimes he wears black:
Over at Restoring the Honor there’s a rather full set of imagesillustrating Mr. Monk’s beliefs. Among the images, we come across the following …
Oh, yes … don’t forget Billy Bearden. He’s there, too.
So we see Susan Hathaway, celebrating the Confederacy atop Stone Mountain with a fellow who seems rather fond of white supremacy, to the point that he doesn’t mind using a Klan hood as his profile picture (sortta destroys the rationale for the hood, right?).
Based upon my own experiences, and watching, talking, and reading of your own activities – you are cut from the same cloth as such Flagger legends as Lijah Coleman, Grayson Jennings, Clint Lacy, HK, Ken Waters, Steven Monk, Rodney Waller and Patricia Godwin.
You’ll find other Flaggers and Confederate heritage celebrities also like Mr. Monk.
But Susan Frise Hathaway likes him a lot.
So much for the notion that this was merely an accident or the ill-timed click of a camera shutter.
The evidence linking the Virginia Flaggers to white supremacists is rather large enough as it is … but it keeps on growing. So please don’t tell me it’s heritage, not hate, because it’s all too clearly a heritage of hate, and Susan Hathaway’s associations remind us of that every day.
One of the more striking aspects of the current Confederate heritage correctness movement, at least in the eyes of the national media, is the presence of African Americans in the ranks of such advocates. Sometimes these people receive a great deal of attention, while sometimes they seek it (and look to make a little money off it, as in the case of H. K. Edgerton).
Over the past few years, I have seen an uptick of Black, Hispanic and Asian people embracing White Supremacists and neo-Fascism. There’s no other way to put it really. It is truly that black and white. It might cause folks to scratch their heads over the notion, but a few weeks ago I went to a neo-Confederate rally in Mississippi and got into it with a Black neo-Confederate from Oklahoma who was rubbing elbows with members of the White Supremacist League of the South – and he was one of several at that rally doing so. My group One People’s Project also had to recently deal with a Black/Dominican man posing as a Muslim that infiltrated our small organization to gather information about anti-racists and give that information to a neo-Nazi organization he was affiliated with. So there’s no hyperbole when I say that they are supporting right-wing hatemongers.
Now it’s nothing new, really. I am used to seeing people of color embrace the right and ignoring how much they are being used as a shield against very valid charges of racism. But in 2016, that is a much different animal. We have more persons of color becoming a part of mainstream society, more than we ever had in American history. It makes complete sense that there will be some that will become a part of mainstream conservative society as well, and it isn’t going to always mean that they are selling out or hating on their culture and heritage, although there are still a huge number of those that are more than happy to do so. There is a more defined dividing line between those of color who are truly conservative and those who are simply surrogates for racists.
Karen Cooper’s history would indeed suggest that she was a part of that latter crowd when her strong defenses of the Confederacy and a particularly downright laughable and appalling comment in a video spotlighting those defenses that “slavery was a choice” because slaves could have “chosen to die” instead. Then she speaks out publicly against police brutality and the bigoted attacks on Muslims in this country (she is a former member of the Nation of Islam). She is a Libertarian and at the very least, that means she is more about bringing people together than pulling them apart. So although many might think she might be a little wrongheaded in her approach, ultimately she is not what we see in the rest of that Flagger crowd, the ones who thought they could use her as that aforementioned “shield”. And that is where they come to their current conflict.
The Flaggers are treating Cooper as their pet Negro, and when they saw her effectively talking back to one of them, they wanted to make her heel. Her butting heads with Tripp Lewis, a Virginia Flagger who is a little too supportive of hate politics and the people who push them caused one of them, Gary Adams, to want to reign her in after she clashed with Lewis for his anti-Muslim shots at her, as opposed to him. To be clear about it, many in that group are defending Cooper, but Adams wanted her to delete the entire exchange and call him and other Flagger leaders about the situation. If Cooper has ever felt she needed to inch away from this group, she more than likely went a few more inches away with this incident.
As well she should.
I don’t think Karen Cooper is a bad person. I definitely don’t think she’s a stupid person. I think that she has bad politics, or at the very least a bad approach to them. But I truly hope that this particular episode causes her to realize that the people around her might not be her friends and she is on a very wrong road. You can be sure the rest of us do.
We await the usual cries of outrage from Confederate heritage advocates. We also wonder whether Karen Cooper will respond … or whether her white handlers friends allow to her respond.
But it’s the self-inflicted wounds that are just as likely to leave an enduring mark. There’s still fallout from Tripp Lewis’s attack on Karen Cooper. As detailed on Restoring the Honor, while many advocates of Confederate heritage sided with Cooper and denounced Lewis, others, led by Gary Adams of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group, called on Cooper to silence herself instead of denouncing Lewis.