More Trouble in Flaggerland: Tripp Lewis Versus Karen Cooper

Over in Virginia Whine Country there’s trouble east of the Shenandoah Valley as well … and it’s not unexpected. After all, it’s been a contentious election year, and the nastiness of the campaign is reflected in the rather coarse contempt people display for each other on social media.

A case in point: a recent Facebook exchange between Virginia Flagger headliners Tripp Lewis and Karen Cooper. Lewis seeks attention far more than does Cooper, although Cooper’s not adverse to sharing her views with the media. We have no record of Cooper being arrested for Flagger-related activities: this is not the case with Lewis. Nor do we have any record that Cooper has been a part of any Flagger activities that have backfired: this is not the case with Lewis. Finally, we have no record of Cooper celebrating white nationalists as “good guys”: this is not the case with Lewis. But, as the following exchange suggests, those are not the only differences … Continue reading

The Virginia Flaggers’ Next Target: Alexandria?

By now we all know that the Virginia Flaggers, perhaps the most notorious Confederate heritage group in existence (and certainly among the most amusing as well as most visible), is dedicated to restoring the honor by returning the flags. However, to date they have not made much of an impact in the Old Dominion in the northern part of the state. At present the northernmost Flagger triumph east of the Blue Ridge Mountains is at Stafford, along I-95 north of Fredericksburg.

Now comes word that the folks in Alexandria, Virginia, are also taking steps to diminish the city’s commemoration of the Confederacy. Already the city’s taken action to cease flying Confederate flags on public property. Now up for debate is a proposal to cease calling US Route 1 “Jefferson Davis Highway.” Left untouched is a statute honoring the service of Confederate veterans that remains an iconic part of the city.

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The Character of The Virginia Flaggers

While most Americans have been preoccupied with far more serious issues involving the future of this country, Connie Chastain has returned to blogging in yet another attempt to portray the Virginia Flaggers as victims. This time, it’s “character assassination,” although Chastain favors the wording “to character assassinate” for some odd reason.

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Susan Hathaway Explains

In a break from tradition that nevertheless sounds traditional themes, Susan Hathaway of the Virginia Flaggers took to Facebook to share her reaction to the revelation that a Confederate heritage activist she had once praised for his action to protect children had been arrested on fifty counts of charges concerning child pornography transactions.

hathaway 070616 1

You can see I’ve gotten someone’s attention. 🙂

Susan Hathaway sure knows a lot about blogs she claims she hasn’t read in a year or so. Of course, she’s also made that claim in past years. But she also claims to know why people do what they do. Just like Connie Chastain does.

By the way, my speaking schedule remains as crowded as ever. My, my, but she can’t get anything straight.

But I do like that she’s finally admitted that she’s the head of the Flaggers. She’s not like Connie Chastain, who can’t make up her mind as to whether she’s a Flagger or knows what they say or do. Call that situational membership.

Susan continues:

hathaway 070616 2

Note the lack of concern about the victims of child pornography. But then the Flaggers were not concerned about a child who was kidnapped by a Flagger, or when a Flagger got himself arrested in front of his children (as they were videotaping him). So, nothing new here.

Of course, Hathaway did not just know Jason Sulser. She praised him:

Sulser and Hathaway (2)

Susan’s deepest respect? Must not be worth much. “You are the reason none of our women or children were seriously injured.” How ironic.

Susan concludes:

hathaway 070616 3

Yes, Susan, your words, deeds, and actions speak for themselves. Mind reminding us why you no longer appear at the War Memorial Chapel at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts? And let’s not forget the need to invoke God … that same God that brought you Rob Walker.

Next you’ll claim that none of you ever knew anything about Matthew Heimbach. Or that you had no idea that this was happening. And on, and on, and on …

We’ve seen this movie before, folks. No doubt we’ll see it again.

Once question remains for sincere advocates of Confederate heritage: Are you mad enough yet?

 

 

Trouble in Flaggerland

Readers of this blog will recall that Confederate heritage advocates, led by Connie Chastain (the webmaster and sometimes spokesperson for the Virginia Flaggers … especially when spokesperson Susan Hathaway falls silent, as she is wont to do in situations like the one we’re about to discuss), were overjoyed to find out that among the commenters on this blog were two people who had been charged with sexual offenses. That one was in fact a frequent commenter on one of Chastain’s old social media sites and that it was rather broadly known that I despised the person in question made no difference; that it soon became known that another Confederate heritage advocate whom Chastain had embraced as a friend apparently had prior knowledge of that person’s child pornography habit but remained quiet was hurriedly concealed. And, of course, there was the case of the Confederate heritage advocate who doubled as a fandom writer who liked to write about cartoon character minors having sex … the Confederate heritage gang quickly made excuses for that as “art.”

Somehow, to attack this blog because of the criminal activities of two people who once commented on it (I blocked both of them) seemed a stretch, especially in light of the white supremacists whom the Virginia Flaggers embraced as allies, friends, and business associates. After all, I did not know either of these people, and they were not my associates: I thought one was a jerk. That the fandom writer was particularly exercised about my decision to ban these commenters stuck me as rather curious but fairly predictable given what passes for logic and integrity among the Flaggers and their friends. Nevertheless, child pornography is a horrible and disgusting crime, and sexual assault is inexcusable. I would hope we can all agree on that.

Well, now we’ll see exactly how outraged Hathaway, Chastain, and their ilk in the heritage community are at the news that one of their own, Jason Sulser, has been charged with 50 counts concerning the distribution of child pornography. Sulser’s a highly-visible Confederate heritage advocate, having once started a petition calling for the removal of John Hennessy as the NPS historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP.

This blog has long been aware that Hathaway once praised a registered sex offender as a gift from the Almighty, but declined to pursue that story. In this case, however, other sources broke the tale even as it made its way through Confederate heritage groups.

We can now expect Hathaway and company to pretend they never knew the person in question. And we should know better. Recall that Flagger favorite Tripp Lewis declared that white supremacist Matthew Heimbach was “a good guy.” Well, let’s see what Hathaway said about Sulser last year after that ill-fated rally in Washington:

Sulser and Hathaway (2)

So, Mr. Sulser, how do you reconcile these child pornography charges with your pledge to “run towards trouble to protect every woman and child in a dangerous situation”? Seems to me that you were rather fond of some of those “dangerous situations,” if these charges have merit.

Methinks Hathaway will have to reconsider that claim that “none of our women and children were seriously injured” given that child pornography injures and exploits children. But who knows? Let’s just hope she doesn’t invite him to the Flagger picnic this year, as she did last year (reminding us that the Hathaway-Sulser link was not a one-time-only affair).

Now, in years past, Chastain would start blaring and braying and baying and flailing away at her blog, but Backsass is basically Sadsass nowadays. Nevertheless, I’m sure she’ll comment, and her comment will contain false and misleading information … but she’ll do it because poor old Susan Hathaway will be too skeered to say anything. Just watch.

It will be interesting to see how Hathaway, her Flagger friends, and other Confederate heritage advocates spin this one.

Will the Ku Klux Klan Rise Again?

Basically, that’s the question offered in this article from the Associated Press (a video will eventually play to augment the article).

I was particularly struck by the following claim in the article:

Formed just months after the end of the Civil War by six former Confederate officers, the Klan originally seemed more like a college fraternity with ceremonial robes and odd titles for its officers. But soon, freed blacks were being terrorized, and the Klan was blamed. Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy. Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, and the group died.

The curious construction of the second sentence, complete with the double use of the passive voice, is remarkable. Might the Reconstruction KKK have had something to do with conducting a war of terror against freed blacks (and their white allies)?

Maybe. Just maybe.

As for the rest of the muddled narrative, let’s assume that the author has at best a partial understanding of the Ku Klux Act of 1871, how President Grant used the powers it authorized him to use, and the degree to which Grant’s actions destroyed the KKK.

The various reincarnations of the KKK in the 20th century, while inspired by the Reconstruction KKK (or, to be more precise, by the portrayal of that group in the movie Birth of A Nation), are distinct from that organization, even if they have many things in common, including an identification with the Confederacy and the preservation of white (Christian/Protestant) supremacy through terror, intimidation, and violence. But to say that they are the same is to overlook a great deal.

It is also unfortunate that many people identify white supremacist terrorist violence during Reconstruction with the KKK alone. That would be incorrect. Violence and suppression against freed blacks started during the summer and fall of 1865: we can see institutional evidence of state-sponsored white supremacy in the passing of the Black Codes and in the shaping of the southern legal sysyem by the state governments founded during presidential Reconstruction (especially during the Johnson presidency). Neither the Memphis nor New Orleans massacres of 1866 were KKK operations. Moreover, the tendency to identify the KKK with Nathan Bedford Forrest tends to obscure the fact that many Confederate veterans, including prominent ones such as John B. Gordon, donned Klan robes and did all they could to counter the emergence of black equality and political power. The KKK was far more pwerful in 1867 and especially 1868, when it battled the advent of black political power and the Republican party, and the organization in various forms persisted into the early 1870s, proving especially important in the Carolinas.

But the so-called destruction of the KKK in the aftermath of the passage of the Ku Klux Act and Grant’s application of the act in South Carolina in September 1871 did not spell the end of white supremacist terrorist violence. Far from it. Such violence took new forms under new names and emplyed new tactics and strategies (see the Mississippi Plan of 1875) as it did much to accomplish what the original KKK failed to achieve. Occasionally even biographers of Grant ignore or stumble over this inconvenient truth, most notably in Geoffrey Perret’s 1997 study, which was virtually silent about Reconstruction in Grant’s second term. By paying far too much attention to the KKK as the expression of such violence, Perret blinded himself to what else was going on … or perhaps he simply didn’t know about it. We must not be so ignorant.

But wait … there’s more.

Like several Confederate heritage groups, the KKK makes for good video, especially with the Confederate flag waving in the background or in places like Stone Mountain, a place favored by, among others, the Virginia Flaggers. Indeed, it’s not hard to draw connections between the KKK, other white supremacists, and Confederate heritage groups, as this news item this past week demonstrates. Note that the KKK leaders portrayed in this report endorse Trump and pledge death to their enemies (although they then claim that they don’t mean what they say–we’ve heard that excuse before from Confederate heritage apologists when white supremacists have advocated violence). And, of course, many of you will recall Mr. Heimbach’s association with a certain Virginia-based Confederate heritage group, one the group’s leadership has never disavowed (recall Virginia Flagger Tripp Lewis’s declaration that Mr. Heimbach was “a good guy”). A review of the social media offerings of several Virginia Flaggers reveals that, like the KKK and their buddy Heimbach, they, too, support Donald J. Trump for president.

Then again, Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was prominent in KKK circles during Reconstruction, did much to play down that association when he appeared before a congressional investigating committee in 1871. The Virginia Flaggers would like to do the same with their association with Heimbach and other white supremacists, including two people who rented them land upon which to fly their flags near Virginia interstates. But how can we forget that the spokesperson of the Virginia Flaggers, Susan Frise Hathaway, openly idolizes Forrest and Wade Hampton, whose Red Shirts used white supremacist terrorist tactics to regain control of South Carolina’s state government? The woman in the red dress loves that man and his Red Shirts.

As Mark Twain once reminded us, although history may not repeat itself, sometime it rhymes.

The Growing Vacuousness of Confederate Heritage

Over at Civil War Memory Kevin Levin’s speculated about the decline and eventual disappearance of Confederate heritage commemorations, implying that perhaps confining such ceremonies in time and place may prolong their existence by confining their expression to appropriate venues and occasions. As you might well imagine, some of Kevin’s most vocal critics (who also happen to be among his most loyal readers) offered their usual pitiful petulant protests. Fine, folks: just go raise another flag somewhere and claim victory.

Although I appreciate Kevin’s argument, I hold a different view (although I suspect that Kevin agrees with much of what I am about to say). I think that the real problem with Confederate heritage today is that it has less and less to do with the Confederacy or any sort of heritage and much more to do with serving as a vehicle through which people express their political views and cultural preferences. There are several themes sometimes associated with Confederate heritage that come through in these declarations, much as other themes woven throughout Confederate heritage reappear in the claims made by critics of Confederate heritage (think slavery, folks: there’s no Confederacy without it).

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Defeat in Danville

While most of the nation watched last night as voters in Indiana dealt a death blow to one presidential candidate’s campaign while keeping alive the fantasies of another, a few people focused on a city council election held in Danville, Virginia, best known as the last capital of the Confederacy. Running for reelection were three council members who had supported the removal of a Confederate outside the Sutherlin Mansion, otherwise known as the last Confederate White House, where Jefferson Davis learned of the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant.

The Virginia Flaggers were out in force on this one:

Flaggers Danville election

Well, the results are in, and the Flaggers are not happy. So much for #novotesforturncoats. Exactly why these three people are “turncoats” is another matter altogether, but never let reality get in the way of a snappy turn of praise … like “Restore the honor.”

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A Virginia Flagger Urges Assassination

Willie Earl Wells is a rather visible member of the Virginia Flaggers. He’s a favorite subject of the group’s photographer, Judy Smith.

Wells FB

Like many other people who like to run around in Confederate uniforms, Mr. Wells likes to pretend he belongs to the artillery branch. There are far more Confederate artillerists today than there were during the war, I guess.

So guess what Mr. Wells suggests ought to be done when it comes to the Confederate monument controversy in Louisville, Kentucky?

Wells Placed Sniper
Courtesy Restoring the Honor (link above)

We can’t wait for the Virginia Flaggers to disavow this threat of violence.