Connie Chastain Unplugged … or Unhinged

At a time when so many people are engaged in endless political discussions that fray friendships and embitter foes, there’s always the need for humor … and then, as if by Providence, there appears Connie Chastain.

You’ll remember that Connie loves to produce dust jackets for books that will never appear, earning her the title “The Queen of Forthcoming.” Perhaps that’s in part because of her ability to devise such telling memes as these two:


But Connie can still demonstrate her mastery of the English language, even if the result might be a tad counterproductive. Take this essay:

The Nature of the Monument Destroyers

 The force behind the assault on Confederate heritage is the same force behind the attacks on President Trump. What we are seeing is an enormous psychotic episode, a colossal nervous breakdown by the ultra-left in America because their adored Hillary was defeated.

The left has always been destructive, increasingly so in recent years. But since Trump has been in office — since late January — where he has steadily razed the Obama legacy, they’ve been like an animal in the furious stage of rabies.These people are not Americans. Leftists are socialists. They are the antithesis of Americans. They are destroyers. Since they cannot have our country and transform it into Socialist America, they will destroy it.

Destroying Confederate heritage is an early phase, a trial run, you might say. They have the same fate in mind for the legacy of the Founders… not just monuments and statues, but the very country they crafted. They want to destroy every aspect of the culture — Christianity, the family, private property, education, historical memory, our cultural cohesiveness, our very identity as western man.

Western man. Man. Men. The left hates nothing the way they hate masculinity. From “feminism”, which is not about equality for women but about hating and hurting men … from feminizing industry, education, the military, church leadership, the popular culture, the government to the demonization of “dead white males” the left hates virility.

VIRILE, VIRILITY characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit: manly character, vigor, or spirit; masculine energy, forcefulness, or strength in a marked degree.

Our Confederate heroes were some of history’s manliest of men. Even in cold, lifeless bronze, Davis, Beauregard and Lee exuded a level of virility that shames Mitch Landrieu.

The nameless Confederate soldiers in marble and granite standing atop pedestals and obelisks across the South shame the typical leftist male — the Michael Moores, the Morris Deeses, the brainwashed antifa, the mindless mobs, the spineless and weak-minded men, leftists themselves or influenced by leftism, who run government at all levels. The closest thing these men have to masculine energy and vigorous spirit is hatred. Oddly enough, this is the same fuel that energizes leftist women — the Hillary Clintons, the Maxine Waterses, the Ashley Judds and the Madonnas — as well.

As we craft and then implement our counter-offensive in the defense of our heritage — and our continued existence and the future for our children (make no mistake, these are in the Left’s crosshairs, as well) — it will do us well to remember the nature of our attackers.

With defenders like these, Confederate heritage is doomed.

Another Opportunity for the Virginia Flaggers

I’m sure many readers of this blog are aware of the dispute in Charlottesville over whether to remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson from their namesake parks in the downtown area.

As someone who lived in Charlottesville for four years, I liked the statues, and frankly I wish they were not being moved (I think there are other ways to place them in context). But I don’t live in Charlottesville, and I think it’s up to the people who do (and not people who live outside Albemarle County) to decide what should be in their public parks.

Few people have noted, BTW, that the same sculptor who planned the Lee statue, Henry M. Shrady, executed the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC. I happen to think that the Grant statue is a superior piece of work, although his Lee is nice enough.

But I digress … because the Charlottesville City Council has decided that the best way to dispose of the statue is to sell it, with the seller responsible for the costs of removal and relocation.

What an opportunity for the Virginia Flaggers.

This well-known Confederate heritage organization needs to do something new and different. No one really cares about their erratic and token presence outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (even Judy Smith seems tired of taking endless pictures of them parading about, one consequences of the emergence of digital photography). And then there are the flags along the interstates and clustered around several smaller cities.  No one cares much about that exercise, either, although the Flaggers suffered a recent setback outside Lexington, when, despite their bluster, a flag came down under pressure from local authorities.

So it’s time for something new, Susan Hathaway. Buy Charlottesville’s Lee (and Jackson, if you can afford it). Make a big fuss. Fly drones over the statues. Have planes pass overhead with banners to remind us of our Confederate “heros.” Do something creative with Tripp Lewis’s defense fund. Buy the statues, have Grayson Jennings rent a trailer, and take those statues to a place where Karen Cooper can appreciate them (if they can first find where Karen Cooper now is). Have Barry Isenhour open a hot dog stand to support the endeavor (make sure he doesn’t eat the product). Give Bobby Lee and Stonewall a new home. Don’t forget Traveller and Little Sorrel.

Restore the honor. Rescue the statues.

Become entertaining again.

 

Another Defeat for the Virginia Flaggers

Back on March 6, the Virginia Flaggers through their blog assured us that a flag they had helped erect in Rockbridge County outside Lexington was not coming down, desite the fact that local authorities had raised questions about the flagpole’s location.

The flag then came down. Now it appears it isn’t going back up anytime soon.

Not to worry, folks. The Flaggers claim they’ve made arrangements for many more flags to go up around Lexington, and they celebrate this as an act of defiance.

So much for honoring the service and sacrifice of the Confederate soldier in a dignified manner. But then it never was about that, was it?

Virginia’s Corey Stewart: Restoring the Honor?

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.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: The Internet, Social Media, History, and Confederate Heritage Activism

The internet and the digital revolution together have changed how we view the world, in part because they have transformed how we receive and digest information. We have more information (and misinformation) available at our fingertips. Search engines help shape and sometimes control how we discover and extract information (just try using a few different search engines to see what I mean).

For professional historians who happen to teach, the result is a mixed bag. Yes, we have access to far more information than before, and it’s easier to use it. It’s much easier to research the Congressional Globe and the Congressional Record than it once was, for example, and one can read books once deemed difficult to find. We can secure video and images to educate, and we can point students to resources they would not have been able to access easily a generation ago. On the other hand, as teachers we see students (and others) use search enginges and internet resources uncritically, and we have to deal with teaching research methods online to ensure that students can find credible sources and make sense of them. There’s plenty of fake history to go around, especially on certain websites and discussion groups. Take any halfway decent Civil War discussion group, for example, and you’ll find people still refighting the war, mocking scholarship (and scholars) who don’t embrace the poster’s own prejudices, interpreting “evidence” to suit their predilections, falling in love with their heroes and chastising their villains (and their biographers), endlessly rehashing certain questions, and taking the notion of “if it is on the internet, it must be true” to a new level …”if I say it on the internet, I make it true.”

Scholars err in simply dismissing what in truth is a rich source of what they lovingly study as historical memory in other contexts. Simply to say that something isn’t true means little in an age whether “alternative facts” and denigrating authoritative sources hold sway. Time and again those of us who are more comfortable with the internet as a place of discussion, debate, and resources have to remind less-skilled and less-aware users that the net doesn’t discriminate between the good, the bad, and the immaterial, thus allowing such themes as the myth of the black Confederate soldier to flow freely in the minds of the uncritical or the agenda-driven and be disseminated to the unaware and unprepared. In an age where anyone with access to the internet can pretend to be their own historian, the problem intensifies. That people who whine about “fake news” embrace “fake history” and engage in uncritically reposting only that which feeds their already-established prejudices while pretending to host history blogs is part of the joke … and part of the problem. For them “political correctness” means “does not agree with me.”

Failing to engage such folks concedes the argument, and suggests that perhaps some people have abandoned the role of the public intellectual in favor of writing for each other or for a small circle of like-minded folks. When that is the case, historians can look in the mirror when they wonder why people don’t listen to them any more (if they ever did). Yet engagement comes with its own risks, and historians haven’t thought much about that, either. Nowadays the marketplace of ideas has been replaced with the hockey rink of debate, complete with high elbows, stick-swinging, and cheap shots. How to engage in such an environment while maintaining one’s self-respect and scholarly demeanor (and, one hopes, a sense of humor) is a challenge. Yet, unlike, say, the confrontation in a lecture (these rarely happen) or the nasty note (and now nasty email) that remains private, it is the very public accessibility of such misinformation and fake history that presents a challenge to any historian who presumes that educating people about history is an important part of their job, and is indeed more than mere vocation.

Yet historians are not the only people confronting a challenge in the age of the internet and social media when it comes to getting things done. Presenting a somewhat different challenge for Confederate heritage apologists is the interplay of social media, digital technology, and heritage activism. People who employ social media as part of their everyday lives know the problem. Repost something, offer a comment, hit “like” or “share” or “retweet,” and we’ve indicated where we stand on something, as if that in itself is enough. Want to make a more robust statement? Take some pictures … because digital technology has revolutionized photography for the common person. Don’t worry … you don’t have just 12, 24, or 36 precious exposures per roll any more … you can click away hundreds of times and then post the images to your social media outlet. Any Virginia Flagger event will suffice as an example, especially when Judy Smith is present. How many times do you have to see Susan Hathaway rally the troops (or hear her sing)? Or see Barry Isenhour look stern while thinking of his next hot dog? When it comes to graphic design, we have Connie Chastain churning out book jacket after book jacket for books she’ll never actually write (“fake literature,” anyone? … because “fake fiction” is too funny).

Let me kindly suggest that the digital revolution and the advent of social media has been key to the dissemination of the ideas of the Confederate heritage apologist movement … and that it will also be the death of it. For it appears to be true that the more time you spend on social media, the less time (and interest) you have to be a real activist and achieve real change.

You see, just like many other pseudo-activists, many Confederate heritage apologists think that reposting, sharing, liking, and retweeting is a sufficient expression of their activism, because people see it. Attaboy, folks, seems to be the prevailing attitude. It’s not unlike the Virginia Flaggers’ own Facebook page, which once painstakingly celebrated how many people “liked” it (Donald Trump does the same thing when it comes to his Twitter account). Yet the only significant achievement the Virginia Flaggers have to claim for years of “activity” is the erection of a number of Confederate flag-bearing flagpoles throughout Virginia. That’s it. Even that activity has been as productive of mocking humor as it has been of celebrating some ill-defined “cause.” Sure, we have a flood of Judy Smith photographs of “determined” Flaggers … but the photographs and videos shot by Smith and others have provided evidence of some of the people with whom the Flaggers associate (racists, bigots, and the like) and have been used to humiliate Flaggers or make them look foolish (hello, Tripp Lewis!). The blog Restoring the Honor makes its living off capturing Confederate heritage social media as well as using the internet to uncover interesting connections.

The result reminds us that the Virginia Flaggers and other like-minded Confederate heritage apologist groups are what we’ve said they are.

In short, even as social media can be used to mobilize on some minimal level of engagement a number of wannabe activists, the proof is in who shows up to do the real work. How many times have organizers of Confederate heritage events later complained that the turnout wasn’t anywhere near what organizers expected given all those positive responses on Facebook? Memes are cute and easy to produce (even Chastain can meet that low threshhold), but do they accomplish much (and, in certain cases, haven’t they provided ammunition for critics)?

Have the proponents of Confederate heritage done anything more that preventing some defeats and then proclaiming that victory? We see fighting withdrawals, retreats, routs, and the occasional stalemate or preservation of the status quo, but have “the colors” ever actually advanced? The entire struggle for Confederate heritage likes to invoke the spirit of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Wade Hampton, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, but in reality the icons of the Confederate heritage movement should be Pierre G. T. Beauregard, Joseph Johnston, and Braxton Bragg. Beauregard always offered plans that could never be implemented; Johnston was good at retreating and procrastinating while claiming that someday he would strike back; Bragg’s quarrelsome nature reminds me of a lot of the ranting within the ranks of Confederate heritage apologists (rainbow Confederates, anyone? Unhappiness with the SCV?).

All this, I suggest, is also the product of social media, which promotes pseudo-activism as a substitute for the real thing. Confederate heritage activities have failed in their efforts to mobilize a movement when someone can simply click a button or type a response as their entire effort to preserve and protect their “heritage.”

Mind you, the very reaction to this post in some corners will demonstrate the truth of the arguments it presents. But the fact of the matter is that offering dozens of photographs of a half dozen protesters outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (and doing so repeatedly) in order to garner likes and supportive comments is testimony to the bankruptcy of Confederate heritage activism … because that’s all it is. Raise another flag, post about it, and then do it again, in part because nothing has really changed (each flag raising has become a sign of the futility of the endeavor, because, outside of a few more photographs, a few more posts, and a few more “likes,” nothing happens) … while the setbacks and defeats keep mounting up.

It truly is the best of times and the worst of times.

Think Before You (Lamp) Post

New Orleans has seen its share of debates over Civil War statues and monuments lately (although it interests me that the monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, a Reconstruction event that was clearly linked to the restoration of white supremacy, is sometimes classified as a “Civil War” monument). It looks as if three clearly Confederate monuments may be relocated, although I’ll believe it when I see it (note that this blog has not taken a position on removing such monuments, believing that it’s up to the community to decide …  a point lost on some readers, particularly those who want to erect straw men to go with their whine).

Now comes a project that I find amusing, to say the least. New Orleans has recently opened a new streetcar line along North Rampart Street, which is northeast of historic Jackson Square.

Green NOLA
Courtesy WGNO.

In keeping with a restoration theme, the city decided to place brightly-painted green streetlamps along the route. They are based upon the original lamp posts, nearly ninety years old in design. The lamp posts carry inscriptions on the four sides as a nod to local history:

One reads, “Spanish Domination 1769-1803.”  Another one marks the period France ruled.  Yet another side reads, “American Domination 1803-1861 1865 To Date.”

You’ll never guess what the fourth side reads.

The fourth side on the base of the new light posts reads, “Confederate Domination 1861-1865.”

CDNOLA.JPG
Courtesy WGNO.

To be sure, there are some problems with this designation. The Confederacy did not “dominate” New Orleans during the entire American Civil War. Just ask David G. Farragut, who seized it in April 1862, or Benjamin Butler, who  soon dominated the city (and perhaps its spoons) during a controversial stint as occupation commander. So the sign needs modification.

Also recall who owned New Orleans just before the US acquired it in 1803. Hint: Spain did not sell Louisiana to the United States. It was French again, although for less than a month.

The designations seem as pointless as they are misinformed, and what does “domination” actually mean?

The first picture clearly suggests that these designations are rather easy to remove (and may already have been subject to vandalism). Yet, as soon as a local television station reported this story … Confederate heritage apologists went crazy.

Note how quickly race entered the discussion in various social media sites, as well as politics and that hobby horse of the mindless, “political correctness” (which continues to be the best way to denigrate without discussing something).

All we now need is the Virginia Flaggers to declare that the lamp posts aren’t coming down to make sure that they do. Otherwise, much ado about nothing. What silliness.

 

On Civil War Monuments: The Controversy Continues

This weekend the American Civil War Center in Richmond, Virginia, held an all-day symposium entitled “Lightning Rods of Controversy: Civil War Monuments Past, Present, and Future.” Co-sponsored by the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia and The Library of Virginia, the symposium reviewed the issues associated with Civil War monuments in a city well known for them. Christy Coleman of the ACWC offered opening remarks in a presentation entitled “Monuments, Markers, Museums, and the Landscape of Civil War Memory.”

You can find the presentation here.

It is not altogether true that the only controversies about Civil War monuments involve Confederate monuments. Some people were very unhappy with this monument, for example:

Others opposed placing a monument to Union soldiers who fought at Olustee, Florida, as you may recall (you may also recall that many of the US soldiers who fought there were African American). You can refresh your memory here, here, and here.

But you won’t find anything about that in various Confederate heritage apologist advocates’ blogs, especially the ones that rant about fake news and political correctness. What you will hear, however, is how a local community that erected these monuments can’t decide to remove them, lest they “erase history”–when the only history their removal might “erase” is why people chose to put up those monuments when and where they did.

That’s one reason why I think those monuments should stay up–to remind people of their past, sometimes in ways that might not make them comfortable. But I remain amused at people who think that the members of a community should make their own decisions, who protest against meddlesome outsiders and “moral reformers,” who nevertheless have no problem telling other people how to live and what to honor. Get over yourselves or embrace your hypocrisy.

More Chaos for Confederate Heritage Advocates

It’s not been a good two weeks for Confederate heritage advocates. They’ve suffered setbacks at Vanderbilt University, the University of Texas, and with the University of Mississippi marching band. They seem helpless to stop the rising tide of opposition to their position, and the best they can do to gain ground is to promise to fly more flags throughout the South.

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.

AdamsCooper.JPG

Why, indeed? Continue reading

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