And so we come at long last to the moment you have all been waiting for …
… the envelope, please …
… and the winner is …
And so we come at long last to the moment you have all been waiting for …
… the envelope, please …
… and the winner is …
Having arrived at the final two notable moments in Confederate heritage, we bring you this year’s runner-up:
Number Two: The University of Mississippi Wakes Up
In some ways it’s no surprise that the University of Mississippi’s behind the times when it comes to Confederate heritage. After all, it took its namesake state until 1995 to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery … and eighteen more years to forward the notice of that action to Washington. This February the statue commemorating the entry of James Meredith into the university was vandalized. Confederate heritage advocates (including Carl “Hey Arnold!” Roden and Connie “All Alone on the Sidewalk” Chastain) donned their tin foil hats and declared that it was all a Yankee plot, a false flag operation. As usual, they were wrong: university authorities concluded that several sweet southern boys had been at the bottom of the incident (the heritage folks overlooked this, as is their wont: the truth hurts). In fact, in a model of poor timing, the Mid-South Flaggers quickly publicized their interest in flagging the sesquicentennial of the battle of Fort Pillow, where Confederate soldiers under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest slaughtered surrendering African American soldiers on April 12, 1864, committing a war crime that heritage advocates have been in denial about ever since (just as they are in denial about Forrest’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan).
University officials saw things differently. Realizing that they had a problem on their hands, they reassessed the university’s celebration of Confederate heritage, something the university had already in years past attempted to mute. Their proposals, however modest, led to another outbreak of protests by the usual suspects … including none other than H. K. Edgerton, who did not enjoy in 2014 the visibility that was once his. Thus, it came as something of a surprise when members of the Mid-South Flaggers figured out that there were white supremacist nationalists in their midst (something that their fellow flaggers, the Virginia Flaggers, always deny, despite clear evidence to the contrary provided by their photographer and others). They did not embrace the association (again unlike the Virginia Flaggers) and they were not blind to it (unlike Ben Jones and the SCV). In highlighting this reaction on this blog I appear to have struck a nerve. That action should not obscure the Mid-South Flaggers’ rather distasteful behavior in other matters connected with university officials.
We’ve now reached the end of the year, and it looks as if the protests have been ineffective to date. An effort to get a series of propositions on the Mississippi ballot have done little but to make residents of other states with their own Confederate heritage problems say “thank God for Mississippi.” One suspects, however, that efforts to end the use of “Ole Miss” may not fare quite as well. Change may be slow, but it’s happened before.
We are now down to the final four. Today focuses on two people, once of whom spoke at the other’s memorial service.
Number 4: Mattie Clyburn Rice, Rest in Peace
The passing of Mattie Clyburn Rice in October 2014 provided some people yet another chance to revive the story of her father, Weary Clyburn, specifically the nature of his connection to the Confederate military. For years Weary Clyburn has been celebrated by some as a “black Confederate,” although more discerning research revealed a more interesting story. For years Ms. Rice pursued the story, as one might expect, but what she found did little to clarify her father’s status. She was not alone in her confusion: researchers repeatedly fumbled the question of his status, sometimes in excited rants. Among the befuddled was South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who, engaged in a battle for reelection, thought it would be a good idea to cuddle up with the Confederate heritage crowd while remaining stone silent about the service of South Carolina’s blacks in blue. Confederate heritage advocates went after anyone who tried to remind us of the facts behinds the claims about Clyburn’s service.
I chose not to get involved in that discussion. It seemed good enough to allow Ms. Rice to rest in peace. However, as one might expect, others could not wait to take advantage of her passing to sound anew the usual claptrap about Clyburn’s service. Her memorial service witnessed a veritable cast of characters from Confederate heritage circles, with the typically ample photographic record to mark their presence. Who can forget this particularly nattily-dressed fellow? Continue reading
And so we are down to the top six moments in Confederate heritage for 2014. Today’s the story of two towns and two flags.
Number 6: Dustup in Danville
Danville, Virginia, boasts that it was the last capital of the Confederacy, and the town has preserved the house where Jefferson Davis convened his cabinet for the last time. That residence now houses a local museum, with a Third National Flag flying outside of it, as per an agreement in 1994. The Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History wanted permission to overturn that agreement and remove the flag.
Crossroads took the position that the Third National Flag was appropriate to display, for it is not linked with the causes with which the Confederate Battle Flag/Navy Jack is linked. Needless to say, Confederate heritage advocates ignored this stand, because in many cases their minds simply can’t fathom a reasonable position that would mute their continuous ranting. A series of city council meetings failed to settle very much, although some outside agitators came to Danville because they needed more time in front of the media and cameras to profess their love for Confederate heritage. Virginia state law prohibits the removal of certain memorials and flags, and the flag outside the Sutherlin Mansion falls under that law. Confederate heritage advocates claimed victory, although they had nothing to do with it, which suggests that the best way for such groups to prevail may be to take a lower profile … as if that’s going to happen. However, this blog built traffic by asking a question about the Danville flag controversy and I thank heritage folks for that (you really are pretty easy, aren’t you? We’ll have to do that again some time).
Many people believe this was the high point of Confederate heritage triumphs in 2014. I agree. That Confederate heritage groups had nothing to do with that outcome offers an instructive lesson in their effectiveness, as we’ll see shortly …
Number 5: Panic in Pensacola
If Confederate heritage advocates rallied support to oversee what happened in Danville, they were caught by surprise in Pensacola when the Escambia County Commission decided it was time to take down the Confederate battle flag flying outside the Pensacola Bay Center. At last they were in line with the city of Pensacola, where the Confederate battle flag’s display on city property was discontinued in 2000 (a decision not effectively contested by Confederate heritage advocates living in the area, especially those who never emerge from their houses where they spend a great deal of time with a keyboard and “monitor” (pun intended). Indeed, it looked as if Pensacola’s most prominent advocate of Confederate heritage was simply asleep at the switch or too absorbed in flinging post after post at people she hates to oppose the action or to rally local allies. Other people knew what was going to be discussed. As this video of the December 11, 2014, certain familiar faces are nowhere to be found:
Embarrassed by this sign of sheer incompetence and stupidity, Pensacola’s most cyber-visible Confederate heritage advocate, putting aside her earlier equivocation, declared herself a “Flagger,” finally coming all the way out of her butternut closet. She declared that the
West Florida Flaggers Gulf Coast Flaggers West Florida Flaggers would rally to the cause, with a Twitter account, Facebook page, and a website/blog being erected once she washed the dishes for that week (that must be a very fragrant kitchen), although in the end it did not take the week or so she had predicted (I wonder why). However, as of now the WFF (known in some quarters as WTF) seem destined to do little more than to copy their Virginia cousins and look for places to fly flags (this is in fact a practice that is becoming old and a bit silly … these spots look like abandoned car dealerships). However, there’s no word that the WTF WFF will plan flagging demonstrations or in fact do anything else other than rant at people on their blog. The notion that they might push for the flying of one of the national flags (again, a reasonable counterproposal) would deprive them of the ability to screech and scream, carp and cry.
Still, we can expect that the WFF will be the source of much enjoyment and commentary in 2015, as it looks to become a spinoff of the Virginia Flaggers. I don’t think the cast of characters is nearly so engaging … but we can be sure that the people we expect will become involved will provide their own brand of entertainment.
The tension mounts as excited readers look in eager anticipation to see what will be the top nine moments in Confederate heritage this past year. First, we go to Florida …
Number 9: The Tussle at Olustee
Fooled you, didn’t I?
February 20, 2014, marked the 150th anniversary of the battle of Olustee. A chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans decided that it would be a good idea to commemorate the service of the United States volunteers who fought there, including the famed 54th Massachusetts. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans didn’t like the idea. Apparently it’s important to remember the service of soldiers who fought against the United States of America (in which case the SCV will have to decide between honoring Nazi Germany or Al Queda next) but it’s wrong to honor the service of people who fought for the United States of America, which casts an interesting light on the SCV’s version of American patriotism.
H. K. Edgerton spoke out powerfully against the idea (so much for his interest in honoring military service with his faux uniforms):
This is an army that came here raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering our people. The kinds of things that happened here under the sanction of Abraham Lincoln were for these men to commit total warfare against innocent men, women and children who could not defend themselves.
Our people? Why, H. K., are you forgetting that the 54th Massachusetts, composed of African American soldiers, were in fact members of “your people”? Note that H. K. doesn’t express any disgust about the “raping, robbing, stealing, killing and murdering” of enslaved African Americans, who, after all, are H. K.’s own people. Why, H. K., you might read a description of what happened at Olustee before you declare your opposition to war crimes.
Never tell me that Confederate heritage advocates are interested in honoring the service of American soldiers. They are only interested in honoring the service of certain American soldiers, and refuse to honor the service of those soldiers who fought for the United States between 1861 and 1865. But they insist that you honor the service of the men who tried to kill United States soldiers.
It’s a heritage of hate … but you knew that.
Number 8: President McConnell of the College of Charleston
I have to tell you that I found the controversy surrounding the installation of South Carolina lieutenant governor Glenn McConnell as president of the College of Charleston to be a bit boring and predictable. The usual suspects lined up in the usual ways, and in the end it didn’t make much difference … indeed, it was predictable.
But it was no more predictable than the actions of Confederate heritage activists in other instances. I suspect that with the arrival of the end of the sesquicentennial in 2015 fewer and fewer people will care. I hope more people care about …
Number 7: The Disappearance of Lilly Baumann
In May 2014 the Virginia Flaggers received a lot of publicity, only it wasn’t for a flag raising. It was because of reports that someone connected to the Flaggers was being sought in connection with the disappearance of a young girl, Lilly Baumann.
The Flaggers and their spokespeople first tried to deny that they knew anything about the whole affair or its participants, although their own photographs told a different story.
Maybe this was just a coincidence, right? But then there was this:
That’s Susan Hathaway holding little Lilly Baumann.
The Virginia Flaggers, their defenders, and spokespeople immediately went into heritage defense mode, which meant attacking other people. They showed no interest in helping to find a little girl who was missing, a clear sign of their priorities. For all their social media energy and savvy, they simply didn’t give a damn about Lilly Baumann.
The December holidays are upon us, and we pray and hope that Lilly Baumann is found safe and secure and returned to her father in Florida.
As we continue our countdown of the fifteen most notable moments in Confederate heritage in 2014, I should note that I was fascinated to discover that the primary organization featured in the 2013 countdown was no longer quite so visible. Oh, here and there you would find its members flying around like a group of gnats at events held by other people, But something’s not quite right with the attention-getting efforts of that group. It’s thus out of some compassion that I decided that this part of the countdown would focus on them as a form of simple civil courtesy. Continue reading
It’s that time of year again, folks, where we count down the most memorable moments in Confederate heritage this calendar year. The list has expanded a bit to a total of fifteen events, although I must admit that after a rather raucous 2013, some of the enumerated events aren’t quite so sensational. Still, there’s something for everyone. Continue reading