One of the pet phrases of the Confederate heritage group known as the Virginia Flaggers is “Restore the Honor! Return the Flags!” The target of this declaration is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, because the Virginia Flaggers hold that institution accountable for the removal of Confederate flags outside the Memorial Chapel back in 2010. Never mind that that other groups, including the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, were complicit in that decision. No one forced the SCV to sign that agreement.
And so we come at long last to the moment you have all been waiting for …
… the envelope, please …
… and the winner is …
Here’s more coverage of the kerfuffle at Washington and Lee University over … well, if you don’t know by now, I’m not going to tell you.
I appreciate that Ben Jones, chief of heritage operations with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, has commented on my post concerning his assessment of the situation at Washington and Lee. As I’ve said previously, I take him seriously, and I believe he’s willing to engage in a dialogue that I hope will be constructive, even fruitful. In such conversations we glimpse the chance to understand each other better and to move ahead. I trust everyone who chooses to engage with him will show the same attitude that he does in coming here.
Nearly four weeks ago President Kenneth Ruscio of Washington and Lee University issued a statement that served as his response to the demands of a group of WLU law students known as The Committee. You can read that document here and listen to or read his reasoning here.
Since then we’ve seen a great deal of heat and precious little light about this matter. There’s been an uproar from various Confederate heritage groups, and in recent days we’ve seen that the League of the South has staked out a position that distinguishes itself from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, while the Virginia Flaggers have remained silent on whether they side with the League of the South or the SCV. Some will attribute that to cowardice, while others will point to the confusion and a muddle-headedness that has characterized the behavior of that group’s members for years (to say nothing of a general ignorance of history, period). Critics of these groups have not framed a common position, either. Indeed, people who took the trouble to read what Kevin Levin wrote about this matter prior to the president’s announcement (see here and here) can hardly say that he pushed for removal of the replica flags that once adorned the chapel’s interior around a monument to Lee. Nor did I say a word about the proposals, and in fact I never endorsed what The Committee advocated (if you say otherwise, prove it or look foolish). All I’ve said, in fact, is that Ruscio’s proposal was reasonable. I also predicted it would be contested.
You can read what Michael Hill has to say right here.
29 July 2014
For immediate release
Re: A statement on the situation at Washington and Lee University
The League of the South does not wish to reason nor seek brotherhood with the broad forces responsible for removing the St. Andrews cross from Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University. Nor will we call them bigots or accuse them of not understanding the South.
Rather we Southern nationalists seek only their destruction as we would any pest that threatens our people and our land. We call them one thing and one thing only: enemy. And we care not one iota whether they understand the South or not. For the South belongs to us and we are here to claim our birthright.
We can promise them and their allies this. That their campaign to destroy our culture and its images will be taken as a campaign to destroy our blood. It is a war they have started but one we will finish, God willing. By the grace of Almighty Providence we will banish them and their godless kind from our land as a householder banishes rats from his steading.
On this they have our solemn promise made under our banner, the Black Cross.
On behalf of the board, staff, and membership of The League of the South,
Michael Hill, President
I think this speaks for itself.
Last week I expressed some hope that the appointment of Ben Jones as the chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans was a step in the right direction for that organization. Jones’s initial press release was a vast improvement over the ranting of Brandon Dorsey.
Kevin Levin’s raised some interesting points about both the ruckus and the rally at Washington and Lee this weekend. His argument is a simple one: the rally won’t achieve anything, and the ruckus reminds us that some white people, for all their talk about black Confederates, cannot abide the racial identity of the members of The Committee who initiated the discussion that led to a change of policy at the Lee Chapel.
This afternoon a number of Confederate heritage groups gathered at Lexington, Virginia, to protest Washington and Lee’s new policy on the display of Confederate flags at Lee Chapel and the Lee family crypt. Although the Sons of Confederate Veterans took the lead in calling for action, other groups, including the Virginia Flaggers, quickly played catch-up. Other groups joined in the movement, including — surprise! — our white supremacist friends at Occidental Dissent and the League of the South.
An estimated three hundred people appeared. Make of that what you will.
However, if what’s happened in the past is any indication, everything will be back to normal by Monday.