Another Flagger Fail at the VMFA

On November 14, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts concluded its second day of hosting InLight on the museum grounds, including a light and sound display at the War Memorial Chapel. Once more several Virginia Flaggers showed up to protest the event, although visitors reported that less than ten Flaggers appeared (an assessment seemingly confirmed by photographs taken by Flagger photographer Judy Smith, which reveal that not so many Flaggers were “mad enough” after all).

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Susan “No Show” Hathaway: Not at the VMFA, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th proved to be an unlucky day for Susan Frise Hathaway’s reputation as a a staunch defender of Confederate heritage. Having told Confederate heritage advocates to “rise up,” Hathaway apparently stayed away from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the War Memorial Chapel on November 13. It was left to Barry “Hot Dog” Isenhour to hold forth with the local media, which offered some coverage of the event.

As you might expect, the Flaggers themselves omitted mention of Hathaway’s absence on their own blog in an entry composed by Grayson Jennings, who is not visible in any of the images of the event. Hathaway and Jennings share something else in common: their names appeared on a list of alleged KKK members and associates released by Anonymous back on November 5. Perhaps they sought to avoid the questions of a curious media.

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Friday the 13th at the VMFA

Tonight the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will host InLight, an exhibit of light and sound, at the War Memorial Chapel located on the grounds of the museum.

The museum has done what it could to downplay or contest the description of the event as a “trippy funhouse” in Richmond’s StyleWeekly, claiming that the event is a serious piece of art that will inspire thought and reflection.

As one might expect, the Virginia Flaggers, blind to their own previous efforts to turn the War Memorial Chapel into a “trippy funhouse,” have announced that they will protest the event.

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November 11, 1918

Last June, I traveled to Europe, where for nearly three weeks I visited sites in Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. Among the places I visited was the place where the armistice of 1918 was signed at Compiégne, France. It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but a historical site is a historical site, and so we made our way over one morning.


A rather large monument marking the triumph of France over Germany and the restoration of Alsace and Lorraine to France marks the entrance to the park.

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A Trippy Time at the VMFA? Or … Will Susan Frise Hathaway Get Skeered Again?

Next weekend the VMFA will “repurpose” the War Memorial Chapel. Two artists, John Dombroski and Ander Mikalson, are “planning to turn the memorial into a trippy funhouse full of disorienting light, sound and shadow.” According to Dombroski, “By illuminating and amplifying the building and visitors’ presence within it, we will create a heightened sensory experience that invites investigation and introspection.” The result, according to one report, will “probe the chapel’s socio-political significance.”


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Making a List, and Checking it Twice

UPDATE: See below …

Much has been made of a pledge by the group “Anonymous” to release a list of people supposedly linked to the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, early in the week, two lists were circulated, one nationally (listing several politicians) and one to selected audiences (which carried the names of many prominent and some less-than-prominent Confederate heritage advocates, including several Virginia Flaggers and their supporters). The former list was quickly disavowed by Anonymous itself, which promised to issue its list on November 5. The latter list became the subject of a denial by Susan Frise Hathaway on the blog of the Virginia Flaggers, as well as scattered commentary by a certain sidekick.

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The Continuing What-Ifs of Reconstruction

Note: Not too long ago I finished a manuscript that will appear in next March’s Journal of the Civil War Era. It addresses particular counterfactual queries concerning the course of Reconstruction and the policy pursued by Republicans. I have long been interested in Reconstruction policy, especially at the national level, as my 1998 book, The Reconstruction Presidents, suggests, although those readers who peruse the pages of The Political Education of Henry Adams (1996) will find it also addresses Reconstruction from the perspective of one of its critics. Thus what follows is in response to recent discussions, but it also reflects a far longer interest that has its most recent expression in the above-mentioned manuscript.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Reconstruction history to me is the degree to which some historians speculate about the what-ifs of Reconstruction in their eagerness to believe that what happened was not largely preordained if not inevitable. Then again, historians also don’t like to consider that something’s inevitable: whether a certain outcome to a historical process was inevitable sits along the same spectrum as speculating about what-ifs, for it’s useless to ponder “what if …” if something was inevitable. Moreover, the what-ifs we choose to explore reveal a lot about what we would “like” to have happened, and all too often one’s tale grounded in considerations of the counterfactual conforms closely to one’s personal fantasy about what ought to have happened.

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A Heritage of Hate and Terrorism …

I have suggested that often Confederate heritage advocates reveal that they are inspired by honoring their own hatreds and not the service of the Confederate soldier … and that sometimes it seems that the real heritage of service they honor is that of the white supremacist terrorists of Reconstruction, especially when they rhapsodize about Nathan Bedford Forrest and Wade Hampton, two of Susan Frise Hathaway’s favorites (red dress Hathaway loves Hampton’s Red Shirts).

Even Connie Chastain admitted on Twitter recently that some of Confederate heritage is bigotry.

CC CSA heritage Twitter

When you say, “Not all of it is bigotry,” you’re admitting that some of it is … maybe even most of it. My thanks to Connie Chastain for that revealing admission.

And Connie Chastain is right. Look here for evidence from a picture snapped at the University of North Carolina, where recent protests and counterprotests continue about “Silent Sam,” a Confederate statue on campus:

Courtesy @Humane_Force on Twitter
Courtesy @Humane_Force on Twitter

Yup … a noose attached to a pole flying the Confederate Battle Flag. Or so it appears.

You can’t get much more direct than that.

Note: Other images of the protest don’t show the same flag … so this is destined to become a controversial image as people question its veracity.