Confederate Heritage Pushback

There are some stories in the news about more pushback against confederate heritage falsehoods.

In Virginia, the legislature passed a bill that prevents people from deciding what should be done with confederate monuments in their own communities. Apparently big government is okay when it comes to protecting symbols of racial oppression. Some of those folks claimed the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. Ignorance of history is always sad. There is pushback against the bill, though. “Virginia, like some other states, has camouflaged this legislation in patriotic regalia, applying it to monuments and memorials to numerous other wars and conflicts. The conflation of Confederate soldiers with veterans from the Revolutionary War, World War I and World War II provides safe harbor from scrutiny. But there is no widespread movement to remove monuments to any veterans except the Confederates.” The supporters of the bill, of course, depend on lies to try to sell it. “William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County, said the bill seeks to protect monuments and memorials to those who gave their lives ‘so that we could remain free. … that’s what we’re preserving.’ That got a rise out of Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico. ‘In the Civil War, people died to keep my ancestors enslaved,’ he said. I’ll note here that this bill calls the conflict in question the ‘War Between the States,’ the preferred term of Southern revisionists. How can we have an honest conversation about these memorials if the state code employs the language of the Lost Cause?”

In Maryland, state delegates passed a measure that prohibited transferring any license plates bearing the confederate flag to another vehicle. This prevents someone who has an SCV license plate from prior to the state’s ban on confederate flags on its license plates from using those plates on a subsequent vehicle. The measure now goes to the state senate.

There’s more pushback against Mississippi’s confederate history proclamation. Holly Baer, a senior at Ole Miss, writes, “I don’t need a day to remember the Confederacy. The dead nation haunts me. As I walk around my campus at Ole Miss, I see relics of moral decay, because tradition is held at a higher value than human dignity. I am constantly bombarded by the same bogus lines about how heritage is important, how we mustn’t forget our past. I don’t mind honoring the dead. I mind that our country has dozens of museums on the Confederacy and one—unfunded—museum on slavery. I mind that the Confederate dead are treated like ghostly icons while the bones of slaves are trampled upon because we don’t know where their owners dumped their broken bodies. Oh, I know about the Confederacy. In every U.S. history class I’ve taken since third grade I’ve learned about the war. Until I went to high school at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, not a single teacher would dare say the Civil War was about slavery. Instead, I was told how good men killed good men in a misguided attempt at liberty. No. I refuse to watch silently as we continue to degrade ourselves with infested wounds of our past, a past that has not been made just. Slaves first came to the U.S. in 1619. Slavery was abolished in 1865. The Civil Rights Act wasn’t passed until 1964. Want to talk about heritage? Instead of dwelling on our four years as hate-mongering hillbillies—because if they couldn’t be a rich plantation owner, at least they were white—who died in the defense of cruelty, let’s talk about the 345 years where the U.S. utterly trampled on the dignity of those they made disadvantaged.” She concludes, “I’ll honor my Confederate heritage when we’ve done anything substantial to right hundreds of years of wrongs.”

Finally, in Gettysburg, Professor Scott Hancock plans a counter-demonstration on the phony “confederate flag day” to protest the SCV’s display of the confederate flag. Personally, I think he’s giving them more publicity than they deserve, but he does have the right to express himself. He does make a good point: ” ‘I would argue their form of education Is a narrow, sanitized and revisionist form of history,’ Hancock said. ‘I’d like to provide a more complete history of what the Confederate flag is connected to and symbolized.’ He said he expects at least a dozen people to join him. ‘As a historian, I find most of the supporters of the Confederate flag present a history that’s just bad history. It leaves things out, it’s a selective history. I think it’s important to educate the public,’ Hancock said.” I was just going to ignore the whole thing completely, but now I’m thinking about going over to check it out.

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4 comments

  1. Shoshana Bee · · Reply

    Several years ago, our local community was faced with the dilemma of what to do when the Neo-Nazis came to town. Do we ignore them? Heck no: I suggested that we throw a history party across the street! We brought books, flags & smiling faces….and lots of my homemade cookies. Result: Grumpy Neo-nuts were mostly ignored, and our cookies were wiped out in an hour 🙂

  2. Instead of dwelling on our four years as hate-mongering hillbillies—because if they couldn’t be a rich plantation owner, at least they were white—who died in the defense of cruelty, let’s talk about the 345 years where the U.S. utterly trampled on the dignity of those they made disadvantaged.”

    Hillbillies? Interesting word choice for a term of derision to describe white southerners defending slavery. Sorry, I’m currently teaching a course on Appalachian identity and stereotypes and that word jumped out and smacked me across the jaw.

    1. I figured that excerpt would get your attention, Rob. 🙂

  3. Kristoffer · · Reply

    “I’ll honor my Confederate heritage when we’ve done anything substantial to right hundreds of years of wrongs.”

    Ridiculous. She shouldn’t honor slavery and treason just because the conditions of her rhetoric are met. In any case, if working harder than before in a never-ending struggle to improve the treatment of all of our peoples doesn’t meet her criterion, I don’t know what can.

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