Confederate Heritage Advocates Don’t Know History

Well, longtime readers know we’ve discussed this before, many times. As you know, I have a very low opinion of the intellect, knowledge, and honesty of these folks [see here].

We now have some objective results that confirm this low opinion of them. The authors of a new study report, “those who support the public presence of Confederate emblems tend to have less knowledge of Civil War history, demonstrating that racial prejudice does explain much of the observed support for the Confederate flag, while Southern heritage appears to explain relatively little.”

In order to have a measure of Civil War knowledge, the researchers asked the participants two extremely easy questions. “Participants in that survey were asked two key questions about knowledge of Civil War history that we used to capture the ‘heritage’ argument: first, they were asked if they could correctly identify the (in)famous Union general William Tecumseh Sherman; then they were asked if they could name any Civil War battles (we counted up to two battles, so that knowledge varies from 0 to 3 in our data); questions we do not believe to be esoteric or tricky.”

Let’s take a look at the results. This first figure shows the level of Civil War knowledge among white Georgians:

The authors tell us, “The more questions about Southern Civil War history that a participant answered correctly, the less likely it was that the person favors the Confederate flag. Indeed, people who failed to answer any question correctly (i.e. could not name a single Civil War battle, nor identify William Tecumseh Sherman) were more than twice as likely to favor the Confederate flag than were people who got all of the questions correct. Importantly, we found that this relationship holds even after statistically controlling for a number of factors, such as education, age, and political ideology. In sum, we find little support for the ‘heritage’ argument in our survey of white Georgians.”

The researchers also tried to measure the degree of racial prejudice among confederate heritage supporters.

The authors say, ” Participants were also asked a number of questions to gauge their attitudes on race, such as whether they object to interracial dating.”

Here are their results:

“Looking first at fairly explicit racial prejudice, we find that whites who object to interracial dating are much more supportive of the Confederate flag than are whites who are okay with interracial dating.”

So there you have it. Those who favor confederate monuments and iconography tend to be less knowledgeable about the Civil War and tend to be more racist in their outlook, and for many, the mantra of “Heritage, Not Hate” is a lie. Quite obviously this is not true for all confederate heritage advocates, but the data indicate it’s true of the majority of them. This conforms to what I’ve observed in Civil War discussions. Those who express support for the confederacy tend to be less knowledgeable, less intelligent, and less honest than others. I’ve even seen some of these folks actually defend slavery, saying that it was much like welfare, providing cradle to grave care, free food and board, and free medical care. I’ve seen some of these folks claim slaves were paid for their work–all their work.

So next time you see some idiot wearing this shirt:

You know that idiot is the one who needs the history lesson, but will probably not be smart enough to understand the lesson.


  1. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

    I am not surprised about the results at all. For most of the heritage types, the whole thing is about modern identity politics and a resistance to change. Yes, racism plays a role in it as well.

  2. bob carey · · Reply

    I believe the study more or less confirms what is already known. The more serious problem is the general lack of understanding the past among the American populace. I suspect that if the questions were asked on a nationwide basis the results would be similar as far as the Civil War is concerned. The question on inter-racial dating would result in less objection, maybe being a 50-50 split.

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