Lee with stars and bars

A Book Review

I just finished reading A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman. The book ended up being far more fascinating than I anticipated. I read it, and then I immediately read it again.

Why was Foreman’s book so interesting?

  • I saw that the problems that Britain encountered during the American Civil War remain relevant to America today. As a great power, Britain confronted and stumbled over the same problems this country now faces. Whenever people start fighting thousands of miles away, both the combatants and many Americans often insist that America must take sides. Yet, like us, when they tried to figure out what the fight was about, the Brits encountered real difficulties. And, just like ours, their news media was too biased to be of much help.
  • I learned, perhaps even things she had not intended, more about the history of the war. Conventional wisdom says the South had the better generals. Yet I saw that when the South chose to attack the North, the South lost. Generally, Southern generals had the advantage of fighting a defensive war. In addition to the ability to being able to fight from prepared positions, the defense has more subtle advantages. Because defenders are on their home turf, they know the territory, they can gain better intelligence from the locals, and they can rouse the ferocity that comes from defending ones homeland.
  • What made General Ulysses S. Grant successful? He did not attack tentatively. His predecessors had seen the huge causalities and grown fearful. Is that not what any ordinary man would do? Yet the sooner a war ends the sooner people stop dying. Therefore, even though he grew somber and sad because so many died, Abraham Lincoln had to find generals who could withstand watching thousands die frightful deaths and still order their armies to attack without relenting.
  • After so many years we forget the implications of Americans fighting Americans, but Abraham Lincoln understood. His wife, Mary, had a several half-brothers who served in the Confederate Army, and these were killed in action.  Another brother served the Confederacy as a surgeon, and that must have been nightmarish.
  • I swiftly grew interested in the characters Foreman describes in her book. Through the lives of many people, Foreman describes the diplomacy, the South’s struggles for supplies, and the battle scenes in sufficient detail that we can begin to appreciate how even those on the other side of an ocean could be so affected by that great war.
  • With an extraordinarily long (and interesting) epilogue, Foreman continues the story, describing how America and Britain finally resolved the conflicts between them stirred up by the war. In addition, she describes what each of the characters she mentions in her book did after the war.

So why did the Brits choose to stay out of the American Civil War. The British decision to stay out of the war hinged on the moral issue of slavery. Even though they desperately wanted the South’s cotton for their textile mills, the Brits condemned slavery. Therefore, because the Brits could easily have broken the North’s embargo of the South, it may not be an overstatement to say that the United States owes it present unity to William Wilberforce, the man who led the battle to end the slave trade.

So what do the word “gay” and the Rebel Flag have in common with heresy?  Let’s consider one thing at a time.

That New Meaning For The Word “gay”

For the sake of propaganda, homosexual “rights” activists have succeeded in replacing the word “homosexual” with the term “gay” (See the etymology here.). Yet few seem to appreciate just how inappropriate this word swap has been. I suspect those most aware this problem have the word “Gay” as their surname (see here and here).

Think about that. How would you like to be called Gay?

The Distorted Meaning Of The Rebel Flag

When I reblogged Southern History Month 2014, I did not anticipate a positive response. In their unending effort to peddle political correctness, race baiters have transformed the once proud Confederate battle flag into a symbol of racism.

Was the Civil War ultimately about slavery? Yes. Without the issue of slavery, the United States may still have had a Civil War, but then the country would have divided along entirely different lines and for entirely different reasons.

Look at the picture above, at the beginning of this post. In the version of PowerPoint I use, Microsoft did not provide a picture of the “Rebel Flag.”  However, they did provide a picture of the Stars and Bars. Look it up if you must (here), but that is a picture of what actually was the Confederate Flag. What we call the Rebel Flag is shown in the picture below.


The painting above depicts the remains of Army of Northern Virginia as it surrendered at Appomattox Court House. And yes, that picture shows what we now call the Rebel Flag. That flag was actually Army of Northern Virginia battle flag.

What the picture shows is the Union troops honoring the Confederate troops as they surrendered their arms and their battle flags. Whatever we may think of that flag now, the men who fought the Confederate soldiers respected them and their flag as one soldier honors another.

The South paid a frightful price for the Civil War. The Union troops at Appomattox Court House saw that price. They saw the thousands of hatless, shoeless, famishing Confederate soldiers before them, and they knew those Confederate soldiers had surrendered only because they had no other choice. Under the flag they carried, those Union soldiers had killed a quarter of Southern manhood, burned and pillaged the South, and left those who survived half starved. Such is war.

Because the Confederate Army had fought bravely and honorably, the Union troops answered honor with honor.   That’s what that picture shows.


Just as we have twisted the meaning of the word “gay” and rendered a once proud battleflag into a symbol of racism, we have turned heresy into something almost opposite, something to be proud of.

Consider how G. K. Chesterton began his book, Heretics.

Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word “orthodox.” In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law—all these like sheep had gone astray. The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he was more than a man; he was a church. He was the centre of the universe; it was round him that the stars swung. All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical. But a few modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, “I suppose I am very heretical,” and looks round for applause. The word “heresy” not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word “orthodoxy” not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox. (from here)

Civil War References








  1. As often happens, there’s a lot in here. A small point is that there really isn’t a Confederate battle flag (what you call the “Rebel Flag” – I must admit I have never heard of it referred to that way except perhaps indistinctly by Union soldiers in their letters home. I very much doubt that any Confederate servicemen routinely referred to it as the “Rebel Flag”) in the Troiani painting that you reproduce in the post. The Confederate flag most visible is the later national flag that replaced the “Stars and Bars” – the flag show in your first graphic. This flag came into use in 1863 and was a white rectangle with a field that reproduced the square Confederate Battle Flag (Versions of the Battle Flag that are rectangular came into use after the Civil War and are not authentic). AT times it was referred to as the “Jackson Flag” as it was the flag that was placed on General T.J. Jackson’s casket after his death at Guinea Station. It may be that one can just make out a Battle Flag over General Gordon’s right shoulder in the painting – it’s a bit hard to tell. The Confederate national flag was modified at some point to have a red vertical stripe on the outer edge – the predominantly white one, when limp on a windless day, could look like a flag of surrender.

    When you refer to “race baiters” debasing the Battle Flag, to whom are you referring? I assume that you mean members of the Klan and like-minded people who would haul out non-standardversions of the St. Andrews cross design at Klan rallies and pro-segregation demonstrations in the 20th Century. Assuming that that is your reference, I agree that these people did a great disservice to a proud emblem. But, perhaps out of the all-pervading ignorance and stupidity that typified those folks, they rarely, if ever, actually used the Battle Flag as their symbol. So I conclude that an authentic Confederate Battle Flag should be given a pass from the hideous, bestial, evil atmosphere of the segregationist movement of the 20th Century.

    The “Gay” and heresy link to discussion of the merits of the Old South is too far a leap for my somewhat pedestrian, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other brain, so I’ll just let it lie other than thinking that you’re trying to do too much in too little a space here.


    1. We, Americans living today, refer to the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag as the Rebel Flag.

      Who are the race baiters? They are people who can’t let the subject die. They insist upon race conscious government policies. Some try to use the battle flag to intimidate blacks, and some try to use the battle flag as “proof” racism “still exists.” Hence we need to empower politicians to interfere with private business and take “affirmative” action.

      Thanks for your comment.
      As for the link, you identified it. So whether you agree or not, the link made the leap. So you need not apologize.


  2. I’m sorry, Tom. I’ll apologize anyway. I thought you had linked the link. If someone else can do that on your site, you might want to upgrade your security.

    Are you saying that your reference to “race baiters” was not the Klan and its fellow travellers? That’s hugely surprising. They are the ones who brought shame and disrepute to the proud symbol of Lee’s Army. It would not be a controversial issue but for their actions in the twentieth century.


    1. Well, you have the right to apologize all want. You can apologize for not being able to link two and two together. You can say you are sorry for being the weak link. You can even express your remorse for being the missing link. I just don’t think it helps.

      The fundamental argument over race baiting is fairly simple. That doesn’t mean people make it simple. We can make anything complicated.

      We all discriminate. The issues are whether we have the right to discriminate and the criteria we use. In our private life, we have the right to choose our company. If you or I were running a business, and we chose our customers and employees based upon race, we would be idiots, but we would have the right. Whether we favored minorities or refused to have anything to do with them would not make any difference. We would just be hurting our own business. If we work for the government, that’s a different matter. That’s because our government belongs to all of us, we cannot escape it, and is suppose to protect our rights. Thus, if government discriminates irrationally, particularly in a way that is contrary to its mission, it betrays the very people it exists to protect. Again, it makes no difference whether government favors minorities or refuse to have anything to do with them. Either is unjust to someone.

      Race baiting is using race simply to stir and inflame political discontent so to drive a political agenda. That can be to either to attack or favor a certain racial group. In either case, such discrimination is irrational. When race baiting affects government policy, it threatens our rights.


  3. I’m having some trouble following your last comment in the context of our discussion. It seems to have a fairly high blather content. Are you saying that the Klan and southern segregationists did not disgrace the Battle Flag by using a version of it in their racially charged campaigns of the 20th century? Do you think that the modern controversy over displays of the Battle Flag are not related to the segregationist uses of the emblem?


    1. scout – Some questions don’t deserve an answer. Laughter, but not answer. For example, here is an old joke. Answer me yes or no. Are you still beating your wife?

      Such is your question. It is not designed to elicit an informative answer, The point is to get me to defend something I have not shown any interest in defending.

      What I suggest you consider is your answer to this question. What we think about that Battle Flag is a choice. When we know tens of thousands of honorable men fought under it and a great many of those died fighting under it, how can we allow bigots of any kind to disgrace what we think about that Battle Flag?


  4. Glad to see you have at least stopped calling it the “Rebel Flag”.

    Let me help you a bit with what was an inherent problem in your post. You stated that “race baiters have transformed the once proud Confederate battle flag into a symbol of racism.” Now I tend to agree with you, if one focuses on the bare words of that statement, but the term, “race baiters”, particularly in this context and particularly on this site is, at best, ambiguous. The ambiguity arises because your ideological/political fixations tend to be on what you regard as the pervasive negative impacts of modern-day folks whose views are to greater or lesser extent different than yours.

    In the context to the disrepute into which the Battle Flag has fallen, the problem very distinctly arises from the use of a counterfeit variation of the Battle Flag by the Klan (no more visible a group of “race baiters” ever existed, I suspect) and Southern segregationists during most of the Twentieth Century. If your point about the ill-effects of “race baiters” on the reputation of the Battle Flag referred to these types, you would of course be correct. The Battle Flag itself probably would have been regarded by most people the way most Americans regard General Lee – as a symbol of admirable qualities applied futilely in a mistaken historical tack. But the evil of the segregationist movement was so raw and palpable, so seared into living citizens’s memory, that the frequent presence of Confederate symbology in those twentieth century disgraceful actions is seared into the minds of many living American citizens. That’s the source of the controversy over the Confederate flag. I view it as unfortunate, but unavoidable, given the horrific acts and atrocities of a large number of people who appropriated a version of the flag to their use. Every time I see a rectangular Confederate symbol today, I assume the person with it is, either consciously or out of ignorance, endorsing the segregationist crimes of the Twentieth Century. When I see a square Battle Flag with a white border, I think of the many regiments of extremely skilled, hearty, disciplined, brave, well-led fighting men who got caught on the back side of one of the watershed moments in American history.

    So my query was designed to determine whether it was this group to which you made reference. Not surprisingly, after I posed the question, you temporized, wriggled and spun to imply, without saying it, that your initial criticism was not confined, or perhaps not even initially targetted at the Klan and its sympathizers. To the extent you had someone else in mind, you were wrong historically and wrong morally.

    Having said that, I agree that the Battle Flag has been the target of undeserved opprobrium brought on by its use by race baiters. Too bad, because it was the flag under which some very impressive Americans went into battle.


    1. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” is a quotation from the 1602 play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. It has been used as a figure of speech, in various phrasings, to indicate that a person’s overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the opposite is true, by making the person look insincere and defensive. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks)

      Any political movement will make use of whatever symbols it can to further its cause. The more unethical the movement, the more unethical the usage. The bigots in favor of putting down nonwhites appropriated the Rebel Battle Flag to their cause. The bigots in favor of “affirmative action” countered by associating the Rebel Battle Flag with racial bigotry. Why did the latter take that tack? We can only guess? However, these days not many use the Rebel Battle Flag to advocate racism, but many bigots still get hot under the collar when they see a Rebel Battle Flag.

      The Confederate States were in rebellion. So were the 13 colonies when they rebelled against the British crown. Thus at one time the American Flag could have been called a rebel flag. History, however, records that whereas one rebellion succeeded another did not.


      1. There is a website focused on the Ku Klux Klan called KKK.org. It is not a KKK-maintained website; it is evidently a collection of what appear to be high-school essays on how bad the KKK is or was. The writing is all over the map, and the website’s menu structure is barely functional. But if you can find your way to the article on “what the Confederate Flag means to the KKK,” you’re treated to a diatribe about how the KKK was full of criminals and thieves (they don’t mention the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or President of the Senate and such), and they wander on for paragraphs about this murderous group. Despite their assertion that the group was only criminals, thieves and gun dealers, they describe it at one point as being 15% of the US population. The rest of the essay is as wildly wrong.

        Nevertheless, they get through this entire essay and completely forget to mention anything about flags at all. Were it not for a couple of pictures of rebel flags with KKK figures, you’d miss the point entirely. This is so bad, so amateurish, that it could be the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

        As an aside, Senator Byrd’s early letters while part of the KKK make explicit reference to a revered flag — but it’s not a flag of the Confederacy, it is Old Glory. He (and KKK members in general) considered the group to be American patriots, and the United States flag was a much a revered symbol to them as any other.

        The murderous race-hatred of those times is gone (from the US, at least), but in the memory kept alive by the race baiters of today there is an occasional focus on the US flag as the symbol of racism. This is usually in the context of illegal immigration.

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    2. A race baiter interjects charges of racism into discourse to stir political and media controversy. The old Southern Democrats’ Ku Klux Klan were not race baiters. They were race haters, more or less quietly and locally acting to intimidate and sometimes kill people of the “wrong” race. Once the Democrats gave up on being the official “White Man’s Party” — dropping this from their platform and speeches over the course of the 1950s and earl6 1960s — the KKK lost its effectiveness. Strom Thurmond and others spoke and acted to end the practice of lynching, something that the media works hard to see that he never gets credit for.

      The KKK technically still exists, just as the Flat Earth Society still exists. But it is a toothless, impotent social club that now holds the outrageous position that European-derived culture has some value. I’ve visited their websites, just as I visit the many Communist Party sites operating here from CPUSA to the RethinkingMarxism organization.

      But the memory of the KKK as evil murderers is being kept alive. That is the self-assigned task of race baiters, people like the Southern Poverty Law Center, people like news media figures who continually insist that the Tea Party is driven by racism, that opposition to President Obama is simply racism, that anyone who displays a Rebel Flag is pining for the time when it was acceptable to attack, intimidate and kill blacks and Catholics and Jews.

      (Many people forget or never realized that the Democrats and thus the KKK were not just anti-black, they were fiercely anti-Catholic and anti-Jew a century ago.)

      What you are missing is timeframe. The KKK was fading from popularity in the 1950s, but the Rebel Flag as a symbol of American patriotism was accepted then, featured in school textbooks in the North and South as a patriotic symbol. It was part of Americana as it had been during WWII, and continued to be into the 1970s. It was a significant part of a very popular television show as a patriotic symbol, even while racism was fading into the past.

      But it was reinvented as a symbol of racism much more recently, in a push that began during the 1970s and has accelerated more recently. Raising the re-animated specter of racism, and tying it to the old KKK, is a crude weapon wielded against the left’s political opponents. That was the accomplishment of race-baiters. It seems to me that your argument is wrong historically, and wrong morally.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. Hello Keith. Frankly, I don’t think the “race baiting” applies to the KKK either, but I did not see much point in making the argument.

        Here is the definition from the Urban Dictionary, not exactly a Conservative publication.

        1. Baiting a racial group;

        2. Baiting people, using racially-inflammatory issues or stereotypes.

        Note: Some people consider making accusations of racism where there are likely none to be race-baiting. This is tricky because it hinges on the viewpoint of the person who is judging whether or not racism is involved. It is possible to underestimate the possibility of racism. Thus some people say people are using the race card when they are legitimately concerned that racism is a factor. Using the race-card in and of itself is not race-baiting. Using the race-card in order to bait people is race-baiting.

        Is action against racism race-baiting if it’s done in order to increase political action? I don’t think so.

        He was so irrationally intolerant of those unlike himself that he frequently burst out in race-baiting tirades, hoping to get into arguments with those he considered ethnically lower.
        (from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=race+baiting)

        Thanks for your comment. Don’t see anything to disagree with, but scout? Can’t please everyone.


  5. Now we’ve gone hybrid, have we? I see that it’s the “Rebel Battle Flag”. Interesting.

    It’s an extremely safe guess to classify a Klan member as a “bigot.” It’s extraordinarily broad to say that an advocate of affirmative action is a bigot, although I do not doubt that there may be bigots who advocate affirmative action.

    “These days” virtually no one has ever seen a Confederate Battle Flag. The things that you see in the back windows of pickup trucks here and there are Klan/segregationist flags.


  6. By Keith’s definition of “race baiter”, assuming Tom accepts it, then it appears that the position of this site’s host is that the controversy around the false confederate flag symbology has nothing to do with its use by the Klan and segregationists during the Twentieth Century and everything to do with modern political tussles. I find that quite an odd view, frankly. Had their been no Klan, no Jim Crow, no lynchings, no beatings and murders of civil rights workers, I very much doubt that there would be more than remote, isolated and trivial controversies about Confederate insignia today.


    1. Scout – It seems to me that you are gloating.

      “These days” virtually no one has ever seen a Confederate Battle Flag. The things that you see in the back windows of pickup trucks here and there are Klan/segregationist flags.

      “Affirmative action” involves the judgement of people by their race instead of by the content of their character, competence, qualifications, and so forth. It is racism pure and simple. What makes the advocates especially dangerous is they wish apply the same sort of philosophy to any sort of specially protected class they can dream up. Thus, they are splintering our society into dozens of identity groups and pitting us against each other.

      As to you your observation, “Had their been no Klan, no Jim Crow, no lynchings, no beatings and murders of civil rights workers,….”, why don’t you take it back to the Serpent, Adam, Eve, the apple and the Garden of Eden?


      1. Or more to the direct point, “had there been no Democrats…”

        The “scout” forgets that Dukes of Hazzard has been on television and in syndication for many years, and rather prominently features a Rebel Flag. It is only his type that, after the KKK faded from the public sphere, worked hard to make the Confederate flag a hated symbol connected with it. Thus, people like him can say that anyone who shows one is “subconsciously” supporting segregation. It is “scout” and like-minded people who perpetuate and enlarge the association with the KKK, to whom this was simply another of several symbols.

        But “scout” can be astoundingly, selectively uninformed on topics when it suits his purpose to pretend to abject stupidity. For example:

        “what you call the “Rebel Flag” – I must admit I have never heard of it referred to that way except perhaps indistinctly by Union soldiers in their letters home…”

        Later he congratulates you for no longer using such an obscure and incorrect term. He pretends to be unaware of the hundreds of thousands of usages turned up in less than a second on the Internet, including thousands of images which are almost universally the flag derived from the Confederate battle flag. He pretends to being unaware of history.

        And the “Rebel Yell” was called that even at the time, by both sides, as were various Rebel war songs. (Lincoln was quite fond of “Dixie,” requesting that it be played by Union bands “to show the rebels that, with us in power, they will be free to hear it again.”)

        Here’s a video from nearly a century ago, featuring Civil War veterans doing the Rebel Yell and patriotic symbols flying everywhere, including of course many Rebel Flags next to Stars and Stripes:

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  7. @ Tom – I didn’t really find it necessary to go back as far as Adam, given that the atrocities committed by people wielding an adulterated confederate flag were very much in my direct memory from this lifetime. What Adam’s view on these things would have been is something I cannot deduce from the little that is said about him in the Bible.

    Keith – you need more sleep, I think. I confess I have never seen an episode of Dukes of Hazzard, so the reference is largely lost on me. However, from what I know of it, I was under the impression that it was a 1970s fictional television show. I can’t think that it would have much historical value. I am not willing to draw to many historical judgments from that particular piece of low Hollywood, roughly contemporary culture. I do have some uneasiness about General Lee (one of my heroes) having his name appropriated by a car.

    I don’t mean to single out the Klan. I hold them in very low esteem, but no lower that the segregationists of the 1950s and 60s who committed many crimes without white sheets and pointy hats.

    Not sure what the rebel yell has to do with it, although I have often been very curious as to what it sounded like coming from the throats of thousands of men. As a person who is strongly immersed in Civil War history, I have many times watched the clip you forwarded, but it only vaguely hints at the shock and awe effect that the rebel yell must have had when a entire division put it to use.

    Dixie is one of my favorite songs. Again, I’m not sure what that has to do with the post. But my own view is that Dixie is not played frequently enough. It’s a real rouser, written by Daniel Emmett, one of my neighbors in place, if not in time, from Mt. Vernon, Ohio. I wish President Lincoln had gone just a step further in his “Let the Band Play Dixie” moment and proclaimed it to be henceforth the marching song of the United States Army. He could have covered his PC tracks by saying that it was “fairly won” in battle. And I recommend Bob Gibson’s 1980’s song, “Let the Band Play Dixie,” that describes Lincoln’s remarks to the crowd gathered at the White House on 09 April 1865. It’s no doubt on YouTube.


    1. You have a consistent pattern, “scout,” of professing ignorance on a topic, then weaving that ignorance into your idea of what everyone else should believe.

      You suggested that:

      “These days” virtually no one has ever seen a Confederate Battle Flag. The things that you see in the back windows of pickup trucks here and there are Klan/segregationist flags.

      This is several kinds of wrong. General Lee, whom you even mentioned, used that rectangular battle flag, as noted by Wikipedia:

      Designed by the chairman of the Flag and Seal committee, William Porcher Miles, a now popular variant of the Confederate flag was rejected as the national flag in 1861. It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee.[26] Despite never having historically represented the CSA as a country nor officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol of the South.[27] It is also known as the rebel flag…

      Note several things: (1) There is no controversy calling this a battle flag; it was. (2) Despite your assertion that “no one has ever seen” one, it is the “now popular” version that is a “widely recognized symbol of the South.” (3) And, of course, it is “the rebel flag,” something you chastised Citizen Tom for saying above. (4) Note that the rectangular Battle Flag was displayed in the 1930s video you professed to be familiar with. Here’s an image from that video:

      The Klan and segregationists did not create the Confederate Battle Flag. The Klan used it sometimes, as one of many symbols. But the left has found it convenient to use it as a symbol to focus hatred. It is the hatred they extract from foolish, easily manipulated people that keeps them in power.

      My point on the Dukes of Hazzard business was that, though you may have never seen it, millions of people have — and the car has General Lee’s Confederate Battle Flag emblazoned across its roof. This flag was featured in countless action shots of the car, which was one of the stars of the show. (By this time, I had given up on television; I have never watched the show either. But this does not make me ignorant of the historical fact that it was very popular.) Do an image search for “General Lee” — you’ll get the car rather than the man by an order of magnitude. And variations of the car, like this one:
      Do you really suppose these soldiers are “endorsing the segregationist crimes of the Twentieth Century”?

      The KKK did, in some places, use symbols of the South. But the KKK, reconstituted in 1915 and operating into the 1930s, was largely a creature of the progressive left, very active in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. This was not a southern phenomenon, though Southern Democrats became famous for segregation before and after this time. The KKK worked with Wilson’s segregationist administration, and cooperated with other progressives, to pass Prohibition, while keeping blacks out of unions and the labor force in general just was Wilson was ordering the segregation of the military and government buildings.

      It is thanks to Wilson’s edicts, later incorporated into laws, that the Pentagon had separate bathrooms and dining areas for “coloreds.” This is why the Pentagon has so many bathrooms for its size. Roosevelt, under some public pressure, later ordered that this not be enforced and that the “whites only” signs be removed — making the Pentagon the only government building in the state for nearly the next quarter-century where segregation was not enforced.

      You think of segregation as a thing of the south. To me, it is a thing of the left, of “progressives,” of Democrats (in the US), wherever they happened to have power, which spills into larger society from time to time and then is pushed back. Wilson’s fierce segregation, and Roosevelt’s appointment of a KKK man as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, gradually expanded leftist attacks on American society from race-baiting to religion-baiting. Roosevelt’s Justice Black was the one who dredged up the mis-transcribed Jefferson private letter, and wove it into a decision about religion that has become so pervasive that many foolish people think that “separation of church and state” is a phrase from the Constitution.

      But now, the left is back to race-baiting. The most prominent race-baiters now, the ones working hardest and most visibly to stir up the anger of blacks against whites and Hispanics against everyone else, are President Obama and his entourage. At the same time, they’ve largely accomplished a perverted version of the old Democrats’ dream; they’ve enslaved blacks again, but this time to a sad existence in abject dependency upon government largess.

      To recap, and counter to your assertions: The flag is called the Confederate Battle Flag, among other names. It is also called the Rebel Flag. Most Americans are familiar with it. It is not a creation of the Ku Klux Klan. It is not a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan, though it was used by them from time to time with many other symbols. And people who display this flag are not “consciously or out of ignorance, endorsing the segregationist crimes of the Twentieth Century” — your own apparently feigned personal ignorance of the topic notwithstanding.

      Perhaps someday people like you will give it a rest, and the Confederate flag can be once again displayed as a patriotic symbol of America (as it was on the “Dukes of Fallujah” vehicle) without being attacked by the left. Maybe Obama will clumsily adopt it as one of his own symbols, as he recently did for the Tea Party’s “Don’t Tread On Me” flag.

      As an aside, I am not a Southerner; I’ve never lived in the Deep South though I did live south of there (in Florida) for a while. I am simply a student of history, and am annoyed by attempts to re-write it.

      ===|===============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. I see that images will not take in your particular WordPress setup. Here are the links:

        To the rectangular Confederate Battle Flags in the 1930s video:

        And to the “Dukes of Fallujah” vehicle:

        ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    2. scout – What amazes me about your position is why you would bother taking such a position. I can understand someone ignorant defending affirmative action. I can understand someone who is guilt-ridden and dominated by their emotions defending affirmative action. But you don’t seem to be ignorant or dominated by guilt.

      Has Keith said anything either of us did not know before hand? Not really. What Keith did is express with greater clarity and detail what we already knew in substance. The point here is not to disparage what Keith wrote. Since he has done similar posts on his blog before, I hope he will post his excellent work there too. The point is I think Keith is correct. I don’t think you can rightly claim ignorance. When it is so apparent you are not ignorant, that excuse is not credible.

      Are you just guilty of so wanting to believe a lie that you profess to believe what deep in your heart you know cannot be true? Perhaps. Given the propensity of men to have knowledge of the same evidence and still reach opposite conclusions, that does seem to be problem to common to almost all mankind. This is something we do out of pride. If we wish to believe a lie for our own sake badly enough, we will badly believe.

      Yet I do not truly know a cure for pride. To set aside our pride, we must become humble. Am I humble? If I were to say yes, then the answer would be no. All I can point to is the beginning of wisdom.


  8. You guys are like untied balloons released by boys at a birthday party. Let’s recapitulate and try to restore some focus:

    Tom puts up a post about a quite good book on England’s role in the American Civil War. The post then slides into an effort to link the “Rebel Flag” with the concepts of “gay” (in a sexual orientation sense) and “heresy” (in a theological sense). I passed on the latter discussion because I just couldn’t follow it. I did, however, opine on some subsidiary points as follows:

    1. The term “rebel flag” is not very useful because of its ambiguity. There were lots of flags in the Confederacy. From context, it appeared to me that Tom was referring to what I think it safe to say most people with much awareness of Civil War history would call the “Battle Flag” or even the “Confederate Battle Flag”. There were quite a few other flags used throughout the Confederacy during its brief existence, but only one that is commonly thought of as the Battle Flag, a square standard with a blue St’ Andrew’s cross on a field of red, a white border, and thirteen white stars set in the device of the cross.

    2. I pointed out that there was not, contrary to the post, a depiction of the Battle Flag in the Troiani picture of General Chamberlain receiving General Gordon’s surrender. The flag shown there is probably a Confederate National Flag, sometimes called the Jackson Flag (or perhaps the one that came after with the vertical red stripe on it – the Troiani painting doesn’t show the entire flag.

    3. I also commented on Tom’s thesis that “race baiters” had made the Confederate flag a symbol of racism. I agreed with him, thinking that he was referring to the horror of the Jim Crow era, the activities of the Klan and similarly despicable people who engaged in outrages that were far too frequent, particularly in the first 2/3s of the Twentieth Century.

    4. It turns out that Tom was not referring to such people, but was attributing the controversy that surrounds Confederate symbols to more recent phenomena from the left of the political spectrum, for example, people who are supporters of affirmative action.

    5. I take issue with that on the basis of direct personal experience. I have, in my relatively long life, lived through the 1950s and 1960s and saw enough of counterfeit Confederate flags wielded by racist mobs to believe that the source of controversy today lies primarily with that not altogether distant, scarring, indelible (I hope) national experience.

    6. Keith enters the fray with a fair amount of extranea, much of it interesting, much of it irrelevant to my discussion with Tom (but relevance isn’t a requirement in blogdom), apparently making the well-known and widely understood point that the Democratic Party was, until the late 1960s, a hotbed of racism and segregationist sentiment in the South (also pointing out, inter alia, that Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond drew the line at lynching – I will decline the invitation to give Strom any great praise for that – being against lynching is not something for which I’m inspired to award a lot of points). I became an active Republican in the early 1960s because of the Republican history of championing civil rights, among its other positive traits. My direct family forebears were Republicans as far back as the 1850s, motivated then, as I was a century later, by the Party’s advanced positions on civil rights. I look forward to our return to that heritage as soon as we get over whatever this strange mindset is that seems to have us welcoming unadulterated Democrat/Dixiecrats into the inner circles of the Party.

    7. Keith also cites to the Dukes of Hazzard to establish something, but I have no idea what, because I don’t know the show, was under the impression that it was fiction set in the 1970s and is not the kind historical reference that I find particularly compelling. I’m just out of my comfort zone when it comes to the Dukes of Hazzard, and decline to enter that conversation because I am quite ignorant of it. I suspect, however, that it has little to do with the main points being discussed.

    8. Tom is amazed by my position. He seems to have gotten himself confused and thinks I have defended affirmative action (which I have not – I understand what it endeavors to accomplish, but believe its central premises are inherently racist). Tom then very solicitously (as is his wont) inquires whether my views can be explained by my desperately “wanting to believe a lie[?]”.

    So now I’m really confused. I go back through the thread trying to figure out what the “lie” is that Tom thinks I am pining to believe. I am mystified. My best guess is that he thinks I lied when I said that I never watched the Dukes of Hazzard. That is the closest thing I said to a pure assertion (as opposed to an expression of my opinions) which could, if I were a devious fellow (which I am not) be an outright fabrication.

    Tom. I can’t prove a negative. But the show never caught my attention. I don’t know who the characters were and I don’t know the actors who played them. I do know there was an American car (a Chrysler product, I think) that they rode around in and a lady who always seemed to wear what would be uncomfortably binding shorts that were not sensibly chosen for the activities portrayed. I know from other sources that the car was called General Lee (I think). Maybe I am delusional and I’m repressing the idea that I watched the show, pushing it to the nether reaches of my memory out of shame that I would so waste a half-hour (I assume it was a half-hour) of the only life on this earth that I will be given. But I think not. I stand by my earlier testimony on this. I have never watched the Dukes of Hazzard and I am not desperately clinging to that “lie” for any reason whatsoever.


    1. An impressive cloud of smoke and misdirection attempting to cover the fact that your original assertions were simply false.

      I am not impressed.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    2. My best guess is that he thinks I lied when I said that I never watched the Dukes of Hazzard.

      This assertion is outrageously false. You don’t believe your statement, you don’t expect us to believe it, but for whatever reason it suits you to put on this show of feigned ignorance. Do you expect some later reader to not be paying attention, to be distracted by your cloud of ink?

      Your pretensions seem so futile to me, as if you were merely hoping to keep Citizen Tom occupied enough to reduce his spread of conservative and religious ideas. You are mismatched: You’re battling prolific with pathetic.

      But in a sense, it is almost entertaining. For every Citizen Tom post, I wonder what side point “scout” will pretend ignorance of in an effort to redirect the conversation. In that sense, at least, you rarely disappoint.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. Thanks for your comments and for the compliment.

        I doubt scout thinks I am worthy of keeping occupied, but the thought is an interesting one.

        Actually, I hope your last paragraph is a bit closer to the truth. In fact, I do my best to encourage comments (Admittedly, I don’t seem to be especially good at it.). Debating with scout is like trying to pin down an eel. Nonetheless, people like adversarial discussions, and discussions with scout do cover a lot of ground (or water, perhaps). .


    3. scout – Repetition can serve a purpose, but I don’t see much point in repeating myself again in the same post. So I am not going to debate your “recap” and repeat what I have already written. Those who are interested can read the comment trail. Keith DeHavelle’s comments are dead on.

      I will just make one observation with respect to your repeated your complaints about the clarity of this post. Before you complain about the speck in someone else’s eye, please look in a mirror. Have you seriously consider the “clarity” with which you explain your own positions? Although you will readily take issue with almost any Conservative position on the issues, whenever you do so you carefully obscure your own position. Then you complain when I, presumably, Conservatives don’t understand your stance. What are we suppose to do? Conservative can’t read minds. Only Socialist Democrats think they can do that.


  9. I’m a conservative, Tom, and I have little trouble understanding my positions on most issues (in the spirit of confession, I’ll admit that my view of the death penalty is very situational and not particularly consistent, so even my rigid philosophical logic occasionally has its flaws. I am beginning to think that if you have trouble understanding my opinions (you don’t have to accept them, but I do try to use the language clearly) the problem may not be entirely with me.

    I’m not sure where you fit on the political spectrum, as you seem to be easily distracted by slogans and buzzwords. If you gain some kind of satisfaction calling yourself a “conservative”, have at it. These terms have little substantive meaning these days.

    BTW, what is the “lie” that you and Keith think I’m clinging to if not my TV viewing habits re the dukes of Hazzard? I went back up through the thread and found everything to be reasonably verifiable objectively except statements of opinion. Of course, opinions are opinions, and can’t be “lies” unless someone were to waste time lying about the content of his personal opinion. I doubt many people do that in blogdom.


    1. scout – To ourselves we can apply any label we want, and often that is what matters. With respect to politics, however, what others think does matter. And you don’t come across as a Conservative.

      Consider how you debate. Generally, you find something to complain about and focus on that. A Conservative might point to ethical lapses, but other than that he would consider the issue with respect to the principles of limited government.

      Because a Conservative considers what he is for important (not what he is against), he has no trouble making his own position clear. On the other hand, Socialists get worked up about who and what they are against.

      The Conservative believes government exists to protect the rights of family, friends, and neighbors. Socialists think government exists to give us things, and Socialists demand their “fair” share. What is a “fair” share? As it turns out, some citizens are more equal than others. So a “fair” share can be very difficult to define. But that’s what endless numbers of bureaucrats are for.


  10. There are plenty of things I am “for”, Tom. In the narrow context of this blog, however, I suppose I often do take an “anti” position because I am reacting to something you’ve said that strikes me as either factually incorrect or illogical. When I used to do a lot of posting at another Virginia blog, I fully expected comments to be reactive, and many of them to be “anti” my position. that’s what keeps things informative and interesting.

    If you question my conservatism because I don’t “point to ethical lapses”, it’s because I have always considered the oddities of this site to be primarily caused by mental confusion, not because I have any problem at all with your general ethics system. I don’t feel I have to manufacture an ethical attack on someone personally to have a good discussion with them about ideas. I hope you don’t either.

    I don’t come across as a “conservative” to you, because you have developed your own self-image as a “conservative” with which my schema is incompatible. There’s not much for that. My conservatism is an older, more traditional political approach that lacks many of the hobgoblins that your conservatism seems to require. I find your brand of “conservatism” to be a modern, media inflamed, electioneering, slogan-driven, shallow and brittle construct. I’m sure you find my Burke/Buckley/Kirk conservatism terribly unexciting and drama-less, as it lacks your apocalyptic flights of doom-saying and tendency to impute evil or base motives to all who think differently.

    To leave this in favor of getting on to other things, however, I think we would agree with the idea that both our conservatisms agree that, in a democratic system, government is instituted by the People in large part to protect the liberties of the citizens. Perhaps we can build on that.


    1. As far as it goes, your last paragraph is okay. I would just omit the phrase “in large part”.

      Conservatism is an exciting philosophy. But it is not defined by me. Nor is it defined by Burke/Buckley/Kirk. What defines Conservatism is our attitude towards God and our neighbors.

      What makes being a follower of Christ Jesus difficult? Why does being devoted to the love of God and neighbor require faith and hope? Are there not real hobgoblins that oppose any such thing? Is there not our own pride? “I know what’s best.” Is there not the pride of our neighbors? “Who are you to disagree with the majority?” Doesn’t the pride of the self-styled great oppose the love of anyone but themselves? “Do you know who I am?” And finally is there not the pride of Satan, the unseen ruler of this world — for now?

      How many are there, like Satan, who would rather rule in Hell than submit to our Lord as an archangel in Heaven?

      Unlike the prideful, the Conservative does not make an idol of government. For the Conservative, government exists for other people, to protect God-given rights of his family friends, and neighbors. Because we each answer to God as His servants, we have no right to enslave another, not even to the will of the “majority.” Therefore, armed with faith, hope, and love, the Conservative works for a society of free men and women, and he counts upon God to protect and guide all who turn towards Him.


  11. Your last comment blazingly illustrates another major difference between our disparate “conservatisms”: the place of religion in secular political discourse. One, of course, can be some kind of “conservative” in a religious context. Bin-Laden and his murderous brigands can be said to be conservative Islamists, I suppose. But my political conservatism is very much an American (derived from 18th Century English) conservatism based on a constitutional secular government and economic theory. It has nothing to do with my discernment of Scripture. I am well immersed in religious studies and I, frankly, can discern virtually nothing about the operation of the US government under the Constitution from the New Testament. I suppose Jesus could be said to have had collective tendencies in how He organized His ministry and to have admonished us to observe strict distancing from the secular authorities in matters of religion. But even those thoughts are a stretch, because His Kingdom is not of this world and he was not a political figure (despite the efforts of his enemies to make him appear to be to the Roman occupying forces).

    I happen to be religious, but I could be just as politically “conservative” if I were an atheist. I suspect the same could not be said of you. When I read your posts and see how many of them oscillate between and blur lines between religious and political themes, I get the impression that you view God as a Republican (of the modern, not the traditional stripe). You certainly often lapse into strong implication that Socialists, liberals and Democrats are not proper Christians. I don’t believe that, having known many raving leftists who are (as far as one can ever tell from the outside looking in) model Christians or strongly observant Jews. You may not believe that either, but many of your posts forcefully suggest that political “conservatism” as you see it, sprouts from correct Christian theology and actions.


    1. Citizen Tom and I disagree on this aspect. I am a lifelong non-theist. Technically, I am an atheist, though I do not hold that hostility to Christianity that so often characterizes atheism. I personally demonstrate that one can be a limited-government conservative, including respect for the Christianity that was involved in the country’s founding, without actually being religious.

      And yet you look no more like a limited-government conservative to me than you do to Citizen Tom. To you, apparently, “conservatism” is an adjective you can use to lump folks like those of us in the Tea Party with Usama bin Ladin’s jihadists. As if the desire to restore the Constitution to an important place in US government, creating once again a limited-government republic, was somehow comparable to the desire to implement a planet-wide totalitarian religiously-dictated caliphate.

      Bizarre … but I’ve been intrigued by your thought patterns for a long time.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. With respect to politics, I doubt with disagree as much as you think. I think that I will discuss that in a post I hope to publish on Monday.

        Where we disagree is about religion. I understand you are not hostile towards Christianity, and I am happy to reciprocate. Admittedly, non-theism or atheism doesn’t make any sense to me. I was once an agnostic, Because I have no idea how to prove God does not exist, I chose not to call myself an atheist. Instead, I just dropped the subject of religion and went about my life, and I suppose not bothering to care is even more foolish than atheism.

        What puzzled me then is something my mother say. She said I still a Christian, but she did not explain. In retrospect, I now realize my mother was wiser than I once thought. Unlike the rest of the family, however, she was put off by debate. Even a little hostility from a teenage son was enough to silence her.

        What my mother meant was that i still retained the Christian moral values I grew up with. In that sense she was right. In my relations with others, I behaved as a Christian. On the other hand, until I chose to believe in Jesus and study His Word, I was not a Christian. I did not strive to obey Jesus.

        Anyway, I cannot save or condemn anyone. All I can do is proclaim the Gospel, and you already know the Bible. So if what I believe is true, the rest is between you and God.


  12. I don’t think I ever described myself as a “limited government conservative”, Keith. I tend more toward the classification of “Constitutional Conservative”, although the essence of constitutional governance is that there are limits on the power of governments at all levels. Nonetheless, I do not necessarily equate “limited government” with the idea that government has little or no proper, lawful role in a complex, populous democracy. Where you, Tom and I probably are on common ground is that we think that that role is one that must flow from the founding documents. Where we differ is that I probably regard the Constitution of 1789 (or 1787) as providing, through the genius of its drafters, a degree of flex to accommodate itself to new conditions and circumstances.

    I think the rest of your comment is a reading comprehension problem. I was not equating constitutional conservatism (of which I am an adherent) with perverted Islamic jihad. Quite the contrary. I was, instead, making the point that “conservatism” in a religious context is something quite different than conservatism in a secular political context. This was part of my observation that my impression of Tom’s views are that he mixes religion and political philosophy in a way that I find debasing of religion and not particularly helpful in a political context.


    1. It appears this thread has gone off into an interesting diversion. On Monday, I will do a post on the relationship between fundamental elements of American Conservatism and our Christian heritage. Among other things, that post will serve as a rebuttal to your previous comment and, to a small extent, your latest.


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