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tv   The Civil War Confederate Battle Flag Debates  CSPAN  July 28, 2018 9:08pm-10:10pm EDT

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confederate general officers, etc., who would eventually support reconstruction and would support the black enfranchisement, you would find that for the most part there are no monuments to them and the cap the on of confederate memory. there just are not. so you kind of have to thank for bit, but i think it is telling. again, thank you all so much for your time and attention. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning inst >> you are watching coverage of a conference on civil war icons held earlier today, hosted by the shenandoah title field foundation. -- battlefield foundation. this is american history tv. without further ado, i would like to introduce our next speaker, mr. john coski. one of the nicest guys you'll
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ever meet. we were just commiserating over the fact it is sometimes hard to get photographs of people when you are as short as he and i are, so we enjoyed getting our picture together up front because it went well for both of us. i don't think john is as short as i am. i would not threaten him with that. john is the chief historian at the museum of the confederacy. he earned his be a through mary washington college. .a. and phd from the college of william and mary. he is the author of several books, most notably "the confederate battle flag: america's most embattled emblem." 150 published essays, articles, and other reviews. if you are an armed store -- armstrong -- armchair historian
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or professional historian, you are likely to know his name. 250 panelivered discussions and is known primarily as a commentator about civil war monuments in the landscape of the civil war which makes them perfect for our discussion today. it is my honor to introduce mr. john coski. [applause] mr. coski: i'm going to adjust the microphone down. my dog's name is porscha. i have a very visual topic. i will be showing slides and
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moving through them quickly. i have a topic already addressed today. i will beg your pardon for a little bit of repetition. i have been talking about this subject for about a quarter of a century or so now. i told terry when he first tried to recruit me for this i cannot believe there is anybody in virginia who has not heard this yet. for those of you who have, i apologize. you have probably heard it before. we all know where we are starting from, the events of the last couple of years. you know that monuments and confederate symbols have been very much in the news, especially the last two years since the violence in charlottesville. fact, it had been in the news since this image christie showed you earlier. we have been in a different world since june 18 of 2015 when this photograph hit the internet.
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i will not give the man the credit of saying his name allowed, but this may be the most important photograph taken of the confederate flag in our time. mentioneed to do is charleston to know what we are talking about. it hastened political changes many of us had seen coming from long before but which had been occurring at a gradual pace. 2005, and my book in it was not original to me, the confederate flags will continue to come off the cultural landscape over time. it was a downward trajectory for the confederate flag's comments on our cultural landscape. and that monuments would be next. the events of 2015 and 2017 have hastened this at a breakneck speed the last couple of years. it almost makes you nostalgic for the days before 2015 when
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you did not hear much about confederate monuments. you've seen this photograph already of the taking down of the flag from the soldiers monument at the state capitol in columbia, south carolina. the first direct impact of the charleston murders. let's not get too nostalgic and -- i amt forget forgetting my own slide sequence. it led to the taking down of other monuments the following year. the years before 2015 were filled with controversies surrounding confederate symbols, specifically the confederate battle flag in the streets of auburn, alabama in the early 1990's, the old south korea's were replete with confederate -- parades were replete with confederate flags. it was settled with the adoption
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of the new state flag in 2004. what seemed at the time to be the solution to the long-running problem, the challenge of the confederate flag over the capitol dome in south carolina, when it came down from the dome in 2000 proved the only an armistice and not the solution. controversies have been raging for more than half a century. while theforget events of 2015 to make us forget that these are not new to 2015. quite the opposite. the reason i am appear here at all talking to you as an expert on the confederate battle flag is because controversies have been raging in such volume in the years. in the late 1980's and the early 1990's when we decided to create an exhibit called "embattled emblem" to address the history of the confederate battle flag
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to provide background and perspective we thought the public should know to understand why there were so many battles over the battle flag. how did the various conflicting points of view if all -- evolve, and what could we do as a museum to help people understand and become more constructive in their dialogue surrounding the confederate battle flag? that is when my work began 25-plus years ago. there is nothing new to all of this. we need to keep that in perspective. all of you know confederate there is no such thing as the confederate flag. for that matter, there is no such thing as the confederate battle flag. it is a rich subject. fought your ancestors under the van dorn flag or a simple state flag like this.
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these were all confederate battle flags. this is not a conference about the civil war. it is a conference about civil war and confederate icons. when you talk about this, only .ne flag counts the cross on the redfield. flaghappens to be a naval for those of you keeping track of a naval vessel. that is the flag we will be talking about today. that is the only one that really counts as an icon. we need to start the discussion with the stars and bars. we are on television so let's make sure we educate the masses. that is the stars and bars, isn't it? no, this is the stars and bars. symbolically, the polar opposite of the battle flag of the stars and bars. i cannot go into a long history
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of wartime flags so i need to cut to the chase and emphasize couple of key points about wartime flags. one of those is the relationship between the stars and bars, the first national flag of the confederacy, and the confederate battle flag. the stars and bars was shown the liberally as the national flag of the confederacy in 18 621 because it so closely resembles the stars and stripes. flag to be part of their own iconography. of people said it did not make sense but they did not win the day. flag of the confederacy the liberally resembled the flag of the country from which it was breaking away. he became a problem as a battle flag and national flag. served for a lot of units.
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the problem with the battle flag that resembled the flag of the enemy was confusion on the battlefield. it did not look distinctive enough. it failed entirely as a battle flag to be distinctive for guiding troops on the battlefield. generals and commanders throughout the armies of the confederacy looked for distinctive flags, some of which i showed you earlier. the one we are talking about is this battle flag. this is one of the prototypes in the museum collection circulated an approved in the fall of 1861 for became the battle flag the units of what became the's army -- lee's army in virginia. flax of silk bunting which we have more than 250 an hour collection mass-produced for armies of the confederacy. eventually, pretty much every
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army in the gift that her seat -- confederacy had flags of this pattern. it was particularly associated which was army important because it was keeping the confederacy alive. equalsfirst among because of the status of lee's army. the flag i just showed you was of the mississippi infantry. the flag associated with the and the lifeoldier and death of soldiers, it became a soldier's flag and was consecrated by the blood of the soldiers. if anybody wonders why anyone
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would ever consider this a flag of heritage, you have to --erstand it's interval integral connection to the confederate veterans. it is a symbol of the confederate veteran. you have to understand that if you want to understand why people regarded as a symbol of heritage. more on that later. it was seen throughout the and in the army of innessee pattern distributed 1863-64. here is a graphic that will help me sum up confederate flag history and helping make one more crucial point. this is from the veterans report on battle flags, trying to pass down the true history of the flax for posterity. this is identified as the battle flag. none of the other battle flags appear in the graphic. the rich diversity of the battle
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thes was replaced by confederate veterans themselves. what is important is the evolution from the stars and bars to the second and third national flag of the confederacy. by 1863, the stars and bars had failed as a national flag. havee begin asking why we a battle flag that resembles that of the united states. white southerners had been weaned from the old symbols of the united nation. they wanted symbols that spoke to their new, aspirational independence. what could that be? the flag of the army defending the independence of the confederacy. there was a lot of sentiment for making the army of northern virginia battle flag the flag of the nation. instead, they chose to emblaze emblazon it on a field of white. that tells us the importance of
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that battle flag not only as a soldier's flag but as a national flag. we would love to make a clear distinction between the soldiers flag and the national flag. the soldiers flag had nothing to do with the confederate cause of slavery and the causes of the war. but it would not be true. the soldiers flag became also the national flag. not because we made it that way, but because the confederates themselves did. they made the soldiers flag into a national flag. there is no clear distinction between the two. in 1865 at appomattox and elsewhere, the flags were furled ase and for all presumably father ryan wrote in his famous poem. put away is holy memory not to be unfurled again. it is a thing of the past associated with the confederate
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dead and departed confederacy itself. if that were true, mine would be a very short talk today and we would not be arguing about confederate flags today if his advice had been heeded. even before the end of reconstruction, the confederate flag became a prominent part of white southern civic life. it was in the hands of those who had used it during the war itself, men like this, thomas colley of the first virginia cavalry. by the way, he lost a foot in the war. he marched in the 1896 veterans reunion in richmond. the veterans used it in parades like this in association with monument dedications in richmond and the 1907 veterans reunion. unveiling of the statue
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in 1907, it was a major part of the civic life in the south in the 75 years after the end of reconstruction. but it had a restricted role and was associated with the confederacy, veterans of the confederacy, the keepers of the confederate flame. it had a logical connection to memorializing the confederacy. it was broadly used but in a restricted way that we can understand as a clear reference to the confederacy. itsas eventually -- symbolism was eventually owned by those who revered it. they limited its use to memorializing the confederacy. it forsentially owned all intents and purposes. but then something happened. we go from kansas to oz. we are not in kansas anymore.
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by the time this photograph was taken in florida in the 1950's, this was unheard of in the years immediately after the civil war really until the world war ii years when this became for many 59, many of you older than me grew up when the confederate flag was a major southernmerican and cultural life during the late 1940's and beyond. part of my challenge in writing this is what happened and why. i will try to explain briefly. it began happening even by the turn-of-the-century. this is an advertisement for oldsmobile trying to show the prowess of a car driving from michigan to daytona beach. north to south.
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we need some symbols to signify north and south. how about a u.s. flag and a confederate flag? not the stars and bars, not the national flag of the confederacy, but a battle flag of some description. that tells me by 1900, this one of theings -- principles of my talk today is about tracing the pattern of this flag's history. we have to trace its entire history to understand why there are battles over the battle flag today. the meaning has evolved over time. it has not been one meaning replacing another. it is an accretion of new levels of meaning. these meetings derive from use. use leads to perception which leads to meaning. it went from being a flag of the confederate soldier to the flag of the confederacy.
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by the turn-of-the-century, beyond the confederacy to the flag of the white south. abouts talking earlier "gone with the wind" and the inularity of southern chic the 1930's, that included the confederate auto flag. it was becoming part of american popular culture in a special way, in a favorable way among white americans. it was assembled not just of the confederacy but of the south. this was hastened during world war ii as a result of american soldiers from the south mixing with men who were not from the south. you don't really know where you are from until you start mixing people who are not like you. as southern men started mingling with men from new jersey who talked differently and have different traditions, they wanted some totem of their own
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regional origins. one of the favorite things to bring with you or have sent to you with a confederate battle flag to tell people i am from the south. thee are the men of confederate forces of the solomon islands in the pacific in 1944. many incidences like this in world war ii of southern men who sported confederate flags to show their southern roots. this continued after world war two and the korean war era. this was the dixie division in south carolina that used the confederate battle flag as part of their official symbolism. in 1951 withkorea his confederate battle flag. i received quite a few photos in response to an ad i put in a magazine for korean war veterans about the use of the confederate
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flag in korea because americans were fighting under the u.n. banner and not the stars and stripes. the confederate flag was the most popular american flag in korea. sentayor of new york city 100 of them to give the korean flag a healthy competition. another kind of warfare brought the flag into popular culture, the football field. this is the field at ole miss which has been closely associated with the battle flag. beginning in 1948 when the school was 100 years old. most of the student body of ole miss went off to fight in the division i showed you earlier. beginning in 1948, the battle flag was used as part of the ritual of football games at ole miss and into the 1950's and 1960's. not just ole miss.
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this is the university of .irginia in 1947 a at a much stronger tradition of confederate flag-waving. students would wave the flag that football games. when they went north in 1947, the last time virginia troops went to fight in pennsylvania, what did they bring with them? the battle flags. we will bring them back and this time we will win. they did, 47-0. [laughter] this made headlines around the nation. it was primarily through cap alpha -- kappa alpha eternity that battle flags -- fraternity that the battle flag became part of college campuses. flagresence of the battle through the old south fraternity
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helped launch the flag into popular culture through college campuses. there is little doubt about that. this is at auburn during the 1950's. this is a significant photo. one of my favorites. [laughter] she is old enough to be my grandmother. she is miss dixie 1951. this is like the photograph from lake cypress gardens. this was something completely unknown before world war ii. it shows a major change in the use or misuse of the confederate flag. it is also significant because it appeared in "life" magazine is part of a large spread about the confederate battle flag fad. that would have been big news if it was just occurring in the south. but it was occurring all over the nation. in detroit, atlantic city, and elsewhere. the pundits were asking what was
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going on, was this rebellion against truman or a popular fad? there was something significant going on. the material culture of the confederate flag that many of us knew growing up. all of the stuff i knew as a child and is part of the enormous output of confederate kitsch is all a function of the 1950's through the 1980's. at one point in the 1950's and 1960's, if you had a business with dixie or southern in your name, almost certainly would use the confederate flag as part of your symbolism. this one still exists at dixie trailer sales in newport news, virginia, that has been there many decades. it was a natural marriage during the height of the confederate
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flag in american popular culture, as was this marriage to nascar. they were born almost at the same time with the popular of racing insion the south and the use of the confederate battle flag in the official symbolism of the races. what was happening with nascar and beyond is another widening of the symbolism of this flag, from confederate soldier to confederacy, south and white south, to an association with being a rebel. not necessarily a southern rebel. a rebel. a character, a personality trait seen in motorcycle riders and truckers. it became a totem of self-declared rebels. it became an icon of southern rock music with lynyrd skynyrd,
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alabama, and other groups, continuing to our own time. this is all part of the heyday of the general lee and "dukes of hazard." good old boys, not dangerous, good old boys. southern with hearts of gold. a bit rough around the edges perhaps. it was such a strong symbol of bros.hat warner trademarked it. this was the popular culture with which we all grew up. this is wildly different from what happened before world war ii. it was not just good old boys that used the flag. it was not so good people who have tarnished the reputation of the confederate flag is nobody else has, the ku klux klan. this was at the southern poverty law center in montgomery in the early 1980's.
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the klan was born immediately after the civil war. it was formed of former confederate veterans in 1866. the confederate flag was not visible the first incarnation of the flag in the 1860's. nor could i find it in the second klan born after "words of nation" --birth of a that thrived into the 1920's. this was the earliest use of the flag i have been able to find, the earliest graphic use. this was a memorial day march in 1939. they were interlopers. ralph mcgill and other editors excoriated them for being involved in march and tarnishing the flag with their presence. 1946, the confederate flag
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and become part of the ritual of the third klan. you see it with the hangman's noose, christian cross, bible, american flag, and confederate flag. they more or less took over the confederate flag. a lot of people today associate it with the klan. more important was this moment in birmingham in 1948 in july when the dixiecrat party was born and nominated strom thurmond for president, a breakaway from the democratic party re-nominating harry truman. they had embraced a strong civil rights form. it was just starting to emerge as a popular culture symbol and was merged with white supremacy. in the auditorium, you see a lot of young faces because a good delegates at the
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convention were college students from the south where they were accustomed to waving the flag as a symbol of football as well as kappa alpha. they brought it on to the convention floor. this photo made it the symbol of reactionary politics. it was not the party but the young supporters who made it a symbol. it made it a political symbol. it kind of makes sense. the last time the federal government interfered with the southern way of life, slavery, this was the flag of opposition used the army's the cap the confederacy alive. the government is throwing its weight behind an effort to interfere with the southern way of life, segregation. symbol to it a useful
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stating their opposition to that and there support of segregation. flag right along with it. formed in groups reaction to the brown decision in 1954, explicitly white supremacist and racist , like j.b. stoner. what is important is for those of you for whom this is a flag of heritage, you wonder why black people see it as a flag of segregation and racism. it is because a lot of people used it that way. they are not imagining it. people meant it to be the symbol of white supremacy. it was not just extremist views like the ku klux klan.
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there's no reason to allow a few thousand people at best to define a symbol that meant something different for other people. if you go through a highlight reel of the civil rights era, you will find the confederate flag almost all the time in the hands of ordinary people. whenabama, the state guard martin luther king was in selma or when james meredith appeared on campus at ole miss in 1962 to integrate. the boys used to waving the flag's football games waved it in his face to turn him away from campus. marcherscivil rights arrived in 1965, they were greeted by at least one confederate flag. when virginia passes massive resistance laws in the 1950's, one young man was there to associate his support for white supremacy and states rights with a confederate flag.
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integrated,rock was central high was integrated in 1959, the confederate flag was there as well, as it was in birmingham in 1963 when the white students wanted to boycott integration efforts in birmingham, or when students in louisville, kentucky, five against busing. i don't know what they had against kissing, but they need to get spelling lessons. it was there ubiquitously in the hands of ordinary white southerners for whom the flag obviously symbolized white supremacy or at least opposition to integration. that is a track record throughout the civil rights era. it is important to note all the while, the flag continued to beat what it always had been for many people, a war memorial, attribute to southern confederate soldiers and their deaths.
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soldiers.rial to earlier of thede controversy surrounding the confederate battle flag. what we have seen to this point is an accretion of meanings of the confederate battle flags, conflicting meanings of heritage and hate, all of these various meanings that came to a head. for the last half-century, it has been history of controversy, of efforts to remove flags from their prominent place they used to enjoy on the commemorative landscape, particularly in official places like state capitol buildings, state flags, local courthouses, and places of power that the naacp referred to as a sovereignty context. efforts to remove them from sovereignty context but also to reduce the flag's profile on the
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commemorative landscape, this has been the history of the flak for the last 50 years. it did not begin recently. it has come in clear waves since the mid-1960's. culminated with the removal -- it culminated with the removal of the flag from the dome in south carolina and the selection of the new state flag in 2004 after decades of active flag flaps. but it never died down completely. thereington, virginia, has continued to be controversy about the ability of people to fly the confederate flag or display them on flagpoles. there were lots of other incidents after 2004 and before 2015. california passed a bill banning confederate flag sales in 2014. the issue was not completely dormant before this photograph of the charleston murder in june
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of 2015. things dramatically and hastened the pace of change and challenge to flags and monuments. let me go back to this slide because i promised in my title a modest peace proposal. it is not new. it is in my book and i will make it now. it is based on the more important insights of my book. that is the remarkably similar reaction among diverse people for diverse reasons to the outbreak of the flag, if you into the flag's eruption popular culture and politics in 1948. that was something brand-new. heretofore, the flag had been used in ways you could understand in association with confederate heritage. things changed dramatically in 1948. unlike what christy said
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earlier, i would say it is important to note people did react swiftly and immediately. when this photograph appeared in upi and this one in "life" the daughters48, of the confederacy at the next convention, as this report was written an urgent call came to the president general for a ruling on the use or misuse of the confederate flag. daughters know after the sad day at appomattox when the south surrendered to the weight of numbers, the flag of the confederacy was furled forever. to benow a sacred symbol used only of the sons and daughters of the confederacy.
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when this photograph appeared in "life" magazine, university of maryland students responded with a statement in 1951 which it had to reiterate in 1966 in this statement.
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alpha cap alva -- kappa to knock it off, stop using the flag that way. 2001, weertain way in mean it this time, 50 years later. regulations ast you can see in this magazine where it was in the news too often for instance to abuse of the confederate battle flag. tried to stop the young men of kappa alpha from using it so carelessly.
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they acknowledged it was their fault for helping to launch it into popular culture and the political realm. other people had problems with the battle flag in the 1940's and 1950's. this is again from the "life" magazine spread in fort jackson. this is from "the pittsburgh courier," a premier african american newspaper of the time that says again cease-and-desist before completely different reasons. what is happening in korea? why is in the army cracking down on the treasonous use of the flag that stands for disunity at a time when the united states should be unified fighting against communists? it is a symbol of unity but also divisiveness in the face of international communism. alpha, americans, kappa
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and the daughters of the confederacy all agreed, the less the flag is seen, the better. it was a way of maintaining of its and ownership meaning and use. they recognized there was a relationship between those. only by limiting its use can we own the symbol for all intents and purposes we had before 1948. they carried through with model legislation submitted in 1949 and lobbied state governments. by the early 1960's, half a dozen southern states have passed laws punishing desecration and misuse of confederate flags as with the united states flag. these laws were not effective. they were hardly ever enforced. they were usually enforced against people who tried to point out how the flags were being misused. they were essentially dead
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letters. in 1956, the south carolina senator tried to make them put teeth in the laws but he did not succeed. part of the problem is the keeper of the confederate flame compromised their views and standards for understandable human reasons. for one thing, they like seeing confederate flags. isn't it cool to see young students appreciating their heritage? and secondly, african americans did not like the flag. they were telling us they were racist symbols. they cannot tell us that, it is not a racist symbol, so i will respond by putting more flags out just to show they cannot call my flag racist. by so doing, they sold their soul. they had this consistent position of trying to limit its use understanding the less it was used, the more they controlled it. they let african american criticism of it get them off
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their game. they started to defend the use of the flag more widely even though it was against the principles to do so because they did not want african americans to win. that helped to sidetrack and a derail the common sense effort to control the use of the flag in that era. they essentially abdicated. thatis a quote from a book defends the use of the confederate flag everywhere. he has a principle that he states.
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that is my position for a modest proposal. the most vocal defenders of the five today take the position that is the polar opposite of the early generations did, philosophy that the best way to defend the flag was to limit use and control the meaning. they like to put flags up everywhere. you see them along interstate highways everywhere. the idea being the more they make us take it down, the more we will put it in their face. they cannot make us take it down. that is what animated the counter rallies christy talked about. they cannot make us take it down, we will show them. think about how they are showing them. how does this flag honor the confederate dead? what does it mean to begin with? how is somebody driving by to regard this flag? what is it mean to the person who passes it by?
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everybody has the right to determine what it means for them. for some, it is a symbol of heritage. for other people, it is a big middle finger and they will give the finger right back to it. it is a generic statement that means whatever to whoever passes it by. it is not honoring the confederate dead. i think most in the room would agree the practical effect is to undermine the point they are trying to make. it is more than likely going to be counterproductive and lead to flags taken down elsewhere. there's all likelihood the right of free speech into frontlines will be abridged over time. it has been defined as a hate speech symbol by the supreme court on license plates. there are already laws about the height of flagpoles being passed by local zoning ordinances. on right of free speech confederate flags over highways may be short-lived.
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it. is how some people view when you see the flag over the interstate, that is many people's reaction. it has been brought back into the political realm by candidates in virginia. there is a politician who wraps who succeedse flag primarily in dragging the symbol into modern political fights and reinforcing the flag's divisive political meaning. why would anybody who pretends to revere the confederate flag support him or that gesture? what is a confederate flag prom dress say? how does it already confederate dead? why should people defend the right to wear a confederate flag prom dress? on provocative t-shirts, it is completely meaningless. what does this mean?
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how does this already confederate dead? why would anybody who professes to honor the confederate dead want to wear a t-shirt like this or defend anyone who did? we have the right of free speech. i am reminded of a mantra i use today concerning my diet. just because i can does not mean i should. those who revere the flag the most should be the most active in trying to restrict its use. they have the most to lose by wider use. flag is also an historical symbol. historical flags should be in museums. for a lot of people who defend the confederate flag and its display, they are opposed to relegating it to museums. in relegating a symbol of history to a history museum?
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they want it to be more than a symbol of history. they are being disingenuous. they want to drag it into political discussions today. cemeteries, clearly in a memorial context, here at hollywood cemetery, the making isy that i'm to ask people who think the flag is a symbol of white supremacy or who find it threatening to respect it as a memorial system when it is any memorial context. the way america was settled the civil war was to allow the losers of the civil war to honor their dead and honor their heroes and even teach history their own way. that has shaped the dialogue over confederate symbols ever since and that is what we are talking about today in this symposium. the war did not require those who were losers to surrender their symbols for to be
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reeducated. they were able to celebrate their cause and write a history of the war their own way. settling the war also require the winners, losers, and victims all had to become citizens again and live together, and that is still challenged today. what we need today is to find rules and principles and compromises to live together in a symbolic way. principles, compromises seem very clear to me. flag's champions claim, it is a warm morel, then let us respected as a war memorial and let us actively discourage any other use of the flag. those who profess to love the flag should be the ones to enforce this the most, not try to defend it as a living symbol of political causes or is some illiterate reaction. nothing will kill the confederate flag faster than to
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try to keep it alive as a living symbol today. earlier iterations beginning with father ryan into the 1940's and the reaction to the flags first use in popular culture, earlier generations understood this and so should we. thank you all very much for your attention. >> [applause] >> there are some folks that have questions for john. if you would like to come over to the microphone, any questions . all right, without any questions, let's give him another round of applause. >> [applause] >> away, we have one question. don't turn the dial. >> i have a question, does the national park service allow putting the confederate battle flag on monuments like at gettysburg any longer? >> i do not know.
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there is a question about whether the national park service allows flags. we have park service people here. >> can you stand up and into the -- can you stand up and answer that for us? >> they would be removed just like any other flags. what we cannot do is sell it in our museums. >> if an individual puts a flag at the base of a monument, that is more than welcome and allowed, however the national park service never sells confederate flags or anything with a confederate flag on it in the visitor center. >> what about a national cemetery like in all myra new york, we always went out -- in l york, we always
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went out and put confederate flags on confederate soldiers but we were told we could no longer do that. >> regarding national cemeteries, i am not sure. you are telling me something i didn't know about individuals putting flags on tombstones. these are particularly in answeries, kerry can with her work on the memorial association and the cemeteries tended by confederates. they are usually in private hands but in the north, particularly in cemeteries from prison camp sites, i don't know about individuals but there was a decision that point lookout at the circuit quite level -- circuit court level, the treated confederate dead at national cemeteries as american soldiers and therefore, only the american flag is allowed to fly. lookout, the confederate monument stands just outside federal property.
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it is sort of a memorial park outside federal property. the decision, which applies to all cemeteries is that the veterans administration regards confederate dead in those cemeteries as americans and only the american flag is appropriate and allowable for them. >> thank you for your presentation. that was on the best presentations on the history of the confederate flag, the battle flag, the government flag i have ever seen. what ision is simply, it matter, and what i mean by that is, to the best of my understanding in south carolina, when it was taken down in 2000, it was a compromise if they keep it on statehouse grounds, it was also in conjunction with the confederate memorial. there were individuals who were climbing people to remove it -- ho were climbing the pole
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to remove it after diligent roof killed those individuals in 2015. here we have a compromise that we have it in a historical connotation, yet that compromise was said, no, that is no good and you also have like you said, the national park service no longer selling it in a history memorabilia shop and likely judgment over there said, there are places that say, no putting out, i know you know more about it than me about putting it out there in graveyards. i guess my question is, what does it matter in the compromise because it seems that the opposing side doesn't really care? that is my question, what does the compromise matter? >> i will answer that to revert to something i said about the trajectory of change.
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that was visible before 2015. the compromise, the armistice, if you will that occurred in 2000. the compromise that brought it down from the dome beyond contextualizing it on the confederate statue seemed like a good compromise. now in the context of the confederate soldier monument rather than on the statehouse, therefore standing for the state of south carolina and its citizens, it was contextualized to the statue, but the time that was done, that's a, the picture , thewed you, the people anti-flag forces had signs that read shame. the men who wanted it, primarily men who want to be flag still up on the dome for yelling off the dome in in -- off the dome and in your face.
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clearly, there was a level of deliverance and wounded pride in having it taken down. it was clear at the time that it was just in armistice. a lot of anger, the ncaa among others in the naacp tried to continue the boycott saying in a sense, that is with the politicians compromise, we are not in. a lot of people did not buy that compromise and tried to keep the pressure up to remove the flag from the monument as well as from the statehouse, in part because they sensed victory but also because of that belligerent reaction of the day. it was clear that it was just going to be a temporary armistice and as demographic change occurs, as fewer people descend from confederate veterans, as we as a people become weaned from the flag, the --e culture overseas make the more controversies make white americans uncomfortable
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with the flag, and polls show a withering of support for the retention of the battle flag, that has been constant over the last half-century. it has been a slow change over time. we're seeing cultural change occur before us in it was at a gradual level and was clear that as generations change, eventually that compromise would come apart. what happened in 2015 made it happen far more quickly than any of us would have expected. keep in mind that the flag in south carolina continued to be a political issue. primary between mccain and george w. bush and mccain having to walk back what yet set the time and admit he had done it for political gain. the primary season is coming up again the following year in south carolina and i'm sure republican tenets were saying, i will have to deal -- republican god, ites are saying, oh
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will have to deal with the flag again. it is an issue in politics so all of these things were pre dictable. compromise any more than a come from eyes of 1850. of 1850.he compromise they are short term fixes. when you see these compromises in your own lifetime, try to take a historical view. they are likely not to be forever. mentioned protecting the memorial of value of the flag, take, or yourur position on how you combat the commercialism of the flag when
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it makes so much money for so many vendors and how you fight that? >> how you combat the commercial -- there is an inherent problem in the proposal that i made it is i am dealing with human beings and a diverse nation and people who are ornery, people who fight back, we'll have that to do exactly what -- if we are told we can't do something, we do the opposite. we do not like being told what we can and cannot do. there is that natural human contrariness we share no matter what our cause and that spikes the sales i was describing. and theleston murders charlottesville violence have helped that to some degree in that a lot of vendors, walmart amazon at in 2015, one point stopped selling them. a lot of big vendors gave in to pressure not to sell.
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they chose what they would call principle over profit in 2015. i think that has withered a look has been compromised since, but compelledts actually stopmajor retailers to participating in the sale of confederate flags. scenario will be that the same principle people, usually the so-called defenders of the flag, will say or do something stupid or violent that will have the predicable consequence of bringing a counter reaction that will put further pressure on retailers to stop selling it. i am looking back, fighting the last war if you will by looking back in the recent past to try to predict the future, but as long as people can get commercial items, they will --
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two things, availability, but also we are seeing a shrinking percentage of people who are so dedicated to the flag that they would have that reaction and that over the time i've been studying this issue, has shrunk remarkably. where --k to the part to the point where white southerners who hereto for would still fly the flag because it's not offend them, and a lot of them said i don't want to be associated with those kind of people like the shooter in south carolina. what has happened in the past few years has made people who would have rallied to the support of the flag look in the mirror and say i do not like what i am seeing and be less likely to want to be associated with the flag and the second peas of the puzzle was a lot of retailers are choosing not to make money off of them.
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overtime eventually with a couple of shots along the have the effect of making the flag less importance -- less important as a merchandise item. >> thank you, john. >> [applause] coverage ofatching a conference on civil war icons held earlier today, hosted by the shenandoah valley battlefields foundation. this is american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. i would like to thank you once again for coming and spending the day talking about such a controversial issue, spending the day learning from one another. i am thrilled by the speaking panel we had today. dr. robinson opened this up in true style. we could


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