Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Revisionist "History Saturday" in Newton, NC

Slave Market-Atlanta Georgia 1864.jpg
Slave trader's business in Atlanta, Georgia, 1864.
By George N. Barnard - Public Domain
You probably won't see this image at "History Saturday" in Newton, N.C. this Saturday (August 13). According to organizers, the event will provide local residents with an "opportunity to learn about the racial diversity of the Confederate army" and view a Confederate submarine - and probably some flags as well. This new event was organized after some concerns were expressed about the use of the confederate flag in Newton's Old Soldiers Reunion parade.

I marched in this parade every year with my high school band during the 1970s, but I don't recall ever seeing a Confederate flag there. And I don't see any of them in older photos of the event that were recently shared on Facebook by the Catawba County Museum of History - including photos from the late 1890s, the early 1900s, the 1920s, 19491952, and 1956. Back in the "good old days," the confederate flag was seldom seen unless accompanied by a hood. But since the Charleston church shooting on June 17, 2015, and the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse, some private citizens in my area have raised their battle flags on their lawnspickup trucks, and even in some tree tops.

The "Virginia Flaggers" just raised one of the largest confederate flags in the country (30-by-50 feet) in Danville, Virginia, and the South Carolina Secessionist Party has launched "Operation Retaliation" to raise money to put Confederate flags on private property in South Carolina. You probably won't see a 30-by-50 foot Confederate flag in Newton on Saturday, but you will see an African American, likely dressed in a Confederate uniform, telling some white folks how great things were for General Robert E. Lee's cook and body servant. He may even call him Lee's "body guard" but is not likely to refer to him by the name Rev. Mack Lee once used for himself - "Robert's ole nigger." As one of the guest speakers, H.K Edgerton is a local treasure. In 2009 he threatened to sue a city councilman over his lack of belief in God.

But you're not likely to hear about Dylann Roof on Saturday. And you won't hear about how the Confederate flag may stir up racist attitudes among whites and propagate itself in the form of thousands of micro-aggressive racist acts. You probably won't hear the original words of the flag's supporters or how it is used by extremists to brainwash poor white Americans. Because who wants to learn about history, evidence, or current events at "History Saturday"? So sit back and relax, raise your battle flag, and pass the pork rinds. But you might want to leave the kids at home!

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