Thursday, May 28, 2009

Essay by James Lowen on Obama and the Arlington Confederate monument online at the History News Network

A short essay by James Loewen has just been published online at the History News Network.

Incidentally, I have a new blog where I will be tracking the campaign around the Arlington Confederate monument.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The anti-Confederate and pro-democratic American flag

I have been working on an anti-Confederate flag design for some time. I have thought about it in terms of the history of American flags with anti-Confederate meaning such as the Phalanx flag and others. The above is the anti-Confederate flag. The right side of the flag has a swallowtail ends.


The anti-Confederate flag was designed with several considerations in mind to make sure it would be a very good anti-Confederate flag.


First, the anti-Confederate flag shouldn’t contain a Confederate flag. For example there have been attempts to design an anti-Confederate symbol by putting the international prohibition sign over the Confederate battle flag. As a design it doesn’t work out well since the Confederate battle flag has a cross on it and the slash in the prohibition sign goes over a cross bar in the Confederate flag. Additionally from a distance it looks like you are wearing the Confederate flag. We don’t want to wear Confederate flags, not even with prohibition signs. Also, we want our flag to express pro-democratic values and not just a negation of the Confederate flag. We want to be for something in opposition to the Confederate flag.

Second, we want to have this flag be accessible to everyone, a flag that everyone who is for democratic values can call his or her own. We want an anti-Confederate and pro-American democratic flag that doesn’t exclude anyone and draws together different people to be united in their opposition to the Confederate flag and neo-Confederacy. The flag can’t specifically oriented to any one group in society since that would make it one group’s flag and hence not others’ flag.

Third, we want a flag that is distinctive from other flags and not likely to be confused with any other flag.

Fourth, we want a flag that is readily recognizable and stands out and draws attention.

Fifth, it needs to be a flag with a design compatible with flag design.

Sixth, it would be nice if it drew on anti-Confederate flags in history.

Seventh, the flag should have an appealing design so that people want to wear it because it has an appealing design.

Anti-Confederate Flags in History
During the Civil War there were many anti-Confederate flags. These were modified American flags. Some Americans rearranged the stars in the phalanxes or square pattern symbolizing readiness to face attacks on America from any direction.[1] The popularity of flying an American flag started with the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War American flags were flown at Federal buildings such as the Post Office. With the Civil War the manufacturers were suddenly faced with a tremendous demand for American flags which people flew as anti-Confederate flags. The American flag with or without modifications was seen as the anti-Confederate flag.[2]

The nickname “Old Glory” for the American flag comes from one Civil War episode. Capt. Driver, a retired sea captain, who moved to Tennessee in the Nashville area before the Civil War, had taken with him in his retirement the American flag he had flown on his ship. He was very proud of this flag and exhibited it frequently and called it “Old Glory.” When the Civil War broke out his flag was threatened and he hid it inside a quilt. When the American armies liberated Nashville, he was brought before the liberating troops and Capt. Driver exhibited his flag. This episode was picked up by the press at the time and though Capt. Driver and his flag are largely forgotten, the nickname “Old Glory” is still remembered.[3]

The Confederates saw the American flag as an Anti-Confederate flag. Mobs in New Orleans tore down an American flag and dragged it through the mud of the streets and then “tore it to shreds, and distributed the pieces among the crowd.” In Memphis the burial of the American flag was publicly celebrated.[4]

Unfortunately, with the overthrow of the multi-racial democracy of Reconstruction and the nation rejecting an Abolitionist vision of America, by the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan felt comfortable flying the American flag and even claimed that they were representative of 100% Americanism. So the American flag by itself has lost an anti-Confederate meaning.

The Phalanx flag and Capt. Drivers flags can’t be used since they are so similar to an American flag they aren’t distinctive and readily recognized as being something other than an American flag.

The Anti-Confederate Pro-American Flag Design
This anti-Confederate flag meets all seven of the considerations listed above. One, it doesn’t contain a Confederate flag. Two, it is for every one of all backgrounds, it isn’t specific to one group. Three, it is certainly distinctive from any other flag. Four, it is readily recognizable, even from a distance. Five, it is compatible with flag design. Six, it draw on the Civil War history of Anti-Confederate flags by being based on the American flag. Finally, Seven, it is a design that is appealing to people.

It isn’t just a flag against something, is a flag for the modern multi-racial democratic America against the anti-democratic and racist values of the Confederacy.

It has fifty stars in a blue region like the American flag and has red and white strips like the American flag. However, both the blue canton of the American flag and the stripes has been transformed. This gives the flag a novel and distinctive appearance so it won’t be confused with an American flag, but still will suggest the American flag. It is also an energetic pattern suggestive of an active struggle against neo-Confederacy. The swallowtail ends of the flag on the right side give the flag charm and further novelty.

[1] The Phalanx pattern is shown on page 131 in “The Stars and the Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the Republic to the Present,” published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1973.
[2] Guenter, Scot M., “The American Flag, 1777-1924: Cultural Shifts from Creation to Codification,” Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990. For history of the American flag during the Civil War is Chapter 4, “Symbol of the Union: Flag Use During the Civil War,” pages 66-87. For changes in flag manufacturing to supply demand during the Civil War page 89-90.
[3] Harrison, Peleg D., “The Stars and Strips and Other American Flags,” pub. Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1917, pages 304-307.
[4] Preble, George Henry, “Origin and History of the American Flag,” 2nd Edition, Vol. II, pub. Nicholas Brown, Philadelphia, 1917, pages 468-493.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Even More news coverage of the Letter to Obama

The Letter to Obama made the Dallas Morning News, URL for the story is:

Other newspapers across the nation have started to pick up the story from the DMN.

The Associated Press has sent a short item out on the Arlington Confederate monument.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More news coverage of the Letter to Obama/ Example of WHITE Left thinking

ABC News has a news article and our entire letter on the web here"

I just finished talking to a major daily newspaper that is going to run the story on the web.

Here is an example of WHITE Leftist writing: Basically the idea is that health care is everything and anti-racism is nothing. I think it is a good example of banal white nationalism, which you can read about here:

Another disappointing op-ed was by Kirk Savage at the Washington Post. You can read it here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"The Daily Beast" has article on Obama and the Arlington Confederate Monument, Updated other websites pick up story.

The article is online here:

This site has a large readership.

I will keep Anti-Neo-Confederate updated as the story starts appearing in the major press.

The number of signatures is now over 60.

Frederick Clarkson has an article on it at "Daily Kos" at this URL:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

History News Network Publishes Letter to Obama, Update

James Loewen and I have gotten our letter published on the History News Network along with the list of persons who co-signed.

The link is at:

Other press coverage in progress. I will update as I can. More co-signers are expected and I need to continue to update the table.

"Moderate Voice" has a short commentary at this URL:

Black News Junkie also mentions the HNN item.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roger G. Kennedy, former Director of the National Park Service, Director Emeritus National Museum of American History co-signs letter.

Rogert G. Kennedy, former Director of the National Park Service and Director Emeritus, National Museum of American History has agreed to be a co-signer.

Letter is at:

2nd Wave of Signatures for Letter to Obama coming in.

James Loewen is now working his list of contacts and some very prominent names are co-signing the letter.

See my earlier postings for details of how this project is coming along.

The letter is online at:

Contacted Texas Senator Cornyn asking him to not send a wreath and to ask Obama not to send a wreath.

I have contacted both of my U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. The following is the automated reply from Cornyn and the text of my letter to him.

Dear Edward Sebesta,

Thank you for contacting my offices. Your correspondence has been received, and we will respond to you as quickly as possible. A copy of your message is attached below for your records.
If you need immediate assistance regarding an urgent problem you are experiencing with the federal government, visit the "Help With Federal Agencies" section of the website for details on how to proceed so that your difficulties are brought to my attention as soon as possible.
If you are seeking information or services from my offices that are NOT related to my Legislative duties, please visit my "Services For Texans" section for more information.
Warmest Regards,

U.S. Senator John Cornyn
Edward Sebesta (

Your Message:
Civil Rights

Dear Senator Cornyn:

A group of prominent scholars across the U.S. have co-signed a letter asking President Obama NOT to send a wreath to the Arlington Confederate monument.
The letter is online at this URL:

I ask you, yourself not to send a wreath and encourage President Obama not to send a wreath. This monument embodies the values of white supremacy and radical neo-Confederacy.

Sincerely Yours,
Edward H. Sebesta

Friday, May 15, 2009

Letter to Obama asking him not to send a wreath to the Arlington Confederate monument posted online.

The link to the letter is:

So far co-signers are James McPherson, James Loewen, Paul Finkelman, William Lee Miller, and others. Signature forms are still coming in.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Signatures for Letter to Obama come flooding in.

Signatures have come flooding in. For each respondent, I have asked them to forward the letter to their friends. I am going to have to spend tonight entering all the names into a table.

See prior post for details.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Letter to Obama asking him not to send a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Monument, Update

James Loewen and I have written a letter asking President Barack Obama not to send a wreath or other token of commemoration to the Arlington Confederate Monument.

We have sent out copies of the letter, along with signing forms, to prominent academics and are in the process of collecting signatures. For each person we contact, we will ask them to forward the letter and signing form to their contacts. This should result in an expanding network of contacts. This way we should be able to collect a good number of signatures for the letter. I have gotten the most enthusiastic initial response.

The history of the monument involves white supremacy and some other radical neo-Confederate sentiments. I plan on posting the letter later.

I think with President Barack Obama he will not sending a wreath or any other token to the Arlington Confederate Monument if asked. It is just a matter of letting him know that this has been done in the past and Obama preventing some functionary accidentally sending a wreath because sending one is on some White House to-do list left over from the previous administration.

President Barack Obama has a prior history of opposition to Confederate memorialization. There is an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 3, 2005 about him objecting to a display of the Confederate flag.

UPDATE (5/10/09): I have gotten two very prominent scholars to sign so far just today. I expect that Monday the effort will really take off when people get in to read their emails.

Secession Support in the South, item from "Washington Monthly"

The Washington Monthly had this item online:

It seems that secession is much more favorably received in the South than elsewhere in the United States. This should not be surprising when some states in the South have Confederate flag designs incorporated into them, and there are statues honoring secessionists most everywhere, and counties, cities, streets, etc. are named after secessionists.

Historical remembrance has an impact.

What would be interesting would to see how these Southern attitudes broke down by race. I think you would find that African Americans, (besides H.K. Edgerton), would not be terribly sympathetic to secession. The Research Poll showed that secession was rejected by African Americans at a much higher percentage than by whites. I suspect the percentage of support for secession in the South would be much higher for whites in the South, and even higher for Republicans in the South, than the 8% reported for the South as a whole.

The poll numbers are at this link, go down the page a little:
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