Civil War battle flags to joust in Richmond, but will fighting follow? (+video)
A Confederate history group is planning to unfurl a car dealership-size Battle Flag over I-95 near Richmond, Virginia. In response, another group will fly a large US flag downtown.
No matter who you think ought to have won the Civil War, you’ll have someone to root for on Saturday as the Johnny Rebs and Blue Coats unfurl their separate gigantic battle flags over Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy.Skip to next paragraph
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News that a Confederate history group is planning to unfurl a car dealership-size Battle Flag over I-95 near Richmond sparked a counter-flag movement that grew to the point where a rival group, more sympathetic to the federal idea, plans a countercharge, by flying a massive US flag near downtown.
Though the tensions between the North and South today tend to flare up mostly on newspaper op-ed pages and the Internet, the high emotions around the flag symbolism continues to tear at the US zeitgeist, a reminder that, aside from the resolve of slavery, fundamental differences of opinion about the ship of state linger among honest Americans.
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While history suggests that the fighting will mostly be verbal and symbolic, residents and police in Chester, where the Confederate group, Virginia Flaggers, will hoist its flag next to I-95, say they are concerned about violence, with local resident Frankie Nichols telling a local NBC affiliate, “You never know what people will do when they get excited.”
The US is 148 years removed from the end of the bloody, earthshaking grappling match between North and South, between Abe and Jefferson, between gray and blue, between brother and brother. But since the NAACP began a march across the South in the late 1990s to eradicate confederate symbols from state-owned lands – including the St. Andrew’s cross flag that flew over a majority of former Confederate statehouses – the debate has touched deep nerves on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The issue flared up in earnest in 2000, during the presidential election, when the NAACP worked to have South Carolina remove the Confederate flag from atop the State House. (It was eventually moved to another part of the capitol grounds.)
“Waving a flag in someone’s face is almost like trying to pick a fight,” Pennsylvania resident Jim Matusko told Philadelphia Daily News reporter William Bender in a story published Saturday. “I don’t like the guy in the White House, either, but the South isn’t going to rise again.”
But the controversy continues, perhaps because the South never quite fell. And it may even be ascendant as the Confederate battle flag enjoys what appears to be a resurgence in popularity amid widespread discontent with Washington.