Neo-Confederate History Month

Ed Kilgore proposes a “Neo-Confederate History Month” that would seek to inform people about the slightly odd and quite ugly history of Confederate remembrance in the post-1865 period since it would be “immensely useful for Virginians and southerners generally to spend some time reflecting on the century or so of grinding poverty and cultural isolation that fidelity to the Romance in Gray earned for the entire region, regardless of race.”

A Neo-Confederate History Month could be thoroughly bipartisan. Republicans could enjoy greater exposure to the virulent racism of such progressive icons as William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson, not to mention Democratic New Deal crusaders in the South like Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo. The capture of the political machinery of Republican and Democratic parties in a number of states, inside and beyond the South, by the revived Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, would be an interesting subject for further study as well.

Most of all, a Neo-Confederate History Month could remind us of the last great effusion of enthusiasm for Davis and Lee and Jackson and all the other avatars of the Confederacy: the white southern fight to maintain racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. That’s when “Dixie” was played as often as the national anthem at most white high school football games in the South; when Confederate regalia were attached to state flags across the region; and when the vast constitutional and political edifice of pre-secession agitprop was brought back to life in the last-ditch effort to make the Second Reconstruction fail like the first.

I get the sense that most white southern conservatives nowadays genuinely don’t understand this, but it’s well-illustrated by the history of Georgia flags:


Totally irrespective of the issue of what the Confederacy and/or the Civil War were “really” about, the chronology there makes it perfectly clear what the Confederate Flag Revival was about — backlash against the civil rights movement.