Life on the Frontier

The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia enjoyed a full 24 hours of resurgent infamy before Gay Day came and took it all away.

Screaming and shrieking throughout the process was the puerile, facile, and ultimately Manichaean Weltanschauung of our ruling class, which is best summarized in the phrase, “We are on the right side of history.”  Only in this case, the right side of history means standing above its corpse with a jackboot on its throat.

Am I exaggerating?  Consider: History is no mere collection of factoids; it involves a narrative.  Following that regal and mournful day at Appomattox in April 1865, Americans lived with two dominant narratives about the cause and outcome of the Civil War.  Slavery had indeed been abolished.  But alongside the Triumph of the Union, the Lost Cause lived on, as the War became metaphor for the present struggle of the small against the large, the agrarian against the industrial, moderation and liberty against overweening ambition.  Knowledge of the story of the past gave context and shape to the present.

And for millions in the South and among those of the Southern diaspora throughout the American West and Midwest, the symbol of their defiance to corrupt government, rooted in their interpretation of history, has been the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

No traditional symbol is free of guilt...

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