Letter: Confederate flag project reflects more than bad taste

Graphic by Lori Deaton

A group calling themselves Sons of Confederate Veterans, (any son of which would have died over 100 years ago), are trying to raise enormous Confederate battle flags along the interstate in every county that I-40 passes through. Beyond the issue of bad taste, it historically does not reflect most generational Tar Heels’ emotional ties to the Civil War.

For South Carolina, a state that until recently displayed the flag in front of its capitol, the Civil War presented one last desperate chance to regain the power and influence it held during the Colonial period. Charleston, [a large and wealthy U.S. city] in 1760, had, by 1860, fallen to 22nd [in population] and was heading toward irrelevancy. Perhaps a Brexit-like divorce could have been brokered, but not once a fort built with federal funds was fired upon. That was a pretty aggressive Southern action to start the war euphemistically called the War of Northern Aggression.

North Carolina was a rural state of many small farmers with few major plantations. Our largest city in 1860, Wilmington, the 100th-largest U.S. town, did not even have 10,000 people. We wouldn’t have a top 100 most populous city again until Charlotte hit 91st in 1940. We were the last [state] to secede and paid heavily, losing over 30,000 men.

The war and its aftermath created an economic tailspin lasting 100 years and earning us the sobriquet, “The Rip Van Winkle State.” I would imagine the North Carolinians who lived with generations of deprivation would have a very different opinion about what that flag represents. All that suffering for an anachronistic economic system that was already unsustainable as the world headed toward the 20th century.

My grandfather was born in Pitt County in 1902 into a family that a couple of generations before had been minor slaveholding, tobacco-planting farmers. I knew from an early age that my impoverished grandparents were supported by their sons-in-laws, who had moved elsewhere for careers in education and engineering. Local elderly black people and their grandchildren would come by Granddad’s garden, and he would give them his vegetables. I remember asking him, why not sell them instead, and his response [was]: “These folks are very poor, and we owe them so much for what we have done.”

If I would have come into his house waving a rebel flag, or worse, ever uttered the “N” word, he would have looked at me like I had lost my mind right before he smacked me across the room. I can’t remember in that most antebellum part of North Carolina ever seeing anyone with a Confederate flag on their property: much too painful for those who were closer to the rearview mirror than we are.

These racist rednecks in 2018 wanting to yap about state’s rights and Southern heritage haven’t a clue, so here’s one: That centralized government in D.C. you call “the swamp” was a direct result of the war you so want to glorify, and without slavery in this hemisphere, the African-originating population of the U.S. would be infinitesimal — so how’s that Dixie history working out for you?

— Steve Woolum


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

31 thoughts on “Letter: Confederate flag project reflects more than bad taste

  1. Jason

    “anachronistic economic system”…. do you really think these people had any clue any clue at all what this means???) like anybody else they just want an identity and to belong to a group…..Notice it’s those with very little but hang on to this

    • Lulz

      Most vocal leftist are all tied into some crony government job. And they assume that it makes them better. In reality they need to play identity politics for their own selfish gains. They say compassion but actually mean compensation. To themselves lulz.

      • hauntedheadnc

        Hoo yeah! Those cops, teachers, social workers, trash truck drivers… they’re rolling in the cash!

        And it goes without saying that we could certainly get along just fine without folks in those kinds of crony government jobs amiright?

        You know, strangely enough you never did enlighten us with an example of a nation enjoying peaceful anarchy. C’mon… If you want to bring folks over to your way of thinking you have to show us a place where your way of thinking is working.

  2. Lulz

    LOL but now the south is more of economic powerhouse than the north lulz, Must be those high tax states that are getting rid of their economies.

    I was in SC yesterday, Besides the huge economic growth occurring, the place feels like freedom. The housing boom taking place down there and the 150,000 price tags on new ones along with Amazon, BMW, etc means little ol NC and especially Asheville are going to end up full circle. Poor. Oh and there were Confederate flags everywhere. So you people continue to play left wing lunatic and make sure you assuage your own sense of guilt. And also continue to pay low wages while only a few walk away with bank and pretend it’s progressive. Because I didn’t see anyone threatened by those flags but I did see a lot of progress. And a whole host of corporations down there providing real jobs. Not the fake one’s in the area where they charge 30 a plate and pay the cook 10 an hour. In all honesty, Asheville sucks. The leftist cults are a huge part of the reason why. The low wages, normalcy of stupidity, and big government morons only add to it.

    • Lulz

      LOL if only the communist were as angry at the likes of a Wanda Greene instead of flags. lulz.

      • Jason

        Wanda seems to be your claim to fame with regards to our entirely corrupt political system…
        Sadly u choose sides; and promote small government opposed to accountable government… You (like all other conservatives) are complacent by not calling government out on its lack of accountability, but rather promoting less government…. The vast majority of citizens from what you would deem as “socialist“ governments… Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden… Respect and love their governments and economic systems; they sit back and laugh at ours, because of the blatant corruption that is enabled by people who don’t hold government accountable, because of their corruption They enact laws that do not require accountability…. HENCE WHY THE BLATANT CORRUPTION

        • Lulz

          LOL Green was allowed to spend because of s big government bureaucracy that is unelected and beholden to no one lulz. And Everytime she went before the communist for more money, they didn’t ask what for. Only for how much. And communist just forked it over.

          • Enlightened Enigma

            totally TRUE….where dey at? Brownie Newman AND David Gantt, who has never uttered a word of accountability over Wanda gate…he makes me puke. He’s an evil democrackkk.

    • Jason

      RU kidding me!!!? The South maybe more appealing to big biz due to lower taxes, ask ANY transplant; the productivity of a Yankee is 3 fold to a Southerner (not even debatable!)
      Unions work in the North ONLY due to worker productivity… Which is why his store Ikelea unions have never worked in the south

    • hauntedheadnc

      “LOL but now the south is more of economic powerhouse than the north lulz, Must be those high tax states that are getting rid of their economies.”

      No it isn’t. The Southeast, with a total of 12 states and a population of 83 million, contributes 21.4% of the US’ gross domestic product. The Northeast, not counting New England, only consists of 5 states with a population of 44 million and by itself contributes 18.2% of the nation’s GDP. If you add New Englad to the mix you get 11 states, a population of 59 million, and 23.6% of the GDP. And if you add the Midwest to the mix (including big, bad Chicago), you end up with 106 million people, 16 states, and 37.4% of the GDP. The Boston-Washington megalopolis by itself, by the way, contributes fully 20% of the national GDP.

    • hauntedheadnc

      Oh yeah… Another thing.

      Of the top ten states which receive more money from the government than they pay to it, seven of those states were Southern: South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama Mississippi, Kentucky, and West Virginia. None of the other three were in the Northeast or Midwest.

      Of the top ten states that pay more to the federal government than they receive from it, three were Mid-Atlantic/Northeastern: Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. Five were Midwestern/Great Plains: Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, and Kansas. Neither of the other two were Southern.

      So, going by that metric, the South is kind of a parasite on the nation, actually. We take more than we give and contribute less per capita than do other regions.

      But, please do try again. This has been fun.

      • Lulz

        LOL but in high property tax states in the north, they need tax write offs do they not? Cause everyone else has to subsidize them lulz. But go on and tell us how glorious the north is. Especially Chicago and Detroit lulz.

        • Hauntedheadnc

          Wait, you’re seriously going to say that states that pay more to the federal government than the federal government spends on them are being subsidized, and that someplace like South Carolina, which gets $7.87 in federal dollars spent on it for every dollar it pays, is somehow contributing something?

          I don’t think the word “subsidize” means what you think it means.

          You also never addressed those shares of the national GDP, unless you’re going to take another plunge into bizarro world and tell me that showing the North contributes a larger share and a larger per capita share somehow proves the exact opposite.

          People, this is what’s so dangerous about conservatives. Facts don’t matter to them anymore, and if you show them a truth they’ll spit on it and then loudly and proudly trumpet their disdain for the truth and their exaltation in being wrong. I have never in my life seen a group of people so militantly proud of their ignorance that they would concoct an entirely separate reality in order to pretend it was actually wise expertise.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Great points again, Mr. Lulz! You are more than correct … and I see Confederate flags all over NC / SC daily … and because the Confederate flag ‘offends’ others makes me love it more! lol…

    yeah, and the letter writer did not mention the 150 year strangulation of NC by evil democrackkks!

    • Jason

      Wait!!? So 150 years of NC being strangulated by “Democrakks” has according to LULZ (although very incorrect) allowed the south to be this countries economic superpower …,
      The hypocracy is hilarious!!

      • Enlightened Enigma

        yes, after FINALLY we got total control away from the evil racist democrackkks , the founders of the KKK and killing hundreds of blacks in NC …

      • Lulz

        LOL, in Asheville, we charge 40 a plate and expect the slave labor to live off of 10 and hour and call it progress lulz.

        • Jason

          No that’s called UNREGULATED CAPITALISM; in a progressive society their minimum wage would’ve kept up with information and would be about 23$/hour, but the chamber of commerce stuck a deal with the REAGAN ADMINISTRATION to keep them at 2.75$/hour FOREVER

    • luther blissett

      “because the Confederate flag ‘offends’ others makes me love it more”

      The principles of modern conservatism: whatever offends decent people, updated daily. Please live out this philosophy to its fullest by using the n-word in public and openly pining for the days of segregation and lynchings.

      • Lulz

        LOL the principals of modern communism: whatever I find offensive should be banned. Including free speech.

        • luther blissett

          You have the right to be offensive, and others have the right to treat you like an offensive person.

      • Enlightened Enigma

        luther, we have plenty o’segregation right here in AVL with Gene Bell being the Head Segregationist running the Housing Authority of AVL ! He is responsible for all of the crime and blight our city suffers daily at the hands
        of this heinous cesspool that we must tolerate. These are EVIL EVIL people that segregate all the poor people into crime ridden communities. WHY do we not hear of mainstreaming the poor into the REAL world instead? Oh, because the BIG salaries depend on more and more ghetto creation like Lee Walker ‘heights’… Then our elected criminals hand over another $8.4 MILLION to these sorry ass folks running the biggest problem in Asheville.
        City council and mayor and county commissioners should be ashamed to show their FACES in public.

        • luther blissett

          Stop changing the subject. You said that you embrace the flag of segregation and subjugation because doing so offends people you dislike, and that puts a big ol’ grin on your face. That’s perhaps even worse than doing so because you actually pine for the days of segregation and subjugation. It’s saying that you don’t care about the people for whom that flag symbolizes state violence, which tells us that your endless moaning about public housing is a sham.

  4. Tourist

    NC should hang up the flags of all the losing sides of our wars. British, Nazi, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Mexico etc. Confederate flags shouldn’t have to hang alone in defeat.

  5. dirty northerner

    The worst part about someone flying the Confederate battle flag is that it is the flag of losers. That’s not a subjective insult, it is objective fact. They need to put away their losers flag; if anything, if you insist on honoring the Confederacy, fly it’s actual national flag, not the battle flag of losers.

    • Lulz

      Is it? You call them a loser but more than likely you lived off of them.

      See it’s the same with the 2nd. Telling people the founders never envisioned AR-15’s when writing it yet never explaining why the canyons, battle ships, and heavy armaments were supplied by private citizens during the war. Hence the name privateer. Oh the founders knew exactly what they were writing into the 2nd. The ability of the citizens to defeat the government if needed.

      Those flying the flag aren’t losers. You need them more than they need you. But communist who live in a bubble don’t get that. So go one and pass your crony laws and bans. The nation is quickly coming apart.

      • Hauntedheadnc

        Okay, so if the purpose of arming the citizenry is to defeat the government can we surmise that you’re in wholehearted support of citizens who go hunting for cops? Remember that incident in Dallas a few years back? And the several incidents since then?

        Were those armed citizens not merely watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants?

  6. C-Law

    Steve Woolum–
    with all due respect your opinion is worth about as much as a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on…but its free speech, and so is flying whatever flags the SCV boys want to as well.

    You live your life and they live theirs, get it?…probably not although you sound like one of those ‘Coexist” bumper sticker types–all about cheap virtue signalling, totally empty on anything of real substance.

    PS-you have no idea how to use the term “antebellum” but yeah keep right on trying to teach us dumb rednecks! haha! Scalawag!

  7. Kimberly

    To me the confederate flag is not racist. It is one of the first flags of the United States. I have many African American friends and even a few of them proudly display the flag. If you are ashamed of the confederate flag then . are you ashamed of the American flag?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.