Confederate flag burning at Water Street Commons tomorrow night


I know it’s unlikely that many readers of this site have Confederate flags just laying around, but, if you should happen to have one, and if you should want to burn it, like minded people will be gathering at Water Street Commons tomorrow night with everything one might need to set offensive flags ablaze. So, if you inherited one from a grandfather down south, had one given to you by an uncle during the heyday of the Dukes of Hazard, or maybe used to be a racist who has since had a change of heart, come on down and join your Ypsi Arbor neighbors who, like you, feel as though it’s time to officially bring the Civil War to an end and move on as a nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the Confederate flag, you should know that, despite claims to the contrary, it was never just a symbol of “southern heritage”. The following comes from The Week.

…(H)istory is clear: There is no revolutionary cause associated with the flag, other than the right for Southern states to determine how best to subjugate black people and to perpetuate slavery.

First sewn in 1861 — there were about 120 created for the war — the flag was flown by the cavalry of P.G.T. Beauregard, the Confederacy’s first duly appointed general, after he took Manassas, Virginia, in the first Battle of Bull Run.

After the Civil War, the flag saw limited (and quite appropriate) use at first: It commemorated the sons of the South who died during the war. We can easily forgive the families of those who died for grieving. No account of the Civil War can be complete without noting how vicious the Union army could be, and how destructive its strategy toward the end of the war had become. That the cause of the war, once the damned Union army actually invaded the South and started destroying it, came to be associated with an actual, guns-out defense of real property and liberties — mainly, the liberty not to die during a war — is not controversial. That’s what happens during wars.

But never did the flag represent some amorphous concept of Southern heritage, or Southern pride, or a legacy that somehow includes everything good anyone ever did south of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery excluded.

Fast-forward about 100 years, past thousands of lynchings in the South, past Jim Crow and Plessy v. Ferguson, past the state-sanctioned economic and political subjugation of black people, and beyond the New Deal that all too often gave privileges to the white working class to the specific exclusion of black people.

In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against the federal government. What precisely required such defiance? The president’s powers to enforce civil rights laws in the South, as represented by the Democratic Party’s somewhat progressive platform on civil rights.

Georgia adopted its version of the flag design in 1956 to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling against segregated schools, in Brown v. Board of Education.

The flag first flew over the state capitol in South Carolina in 1962, a year after George Wallace raised it over the grounds of the legislature in Alabama, quite specifically to link more aggressive efforts to integrate the South with the trigger of secession 100 years before — namely, the storming of occupied Fort Sumter by federal troops. Fort Sumter, you might recall, is located at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Opposition to civil rights legislation, to integration, to miscegenation, to social equality for black people — these are the major plot points that make up the flag’s recent history. Not Vietnam. Not opposition to Northern culture or values. Not tourism. Not ObamaCare. Not anything else…

For those of you who still aren’t convinced, I’d suggest reading our last conversation about the Confederate flag, and the essay “It’s Time to Burn the Confederate Flag.” And, if, after that, you still don’t feel compelled to carry your flag to Ypsi and set fire to it, maybe consider just coming out anyway, and listening to what others have to say about the flag and what it says to them. What could it hurt, right?

[Check out the Facebook event page for more information.]

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  1. Posted July 2, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    And don’t worry about the building at the top of the page. The Smith Furniture building has no roof, a foot of standing water throughout, and walls covered in a think protective coating of black mold. It is impervious to fire.

  2. Posted July 2, 2015 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    And I hope tomorrow’s flag burning is done as a relay.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted July 2, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    What if we’d rather unravel than burn?

  4. Posted July 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Last time I peeked into the old Smith’s building, they had gotten the new roof on. They have been working on it a lot.

  5. Posted July 2, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    and flags are made of toxic fabric and dyes. burning them will release this into our air. put them thru a paper shredder instead and then put them in the proper recycling bin.

  6. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    I wonder where we would be, as a nation, in terms of our racism problem, if every single confederate flags was burned and every single image of the confederate flag was somehow destroyed? Would we really be in that much of a better place? Isn’t it significant that the younger generations are so quick to compare Newsome’s act with Rosa parks act, yet there, at least to me, seems to be a total failure to realize how the two acts are in their essence completely different? What category of act are symbolic gestures of “destroying” symbols? Worse yet: What category of act is the dispersal of images, through social media, of documentation, through video and photography, of symbolically “destroying” symbols? Civil rights war footage? Or press releases and photo opportunities for whack-a-mole and merry- go-rides?

  7. chop
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    This is the worst idea since apple banning a mobile game….

  8. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 1:54 am | Permalink


    Thanks for the practical and responsible idea but the purified air of Facebook and Instagram are immune to your toxins.

  9. michelle
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    There is mostly a roof on the building as of now.
    Toxic as it may be, I will be there. I figure I’ve spent enough years inhaling the residual plumes from celebrating MY privileged “independence.”
    Frosted flakes, you are a flake. Use your real name already for your nonsensical statements….

  10. Bob
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Is the Confederate flag a real issue here? This is a weird thing to do. Stupid really.

  11. anonymous
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Baby steps, people.

    Will this solve racism? No. Will it bring together the community to talk about race? Yes.

  12. Maria Huffman
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I think it is a bad idea to have a Confederate Flag burning and I would recommend people boycott this event.

  13. anonymous
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone is coming for yours, so don’t panic.

  14. Posted July 3, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    As someone who grew up in the real South (not Kentucky), I can say that this event is a terrible idea.

    While the flag represents racism to you, it represents something completely different to Southerners, despite what you make convince yourself of.

    The Confederate Flag, while certainly a symbol of racism and bigotry, principally represents resistance to the North and the Federal Government. A bunch of Northerners burning that flag plays right in to such attitudes.

    If you guys want to speak out against racism, do it, but do it in a way that recognizes racism everywhere, not just in the South. Do it in a way that sheds light on how racism works in Michigan, both personal and institutionalized.

    I’m not defending the Confederate Flag. I think it is a pretty stupid symbol, but this event is just wrongheaded and distracts from the every day, less sensational versions of racism that plague states like Michigan and impact far more people.

  15. Rose
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes, flag burning is fairly uncommon. Yes, it displays a certain rage. Rage makes people uncomfortable. But how about we just let people do what they’re gonna do, eh? So what if it’s just destroying symbols! So what if they could be doing better things! We could all be doing better things than writing comments on the internet or watching netflix! Who is anyone to judge re: time-wasting?

    I don’t think any one of these people is under the impression that racism will end tonight, or that they should be sainted for burning a flag. Let it be.

  16. D'Real
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    “There is no need to respect a symbol that is as evil and vicious to African-Americans as the Nazi swastika flag is to Jews.” #keepitdown

  17. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate what Peter said. Well done!

    Newsome’s act (particularly the timing of it) and this proposed event should be scrutinized and critiqued in a significant way…Race relations are a fluid thing….It is entirely possible that backward steps can be made…

  18. Bob
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Jesus Christ, I agreed with Peter Larson!

  19. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink


    I don’t think it is a matter of whether or not it is waste of time. Radical should not be stupid. Radical should not be counter-productive. Radical should not be potentially provoke violence. Radical should not stoop to the level of the evil it is attempting to respond to/ eradicate/ diminish. It is entirely significant and worthy of critique that an event is organized around the destruction of a symbol. It is laughably not radical. Typically Millenial, which all too often implies a degree of accepted narcissism previously unknown…..It is unfortunately unnecessarily risky with little to no reward. In fact, the idea probably makes things worse, in my opinion. Whatever, I hope it does not backfire.

  20. Kjc
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes were you this outraged by the charleston shooting? By Eric Garner’s death? Tamir Rice’s? you seem to primarily respond to the symptoms of social unrest, never the source. I guffawed at “Race relations are a fluid thing….It is entirely possible that backward steps can be made…” as if the outrage towards these symbols is not driven by a recent violent event in explicit support of white supremacy. Yeah kind of a “backward step”. I think you should spend less time critiquing and more time trying to understand IN GENERAL. But you won’t. You’ll nitpick the left for burning flags while the right burns churches.

    I’m not interested in the flag burning event and definitely question the motivation of some participants. And agree with Peter mostly, though he is speaking not for southerners but for white southerners. Who are delusional as fuck. So there’s that.

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 3, 2015 at 11:41 pm | Permalink


    Things are always being made worse or better. The Charleston shootings were tragic and atrocious. I support the idea of the flag coming down and it sure seemed like it was heading in that direction….Tonight’s planned flag burning event probably Contained some positive aspects. However, the actual flag burning part almost seems to beg for reaction from the lowest kinds of racists. Maybe I am paranoid, but the kkk is a real thing. My biggest fear was that there might be a counter protest from a racist group. Probably not. But things happen. Speaking from personal experience, things can get ugly quickly. Are children in attendance? Why plan an event that might provoke the most idiotic type of racist people? Why go to that level? You can not change their mind…. It is only nitpicking if something bad doesn’t happen…

  22. Posted July 4, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Confederate Flag Burning Weekend ’15

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