Supporters of the Confederate flag usually cite history as a reason for their devotion to the divisive symbol. "It's not a symbol of hate," they may say, "but a way to honor the memory of our fallen forebears, who fought for this country." That argument won't fly if the Confederate flag nabs a spot on the wall of the courthouse in Greene County, a Tennessee region with strong Union ties.
This evening, the Greene County Commission will meet to vote on a resolution that would place the rebel flag along side the American one in the county courthouse. The resolution, proposed by commissioner James Randolph, was obtained by WJHL and reads, suggests that the flag is a storied part of Tennessee history. It reads:
Greene County Commission and the citizens they represent are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Tennesseans and whereas, Greene County is conscious of its Heritage and loyalties; one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. Our citizens retain habits that are strong and memories that are long. Our region and its citizens have been powerfully shaped by its history and are determined to pass that history on to future generations…..and where as, the Confederate flag represents state rights, the south, it represents Dixie land, our culture, and our heritage and should be proudly displayed by our County.
This account is strongly denied by Richard Hood, a former history professor and Greene County resident who wrote in a hefty letter to the editor of the Greenville Sun that "Greene County was profoundly anti-Confederate," and that the resolution "represents the culmination of what I consider a season of astoundingly distorted historical memory on the part of some East Tennesseans." Hood concluded:
Commissioner Randolph may not Like this history, but it has the virtue of being factual. He should be celebrating Greene County's heritage of resistance to the Confederacy, not propping up a grotesque distortion of "history" that debases our true past and offends many, many of our own neighbors.
Greene County's official website also notes that "during the Civil War Greene County was largely Unionist."County residents are torn over the issue, and those who are against it are expected to protest the meeting.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.