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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, February 20, 2003

The New York Times Salutes The Confederate Flag!

And I am not just whistling Dixie. The publicists for the upcoming film "Gods and Generals" staged a publicity event at Central Park, using determined hobbyists and an intrepid Times reporter to re-enact a Civil War battle.

The conversation drifted to the question of why someone would want to portray a Southern soldier:

...later between drills on our snowy battlefield, I had time to ask the inevitable question of my fellow Confederate soldiers: Why? Why take part in battles like this one, and why be on the Southern side?

...Some simply like lost causes or, as George S. Bateman, the company's captain, put it, "fighting for the underdog, I guess." He does not mind being a Rodney Dangerfield of re-enactment. "We get booed and hissed upon quite often," he said. "People feel that flag represents slavery and hatred, which it doesn't."

In fact, this company says it is politically correct. "You won't find any racists in this group," said Bill Helmstetter, a high school history teacher from Plainfield, N.J. "We run them out. We don't want them."

David L. Goliger of Baldwin, N.Y., echoed this in describing an incident on the way home from a re-enactment in Maryland. He was pulled over by a man who had noticed a bumper sticker with a Confederate flag on Mr. Goliger's car.

"He invites me to a cross-burning," Mr. Goliger said. "Little does he know, for starters, that I'm Jewish. I went ballistic, yelling, `Who do you think you people are? What gives you the right to steal a piece of American history and mold it to your values?' "

And then there are those in the company who draw a distinction between the cause that the Confederates fought for and the way the conducted themselves in battle. "I'm not standing up for slavery, I'm standing up for the Southern army, which fought honorably," Mr. Hernandez said.

Whoa, where is the balancing quote explaining that the Confederate flag does, in fact, stand for slavery, racism, and oppression? Surely the Times cannot let these assertions stand unchallenged. I Boldly Predict we will have to wait for some strongly worded Letters to the Editor.

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