Book chapter – From Heritage Politics to Hate: Neo-Confederate Novels & White Protectionism

The white nationalist movement, culminating in the 2017 Unite the Right rally, has publicly coalesced around the preservation of Confederate monuments. However, with leaders like Bostonian Richard Spencer and a critical mass of Northern hate groups, Southern heritage is revealed as a convenient landscape on which to map a specious narrative that conflates the removal of Confederate monuments with the erasure of white dignity. Although organizers capitalized on this distorted heritage politics, the credit for successfully linking white prosperity to the valorization of Confederate history belongs elsewhere. Two novels from 2000, Ellen Williams’s Bedford a World Vision and Lloyd Lenard’s The Last Confederate Flag,offer narrative accounts of this linkage, presenting visions of the brown-skinned, liberal encroachment on a white Southern landscape. By dramatizing the bureaucratic and violent maneuvers necessary to protect the flag, the indexical stand-in for white peace, the authors reveal the rhetorical craftiness behind a normalized heritage politics. The authors did not invent the narrative conflation of Southern history with white prosperity. However, these novels highlight the imaginative work that convinces a disaffected readership that the protectionof monuments to Southern history naturally leads to the protection at all costs of white sovereignty.