The Rebel Flag and Ole Miss go hand-in-hand—or rather, they did, until recently. The University of Mississippi’s football team is named the Rebels, and students and alumni have had a long tradition of waving the Confederate Battle Flag at home football games. But the tides of time and political correctness have washed up on Ole Miss’s shores, and this past fall, head football coach Tommy Tuberville, a longtime opponent of the flag, argued that Ole Miss would never win a national championship unless the flag disappears from the stands. His argument, used successfully by flag opponents at other Deep South schools, was that black athletes aren’t willing to play for a team identified (however tenuously) with the Confederacy. Ole Miss’s student senate—partially swayed by Coach Tuberville’s argument but mainly pursuing its own agenda—passed a resolution to discourage the waving of the flag. But neither the coach nor the senate counted on the tenacity of Rebel fans. While some alumni responded to Coach Tuberville’s scare tactics, Ole Miss students continued to show their school (and Southern) pride. Having failed to win their argument by persuasion, the student senate turned to force, voting to ban all sticks in the football stadium, ostensibly for reasons of public safety.

The senate’s imperious action made some students’ Southern blood boil, and they came up with ingenious methods to skirt the ban on sticks. Some attached their flags to cardboard tubes from dry cleaners’ hangers, while others used rolled-up copies of the Daily Mississippian (the liberal campus newspaper, which had supported the stick ban) as substitute sticks. The students were supported by a coalition of Southern heritage organizations led by the League of the South, which printed up 1,000 Battle Flag placards and distributed them to fans attending the Ole Miss-University of Arkansas game. The League ran out of placards in 15 minutes.

Buoyed by their success at the Arkansas game, the League organized a rally in support of the Battle Flag and to distribute 10,000 placards at Ole Miss’s final home game. Despite threats of violence a few days before the rally, the League did not anticipate the intensity of the opposition that they would face. The opposition did not come from Ole Miss’s black community—those attending the rally said that they received not a single complaint or rude comment from any black student, alum, or faculty member. Instead, it was led by a small but vocal coalition of self-identified gay, lesbian, and feminist students, who were aided in their cause by a single white supremacist with a megaphone. The estrogen coalition shoved League members who were handing out placards, ripped up some of the placards and threw them in the mud, and shouted obscenities. One League member, Israel Contreras, was even called a “Nazi.”

Despite the opposition, many Ole Miss students and fans thanked the League for handing out the placards and brochures explaining the history of the battle flag. They understood that the controversy was not over white supremacy, but over the preservation of tradition—both Southern and American. Southern symbols are not anti-American; they are the most visible and emotionally charged of American symbols. Should they fall, what will be next?

We already have the answer. The New Orleans School Board has changed the names of 22 schools over the past five years. Most recently, a public elementary school has been renamed after Dr. Charles Richard Drew, a black surgeon. Previously, this school had been named after a prominent Southern slaveholder—George Washington. Welcome to the brave new world, in which the Father of our Country is consigned to the memory hole.