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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: A Letter about (and to) the Agitators and their “Letter to Obama”

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Letter about (and to) the Agitators and their “Letter to Obama”

We all know that Edward Sebesta and James Loewen recently wrote a letter to Obama asking that he not continue the White House tradition of sending a wreath to the Confederate Monument in Arlington National Cemetery. That letter, which was co-signed by a bevy of left wing lulus starring Bill Ayers, James McPherson and Jonathan Farley, was ignored by Obama, who sent the wreath anyway.

In reviewing the numerous complaints lodged against us in the Sebesta/Loewen letter, the first one I notice is that we are “without apologies or regrets from the past.” Indeed, we have the audacity to celebrate and remember that past! Oh how awful of us!? Well, the last time I checked the surrender terms I saw that said terms simply called for the surrender of our arms and our return to “the glorious union.” As I recall, those terms were honorably fulfilled. There were no terms which mandated that we grovel in front of anyone and humbly beg forgiveness, and no terms which mandated that we submit to slander or calumny while sitting apologetically, head bowed, on our thumbs. So then, to Mr. Sebesta, Mr. Loewen, and company I say - you will just have to deal with our lack of regret the best you can. If writing letters to Obama assuages your angst, lowers your blood pressure and makes you feel important, who am I to say that you can’t do it? As they say - whatever floats your boat.

The second complaint or accusation that I see is the contention that the Southern Monument in Arlington Cemetery does not recognize the “humanity of African Americans.” The last time I looked at the monument, I saw on one side of the column, 5 white men and 1 black man, all in Confederate uniform, marching together in close order. Next to it on the column I noted a white Confederate officer handing off his infant child to an “African American” woman. It isn’t that the monument doesn’t recognize African Americans – it does. The problem is that the story the monument tells does not tell a story that Sebesta and Loewen care to hear, and that the story told does not include people who are just like them. And if there is one thing that I have learned in nearly 60 years of dealing with people, it is that the “angry young men” (or “angry old men” for that matter) of the world, seldom find any value in anything unless it revolves around them. In short, if the spotlight isn’t on them, and if they aren’t busy listening to themselves ‘pass wind,’ they become very unhappy - and in turn, they make everyone else around them miserable. Billy Joel said it best:

And there's always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he's never been able to learn from mistakes,
So he can't understand why his heart always breaks.
But his honor is pure and his courage as well,
And he's fair and he's true and he's boring as hell-
And he'll go to the grave as an angry old man.**

Third, Sebesta and Loewen mightily huff and puff about the Southerners resisting the so-called “multiracial democracy” of the Reconstruction Period. Heaven forbid that anyone should utter criticisms of anything “multiracial” (or multicultural) in this day and age. Today, the simple placement of that adjective in front of any noun automatically makes that noun a good thing, and we are then expected to run around screaming its praises regardless of whether or not it has any actual merit. In this case, the average reader, unfamiliar with Reconstruction Period’s merits (or lack of such) might need to be enlightened just a bit. For argument’s sake, we’ll use the term that our letter-writing agitators have given it – a “Multiracial Democracy.”

It was:

A “Multiracial Democracy” which excluded most of the native Southern white population. As per the 14th amendment - anyone who had engaged in “participation in any rebellion or civil war against the United States” was disenfranchised, thereby leaving state governments in the hands of Yankee transplants, ex-slaves and a few compliant Southerners who were willing to “swallow the dog,” [1]

A “Multiracial Democracy” administrated, in part, by a people who had been slaves not more than 3 years before. This mysterious, and unbelievable leap of progress in so brief a time, unequaled in all of human history, has never been fully explained by Sebesta, by Loewen, by Ayers, by McPherson, by Farley, or anyone else for that matter. Yet, its incongruity was noted, even by Northerners of the period, who wondered at the curious nature of the Freedmen’s bill…namely that - “It took the blacks under the protection of the Federal Government as if they were not able to take care of themselves, while the same persons who urged…the measure are the most clamorous to give this same dependent population a large share in the government of the country.’” [2] The incongruity in question is easily explained however. If one wants to know the real motivation behind the Party of Lincoln and its drive to gain the elective franchise for the newly freed slave, one need only consult one of the chief architects of the Congressional Reconstruction policy, Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania. In Stevens’ own words, the purpose of giving this “dependent population” the vote in the South was to “insure perpetual ascendancy to the party of the union.” [3] Since when does one-party rule constitute a democracy, multiracial or otherwise?

A “Multiracial Democracy” that even Frederick Douglass found, at least in part, appalling, as he commented on the white portion of Alabama’s 1869 Reconstruction state government - “Well, I would be a Democrat if I was a white man and had to herd with that cattle.” [4]

A “Multiracial Democracy” that caused Georgia’s debt to go from “0” in 1865 to 50 million dollars in 1872 [5], whose budgetary practices in Louisiana caused the cost of the 1871 legislative session to be 9 ½ times the average cost of a pre-Reconstruction session [6], and whose budgetary practices in the South Carolina legislature caused the total cost of 6 years of Reconstruction for that not-so-august body to total $2,339,000, (when the average cost of a pre-Reconstruction session of the legislature had been $20,000/year!) [7]. This wonderful “multiracial democracy” resulted in the tax rate in Mississippi increasing 14 fold during its 5 year tenure in that state and caused 1/5 of all privately owned land in that state to be put up for sale on the tax auction block [8]. In Texas, this wonderful “multiracial” experiment resulted in a 400% tax increase, while at the same time, another Southern state, Tennessee, saw its state debt inflated by 16 million dollars. [9]. It was a “multiracial democracy” which saw ¼ of all the property in Little Rock Arkansas in the hands of former Union General Schenck, who had purchased said property at bargain basement prices after those properties had been confiscated for non-payment of taxes. [10]. It was a “multiracial democracy” which saw, in South Carolina, the expenditure by the “multiracial” legislature, “of $200,000 - all of which was spent in furnishing the state capitol with costly plate glass mirrors, lounges, arm chairs, a free bar and other luxurious appointments for the use of the [“multiracial”] legislators.” [11]

A “Multiracial Democracy” [in South Carolina] composed of black men like Beverly Nash, who admitted to taking a $2500 bribe, and who defended his actions with the words, “I merely took the money because I thought I might as well have it and invest it here as for them to carry it outside the state”. [12]. That same type of government, in that very same state, also produced the likes of State Representative John Patterson, a (white) Pennsylvania transplant, who, when questioned about corruption flippantly replied, “Why there are still 5 good years of stealing left in South Carolina”. [13] In Mississippi, it produced the likes of William Gray, a black State Senator, who proclaim “that he would win [the 1874 election] if he had to kill every white man, woman and child in the county, which was predominantly black.” [14]

A “Multiracial Democracy” which demanded that the black man have his vote, but which also mandated that the black man vote the way he was told! Black men contemplating a vote for the Democratic ticket (or the Conservative Ticket), were warned off with “Death to Colored Democrat” signs in polling places, and with banners proclaiming “Every man that don’t vote the Radical ticket this is the way we want to serve him – hang him by the neck.” [15]

Finally, that “multiracial democracy” produced a financial house of cards which collapsed upon the head of the freedman in 1874 when the Freedman’s Bureau Savings and Trust went belly-up. Those freedmen who had worked hard to build an economic base for themselves (instead of feeding at the public trough), and who had trusted in their Yankee benefactors, lost all they had (a grand total of 3 1/3 million dollars – a huge sum for that time). And the government whose soldiers allegedly “died to make men free” did nothing to compensate them. [16] No bailouts in 1874 I guess?!

But it’s all ok you see. Because it was all “multiracial”! So sayeth Sebesta, Loewen, Ayers, Farley, McPherson and the rest of the self-righteous riff raff who signed the letter to Obama.

Finally, there is the condemnation of Father Anderson’s 1999 speech at Arlington. Having met the good Father on a number of occasions and having listened to several of his speeches, I am quite familiar with the passion he displays in defense of the cause for which the South fought. This seems to aggravate our activist ‘friends” though. How dare we believe that our cause was just? How dare we believe that we fought for anything but to keep others in bondage?

Let me settle, once and for all, why exactly it was that we fought so mightily. It wasn’t for the right to own slaves. For that matter, it was not about tariffs either. Why did we fight so hard and so long? Why did we risk all and suffer four years of “total war” on our own home ground? I’ll give you the answer:

Let me suggest to Edward “the whiner” Sebesta, James “drama-queen” Loewen, Billy “the bomber” Ayers, James “I’ll write anything if it makes a buck” McPherson, Jonathan “can’t draw for crap but wannabe an artist” Farley, and the rest of you dogmatics who signed the letter to Obama, that you walk over to the nearest mirror and take a good long look into it – look closely and you will see the cause of the war staring right back at you. The cause of the war was people like you – people to whom the words “live and let live” are as alien as a frog is to the desert. People who see everyone else’s sins but their own, because in their minds they are without sin. People to whom the words “mind your own business” have as much meaning as the phrase “super-size me” has to an Aborigine in the Australian Outback. And people who, while having a desperate need to save the planet, fail to realize that the only way they can do that is if they themselves actually get off the planet! The South tried mightily for 4 years to get away from people just like you in a bloody struggle that cost nearly 700,000 lives. It was well worth the effort, we have no regrets about it, and we will continue to celebrate it, all your pouting notwithstanding. Put that in your collective pipes and smoke yourselves to death.

To you Obama letter-writers and signers I say then - there is good news and bad news in all of this. The bad news is that regardless of what you or anyone else does, now or in the future, we will always be here. We will continue to have our parades and revere our monuments, we will continue to celebrate our own holidays and we will continue to defend not only our legacy in the past but our rights in the present. You can huff and puff all you want and it won’t change a thing - we’re not going anywhere. But while this may qualify as “bad news” for y’all, it’s also good news. Our presence and our activities, our defiance of your agenda and our outright rejection of you, will continue to help give meaning to your petty little lives. Without us to give you purpose, where would you be?

Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Sons of Confederate Veterans (Associate Member)
Camps 3000, 1506 & 1369

**”Billy Joel, “The Angry Young Man” (copyright1976)

[1} See the 14th Amendment

[2] Ralph Seth Henry, “The Story of Reconstruction February, 1866 Page 160 (Konecky & Koncekcy, 150 Fifth Ave. New York, NY, 10011)

[3] ibid, PP. 210- 211

[4] “Brooklyn Eagle,” copied in “Montgomery Advertiser”, Feb 19, 1869)

[5] Mildred Lewis Rutherford, “The Truths of History,” Pages 128-129, Daniel Voorhees, Representative from Indiana, “Plunder of Eleven States”, a speech made in the House of Representatives March 23, 1872:

[6] Ella Lonn, “Reconstruction in Louisiana after 1868,” New York, 1918, P. 78

[7] “Republican Governor Daniel Chamberlain’s Reflections” 1901, in the Atlantic Monthly

[8] John S. Tilley, “The Coming of the Glory,” page 256, Copyright 1949, (Bill Coats, Ltd., 1406 Grandview, Nashville, TN, 37215-3030, 1995)

[9] ibid, page 259

[10] “Albany Argues”, copied “Montgomery Advertiser,” November 29, 1868

[11] Mildred Lewis Rutherford, “The Truths of History,” Page 127, Copyright, 1920, Southern Lion Books Inc., PO Box 347163, Atlanta, Ga., 30334, 1998, (as quoted in Muzzey’s “American History”, page 486)

[12] John S. Tilley, “The Coming of the Glory,” page 241, Copyright 1949, (Bill Coats, Ltd., 1406 Grandview, Nashville, TN, 37215-3030, 1995)

[13] ibid, page 232

[14] Claude G. Bowers, “The Tragic Era,” Page 453
Simon Publications, PO 321, Safety Harbor, Fl., 2001, c 1929

[15] “The Southern Argus,” August 25, 1869

[16] House- Misc Doc No. 16, 39, Cong 2 Sess.,, pp 61, 91


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