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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: SLRC TO BLOOMBERG NEWS: SESQUICENTENNIAL IS SHAPING UP TO BE FOUR YEARS OF SOUTH-BASHING

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SLRC TO BLOOMBERG NEWS: SESQUICENTENNIAL IS SHAPING UP TO BE FOUR YEARS OF SOUTH-BASHING

BLACK MOUNTAIN – SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie told a reporter from Bloomberg, the web-based business and financial journal, that it is “already painfully clear” that the nation’s sesquicentennial observance of the War Between the States “will be the apogee of thirty years’ worth of South-bashing.,” in stark contrast to the comparatively respectful tone that marked the war’s centennial memorials.

McCredie was responding to questions put by Dave Shiflett, who usually writes as a critic for Bloomberg’s arts and entertainment section. Bloomberg had e-mailed McCredie asking how the SLRC would be “marking the anniversary.” He also asked if the SLRC had noticed “a trend away from focusing on the war itself “ and whther the SLRC felt American society “views the traditionalist Southern cause these days – more accepting [or] more hostile?”

McCredie's full reply was as follows:

Dear Dave,

Before I address your specific questions (or maybe by way of putting them into a context) let me offer some background:

In the mid-1950's, Columbia Records produced an LP called "The Confederacy." The recording itself contained choral renditions of "Dixie," "The Bonnie Blue Flag," "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and other Confederate favorites, and it was housed in a handsome hardbound coffee-table book, lavishly illustrated and containing essays by novelist Clifford Dowdy and historian Bruce Catton. Catton, a Michigander who won the Pulitzer for his history of the Union Army of the Potomac, said of the men that army had fought against, "There is no other legend quite like the legend of the Confederate fighting man. He reached the end of his haunted road long ago. He fought for a star-crossed cause and in the end he was beaten, but as he carried his slashed red battle flag into the dusky twilight of the Lost Cause he marched straight into a legend that will live as long as the American people care to remember anything about the American past." Catton could not have written those words today without
inviting opprobrium from multiple sources, especially in academia and the mainstream media, who would probably demand that he be stripped of his Pulitzer.

In the mid-1990's, a full generation after the civil rights upheaval that climaxed with the King assassination, Shelby Foote, himself the author of a three-volume history of the Civil War and the principal narrator of Ken Burns' PBS series on it, cited " ... the compromise that was reached ... Southerners agreed it was probably a good thing the Union had been saved; Northerners agreed that Southerners had fought bravely for a cause they believed in ..." But even as Foote made that comment, Southerners were being expelled from school, fired from their jobs, assaulted and even, in at least one instance, killed for displaying the same flag Catton referrred to, which Jimmy Carter reportedly called "a legitimate historical icon."

What had happened in the meantime was the hijacking of Confederate heritage by groups and individuals with a vested interest in destroying it and in the demonization of those who held it dear. In fact, this demonization had become big business for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has used it to amass an enormous fortune for itself, and the NAACP, whose 1991 "Resolution # 7" called the Confederate flag an "odious blight upon the universe" and called for its removal from all public display. (This promouncement has since been carried far beyond its original scope and has figured in many of the individual persecutions that have
eventuated in cases the SLRC has handled.)

The SLRC was founded in 1996 by four attorneys who were each working on cases involving these Confederate heritage issues, and who decided to pool their resources to help Southerners whose own civil rights were being abridged in the name of the silly-scary phenomenon known as "political correctness."

I was a teenager when the war's centennial was observed. I can well remember that its prevailing tone was much as Catton had written some years before and Foote echoed later -- a suspension of historical bickering in favor of mutual respect and conciliation. By contrast, it is already painfully clear that the sesquicentennial is going to be the apogee of thirty years' worth of South-bashing. The news reports, as well as the complaints and requests for investigation we have already received, make it clear that the only acceptable way for Southerners to mention their Confederate heritage this time around is through self abasement and abject apology. The equation is brutally and effectively simple: South = bad; North = good.

Thus, the SLRC will not be doing much in the way of "marking the anniversary" other than marshalling our meager resources to meet what promises to be a spate of complaints and requests for investigation over things like parade permits denied, Confederate flags or clothing banned, blatantly libelous statemehts about Southerners and Southern organizations, and even wrongful dismissal actions by employers against employees deemed "neo-Confederate" -- a term used in the same spirit as "neo-Nazi."

The National Park Service, at many of its Civil War sites, has changed much of its interpretive material so that it is no longer confined to what happened at a particular place -- which is what people come to see -- but is infused with one-sided references to slavery as the sole cause of the war, and Confederate armies as defenders of that institution. (Little if any mention is made of the Northern slave trade, or of any of the other complex causes of the war.)

I am not sure what you mean by "the traditionalist Southern cause." About six per cent of Southerners owned slaves or had any vested interest in slavery. Most Confederate soldiers were remarkably apolitical; they enlisted, fought and died to defend their homes and families against an invading army. (That is simple, provable truth; sorry if it's awkward.) Nor am I sure who you mean by "society." If you mean American public opinion, certainly the big guns I have mentioned are doing their dead level best to make sure anything Confederate equates to treason and inhumanity. This is particularly and tragically true in America's schools. Fifteen years ago, as anti-Southernism in America was really beginning to ramp up, Dr. Eugene Genovese, Brooklyn-born and Harvard-educated author of "Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made," said, "To speak positively about any part of [the] southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural atrocity -- an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of
their heritage and, therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears, or to remember them with shame."

On the other hand, if you mean the concept of limited government and inherent states' rights, then it would seem that more and more Americans are beginning to see the South may have had a point. Can you say "Tea Party"? Suddenly "The South Was Right" is more than just a bumper
sticker.

About 1.4 million men served in the Confederate army. Their descendants today number in the millions and represent a substantial segment of the American population. They are loyal citizens and have the same hopes, aspirations and problems as do all other Americans. Yet a surprisingly large number of them are aware that they are the inheritors of a unique history and set of traditions, and -- as Americans -- they expect to be shown the same respect that any other such ethnic group would be accorded. If that doesn't happen during the next four years of this observance, if they instead continue to be the butt of jokes and the national punching bag, then the scars will never heal and, worse yet, the nation will have cheated itself out of something fine.

Thank you for your patience. I hope you can derive some use from my comments.

Sincerely,

Roger McCredie
Executive Director
The Southern Legal Resource Center

3 Comments:

Blogger Val Proto said...

In The Southern Cavalry Review, the newsletter of the (mostly) Virginia-based Stuart-Mosby Historical Society, I have endeavored beginning in this (2010/2011) membership year to run a series of articles on the War, its causes and many little (and un)known matters pertaining to it. The last issue of this year, May/June, will go to the printers in early April.

So far, we have carried comments by such men as Dr. Clyde Wilson, Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Moore (on the assault on Southern heritage) and many other comments and examples of the falsity of what currently passes for history. I am personally proud of an article I presented featuring Gen. Erwin Rommel and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, two men of high character and military brilliance who are condemned to (relative) obscurity by the nature of the cause for which they fought. I did this because a number of Society members asked why it was necessary to study the War when all that most members wished to do was to study Gen. Stuart and Col. Mosby! I pointed out in this article that the soldier CANNOT be separated from the cause for which he fights and that perceived "noble" causes "excuse" atrocities (Sherman's March, the Devastation of the Shenandoah) while those causes labeled "wicked" stain the characters of even the most noble of their adherents. Hence, as things presently stand, it won't be too much longer before Stuart and Mosby (as well as Lee and Jackson) stand no better in public opinion than Rommel and Yamamoto.

That cannot be permitted to happen - at least not without a fight.

Lady Val

4:52 PM  
Blogger Stephen Clay McGehee said...

Well said, Lady Val. Well said. It truly cannot be permitted to happen - with or without a fight. The events of history have slipped away; the men who created those events have slipped away. All that remains is the memory, and that will always be within our power to preserve. There will always be those who attack the Southern Cause, but they win only if we quit.

Stephen Clay McGehee
ConfederateColonel.com

7:11 PM  
Blogger Val Proto said...

One of the ways I have been able to deflect criticism for presenting "the Southern viewpoint" (i.e. the facts) is to point out that I don't care what a person chooses to believe in the end; that is up to the person. After all, the Constitution does not forbid stupidity. HOWEVER, I do very much care that people are not PERMITTED to access all the facts and opinions available including the source material from which some of those opinions arise.

I remember once responding on some "war list" with quotes by Lincoln on matters of slavery and race. I was "young and foolish" those days, at least with regard to this subject and was unprepared for the avalanche of violent and nasty attacks when I had done nothing but use Lincoln's own words! One man said that I took him "out of context!" What part of a statement to the effect that the black man is inferior to the white changes with ANY "context?"

We must not try to demand that people share our beliefs. What we must demand is that objective people be given the facts (not the myths) and that they be permitted to make up their own minds. If we do that, no one can accuse us of trying to force our viewpoint down their throats.

On the other hand, by showing that our facts and sources (often UNION sources) are censored, we can clearly show that "the other side" is against truth and enlightenment and that they know that their viewpoint cannot prevail when all the facts are known. Most folks do not care to be told WHAT TO THINK. They are far more responsive to people who say, "Look at this and here's the source from which it comes, decide for yourself what to think." We can do that while the other side cannot because with just a little bit of actual knowledge, any reasonably intelligent, objective and fair person must admit that our side is credible. I know because I believed all the Yankee claptrap for almost 70 years. Now I know better but I can sympathize with those who have never been exposed to the facts of history.

6:04 PM  

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