By Bob Hurst
Re: "Fly your Confederate flag; just don’t ask me to salute it" (column, April 23).
Once again, Gerald Ensley displays his utter dislike of anything Confederate. This is hardly stop-the-presses news, and Ensley is entitled to his opinion no matter how simplistic, or wrong.
This time he’s criticizing the effort by the Florida Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, to gain approval for a specialty license tag honoring "Confederate Heritage." The Legislature previously has approved 106 specialty plates, and nine states have approved tags requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. What’s the big deal?
Ensley wishes to characterize the War for Southern Independence as being fought over nothing more than slavery. He even gets a quote from a Florida State University professor to support his position. Hey, that must settle it then.
I don’t think so. To begin with, and with all due respect to the professor, I have never heard of James Jones nor read anything he has written. I am well acquainted, however, with such eminent historians and authors as James Robertson of Virginia Tech, Gary Gallagher of the University of Virginia, Clyde Wilson of the University of South Carolina, Donald Livingston of Emory, Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola College and Thomas E. Woods Jr. of Suffolk County (N.Y.) Community College, all of whom have characterized the war as being fought primarily over economic issues.
I can also refer to Charles Dickens, who wrote that the war was "solely a fiscal quarrel." Dickens further wrote that "the Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states." Remember, Dickens was writing as he covered the war for British periodicals.
Apparently Ensley’s understanding of the root causes of the war far exceeds that of the aforementioned.
One of the strongest statements about why Southerners were fighting was made by Moses Ezekiel, designer of the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery. Ezekiel was born in Richmond, Va., of Sephardic Jewish immigrant parents in 1844. He attended Virginia Military Institute, Stonewall Jackson’s school, and fought for the South.
Many years after the war, he was accused by Italian revolutionary Garibaldi of fighting for slavery. Ezekiel’s response was defiant: "None of us had ever fought for slavery and, in fact, were opposed to it. The South’s struggle was simply a constitutional one based on the Doctrine of States’ Rights and especially on free trade and no tariffs."
Ezekiel considered the Confederate monument his greatest achievement in either Europe or the U.S., and he is buried at the base of it.
Slavery, Mr. Ensley? Racism? You really must explain your reasoning to Nelson Winbush and H.K. Edgerton, two black gentlemen who took part in the news conference to announce the intention of the SCV to seek a specialty tag. Both have long and notable histories of involvement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Ensley wishes everything Confederate would just go away.
The great theologian R.L. Dabney many years ago explained why we still care: "A brave people may for a time be overpowered by brute force and yet be neither dishonored or destroyed. But if the spirit of independence and honor be lost among a people, this will be the death of the Commonwealth. Dread then this degradation of spirit as worse than defeat."
Descendants of Confederate warriors have an obligation to our ancestors to tell the truth about the rightness of their cause, despite the efforts of the cultural Marxists to erase all memory of it.
Concerning our specialty plate, we ask simply that our request be treated as any other.
This state claims to pride itself on its multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance. What a sham that facade will be if our request is denied. If we cannot sell the requisite number of tags, remove us from the program, but give us a chance to sell them first.
As for you, Mr. Ensley, I will not ask you to buy a tag.