What makes a person a true defender of Southern heritage? What are the basic positions that a person should accept in order to qualify as a genuine heritage defender? I submit that a true Southern heritage defender is someone who accepts and defends the following ten positions:

1. Confederate flags and symbols are honorable and noble. They represent honor, justice, limited government, resistance to tyranny, the rule of law, and faith in God.

2. The Confederacy was a democratic nation that afforded its citizens every right that we now enjoy, if not more, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship.

3. The South was not fighting for slavery but for independence. (Indeed, by late 1864 the Confederacy was moving toward ending slavery. In fact, key Confederate leaders supported gradual emancipation, including Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin, William Smith, Duncan Kenner, and Robert E. Lee.)

4. The Deep South states did not secede merely over issues relating to slavery. There were several other important factors that led the Deep South to secede. As a matter of fact, the Upper South states initially declined to secede and only seceded later because they believed the federal government had no right to invade the Deep South states.

5. The Southern states had a natural, God-given right to peacefully and democratically separate from the Union, and there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits secession in this manner. If anything, a plain-sense reading of the Constitution in light of the Tenth Amendment suggests an implied constitutional
right of secession.

6. The Confederacy did not start the war but tried to avoid war, even after the Fort Sumter incident. The South was not the aggressor but merely wanted to be
left alone. Indeed, the Confederacy made peace overtures even when it was winning on the battlefield.

7. Confederate leaders like Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, Patrick Cleburne, and Stonewall Jackson were decent, honorable men, and schools, streets, buildings and parks that are named after them should not be renamed.

8. In the vast majority of cases, Confederate generals observed civilized rules of war, in contrast to many Union generals.

9. Confederate monuments and historical sites on public property should be protected and properly maintained by state and local governments.

10. Existing Confederate holidays should be observed with the same level of support that other holidays receive.

If someone accepts these positions, then that person is a Southern heritage defender by any reasonable definition of the word. That person may disagree with most other heritage defenders on certain modern political issues, such as school choice, gun control, Social Security reform, affirmative action, the Martin Luther King holiday, drug laws, tax policy, and so forth. But, as long as he or she truly accepts and defends the above ten positions, no one should question that individual’s support for Southern heritage.

Such modern political issues have no direct bearing on whether or not the Confederate flag is an honorable symbol, or on whether or not Confederate holidays should be observed, or on whether or not buildings named after Confederate heroes should be renamed, or on whether or not the Confederacy was a peaceful, democratic nation. Modern issues like affirmative action or Social Security reform simply have no direct or meaningful relevance to the core positions of Southern heritage defense.

Mike Griffith