Patrick Brophy
Thursday, April 28, 2005

Have you ever noticed how a thriving, pleasant, "normal" life seems to go on in this land, utterly unnoticed in the newspapers and other "media" that affect to report on, and indeed mirror, what’s going on? "What’s going on," according to them, far from normality, is an endless round of mayhem and political crisis, in an atmosphere of bitter rancor.

On April 9, at Osceola, the Col. John T. Coffee Camp No. 1934 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans held its annual "Heritage Dinner," attended by 128 persons from many states.

Scarcely the sort of doings to hog headlines. The dinner was held in a church auditorium. Following the "Pledge of Allegiance," the camp chaplain began the evening with an Invocation, followed in turn by "the Salute to the Confederate Flag" and a rousing "Dixie." If there’d been any "media" types present, and they hadn’t yet begun to ruck their brows and wonder "What’s wrong with this picture?" they soon would have.

The speaker and guest of honor was a black man, H.K. Edgerton. He began his presentation with a long quote that contradicted and refuted all we incessantly hear.

Slaves in the Old South weren’t universally abused and discontented, he said. Often masters and slaves liked and respected each other. More than anything else, it was a human relationship.

Why did he belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans? Why had he made something of a name for himself as a defender of the Confederate Battle Flag? Because, was Edgerton’s answer, he was proud of his Confederate soldier ancestor, not to say bone-tired of the politically-correct denial that there were black Confederates.

Why had his ancestor fought for the Confederacy? For the same reason Southern whites fought for it: Because his homeland was being invaded! Whether slave or free, like the nine out of 10 whites who owned no slaves, the South was his country too.

Edgerton became a national figure by walking from his hometown, Asheville, N.C., to Austin, Texas, carrying the Confederate Battle Flag.

All along the way, he said, ordinary folks received him with kindness and understanding, with unspoken respect for his willingness to stand up for his beliefs (just as did the Osceola people and SCV members he’d met that weekend, he added). Only newspeople, and the occasional academic, recoiled in scandalized incomprehension, even horror.

At the University of Texas, he was stopped by police and asked what was he up to? He was on his way to visit the campus monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jeff Davis, and other Confederates, he explained. "Not with that flag, you’re not!" he was told. Standing his ground, he was arrested and charged with trespass. Police cars deployed, as in anticipation of trouble.

So much for the Constitutionally enshrined right of free speech in these politically-correct United States, above all in its would-be very citadels of enlightenment.

Hardly a month ago, pupils in a Missouri classroom were assigned each to write an essay on a black American of their choice, in observance of Black History Month.

Young Justin Michael Williams chose H.K. Edgerton, whose curriculum vitae includes not just "Confederate heritage activist" but: Student regent at the University of Minnesota; chairman, board of directors, Edgerton and Edgerton Office Products; resident futurist intern, Green Giant Co.; spokesman for trucking and construction companies; special projects consultant for energy and development projects; chairman, board of advisors, Southern Legal Resource Center Inc.; chairman, Heritage Preservation Association; etc., etc.

Ideal, right? Wrong! Justin was hauled before the school’s Holy Inquisition and advised to choose again (like, say, 0.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, or Kobe Bryant?)

But Justin, alas, like H.K., has principles, and stuck to them. So, his essay was rejected and, in the old Inquisition tradition, burned. Lucky for him, they no longer burn the writers too. He was merely suspended. That’s what principles get you in school these days.

Why the fuss? Well, much as radical feminists rejected conservative Jeanne Kirkpatrick because "She’s not a woman," so self-appointed black leaders and their white toadies reject the well-pigmented H.K. Edgerton because "He’s not a black." A "woman," you see, is someone with a feminist axe to grind, a hermaphrodite knee-jerk, arch-liberal. Likewise, a "black" is a dark-complected knee-jerk, arch-liberal.

Most "rights" groups, right and left, rolled over at the above outrageous nonsense. It took, not the ACLU, but the Col. John T. Coffee Camp of the SCV to get young Justin Michael Williams good lawyers and high hopes of winning his "civil rights" case.

Justin was present, alongside H.K. Edgerton, at the April 9 Heritage Dinner.

He wore a full-dress Confederate uniform and carried a huge "stainless banner," as the Confederacy’s "third national" flag is called: a white field with the 13-starred St. Andrew’s Cross (the "Battle Flag") in the union. Activities absolutely forbidden at his school, where they might "offend somebody." Flaunting an al-Qaida banner, or wearing a headrag, that would be okay. The ACLU would rush to your defense, your right to express your solidarity with the country’s enemies.

But not the Confederate flag. That’s a no-no, H.K. Edgerton believes, just because it’s a cross. The people eager to get rid of Confederate symbols are the same ones equally eager to get rid of Christian symbols.

Can’t have the public schools contributing to the dangerous fallacy that this is, at least in some attenuated sense, a Christian country.

A crackpot atheist somewhere, or a just-arrived Moslem or Satanist, might get his little feelings hurt.

In a time and a climate in which much is made of "rights," black H.K. Edgerton believes he has a right to his heritage, which includes the memory of his Confederate grandsire, his valor and devotion. A right to have that heritage preserved and respected. H.K. Edgerton has defied, and will defy, ridicule and death-threats in his pursuit of that belief.

White Justin Michael Williams believes just the same. That steadfastness to convictions is more important than "going along, getting along" with whatever fashionable idiocy chances to reign in the schools or in society. Than selling yourself for an "A" grade.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans believe in the H.K. Edgertons and the Justin Michael Williamses. Anyone present at the April 9 Heritage Dinner would have been heartened that perhaps the world hasn’t gone quite as mad as the daily news would lead us to believe.

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