An Intolerance for Southern Culture
Posted on April 28, 2009
-By Warner Todd Huston
In July of 2008 a national hotel chain manager had a man arrested for displaying a Confederate flag in his hotel room window in Concord, North Carolina. It happened that Concord’s Wingate Inn had booked guests that had come to participate in the annual convention for an organization known as the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a group that celebrates family ties to that Confederate service of 145 years ago. To be sure the hotel manager knew full well that every guest would be displaying Confederate flags everywhere they went. On shirts, on book bags, on posters, on their cars these dozens of guests had Confederate flags on display. Little flags, medium sized flags, and big flags filled the hotel.
Yet hotel management called the cops on this one guy.
So, what happened? Why did this hotel manager imagine he had the right to force just this one guy, Basil D. Childress of Kentucky, to pull down his flag while ignoring all the others? Why were the police idiotic enough to actually arrest the non-violent and perfectly compliant hotel guest instead of telling the hotel manager that he was acting foolishly?
One can only explain this idiocy by realizing that if there is one segment of society that it is OK to mistreat, it’s white, male, southerners. The social stigma against mistreating any other segment of society is so harsh as to prevent even the smallest example, even a whiff of a perception of it, from surviving for any longer than it takes to gasp in horror and point accusingly in its direction. Whole federal agencies, rafts of legal copy, and entire professions have been created to ferret out discrimination for every tiniest minority. But for southern, white, males no respect in law, education or government exists. In fact, an offhandedness, a sideways glance, and a sneer is nearly a mandatory reaction when the words white, male and southern are uttered in tandem.
Some may view this as pay back for years of assumed superiority. But in a society that proclaims its pride of equality, one at last properly achieved, it rings hollow to say that no one should ever be oppressed and hated merely over heritage and yet wallow in hate for all white, male, southerners for theirs.
The study of the Civil War fascinates as much now as it ever did, maybe even more so. More books about the war are published each year these days than ever before. Lincoln, Gettysburg, the other great battles and the Confederacy are subjects that Americans seemingly can’t get enough of. People dress as folks from the Civil War and put on miniature passion plays throughout the year in National Parks and local parks all across the nation and cable shows are produced by the dozens exploiting this history. The war has gone from military, to political, to cultural in focus and research and there is no end in sight.
While it seems that we have let the past become little more than a hobby for Civil War enthusiasts on the one hand, we have revived the old hatreds — or never let them die — on the other. It may be interesting and culturally acceptable to be a Civil War hobbyist but something else again happens if it becomes known that you are an actual relative of a Confederate soldier. Worse happens when you announce you’d like to honor that history.
When the folks from the SCV booked the Wingate Inn, they never imagined that any trouble would come of it. And, for a while, none did. Still, this lone discrimination reared its head nonetheless. It is happening all over. Just last week I reported on an incident in Alabama where a city councilman felt it was OK for him to trespass on graves and to commit destruction of private property because he claimed to be “offended” over tiny C.S. flags on graves over 100 years old.
And today a report from Mississippi shows the battle again heating up between “civil rights” leaders and recognition of Confederate Memorial Day. In this report we get such illogical statements such as those from Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson.
“It is a remnant of Mississippi’s segregated past,” Johnson said. “Could you imagine Israel celebrating Hitler day or Nazi day?”
Historical illiteracy such as Johnson’s is lamentable — after all, Jews were not “Nazis” so they wouldn’t celebrate things Nazi in the first place even with the Holocaust aside — but it does show that discrimination against southern whites is the last acceptable form of racism in America today.
Certainly we must not forget the ideological genesis of the Civil War. We similarly must not forget the racism of Jim Crow, and the resulting triumph of the Civil rights movement. But by applying reverse discrimination (for lack of a better term) and forcibly removing our heritage from public view we do not educate, we enflame. Worse, we make the lie to all the claims of “equality” that a balanced and informed society holds dear.
Confederate Memorial Day will be celebrated throughout the south in the coming weeks. Let us resolve to honor that history in every way, let us educate about it not just hide our history from view.