Some Minor Disturbance Over What Stephen Dill Lee Really Said
by Al Benson Jr.
It seems that my most recent article about Stephen Dill Lee’s Charge to the Sons of Confederate Veterans stirred up a minor tempest in the proverbial teapot. Within 24 hours of its being posted, replies came from several sources that said that "Remember it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations" was not a part of Lee’s original address. Some friends of mine did some checking and it appears they may be correct on that one point, though I took the quote from an SCV web site. So if I got it wrong so did they. It seems that this particular portion of his Charge had the wording changed to this in 1906 and it reflected something other that what Lt. General Lee said, sort of a compromise in semantics, if you will, a slight toning down of the original wording.
At any rate, as I quoted from what was apparently the 1906 version rather than the original, I stand corrected.
There seems to be, even today, a bit of a fuss over how this terminology was parsed out and what was really said. There are those who will argue for historical correctness, and that’s okay. I strive for that myself, even though I don’t always get it perfect. However, what we often end up with in disagreements like this is a situation where those who have gotten a particular quote, or whatever, correct will never go any further than their historical argument, and it’s usually an armchair argument rather than an active one.
I’ve followed SCV "politics" like I have the politics of many groups over the years and I know enough to realize that there are factions within the SCV that argue about what the organization should be doing. Some want it to be merely an organization that puts flowers and flags on Confederate graves and keeps the lawns at Confederate cemeteries mowed, with little or nothing beyond that. Others want the SCV to take a much more activist role in presenting historical truth and contending for that truth. I guess, were I able to officially belong to the SCV, I would belong to the latter group rather than the former.
Over the years some have felt I was a bit too much of an activist, and often they were not hesitant to let me know that. Maybe that’s why I never quit being one. Seems to me if you believe in something and feel it is worth defending or fighting for then its worth doing at actively as long as you can. My wife and I have supported and acted in behalf of several causes over the years of our married life, and always felt they were connected at the theological level even though the connection might not be apparent at other levels to most people. We can no longer do this as actively as we once did. Age and medical conditions slow one down, but on the other hand we are not ready to lie down and concede defeat either. Helping to prepare another generation to take up the fight is also important. After all, as Christians, we have a multi-generational worldview and where we have, by God’s grace sown some seed, others will, also by God’s grace, come along to water.
So, in a sense, arguing over Lt. General Lee’s exact wording in his Charge over 100 years ago, while it is important to get it right, really begs the question. And the question still is, What should the SCV be doing?
What was the original intent of the organization? If it was only to decorate graves, then I guess we could paraphrase Scripture and ask "Do not even the Yankee/Marxists do the same?" And some of them don’t really have to do anymore, because their grandfathers wrote the "history" books didn’t they? Yet they are not content to just let it lie, but rather they turn out a continuous stream of political correct invective that relentlessly attacks all things Southern and Confederate.
If the Confederate Battle Flag was only a flag for grave tenders then why did the NAACP so vehemently attack it several years ago and stir up a firestorm over it? Of course many of us realize the NAACP membership was flagging and they needed a whipping boy to drum up support for the politically correct shock troops and to enrich the coffers, but was that the only reason? Why do the politically correct Marxists (and they are Marxists) continue to attack the flag and Southern heritage even today? It seems to me that the SCV, as well as other Southern and Confederate groups, has an adversary that is determined to stamp out everything they ever stood for. And if that’s the case, then just tending your ancestors’ graves isn’t enough. If that is, indeed, the case, then you better learn how to rise up from tending the graves of your honored dead and learn how to fight back. If you are willing to just sit back and let the Cultural Genocide crowd run all over you while you are trying to be "nice" then you are–well, I can’t say what you are–it would probably get my blog tossed off the Internet.
It seems that the SCV, like other groups, has to decide which was it’s going to go. Personally, I was never in favor of letting my adversaries stomp all over me if they were Marxists. With other Christians, and other well-meaning folks you can often agree to disagree and let it go at that. You can’t do that with Marxists, or with any of the leftist crowd. There is no peaceful co-existence with them except on their terms and anyone with an ounce of sense won’t play that game.
All you need to is to check out the political persuasions of those who practice Cultural Genocide on the South and you will see what I mean–all the way from the political left, to the educational left, to the Evangelical left–they are all leftists, and as such, your destruction, culturally and otherwise, is their goal.
So whatever Lt. General Lee’s Charge did or didn’t say, the SCV has to consider the question of what they are going to do to deal with their Cultural Marxist adversaries. That is the ultimate question for all the various groups that would defend the South, Southern tradition and history, including the Confederate States, or the Southern way of life.
Start by learning who your enemies are. Learn how to expose them. Then learn how to oppose them, because just tending the graves of your ancestors, as important as that is (and I don’t discourage that) is not going to cut the mustard in the days to come and any organization that proposes to do that and nothing else, has got major problems.