My Letter to the SPLC
To Morris Dees and SPLC Board of Directors
Having led the recent Confederate counter-protest against the KKK at Gettysburg I must say that I am entirely appalled by your reporting of this event. Granted what you include in your report is nothing more than a direct quote form the York Daily record. However, if you are truly interested in "teaching tolerance" as your website proclaims, then you need to start proving it when dealing with issues such as Confederate heritage and symbols.
If you actually took the time to report the events of the day at Gettysburg accurately you would have noticed that 6 other honorable Southerners joined me in earnest protest against the Klan that day. Perhaps the fact that a proud Black Confederate reenactor and historian led this counter-protest of his own free will confuses you.
I, Robert Harrison, 1st Sergeant with the 37th Texas cavalry, Dick Poplar with Lee’s Miserables and member of the Petersburg Dick Poplar Foundation, proudly led this valiant effort against the Klan. Furthermore, we plan to continue to combat the Klan and its continued misuse of our heritage and symbols until such acts cease to exist.
What raised my interest in your report was the quote from the York Daily Record that "The Klan’s counter-protesters were organizations that honor the heritage of fighting a war to protect slavery." Quite frankly that statement was and is completely off the mark historically as well as accurately in speaking of our purpose.
My unit, the 37th Texas Cavalry, is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic unit dedicated to the preservation of historical truth. We are not just a group of reenactors or "neo-Confederates," a term which you seem to use quite liberally. We are a gathering of professional and amateur historians who have taken many long painstaking hours to put together a web site which contains well over 100+ pages of text and pictorial facts complete with scholarly documentation.
I cordially invite, and furthermore challenge you all, to visit our web home and view for your own the great depth of historical facts we have amassed and presented. If you had taken the time to research us more accurately you would see that facing the Klan with honor is something we do often and quite successfully as well.
Furthermore we have the endorsement and support of such fine African-American support groups as the Jackson County, MS chapter of the NAACP and the support of County level politicians like Ms. Wilhelmina Johnson, Darlington County councilwoman form Darlington, SC. Clearly our knowledge and presentation of historical facts, coupled with support of our efforts coming from African Americans of every level of society, demonstrates clearly our purpose and intent of protest the Klan’s misuse of Confederate heritage and symbols.
While I am sure you feel genuine in your stated purpose and actions your organization has taken, I cannot help but feel as though you wish to see everything and anything Confederate eradicated form the face of the Earth. Being African American myself having grown up in PA, and lived in York, PA for almost 6 years of my life, I know firsthand the dangers and problems the KKK, Nazis, skinheads and other racists bring to society.
However to purposely label everyone who identifies with Confederate heritage and defense a _racist_ is not only wrong but heavily bigoted in and of itself. As a Black Confederate who proud displays confederate symbols and defends its heritage, I seriously doubt I will ever become a Klan member.
Furthermore, many of the "neo-confederates" as you describe them are former veterans, US veterans I might add, who fought valiantly for this great country. All they asked in return was some common courtesy and respect in allowing them the same rights as everyone else in celebrating their history and heritage.
Unfortunately a great many people and organizations such as your own have done nothing short of creating an even bigger rift between the races and created a strong fiery desire for the South to again seek independence. Regardless of your intentions your organization has continued only to further the agenda of Radical Republicanism which should have died out years ago. To the contrary, your actions have once again put a great many Southerners on alert for survival as a people and culture.
In conclusion what your group really needs to do, if mutual tolerance and respect is really your goal, is to apologize to the South for labeling all her sons and daughters with the same bigoted brush. Secondly, you should work for dialogue between both ends of the spectrum and get Southerners to sit together as one at the table of brotherhood so they can talk and listen to each others concerns regarding this delicate history and issue.
When that happens, perhaps mutual tolerance will be achieved. However, acknowledge it or not, there will never be mutual respect and tolerance until Southerners are allowed the respect and dignity of honoring their history and Heritage.
We are tired of remaining foreigners in our own country.
Bob Harrison, 1st Sergeant
37th Texas Cavalry, Company B, CSA