Re: A Northern Voice
Representative Darby has proven to be very different from many who ride these cultural hobby-horses. I have had a series of e-mails to and from him, and he seems amenable to being approached objectively and rationally. Of course, he equates our movement with the klan and skinheads etc., but who can blame him when the facts are so blatantly censored. I hope that perhaps I have made some inroads into his viewpoint on this and am hoping to get H.K. Edgerton to pick up where I have left off. Below are the e-mails of which I spoke.
E-mail Exchange: Valerie Protopapas – Henry Darby
You say that have received “hateful” communications with regard to your demand for the removal of historic flags from The Citadel.
Of course, no decent, objective person would send any message that could be rationally considered “hateful,” but I have also found after many years of debating the issues surrounding the effort of the Southern States to leave a union that had become hostile to their citizens that “hateful” is often another way of identifying cogent, intelligent opinions that differ from one’s own point of view. And usually, the more cogent and intelligent, the more eager the recipient is to play the well known “race card.” If I disagree with you, goes the game, I am a racist. Now, I do not know if you hold to that unfortunate point of view, but I wish to declare “up front,” as they say, that nothing I write to you can possibly be considered “hateful” unless, of course, you hold the above point of view.
Sadly, you and so many others are victims of a “history” that never existed. Often this historical narrative flies in the face not of Southern accounts, but of Northern ones as well. The flags which you find offensive never flew over any ship transporting slaves from Africa where black captives of interminable tribal wars were sold to Europeans by their own people. “Roots” is a total fiction! Indeed, the flag that flew from the mastheads of slave ships is the same flag (minus a number of stars) that presently flies over the Capitols in both Washington and Columbia!
But more to the point, since debating history is not permitted in these “politically correct” days (lest the truth be revealed!), it is time to recognize the fact that other people have opinions too. As well, "being offended" is not found in the Constitution! Quite the opposite, in fact! The First Amendment protects not profanity or obscenity, but unpopular political speech and thus, under that Amendment you are free to call for the censorship of the flag of the Confederate States of America – a constitutionally formed government on the North American continent – but you have no right to demand that censorship, not as a citizen and certainly not as a “public servant.”
If you cannot bring yourself to permit your fellow South Carolinians to have those freedoms which you and those who want what you demand, then I would suggest that you put the matter up for the vote and let the people of South Carolina decide. And once they have spoken in referendum, I would further suggest that, if the matter goes against you, you accept their decision and let the flags fly.
Huntington Station, New York
Ms. Protopapas, with folk like you who are reasonable one could sit down and have an objective discussion. I regret that good-will persons such as yourself have allowed the clansmen, skinheads, nazis, etc. attached the flag to their cause(s). If the outpouring of them were as the outpouring of the flag to remain within public places, there would not be a problem. However, I wish there could be a referendum – then all could be settled. Thanks for your kind response…
You cannot reasonably connect the groups you mention below to any flag of the Confederate States of America. To do so is not only incorrect, it is unjust. As for the Klan, the largest numbers of klansmen in the last century were located in the Middle West not the South and if you “google” the huge march in Washington held by the Klan in the 1940s, you will see that they carried the AMERICAN flag and not any flag belonging to the CSA.
Even more important, however, is the fact that there is no way to prevent the misuse of any symbol whether it is the Confederate battle flag or the Christian Cross or even the swastika, a Hindu religious symbol. The object being thus misused is neither responsible for that misuse nor should its true meaning be polluted by its misuse. God knows there are groups of wicked people of every race and ethnicity who foul the public discourse by their actions, but we don’t close the public square for that reason. By all means, castigate those who misuse Confederate symbols, but not the symbols themselves.
I would suggest that your rational opinion via a referendum should be acted upon. No one can consider your intention to be contrary to the will of the people if you yourself call for such a referendum! It shows that you are being reasonable in your position and open to the voice of the people in the situation extant. This would also give an opportunity for folks such as myself who support these honorable symbols to make it known that we do not support their misuse by groups espousing hatred no matter on which side they appear. True supporters of Southern history are even more offended by such groups than are those whom they appear to target for the very reason that they befoul our symbols! There is no place for hatred in rational discourse among intelligent people.
I thank you for your prompt and courteous response. As long as there is room for reasonable discourse, men of good will (and women too, of course!) will be able to maintain a civilized and enlightened society.
May God bless you.
Thanks, Ms. Protopapas! I had asked for a referendum several years ago but to no (a)vail. Perhaps, I will try again. I appreciate your logic…
Perhaps it went “nowhere” because it was seen as a condemnation of historical symbols. You might have better luck if it were seen as an opportunity for all South Carolinians to express themselves about the issue and to arrive at a consensus that everyone finds acceptable.
Of course, I would not be in favor of censoring the flags or any part of Southern heritage or history. I have studied this issue and I believe, despite the institution of slavery that also existed in the North at the time, that there was in the South, prior to “reconstruction” (which was exactly the opposite of any such effort!) a much more congenial and amicable relationship between the races than existed in the profoundly “racist” North! Indeed, Charles Francis Adams Jr., a colonel in the federal army during the Civil War and the grandson and great-grandson of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, later wrote about that war and the institution of slavery: "Had the South been allowed to manage this question unfettered, the slaves would have been, ‘ere this, fully emancipated, and that without bloodshed or race relations ruined.” So you can see that there is so much more about this matter than is revealed by todays politically correct “historians” and their friends in academia.
The ideal would be to see history properly presented – “warts and all,” as Oliver Cromwell once stated – and especially without making judgments about people who lived in the past according to the mores and customs of the present. People of good will and with an interest in the truth can usually come to some accord in keeping with everyone’s best interests and especially that of the truth. Alas, far too many people have an “agenda” which seldom represents a desire to do not what is right but rather what is desired.