The Rockbridge Advocate
It was my privilege September 1, to march into Lexington with H.K. Edgerton, former President of the Asheville, North Carolina NAACP, as he proudly carried his Confederate flag with Tarheel re-enactors into the city where Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson await the Resurrection. My latest Black friend was the invited guest of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a number of whom also marched.
With a welcome and send-off from the Mayor of Buena Vista at Glen Maury Park around 7 a.m. the long day ended after 11 p.m. with a vote by Lexington City Council to ban display of the flags on city poles. The intervening march took about three and a half hours and was followed by a 6:00 Save Our Flags rally on Hopkins Green.
An overcautious police presence was never needed to protect those of us who honor the flags of our Southern ancestors and was certainly unnecessary to protect our neighbors from us. Another wasted taxpayer expense springing from the out-of-touch paranoia of resident alien City Council members forgetting they are no longer in the Northern and Western states whither they transplanted.
Reporters from a number of local television stations and newspapers stopped the entourage for interview, each immediately clamoring to speak with Mr. Edgerton, almost exclusively. After all, White guys a-marchin’ with “Rebel” flags ain’t news; they’re “all racists” anyhow, as “everybody” knows. The man-bites-dog spectacle (to the sheltered hothouse bumpkins in modern monotone media) was a Black man singing Dixie and carrying a “symbol of racism”. This benighted narrow-mindedness, of course, only reveals their own provincial prejudice, bias, and bigotry.
Could anything be more racist than a blanket presumption that all Black Americans must think alike about a given matter, in this instance the Confederate flag? Is it reasonable for backwoods media or sophisticated of hillbilly academia to assume that the entire Black race must hold lockstep identical views on history as though incapable of independent or critical thought? How broad-minded!
The ignorant underlying implication is that if one Black man in America has his own mind about an issue that the Propaganda Ministry was sure it already had nailed down, scramble the news trucks from Roanoke—Quick!–to analyze the unfortunate aberration: “How dare a Black man reach an independent conclusion not scripted for him? Why doesn’t he get back in line and mind his place? Fetch him on back to Consensus Plantation!”
The supreme irony is that this insulated plastic-bubble hypocrisy is allowed to pass for liberality and enlightenment. Big Academia (indoctrination) and Big Media (propaganda) have each other’s backs and will choose which Americans of color are “right-thinking” according to whether they “all look alike”. No runaways shall be tolerated. My, my.
Swarming Mr. Edgerton as though he had just landed in a sleek kryptonite saucer from beyond their solar system, every question the press put to him was loaded with a stock social preconception and brittle racial stereotype. Without exception each reporter-bot began with the untenable flawed presumption that the Confederate flag equals racism and, therefore, its inexplicable presence in his non-White hands was somehow a contradiction of the laws of physics, a rip in the time-space continuum.
In every instance where Edgerton explained his views in ways that did not arm the media’s talking-points gun against him, the reporter looked away disinterested or stopped scribbling notes. Camera down. Quite obviously no “journalist” was there to understand a variant point of view. They had come only to mine the man for sound bites they could manipulate to bolster their own trite prejudice; to neatly classify and tag a “new” and alien species; not to listen, never to learn.
I saw the interviews firsthand as they occurred and saw what little was left of them on television. Edited were Edgerton’s comments about the honor of Black Confederate soldiers buried in Lexington’s Evergreen Cemetery. On the cutting room floor went his outrage over the bungled misplacement of the body of Jim Lewis, Stonewall Jackson’s personal body servant, whose grave is unknown. Of no interest to the press were his observations on the Christian interactions and interventions with 19th century American Blacks to elevate their station and teach them to read—even against the law. That didn’t fit the narrative of postmodern revisionism, so you didn’t get to hear those comments; unreported, unworthy your consideration. Media masters back at the Manor will decide what Black Americans may care about and which viewpoints they are allowed to hold. Thought-fugitives shall be dealt with.
Natural Bridge was once tended by a man named Patrick who lived in a cabin, sold tickets and guided visitors around the attraction. In 1815, Patrick (whose last name was Henry) rode into Lexington and bought himself a slave girl named Louisa at auction. The following year he married her. Mr. Henry was himself the property of Thomas Jefferson who had the cabin built for this Black gatekeeper. But Black slave masters in Rockbridge County also don’t fit the tidy, simplistic worldviews that childlike professors, naïve reporters and other dumbed-down contemporary hacks frantically wish were so, so why trouble you with complicating realities? Just you mind your work and leave all that to the Korrespondents, Kolleges and Kouncilmen.
The Staunton News-Leader’s “Confederate Flag Should Be Restricted” by its editorial board restated the view of many ban supporters at the Council meeting that though the Confederate flag has an honorable history, its subsequent dishonorable misuse by some fringe groups so taints it that it should be Rated R. This strange construct holds that if bad people make an ill use of good things, evil should triumph. Decent society should thus surrender to its basest elements every noble thing the wicked can smear. In short, they demand that the sons of the South should unconditionally surrender to the Ku Klux Klan. But since when is negotiation with terrorists and capitulation to hate groups the righteous option? Hate groups must never be appeased! Who could dare suggest letting them win? Only liberals.
On September 8 a Delaware man woke to find on his lawn a cross-covered with racial epithets, but there is no call for banning Christian crosses or for Old Glory to be “restricted,” though the KKK regularly misappropriates these. Shall we cut “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” from the Commonwealth flag since Lincoln’s assassin once spoke the phrase? Why is the flag of the Confederacy singularly subject to prohibition?
Moreover, the underlying premise that Americans of African descent somehow aren’t discerning enough to rationally separate the objective flag from its subjective abuses is patronizing, representing racist bigotry at its most virulent.
Every American should take gross offense at the condescending notion that a remedial paint-by-numbers version of history is provided at the back of the educational short bus for Blacks, presumed benighted, uneducable and incapable of telling a period flag from a Klan rally. Does anyone believe Booker T. Washington or Martin Luther King, Jr. would espouse this demeaning plantation mentality that “the poor old Black man ain’t smart as Whitey,” requiring a booster seat at the history table?
True equality means exactly that—no softballs, no grading on the curve, no training-wheels for some races. It means every American rolling up his own sleeves, doing the hard homework himself and reaching his own conclusions. It means taking men as individuals again, not as demographic blocs, Mayor Elrod.
Posturing over American slavery that ended 148 years ago is a lazy way to evade doing anything costly about worldwide slavery today. A lot of self-absorbed consciences have been stroked and hollow political chests will be pounded about how “meaningful” the City Junta’s flag ban imposed by 4 individuals on the city’s 7,000 citizens was as democracy triumphant, etc. (Until they’re booted out next fall and it’s all undone.) But not one thing has been done about over 27,000,000 slaves around the world who will labor under constraint tomorrow if they survive this night as smug official Lexington pillows her sanctimonious head on silks, congratulating herself for prohibiting an historic flag on a bridge for one day next January.
It’s a cheap way of stealing acclaim for doing something significant without having to spend a dime, get their hands dirty or sacrifice anything. I suppose empty people have to grasp for what negligible cover they can. No one will be talking or writing about—or even remembering—them one-hundred fifty years from now, while history will still be honoring Lee and Jackson. That’s exactly what galls every insignificant bureaucrat about all true greats.
As Virginia’s Democratic Senator Jim Webb says, “To tar the sacrifices of the Confederate soldier as simple acts of racism, and reduce the battle flag under which he fought to nothing more than the symbol of a racist heritage, is one of the great blasphemies of our modern age.” When I marched into Lexington with two distinguished Black Americans waving their Confederate flags, I walked with freemen not bound by the chains of political correctness or shackled to historical ignorance. Truth had set them free.
If Black Americans are free only to reach a single approved conclusion they are no freer than Soviets with a single candidate on the ballot. It is time to stop rounding down expectations for one race. History is neither Black nor White, Blue nor Gray. What matters to us all is that history be clear.
Sherwin W. Dillard, Jr.
The Rockbridge Advocate