As a longtime subscriber to the Tampa Tribune, as well as a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I am well aware of Daniel Ruth’s longstanding personal prejudice against both our organization (which he insists on misidentifying as the "Sons of the Confederacy") and Southern heritage issues in general. The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and is the oldest hereditary organization for male descendents of Confederate soldiers, having been organized at Richmond, Virginia in 1896.
The SCV’s organizational mission, known as the "Charge", was given to us by Confederate Lt. Gen. Stephen Dill Lee, the one-time Commander General of the United Confederate Veterans organization, back on April 25, 1906 when he stated, "To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish."
There are innumerable instances of great Americans since that time–men such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ulysses S. Grant, and many others–who have paid homage to the soldiers and heroes of the Confederacy. The high regard in which Confederate veterans have been held since the time of the War Between the States, when they fought against tremendous odds to protect their homes, their families, and their Constitutional rights, is well-known to all of us who are old enough to remember the 1970s and before. The derogatory, degrading comments and outright slander directed against Confederate soldiers and their government leaders is a modern-day result of the "PC era", and is unsupportable by historical data. It is unfortunate that the very people who only a few years ago were demanding tolerance and diversity of opinion are now calling the loudest for intolerance against all things pertaining to that part of our Southern history and the condemnation of our unique heritage as Southerners.
Daniel Ruth has been very derogatory and vocal in his condemnation of our heritage, which he apparently believes is unworthy of simple objectivity, much less praise or adulation. It was only a few weeks ago that Mr. Ruth wrote an extremely derogatory and sarcastic column regarding the Hillsborough County Commission’s proclamation honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee, whom the majority of Southerners still hold in very high regard. Although many Southerners, including me, wrote to Mr. Ruth in an effort to provide him with historical facts regarding Gen. Lee for his consideration, he seemed to have simply cast our letters aside, and responded curtly with "end of discussion!" in his e-mailed response to me. Fortunately, millions of Southerners will not permit Mr. Ruth’s condemnation of Gen. Lee to be the "end of discussion."
As you know, Mr. Ruth’s latest article was a condemnation of our organization’s efforts to have the State of Florida make available to Florida citizens a vehicle license plate in remembrance of Florida’s history as the third State to join the Confederacy in 1861. Our organization easily was able to accumulate the required 30,000 signatures of Floridians who support the idea of this plate. Mr. Ruth stated that "…this effort on the part of groups like the Sons of the Confederacy (sic) to create a plate recalling the days of slavery looks to be a bigger bust than Pickett’s Charge." This absurd comment on Mr. Ruth’s part does not represent the intent of either the SCV organization or the intent of the Floridians who signed the petition to make the plate available. The institution of slavery has absolutely nothing to do with our honoring our Confederate forefathers, but has everything to do with defending the sacrifices and the honor of our Confederate ancestors.
Constantly bringing up the issue of slavery is non sequitur in the discussion of the Confederacy as documented in innumerable historical artifacts, and is an argument used hysterically by race-baiters and other intolerant adherents of political-correctness who are unable to find historical data for use in supporting their unsupportable position. Slavery in North America existed from approximately 1625-1776 (150+ years), then in the United States from 1776-1866 (90 years), and in the Confederate States only from 1861-1865 (4 years). In 1861, there were more so-called "Slave States" in the United States than there were in the Confederate States, and slavery in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri as well as the Union-occupied states of Tennessee and Louisiana did not end until the U.S. Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment in December of 1865, eight months after the Confederate armies had already surrendered. That is why Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s wife still owned her slaves until 1866.
Those of us who do still honor our Confederate ancestors would appreciate if you could assign a more objective and informed reporter to report on events involving Southern heritage issues. We are not asking for laudatory reviews–all we request is objective, factual reporting. Mr. Ruth’s personal prejudices prevent his being objective, and his sarcastic style in referring to those of us who honored Gen. Lee as "goobers" is both unprofessional and extremely insulting. I doubt he would refer to members of the Daughters of the American Revolution or other heritage organizations as "goobers", so singling our organization out for derision is obvious bigotry on his part.
David A. Anthony