Mr. Denne Sweeney,
Commander In Chief
Sons of Confederate Veterans
An unnamed SCV member claims that the SCV’s lack of presence to oppose the
Ku Klux Klan’s assembly at Antietam/Sharpsburg "was loudly heard as a protest."
On Saturday, June 10, I stood on the hallowed ground of Sharpsburg,
Maryland, in defense of Confederate heritage and Southern culture and listened, enraged, as the words "As the Klan, we are the ghosts of our Confederate brothers and sisters who died here," fell from the lips of Gordon Young, the Imperial Wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The SCV and UDC did not stand with us on that hallowed ground. Their silence was not "loudly heard as a protest" – it was just silence.
Arleigh Birchler and I attended the counter-protest, representing the 37th Texas and Black CSA. We hoped to see more reenactors, Confederate descendents, SCV and UDC members there. Instead we stood nearly alone, telling local residents and members of the national and international press that the KKK does NOT represent Confederate heritage, they do NOT represent Southern culture, and they do NOT represent America.
We had come simply to turn our backs on the KKK as a symbolic gesture, but found the press eager to talk to us. We welcomed the opportunity to point out the diversity of the real Confederate Army – Jews such as Secretary of War and State Judah P. Benjamin and Phoebe Yates Pember, matron of Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital, Hispanics, Filipinos, African-Americans, and American Indians such as my veteran grandfather.
When they asked why a woman was dressed as an infantryman I told them of the many females who disguised their gender to fight. If that isn’t cultural and ethnic diversity, then what is? The KKK and American Nazi Party, as I said, would spit upon my soldier grandfather because of his race, despite his Confederate service. They don’t represent us, never have, never will.
Silence is assumed as condoning or even as approval. When the Imperial
Grand Wizard claims to represent the Old Confederacy, quotes heroes such as General Robert E. Lee, and is met with no direct denial from the leading Southern heritage organizations or their representatives what is the public at large to think? What would YOU think?
The SCV issued a "letter of condemnation" against the demonstration by the Klan. Where is any mention of this letter in the post-event press coverage? Why was the condemnation not read aloud at the counter-rally by the SCV Commander-in-Chief?
This time our actions were reported nationally and internationally by the Associated Press and echoed across the globe, even reprinted in Taiwan’s "Taipei Times." The door to the press has been swung open and we must decide whether we will sustain this momentum or watch the door swing shut once again.
The Charge to the SCV from General Stephen Dill Lee reads: "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. Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations."
General Lee issued a noble call to action.
Instead we Southerners have sat on our butts for 50 years – and many continue to sit on their collective butts – while the KKK, the Aryan Nation, and other hate groups have flown our flags, quoted our heroes, assembled on our battlefields, and presented themselves as Southern Confederates. Meanwhile we attended reenactments, held the occasional grave dedication, and showed up once a year for Confederate Memorial Day. Yet now we wonder why the schools are banning our flags, reenactors are barred from holiday parades, and textbooks demonize the Confederate soldier as a defender of slavery and racial hatred.
Both General Lees would be sadly disappointed in all of us.
Someday you will face the spirits of your ancestors. Will you be able to tell them that you upheld their legacy? Will you be able to say that you took a stand for truth and against hatred?
As Patrick Cleburne said at the Battle of Franklin, "Let us die like brave men."
I will be on the battle line whenever these thugs and TERRORISTS attempt to present themselves to the public as Confederates. Where will YOU be? Will you be fighting to preserve our ancestor’s legacy or at home reading "Gone With The Wind" and planning on how to help little Timmy wear his Battle Flag t-shirt to school?
Battle lines are drawn. Choose your side.