Many good people have been working in recent years to preserve public acknowledgment and celebration of our Confederate history. Our fights have been largely defensive reactions to the innumerable strokes of our enemies.
Confederate battle flags were seen among American fighting men, in real life and film, during World War II and Korea, and Vietnam. Douglas Southall Freeman’s R.E. Lee and Lee’s Lieutenants were celebrated as accounts of American military valor. When President Roosevelt inaugurated the first completed dam of the TVA, he did so on a platform that flew US and Confederate flags.
That world does not exist anymore! The people who want to do away with Confederate symbols are not people who will come around when you argue a little historical interpretation with them, or when you point out (as you know to be true) that your forebears were not fighting for slavery, or prove that you are a loyal American whose heart contains no hate and violence.
They do not care! They have no heritage of their own and do not know what a heritage is. They believe in their own self-interest and fashionable abstractions. We do not and will not in the foreseeable future live in a world where Southern heritage will be publicly honored except by us. We live in a regime where Confederate symbols are scheduled for complete obliteration. At present, we can expect no help from our own institutions, the politics of Southern states being dominated primarily by Big Business.
The Compromise is broken. Northern society has periodically gone through fits of fanaticism which have focused upon us. When was the last time you thought about telling people in New York or Seattle what to do? Never, because it is not a part of our national character as Southerners. But hundreds of thousands of Northerners are thinking about you and about their right to suppress your evil ways. In their fantasy world, which is the only culture of any significance they have, you are the evil obstacle to making the world perfect. They have always been that way.
It has nothing to do with you. It is their problem. It has nothing to do with the South except that the South lies convenient for their aggressions. They cover up their emptiness, hatred, hypocrisy, and insignificance by identifying you as the Enemy. This is the way Puritans behave when they lose their religion. Our forefathers saw this clearly. It was that kind of society and people that they fought to be free of!
WAKE UP! You can either honor your Southern heritage and preserve your Southern identity, or you can give unthinking obedience to the America of today. You cannot do both without engaging in self-defeating contradiction.
Here are a few suggestions.
Don’t compromise. Compromise is only a defeat and a springboard for another attack. Don’t think that being a good sport will make the other side good sports. Who follows an uncertain trumpet? You will probably lose. But a loss on principle preserves a rallying point. John C. Calhoun says: a defeat on principle is not an overthrow, while a victory by compromise is a defeat.
Be worthy of your ancestors. Don’t be a goody goody "American" humbly begging to be allowed to keep a shred of your heritage. You are a member of a great people who are under attack and have been betrayed by their leaders. It is needed to defend the Southern people here and now and not just the noble Confederate soldier.
Think like a Southerner. We cannot defend just our Confederate forebears, as important as that is. They are but a part of Southern history. Lay claim to all of Southern history and culture. To concentrate on Confederate history alone is to concede to the enemy that the Confederacy can be segregated off as an evil episode of slavery and treason. It also plays into the North’s everlasting tendency to claim anything Southern that is good, as "American," that is, non-Southern. George Washington is just as Southern as Robert E. Lee. Thomas Jefferson is just as Southern as Jefferson Davis. Andrew Jackson is just as Southern as Bedford Forrest. Alvin York, and Audie Murphy, and the Alamo are just as Southern as Stonewall Jackson. Lay claim to all your heritage!
Avoid argument with the enemy and concentrate on educating yourself and members of our people, especially the young, not forgetting the many Yankees of good will. In Heritage Haters you are dealing with people who send their children to private schools while busing yours and still think they are morally superior to you because they are in favor of busing and you are not. They are not interested in debate or evidence. Remember, they are not attacking your great-grandfather’s war: they are attacking you! This goes double for the academic "experts" in the war era, who are even less interested in evidence and perspective than the ordinary flag hater.
Don’t be discouraged. So beautiful and powerful is our heritage that it has taken them decades to cut away as much as they have. It will take some time and hard work to recover lost ground.
If you have to argue, turn the tables. The significant factor is the North’s motives! They are the ones who invaded us, violating the fundamental American principle of the consent of the governed.
If you must debate, don’t make any indefensible statements.
The worst thing that can happen to the South is to be turned into an appendage of the bland, principleless elements represented by the PC crowd today. Think like a Southerner, not like a knee-jerk "conservative."
If you want to be a good American as defined by the ruling institutions today, forget about your Southern heritage. For those of us who are true Southerners, we care for family, place, Christian social order, courage, loyalty, honor – all things besieged in America today. That is, after all, why we love our heritage.
Eileen Parker Zoellner