Note: A version of this paper originally appeared in the Summer 2015 Edition of the Palmetto Partisan, the Official Journal of the SC Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The grey riders are gone, but yet they remain. Asleep in our soil, and alive in our veins. Untouched by fire, untouched by frost, they whisper within us, “Our cause is not lost.” –Unknown
On Friday, 10 June 2015, after a series of vitriolic, angry and hate-filled rallies, a press conference from South Carolina Governor Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, a legislative coup d’état comprising an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly and the stroke of the governor’s pen, the Confederate Battle Flag was removed from its place of honour at the Confederate Soldiers’ Monument on the SC Statehouse grounds.
It had been placed there a decade and a half earlier by the SC General assembly as a “compromise” that removed a similar flag from the dome of the SC Statehouse where it had flown since the Centennial Observance of the War Between the States in the 1960s.
The ambivalence of the meaning of the earlier display on the dome was certainly open to interpretation. It could even be argued that its meaning was unclear, especially to our neighbours and friends of African descent. However, this unfortunate situation was remedied in 2000 by placing a historically accurate flag at a historically significant monument. At that very moment, the new flag became unequivocally linked to the South Carolina soldiers of the 1860s and unequivocally severed from its perceived ties to legislative opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.
It is for this reason that the “debate” on the meaning of the display of the Confederate Battle Flag at the Soldiers’ Monument that preceded its removal was fundamentally flawed. Anything that happened prior to the compromise of 2000 was irrelevant, yet here we are.
I would not expect outsiders from the media or elsewhere to know SC’s history regarding Confederate flag displays, but I do expect our elected officials to know these facts before enacting laws that de facto DEFINE the Confederate Battle Flag as “hateful,” “offensive” and “racist.”
During this entire process we have been insulted, betrayed, ridiculed and shamelessly associated with one of the most horrific crimes in recent memory.
The seat of government now held by Governor Haley and the General Assembly — the very same seat of authority that called our fathers to forsake all in the 1860s — abandoned their trust and allowed this insult and betrayal of these South Carolina soldiers to occur.
They foolishly viewed their actions as a great victory against hatred and intolerance. Their hasty and misguided actions was the proverbial spark that set aflame the passions of thousands who, sadly, view the world through the narrow and jaundiced lens of race. There is now more hate and intolerance than there was before, only now it is unabashedly directed towards native Southerners, their ancestors and anything associated with them.
This hysterical response has run the gamut from the ridiculous to the macabre; from banning the Dukes of Hazzard television show, to demanding the remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his bride be disinterred and removed from their current resting place in Memphis, Tennessee.
Despite the governor’s promise that the flag would be removed with “dignity and honour,” this was not to be the case. A throng of onlookers whooped, hollered and chanted that morning as they waited for the flag’s descent.
As the flag was lowered by a strange group of well-choreographed, high-stepping public safety officers, a familiar song rose up from the crowd as Jessie Jackson and our elected officials looked on: “Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na, Hey! Hey! Hey! Good-bye!”
Dignity and honour, indeed!
In the aftermath of this “situation,” it has been difficult for many of us to remain free from anger on one hand, and despair on the other. The experience has been both shocking and overwhelming. Yet, despite all of what has happened, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future.
There is a silver lining to the dark cloud that currently hovers over our beloved Southern homeland and it is this:
WE DO NOT REQUIRE THE PERMISSION OF THE GOVERNOR, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, WALMART, AMAZON, LOCAL POLITICIANS, CIVIC LEADERS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES, OR ANYONE ELSE ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH TO DISPLAY AND HONOUR OUR FLAG!
Removing the flag from the SC Statehouse grounds — or anywhere else, by whoever else, and for whatever reason — will not change the place where the flag and all it represents currently resides, in our hearts, in our blood and in our bones!
While we do not have control over what they have done or what others may do, we have absolute control over how we respond.
It is encouraging to know that for every flag that has been taken down — every flag removed from public places; pulled from store shelves; purged from battlefield gift shops; stolen from graves; yanked from houses, trucks or cars; or banished from TV Land — scores of flags have gone up in their place all over the South and beyond. There is every indication that this trend will continue, all because of the anti-Southern hysteria that started in Columbia and spread throughout the country.
If you have not already done so, join the resistance against this Orwellian purge of the battle flag by unfurling your own starry cross of Saint Andrew. It doesn’t have to be a grand display in order for it to be effective. It could be a small flag on a table centrepiece, or a grave flag in your garden. You could attach an inexpensive flag pole to your house or shed.
If you don’t want to put it in your front yard, put it in your back yard. It does not have to be a public display. The most important part of this display is that you see it!
Your display need not be a reminder of what happened at the Soldiers’ Monument in Columbia. It should, however, remind you of the “true and valuable” things that our flag represents each and every time your eyes fall upon it — faith and family; hearth and home; honour, duty and sacrifice; the cause of our fathers; our own cause today; the land that we love — that land that holds the bones of our fathers and will sooner or later hold ours; indeed, everything worth living for; everything worth defending and, if need be, dying for — but above all, it should be a reminder of the sacred meaning it held for our Confederate fathers and the meaning for which it is known all over the world — as the symbol of resistance to tyranny!
The Confederate Battle Flag is a powerful reminder to those in power that there was once a people who sacrificed all to free themselves from a hostile and aggressive national government and we have not forgotten!
If we remain true, our “defeat” in Columbia could very well be remembered as the day the battle turned in our favour; the day when our enemies overplayed their hands and went too far; the day that inspired hundreds, if not thousands of people to raise up flags all across Dixie and declare their right to exist; the day we discovered our own strength and fixed our resolve; indeed, the very day that set us on the path to victories heretofore unimaginable!
By raising one flag at a time, attending one Southern conference or cultural event at a time, by learning more about our own culture and history a little bit every day by taking advantage of the wealth of information now available, especially on the Abbeville Institute website (audio lectures, videos, daily articles and papers—all for FREE), in brief, by sharpening our mind and strengthening our resolve to actively and intelligently engage and actively resist the latest incarnation of reconstruction — slow, steady, consistent and with the decisiveness of a Robert E. Lee battle plan — we will not only overcome our setbacks, but will reverse our losses and snatch victory from the jaws of this apparent defeat.
I think I hear a faint rebel yell in the distance…
Are you ready?