Defending the South to an editor of the
Charleston, SC Post and Courier
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
I had some correspondence with an editor of the Post and Courier this week when I sent them a letter for publication in response to their July 6, 2019 editorial "Don't let extremists define our national symbols."
As a result, I saw an opening to send some valuable Southern history to this newspaper and I jumped on it.
Their editorial is good in that they are alarmed at Nike removing the Betsy Ross flag, the Charlottesville city council ending a celebration of Thomas Jefferson, and the idiots on the San Francisco school board voting to paint over an 80-year-old work of art portraying the life of George Washington.
The Post and Courier does not want us to validate bad people who attempt to redefine patriotic symbols, but wait! THEY in the media have done exactly that for years ad nauseam!
The media is the primary reason we have this politically correct hate and destruction of history in the body politic.
Here is the 250 word letter-to-the-editor that got this started:
Your editorial of July 6, "Don't let extremists define our national symbols" shows that your heart is in the right place but, boy, you need to look in the mirror.
You let the KKK and Dylan Roof define the Confederate battle flag though neither of them has an iota of claim to it.
You put the Southern Poverty Law Center's disgraceful campaign to remove Confederate monuments on your front page, and you agitate all the time against ancient monuments including the Calhoun monument on Marion Square, and even against the word "Dixie."
And now you are surprised when Colin Kaepernick and others follow your lead and turn the Betsy Ross flag, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington into vile racists?
The foundation of our great nation was indeed set in 1776 as you write, but it was certainly not "reset in 1865." It died a violent death in 1865.
In the republic of the Founding Fathers, states were supreme, but after 1865, the Federal Government and Northern majority were supreme, which was the North's goal all along.
You quote the Gettysburg Address but here's what the great H. L. Mencken wrote in May, 1920: "The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination - 'that government of the people, by the people, for the people,' should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves....".
The editor wrote back and asked who the "you" was and that gave me my opening:
Actually, the “you” is the Post and Courier, but also the news media in general because so much of the media is of the same political philosophy, which has utterly politicized history in recent decades.
As serious historians know, one can’t apply 21st century standards to the past. When you do that, you aren’t understanding the past at all. You are using it as a current-day political tool.
Your Robert Behre explained to us on the front page on May 16th why we should hate the word "Dixie" after the College of Charleston in a disgusting fit of political correctness changed the 175-year-old name of Dixie Plantation ("C of C dumps 'Dixie' name for plantation"). Behre then implied why we should also hate the song "Dixie" and word "plantation."
Do you not find it odd that four weeks later on June 15th, the Antifa vandalizers of the Defenders Monument at the Battery also had a large sign that said “DIXIE IS DEAD.”
Maybe they were inspired by Behre and maybe it was just a coincidence, but the Post and Courier is really not fair or accurate with Southern history at all.
You let the KKK and Dylan Roof define the Confederate battle flag though neither of them has an iota of claim to it. The battle flag is, arguably, the greatest symbol of pure American valor our nation has ever produced because it was a soldier's flag, not a national flag. It flew over the bloodiest battlefields of a war in which 800,000 died and over a million were wounded. It never flew over a slave ship like the US and British flags did for over two centuries. The largest Klan groups of the early 20th century carried the American flag.
Your editorial had mentioned the Declaration of Independence so I wanted to tell you that when Southerners debated seceding in the months before they actually did, the most widely quoted phrase of the secession debate came from the Declaration of Independence:
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government. . .
And please don't quote that garbage about States Rights being the right to own another person. The Confederate Constitution allowed free or slave states to join.
Five slave states fought for the North throughout the entire war, and the Emancipation Proclamation deliberately exempted them all as well as slaves in most Confederate territory already captured by the Union army.
The one thing that can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt is that the North did not go to war to end slavery. They went to war to preserve the Union, as Lincoln said over and over, because all their wealth and power were tied to the Union. They manufactured for the South and shipped Southern cotton and they made obscene amounts of money with tariffs, bounties, subsidies, monopolies and such, which caused three-fourths of the treasury to flow continually into the North, though most of the money in the treasury came from the South.
When the Cotton States seceded, the Northern economy began a dramatic collapse and by war time, there were hundreds of thousands of people unemployed and a dire situation in the North.
Southerners seceded because they were fed up with Northern hate and support for terrorism such as John Brown and Hinton Helper that Republicans had used to rally their votes in the election of 1860 in which over 60% of voters nationwide voted against Abraham Lincoln.
The War Between the States was one of the most unnecessary wars in all of history but then, from Lincoln's standpoint, it was necessary for him and his new political party to establish their control over the rest of the country, though 800,000 had to die and over a million be wounded for them to do it.
To Southerners, 1861 was 1776 all over, and we in Charleston can be especially proud because we were never beaten by the Union army or navy. Charleston was unconquered militarily and never surrendered in the War Between the States. It was the only place besieged that did not give way to the besieger. When Confederate troops were ordered to evacuate in February, 1865 to continue the war elsewhere, the city, which had endured one of the longest sieges in history, was turned over to the Union army by a city alderman.
Slavery was dying out and would not have lasted another generation.
It is unconscionable that you maintain this politically correct hatefulness toward Southern history. Maybe you should go back and read your own archives which tell a different story.
XXXXXXX, people are SO fed up with idiotic political correctness. The removal of Kate Smith’s monument (she helped win WWII with God Bless America) recently, and, as your editorial pointed out, Charlottesville’s canceling of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday; the San Francisco school board’s decision to paint over a beautiful 80 year old mural of the life of George Washington; the Kaepernick/Nike thing over the Betsy Ross flag.
It is disgusting and alarming, as your editorial pointed out. It is like a cancer. It ain’t gonna stop. It needs to be opposed and defeated, which will be hard because one political party is heavily invested in it.
I wish the Post and Courier would give me a chance to write long articles on history as you do with others. Everything I write is solidly argued and documented. It would definitely add to the debate.
Regardless, thank you for letting me send this to you.