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Neo-Confederates March up Dexter Avenue for Second Inauguration

By Ryan Lenz on February 19, 2011 - 4:44 pm, Posted in Neo-Confederate

It’s hard to say exactly what the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) remembered so fondly on Saturday during a sesquicentennial celebration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inauguration: a way of life that has been dead for a century and a half, or the day when the public at large appreciated their cause.

With booming cannons and bombastic rhetoric, about 1,000 Confederate revelers dressed in period costume marched up Dexter Avenue to the Alabama State Capitol – the end of the very same route taken by Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others who participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march in 1965. There, on the gold star where former Alabama Gov. George Wallace gave his 1963 inaugural address with the infamous phrase, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” an actor playing the part of Davis became the president of the Confederacy to cheers and hurrahs.

Jefferson Davis in parade

But the SCV wasn’t interested in commemorating King or the civil rights march, nor the passage of the 14th Amendment that gave freedmen citizenship, instead their hope is to ensure “the Heritage of Confederacy” is remembered and portrayed in the right way. “We say very proudly to the world: We are proud of our heritage and will not lay down the mantle of its defense … As long as there blows a southern breeze, this flag will fly in it,” said Charles “Chuck” McMichael, past commander-in-chief of the SCV, gesturing to one of the hundreds of confederate battle flags flying.

Open only to male descendents of Confederate veterans, the SCV sees Southern history differently than most historians. From the group’s point of view, the confederacy was a victim of Lincoln’s tyranny. The South did not intend to fire the first shots on Fort Sumter; rather, Lincoln manipulated them into it. There was no “Civil War,” but instead an attempt by one country to invade another that was simply fighting for “independence.” The Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves and the war had nothing to do with slavery. The group can’t even admit that the South, home of slavery, may have been uniquely racist, arguing that there was more of that in the North.

But racism cuts to the heart of the SCV, which was roiled by an internal civil war for much of the last decade between racial extremists and those who want to keep the Southern heritage group a kind of history and genealogy club. In the end, the extremists won.

At capitol steps

The current commander is Michael Givens, who is best known for his 2000 video about a “heritage celebration” held in Columbia, S.C., to defend the display of the Confederate battle flag over the statehouse there (the flag was taken down in July 2000). The video was heavy with interviews from hate group members. Other extremists on the general staff include: Lt. Commander Charles Kelley Barrow, once was a member of the League of the South; Adjutant-in-Chief Chuck Rand, also a former leaguer; and Chief of Protocol Lee Millar, once the contact for an event scheduled to feature a blackface group called the Snowflake Minstrels.

Such veiled racism lets the SCV parade under the guise of a well-meaning group of people who view Civil War re-enactments as a hobby. McMichaels on Saturday even co-opted icons of the Civil Rights Movement to justify his defense of the Confederacy, saying, “Like Rosa Parks who went from the back of the bus to the front, we of confederate descent have been pushed to the back … and it is time for us to say ‘No more!’”

Marchers

In the end, it’s all part of a slick machine to control the image of the SCV for public consumption. Rand, for example, on Saturday confiscated racist newspapers from his supporters after police arrested Olaf Childress, the neo-Confederate stalwart who publishes The First Freedom. Many wouldn’t accept the paper he offered, but others tucked copies under their arms, hiding the masthead that proclaims the newspaper to be an invitation to “the Zionist-controlled media’cracy to meet a rising free South.”

As if the theatrics of a Davis inauguration were not enough to celebrate the Civil War anniversary, a week ago the SCV chapter in Mississippi announced a campaign to push for a commemorative license plate honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a millionaire Memphis slave trader and the first national leader of the Ku Klux Klan. The state has shown no interest in the proposal.

  • Aron

    Jordan,

    I was once in their shoes: I felt that the war did not break out over the issue of slavery, only becoming an issue after Emancipation. I even felt that secession was a legal right for a state!

    I then read further into the causes of the war, and it became apparent that while one of many causes, slavery was indeed the largest.

    The reason the NCs continue to believe slavery was not the cause is rather simple. Self-deception. They wish to whitewash the war rather than face the fact that secession is, by law, illegal.

    Hell, look at western Virginia. They had no land suitable for slaves. So what did they do? Formally secede from the CSA and form the state we all know and tolerate (I kid, I kid), West Viginia.

    Once again, one need only look at VP Stephens and the text of CS Constitution to see what was really going on.

    I think it had something to do with a stolen goat.

    (Happy Friday, everybody!)

  • Jordan

    Aron,
    You seem rather logical, can you please explain (in light of the above quotes) how the claim that the civil war was unrelated to slavery is justified by those who make it? Or are you as confused as I am.

  • Aron

    Mr. Carr,

    I believe the Confederate sympathizers can be traced back to the ‘Bleeding Kansas’ period, which has been called a ‘rehearsal’ for the later American Civil War. Though I’m sure you were already aware of that :)

    That being said, I was (briefly) involved with an SCV branch in the Gainesville, FL area, where I presented a paper I had written on cavalry during the Civil War. These were predominantly older gentlemen whose only interests involved keeping the study of the war alive.

    As such, they took it upon themselves to maintain Civil War burial grounds, (cleaning the headstones, for example), and hosting roundtables to discuss the war. As a military historian, this was my draw to the group. I would hardly classify them as Neo-Confederates, though this was but one small sample of a rather sizable organization.

    Hope this sheds some light on the existence of entirely harmless members of an increasingly radicalized group.

    Cheers!

    Aron

  • Robert Carr

    ‘Them Yankees they done done us wrong, Momma’s singing the same old song.’

    Yes, free speech allows for objectionable or foolish demonstrations. Some things can be over the line, like slavery. For 60 years of life, I have heard this chant of the South. Like with Serbia, I wish they’d just get over with it and move into, at least, the present. There are people in northern Kentucky and the praries of Missouri and Kansas who claim the be Confederate sympathizers. What’s THAT about?

  • Jordan

    And I am still waiting for someone to explain these:
    “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 1, Section 9.4
    “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 2.1
    “No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs; or to whom such service or labor may be due.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 2.3
    “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 3.3.
    In fact, the only major difference between the CSA Constitution and the USA Constitution is that the CSA Constitution doesn’t allow ANYONE, including the states, to outlaw slavery. Unlike modern southerners, the ones at the time of the Civil War, were well aware that the war was about slavery. Case in point: “Our new Government is founded on exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and moral condition.”
    -Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, 1861
    If the civil war had nothing to do with slavery?

  • Jordan

    Mr. Thompson,
    Yes, we are quite appalled by the fact that you still love slavery 11 years into the 21st century.

  • Mitch Beales

    Wayne Scarborough the point is that the CSA could not have imported slaves if they wanted to due to the blockade.

  • Buz Thompson

    Had a great time in Mongomery. I hope we can make this event an annual celebration. Pay no attention to these spl libertines.They will blame us for nocking down buildings in NY next year. Sure we lost the war but never will we lose the reason for fighting. You simply can’t stand the fact we love the “cause” forever…..BT

  • Andrew Griggs

    The stain of slavery & injustice is on all of us descended from Europeans. Look around, to any observer it is obvious that we are still spending (and I mean all of us with Anglo European genes) slavery’s profits. It is time that those of us who have profited from the sin of human bondage, admit the truth. While many brave people suffered to maintain the Confederacy & it is fitting that their lives be honoured. We must separate the horror of slavery from the bravery of the Confederates. The Industrial Revolution was paid for by the inhuman actions of a society in which human souls, created by God Almighty in his image are bought & sold with less thought than is given to livestock! Let people put on silly clothes & parade all they want. But we cannot allow the truth about slavery to be hidden behind colourful games played on a sunny afternoon.

  • Larry

    To those VERY Ignorant People who post on here and still do NOT know what the Civil War was about.. .It’s WRITTEN in our Constitution People and it’s RECORDED in the Library of Congress! Gezzz this isn’t rocket science. The ONLY requirement made upon the Traitors to rejoin the Union was that they RATIFY the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendment. THAT”S the ONLY demand the victors made of the Traitors. If you care to look up the Crittenden Compromise it details what the Traitors demanded before tearing the nation apart. It was rejected by Liberals in the North but it does LAY out the demands.

  • Larry

    I’ve seen a lot of ignorance in my time but this takes the Cake. Honoring people who LIED to Hundreds of Thousands of Simple Minded Farmers, getting them to turn on their OWN Country and supporting something so UnAmerican as Slavery.. It’s just beyond belief.

  • Michael Carney

    Man, you people are crazy…Spin it anyway you want, but, the South lost, get over it…Anyone who cares to know the truth, knows, the War was fought mostly over Slavery…No Man has the right to own another Man, regardless of Color or Religion…End of discussion…You nuts who still are fighting the Civil War, again I remind you, that while you put up a good fight, you lost, and are now part of the Untied States…And no, the South isn’t rising again…YOU LOST, except it…

  • Wayne Scarborough

    Well Mitch, I see it took you a little while to do some research, but tell me, what do you mean by “the northern blockade was very effective wasn’t it?”, It sounds like you are saying the North is Blockading the North from bringing in slaves. The Northern Bockade was designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, and arms to and from the Confederacy. Also, the Andrew’s cross is not the flag, (and the key word, GENERALLY), referred to as the Stars and Bars. If you already have your place in hell reserved, then it sounds like you’ve sniffed a lot of sulphur.

  • Mitch Beales

    Yes Wayne Scarborough the northern blockade was very effective wasn’t it? Also I was corrected on another thread here that the Confederate Battle Flag with St. Andrew’s cross is not the flag generally referred to as the Stars and Bars. It’s this one. http://unitedstatesamericanfla.....00x600.gif Nonetheless I’m sure St. Andrew would be delighted to know that the cross upon which he suffered an agonizing death for his faith has become a symbol of a regime and a “way of life” that imposed immeasurable suffering on hundreds of thousands of others. I think I’ve already reserved my place in hell. I’m hoping to bunk next to Mark Twain who once noted that, “The smell of sulphur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner.”

    George Bell other posts here make it abundantly clear that the War of Southern Treason was indeed about slavery. If you would actually read the Constitution you would find that it does not mention state’s rights at all. The Declaration of Independence speaks eloquently about the rights with which we are endowed by our creator. The Constitution is a document that delegates powers to the federal government and reserves certain powers to the states and to the people. All rights reside only in the people. Dissolution of the USA is not one of the powers reserved for the states anymore than the power to declare myself a sovereign citizen not subject to the laws of the USA or my state is reserved to me. There are certainly many things for which southern ancestors deserve to be honored. Their defense of slavery is not one of them. Bringing up their failed rebellion in an evil cause time and again seems more a way to disgrace them than to honor them.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Wow I may be jumping to conclusions, but based on this information I’m starting to get the idea that the Civil War might have had something to do with slavery

  • jgt2598

    “The War of Northern Agression was not about slavery”.
    “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 1, Section 9.4
    “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 2.1
    “No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs; or to whom such service or labor may be due.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 2.3
    “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”
    -Constitution of the Confederate States of America, Article 4, Section 3.3.
    In fact, the only major difference between the CSA Constitution and the USA Constitution is that the CSA Constitution doesn’t allow ANYONE, including the states, to outlaw slavery. Unlike modern southerners, the ones at the time of the Civil War, were well aware that the war was about slavery. Case in point: “Our new Government is founded on exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and moral condition.”
    -Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, 1861

  • jgt2598

    “we do not seek to honor the war, just the brave and honorable men who fought it” Really, than why do you wave the flag that represents slavery, why do you deny that the Confederacy was defending slavery when it specifically says so in its constitution, why do you celebrate its president (he was not one of these “brave and honorable fighting men”), why do you seek to honor a slave trader and Klan leader? You seak to honor a nation, not people, that came into existence to support the horrid industry of slavery. If you want to know how to honor your ancestors without honoring the evil that they served, go to Germany, you’ll find no Swastikas commemorating the German soldiers of WWII. And yes people like Jeronimus are the ones who want Holy Wars and Second Holocausts.

  • George Bell

    The War of Northern Agression was not about slavery, it was about States Rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. We Southerners honor our ancestors who fought for home and freedom from the Yankee Lincoln.

  • Wayne Scarborough

    Before you talk about racist flags, please study the REAL history. How many slaves do you think were brought to the U.S. under the St. Andrews Cross, (Stars and Bars) answer; NONE. Most were brought here in ships flying the US flag (Stars and Stripes), the rest by other ships from other Contries. Don’t look at the St. Andrews Cross as a rasist flag, if you want a racist flag, look at the US flag. The St. Andrews Cross is a Christian SYMBOL. Thats why it was flown over the Southern States. If you don’t know who St. Andrews was, and it sounds like you don’t, he was the first Disciple of Jesus Christ. You’re really trying hard to reserve a spot in hell for yourself for calling someone a fool.

  • Jonas Rand

    @Benny Watt Terry “…do you condemn your ancestors?”

    Some of my ancestors’ people arrived in this country with the privilege of having light skin and with that came the ability to have what are today thought of as basic human rights, denied to those that looked differently. In addition to that, however, was the ability to own slaves and act with brutality and hatred toward people of color. Yes, I condemn this practice and feel ashamed that my ancestors reveled in this privilege rather than trying to eliminate it.

    My other ancestors were African slaves who were taken by Europeans and enslaved in this country, treated in a manner not even suitable for the most savage animals.

    “GOD SAVE THE SOUTH! GOD SAVE THE USA!”

    Should God save the South from “Northern Aggression”, or should He save the USA from the South?

  • Mitch Beales

    I’ve always found waving nazi flags a very effective way to initiate dialog with Jewish people. You’re a liar or a fool Benny.

  • Benny Watt Terry

    Rhetoric, Rhetoric, and more Rhetoric. Please get your facts straight; have you ever attended an SCV meeting to see what we are about, thought not. We don’t want another holocost, or holy war; the war IS over; we do not seek to honor the war, just the brave and honorable men who fought it. They are our ancestors, do you condem your ancestors? Instead of spewing nonsense on these sites find out the facts. We seek dialog, that means we are interested in your FACTS, not your speculation.
    GOD SAVE THE SOUTH! GOD SAVE THE USA!

  • Mitch Beales

    Eliminationist rhetoric? Is your irony filter turned off?

  • Ian

    Anti-American neo-Confederates annoy me as much as the next guy, but we need to cool down on the eliminationist rhetoric in here.

  • Jonas Rand

    You lost. Period. It was 150 years ago. Why celebrate defeat?

  • jgt2598

    “Good luck calling their bosses to get them fired! LOL! It’ll be even harder when it’s 10,000 of us, then a million . . . then, well, let’s just say “I have a dream too.”
    Remember a little something called the Montgomery bus boycott? The racists are outnumbered, you always were, if those of us who aren’t so insecure as to hate others because of the color of their skin decide to stop buying from their places of business, they will be fired, or their places of business will shut down. You may dream of your Second Holocaust, or Racial Holy War, or whatever it is you call it, but you are vastly outnumbered. Slavery lost the Civil War, genocide lost WWII, third time will NOT be the charm for hate.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I honestly don’t know how many times conservatives need to be reminded that freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism. That is what groups like the SPLC are doing. They are not saying these groups should be prevented from marching. They are just calling awareness to these people and exposing them by cataloging their rhetoric and utterances.

  • Mitch Beales

    @Concerned Citizen – Remember who lost the civil war? Remember that the CSA stood for slavery? Remember that the CSA denied the rights their “sons” now exercise? Confederate flags waved at an event like this are propaganda just like the Nazi flags waved at rallies for Hitler.

    You want us to ignore your lies and hate? I choose not to.

  • Concerned Citizen

    It’s good to know that these folks exercised their rights by marching, inspite of the anti Confederacy sentinent in this cvountry we cal the USA. remember the bill of rights and the 1st Admendment. This is what it is all about. Too bad liberal and conservative extremists don’t understant it. They want America to play by their propaganda thinking. I choose not to.

  • Mitch Beales

    The only people who are “white” are corpses already. No need to mow them down Ruslan.:-)

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Still dreaming Jeronimus? Well your beloved Confederacy reduced most “white people” to poverty, as small white farmers couldn’t possibly compete with large plantations aided by slave labor. Yet still somehow these same plantation owners were able to convince the poor whites sacrifice their lives for the profits of a few. You’ll never learn.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Load the cannons with double canister!!! Mow them down like it’s Gettysburg!!!

  • Jeronimus

    Great news! It’s good to see White people daring to make politically incorrect marches in public. 1000 no less!

    Good luck calling their bosses to get them fired! LOL! It’ll be even harder when it’s 10,000 of us, then a million . . . then, well, let’s just say “I have a dream too.”

  • CM

    “It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, give full scope to reason and to every kindly feeling. By doing this and encouraging our citizens to engage in the duties of life with all their heart and mind, with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future, our country will not only be restored in material prosperity, but will be advanced in science, in virtue and in religion.”

    - Robert E. Lee (1865)