Southerners were ‘the first victims’ of American imperialism and have been ‘slandered,’ claim the Sons of Confederate Veterans
The Sons of Confederate Veterans rose to prominence after the BLM movement swept the US, seeking to change perceptions of the South and explain why they proudly fly the Confederate flag, even if some think it’s a toxic symbol.
The snap impression of the Sons of Confederate Veterans isn’t a good one. A rudimentary glance at their mainstream media portrayal is far from flattering and their badge proudly features the controversial Confederate flag. Terms that spring to mind are: racist, exclusionary and backward.
So, it was with some surprise when the organization’s Chief of Heritage Operations, Walter D. Kennedy presented what he says are a rather different set of values. He, like all members of the SCV, has a direct lineage to a soldier or member of the political establishment of the confederate states. They claim to have African American, Native American, Hispanic America and Polynesian American members. Kennedy’s great-grandfather fought in the War for Southern Independence, which is what the SVC call the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865.Also on rt.com Confederate statues at heart of Charlottesville clash CAN be removed, Virginia Supreme Court rules
He is at pains to differentiate between Southerners and ‘Yankees.’ ‘Yankees’ are not all Northerners, but ones, he claims, who hold particular opinions.
Speaking to RT.com Kennedy said: “A Yankee is someone who sits upon his stool, points his finger and says you ought to do things the way we say it needs to be done. ‘Ugly American’ is an old term that used to be applied to Americans who went around the world saying you ought to do things the way we do them back home. That wasn’t Southerners saying that, it was a bunch of damn Yankees.
“That’s the attitude they’ve had from the inception of this country. After 1865 our side has lost its voice, we are a defeated, conquered and occupied people.
“I don’t say they have guns running around forcing us, but our heritage is on the back burner and if it’s used at all, it’s used to insult, to show the South as ignorant, racist, mean, backward, cruel, and it makes good movie fodder but it’s not reality.”
The SCV have become more prominent over the last year in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the Black Lives Matter movement.
They have been part of the debate over removing Confederate monuments and statues, something they do not disagree with, if the local community wants to see these relocated.
They’re currently involved in exhuming the body of Confederate Army general Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, as the city of Memphis no longer wants the graves to be located where they are. Controversially, Forrest was a Ku Klux Klan member and on Wikipedia it claims he was the Grand Wizard.
Kennedy disagrees: “He was not the Grand Wizard; he was a member of the original Klan, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the Klan of the 20th and 21st Century.
“The organization he was part of was a guerrilla movement to get rid of Yankees, carpetbaggers and scallywags who came down South to continue plundering the South after we were defeated.
“We condemn and condemn strongly the KKK of today and all racist activity.
“People talk about him being a slave trader, they never seem to come to grips, that the greatest slave traders were in New England, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and even in New York – they were the great slave traders and not the Southerners.
“It’s somewhat hypocritical to condemn one person but not condemn a whole society of slave traders.”Also on rt.com Critics remind Cuomo of the First Amendment after he bans sale of Confederate flag & ‘other hate symbols’ on state property
The same logic applies to the Confederate flag. The SCV feel it honors their ancestors who struggled for Southern independence and object to its portrayal as nothing more than a symbol of hatred and racism.
Kennedy said: “The Confederate flag has been slandered but who was saying that but the guys that defeated us. No slave ships of the millions of slaves brought from Africa to the Western hemisphere, none of those slave ships flew a Confederate flag, they did fly Spanish, French, English and United States flags. The Confederate constitution forbid the importation of slaves from Africa or anywhere else other than the slave holding states of the United States.
“It’s obvious they don’t want our side of the story told because that would embarrass the hell out of those Yankees, if people around the world understood they invaded and conquered our people out of a profit motive.
“The Yankee empire has been going around the world for a profit motive ever since then, it just happens our Confederate states of America were the first victim.
“The flag is not a symbol of racism.
“Just because a small number of people misuse an icon doesn’t mean you have to destroy that icon. You condemn the misuse of that emblem; you don’t condemn the emblem.”
Talking to Kennedy, it’s clear he and the SCV feel they are being marginalized. They don’t feel they have anyone looking out for them in positions of authority. In fact, Kennedy compared Southerners in today’s United Sates to the Jews in Nazi Germany.
He said: “We are what is known as a stateless people. If you’re familiar with the Armenians in Turkey, they were stateless, and you see what happens to stateless people.
“The Jews in Nazi Germany were a stateless people, they did not have a state to protect them and their heritage. We are not suffering anything like they did, the potential is there. Any time you’re dealing with big government potential is there. Once the Nazis took control of Germany, they did not have a state to protect their interests, their rights, their liberties, their property – we Southerners do not either, we have to depend on the Yankees to be gracious to us, as it’s at their volition, not our volition.
“We have no government that will represent our interests and defend our history. We are American, my family is all proud to be part of the United States, we’ve served in the military, the South has bent over backward to prove to the North that we want to be loyal citizens. All we ever asked was that our heritage be respected like their heritage is being respected. For a long time that happened after the war but that is no longer the case.”
But what of Donald Trump? He is a hero to the Republican base, what does the SCV think of him? And surely George W. Bush, former Governor of Texas was one of their own in The White House?Also on rt.com ‘Never Forget’ means facing history, not erasing it. If we can’t handle statues, we’re helpless against living, breathing fascists
Kennedy said: “The older George Bush is from New England and came to Texas during the oil boom, his kids were raised there but they are pure breed, 100 percent Yankee.
“Bill Clinton was a Southerner from Arkansas, Jimmy Carter was from Georgia, these people are Southerners but not like I am.
“They would trade in their Southern heritage any time for a fistful of votes in order to promote their political means.
“And with Trump, I said I will hold my nose and vote for that loud-mouthed, arrogant, New York Yankee and I will not be disappointed when he gets in office and he’s a loud-mouth, arrogant New York Yankee.”
The SCV have also taken issue with Nascar, the car racing series, which is extremely popular in the South.
In the wake of BLM, the sport banned the Confederate flag from its events.
So the SCV has flown a ‘Defund Nascar’ banner and a Confederate Flag overhead at races to rally against that move.
It’s all part of what they view as the powerful part of the US painting them as a toxic culture.
Kennedy said: “We feel the narrative has been taken away from us, the truth about the South and why that war was fought. Why our Confederate ancestors were noble heroes and patriots, not traitors and slave beaters.
“Any winner of a war, he writes and enforces history. How would England report the Battle of London if Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had won that war and ruled Great Britain right now? That’s what has happened to the South, our point of view has been excluded. There is no law that says you must exclude the Southern view but everyone in power, money and prestige will not allow our point of view to be exposed, or a very limited exposure. We call it censor by exclusion.”
Part of trying to change that, the SCV have built a $5-million heritage center. It’s on these grounds that Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife will be reburied.
Kennedy also feels the way slavery ended was all wrong – he added: “Nathan Bedford Forrest promoted the idea of black education and black voting rights. You don’t hear about things like that? All you hear was, he was a Grand Wizard. He and many other Confederate officers were in favor of black civil rights, if we had followed their line of reasoning all the problems we see today would be gone, but the country did not.
“Great Britain ended slavery in the Caribbean by gradual emancipation and compensation for the loss of the slave, the economy was not destroyed and the people there were brought into society a little at a time, That’s how it should have been done, slavery was ended in the worst possible manner in the United States.”
Through all their campaigning and attempts to speak in the media, the SCV hope to promote a comradeship about Southerners. Kennedy stresses that divisions of color are irrelevant.Also on rt.com Too capitalistic! Axing Andrew Jackson on $20 bill for abolitionist Harriet Tubman isn’t woke enough for social justice mob
He said: “We don’t see color; we see fellow Southerners. Not only are the Southerners out there my kin, if they happen to be a different color of skin, they are my kith, they are just as worthy and valuable as my blood relatives. We have a common heritage.
“The South is the poorest region of the United States, but Southerners donate more money to charity per capita than those arrogant, rich New England Yankees – we’re different and we’re proud of that difference.”
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