The Slow, Deliberate Suicide of Confederate Heritage™
Other bloggers have mentioned the dispute over a proposed monument to the Union soldiers that fought at the Battle of Olustee in 1864. There are three Confederate monuments on the site, but none that memorialize as a group the Federal troops that fought there. (There is, apparently, a marker where Union troops who fell were buried in a mass grave.) Initially I though that this was strictly a local issue, then Simpson posted a call to action sent out nearly a month ago on the official SCV blog, by that group’s commander-in-chief, Michael Givens. Typeface and spelling (“Darth Vadar,” “hallowed grown”) are as in the original:
A new heritage attack has been launched at Olustee (near Lake City, Florida), and your help is needed. In anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the battle that protected Florida’s capital from falling, the Sons of Union Veterans has obtained approval from the State of Florida Parks Department for a special monument to invading Federal forces. The plan calls for a large black Darth Vadar-esque shaft that will disrupt the hallowed grown where Southern blood was spilled in defense of Florida, protecting Tallahassee from capture. We fear the State may have a legal right to do so. Therefore, in order to stop this we must win the war through citizen objection. Confederate Forces won the Battle in 1864 - but will we win the 2nd Battle of Olustee and prevent this menacing monument from disrupting this hallowed Southern soil?
Rational people can have legitimate disagreement on the design or placement of this new monument, but labeling the the SUVCW’s desire to put up a monument as an “attack” on “the hallowed grown where Southern blood was spilled” makes clear the intent is to prevent any monument being placed at all.
Then comes Tim Manning, a well-known figure in the Confederate heritage/Southern nationalist/secessionist movement, pouring gasoline on the fire as only he can. His post is nominally about Vicksburg, but it’s done in response to a news story about the Olustee dispute, in which the local SCV camp commander, Jim Shillinglaw, compares Union soldiers to fanatical jihadists. Manning describes Shillinglaw as “a personal friend of mine” whose “message [should] go viral to every Southerner.” Here are some excerpts:
VICKSBURG & THE SCV: RETHINKING USA MONUMENTS TO THE U.S. GENOCIDAL WAR ~ EVERY U.S. MONUMENT to the U.S. Soldiers who fought the Southern States and people is a maniacal celebration of anti-Southern race-hatred and should be removed from every Southern State. These people want us to think that the men who killed our families to keep us in “their” subjugation are heroes of the USA and the Southern people. This is absurd. I call it stinkin’ thinkin’. Only a pathological or psychopathic bully would approve and celebrate the killing of a persons family and then erect a monument to the genocidal violence committed on the property of the same people they violated. This is like building a monument in Nagasaki and Hiroshima celebrating President Truman and the crew of the plane that bombed these cities. Our Stockholm Syndrome has kept many from “seeing” things like this in the past, but it is time to wake-up and from the shackles of the merchants of death. The man interviewed in the news clip below is a personal friend of mine. Help this message go viral to every Southerner. A few years ago I visited Vicksburg Battlefield after someone had damaged dozens of Illinois monuments. It looked like they had shot the monuments with buck shot and then beaten on the monuments thousands of times with a sledge hammer. The huge Greek-godlike monument to Lincoln smelled like urine and there was feces on some of the smaller Illinois monuments. Most of these monuments were just unveiled. To think that the people of Illinois today would build new monuments to the men who did what was done in the Siege of Vicksburg is a symptom of a psychotic society in Illinois and the USA. . . . Sadly, the National Sons of Confederate Veterans repeatedly, decade after decade, refer to the invaders of the South as “honourable men who fought bravely for their country.” There is NO HONOUR to any man who fights for a totalitarian dishonourable cause! Anyone who thinks these men were honourable to invaded the Southern States has a mind that is totally uninformed by the Holy Bible and the Will of God. The best that can be said of a person who would honour the USA invaders is that he is a spiritual inebriate. . . . Those who will honour U.S. Veterans now living need to know that they are honouring men and women who are doing to foreign nations what the USA did to the South during the 1860s through the Period of Reconstruction in the 1870s. We must at least stop celebrating the American Holocaust committed against the Southern people of the Confederate States of America ! ! !
He goes on to compare the Union to Nazis (and not favorably). It’s funny how they scream in righteous indignation when anyone makes a Nazi analogy to the Confederacy, while doing the reverse is a routine part of defending Confederate heritage. (“Abraham Hitler,” really?)
These people are clowns. Under their leadership, the Confederate heritage movement is marginalizing itself as fast as it possibly can, and it’s words and positions like these that lie at the core of the problem. Shillinglaw, Givens, and Manning would, I’m sure, gets lots of applause for saying this stuff at an SCV meeting, but most other folks will read posts like that and ask, “what the fnck is the matter with you people?” They can run their movement however they want to, but from where I sit it looks like they’re doing more harm to their own cause than all the shadowy, conspiratorial forces of “political correctness” they’re always carping about ever could hope to.
The other day, Kevin asked if the Lost Cause had actually been lost. It’s a fair question. If people like Shillinglaw, Givens and Manning are going to be the face of what passes for Confederate heritage, it’s doomed, and the cause of death will be suicide.
UPDATE, November 13. The current talking point of SCV opposition to the proposed SUVCW monument is that the latter would be placed “in front of” existing Confederate monuments. At the same time, there is general carping that the SUVCW hasn’t been open enough in publicly sharing the details of its plan with the SCV. The Confederate heritage group seems to be saying, in effect, “we are opposed to the specific details of the plan for which we don’t know the specific details.”
In fact, suggestion that the SCV is merely objecting to the placement “in front of” the existing Confederate monuments is a red herring. As Michael Givens’ public call to action above makes clear, the SCV is opposing placement of the marker anywhere near the others. Now comes a statement from the Florida SCV Division Commander, Jim Davis, arguing explitly that it should be nowhere on the 3-acre tract originally deeded to the state for a battlefield park by the UDC. Instead, he argues, it should be on the opposite side of the road, in an uncleared area off by itself. This is Davis’ proposal:
You know, separate but equal.
Davis also tells a flat-out falsehood, saying that “the 1912 monument is dedicated to the memory of the men who fought for the Union and the Confederacy.” The is a blatant untruth; this is the text of the dedication on the monument:
To the men who fought and
Triumphed here in defense
of their homes and firesides.
This monument is erected
by the United Daughters
of the Confederacy aided
by the State of Florida.
In commemoration of their
devotion to the cause of
Liberty and State Sovereignty
This is not a dedication to the memory of any soldier in a blue uniform.
Davis’ assertion is not a mistake; it’s flat-out misrepresentation. As I said in the original post, reasonable can have a rational disagreement over the position of an historical marker. But if you need to resort blatant falsehoods to make your case, as the Florida Division of the SCV does here, you damn well deserve to lose.