When you think of the Confederacy, what are the first things that come to mind? Slavery, for good reason, but what about aristocracy and feudalism; the Antebellum South was the closest thing that America’s ever seen to the sort of landed gentry common in Europe and was fundamentally anti-democratic. Treason, perhaps? Some people may invoke abstracts — “honor” and “dignity” — but those “feel good” façades are coats of lead paint over ingots of americium-241.
With this in mind, I’ve never understood — and my family is from the South, with a capital ‘S’ — why anyone would want to pay tribute to that heritage. I’m ashamed of it. I’d rather not be associated with it at all, and I really wish other white people would sit down and not prance around with the flag like a fool. Especially when they do it on the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. day, like the dozens of demonstrators who marched in honor of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackets last weekend.
By the way, I’m curious: when do Germans celebrate the birthdays of Generals Kurt Zeitzler and Alfred Jodl?
The Baltimore Sun reports that about 50 protesters stood silently across the streets from the pro-Confederate rally, some of them carrying signs that urged the Civil War enthusiasts to change the date of their annual demonstration. The group, Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, said that weekend was chosen to honor the Confederate traitors because it was their birthdays; 19 and 21 January.
King’s birthday, meanwhile, was 15 January, and the federal holiday is the third Monday of each January.
The pro-Confederate demonstration’s been routinely held on the third week of January for years, although members aren’t really sure how long the event’s been held; some members have been attending the ceremony since it was held in the 1950s at the Lee-Jackson monument, near the Baltimore Museum of Art. The last three years have been met by silent protests organized by a local Quaker group.
Tessa Hill-Alsto, the president of the local NAACP chapter, noted that the demonstration was “blatant racism,” despite everyone having “a right to free speech.”
Unless, of course, you were a slave in the Antebellum South. Then you didn’t have a right to free speech, because you didn’t have a right to anything. And if you’re tired of me bringing up slavery, stop giving me the opportunity to by bringing up the Confederacy.
The director of the Maryland division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Jay Barringer, noted that “Everyone should be proud of their ancestry,” and organizers contended that they didn’t intend to “antagonize” anyone or protest King’s legacy. They insist they’re not racists, they just play them on the weekend.
Watch the video below: