Orange County, Texas Commissioners are under fire from some residents for a proclamation that declares April “Confederate History and Heritage Month.” It is the 5th time in as many years that the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been granted their request.
The proclamation caused intense reaction from the community, some reported by local media and much more can be found in the comment section of their reports. One of the prevailing arguments made by supporters was essentially “If there is a Black History Month, there should be no complaints of a Confederate History Month.” Yep, they went there, and still others pushed the fallacy that the Civil War had nothing to do with the “peculiar institution” of slavery. That, of course, is what SCV wants everyone to believe.
In 2010 the group held a Sesquicentennial Event to “celebrate the beginning of the Confederacy” by marching in Montgomery, Alabama along the same route that Martin Luther King Jr. led Civil Rights protesters down in the 1965 march from Selma. SCV says it's mission is to ensure Americans remember the Civil War in the “right way.”
See what SCV means by the “right way” below the jump…According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
What the SCV meant by “the right way” was made obvious by its website promoting the event, which insists that “the South was right!” and claims that “there is no difference between the invasion of France by Hitler and the invasion of the Southern states by Lincoln.”
The Orange Leader reported this March that “the proclamation was not challenged until a permit was issued January 16, 2013 by the City of Orange for the Confederate Memorial of the Wind, which will display 26 Confederate flags visible form the Interstate, under construction at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.”
That memorial would be one of the first things drivers see when crossing into Texas and SCV promoted the memorial by saying, “your support will enable passengers in over 55,000 cars per day to see the Confederate flag flying proudly in the Texas breeze.”
The SCV promotes itself as a fraternal historical society of sorts with many of its sympathizers claiming that those who are offended just don't know their history. The excruciating irony is that while SCV is proud to trace their roots and celebrate their ancestors, many African Americans can not, precisely because of slavery and laws that broke apart families and prevented them from reading and writing let alone keeping genealogical records.
The Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux responded to criticism by telling KBMT: “We're not condoning anything that happened during the Civil War, we're not saying it was right or wrong, all we're doing is honoring those individuals that lost their lives in the Civil War doing something they thought was right at the time.”
One Orange County resident Ralph Hawkins who opposed the proclamation said, “Remember there was more than just soldiers that died, there was slaves that died.”
It shouldn't have to be said but there is an enormous difference between Black History Month and a month to celebrate the history of the Confederacy. The former celebrates the contributions, struggle and progress of a marginalized former enslaved population that is still a proud part of our nation; the other attempts to celebrate those who fought against our Union in what is still the bloodiest war in our history.
Remember it's called a “rebel” flag for a reason. And yes, the United States was founded by rebels, who owned slaves, another point of retort for Confederate sympathizers, but this country has struggled to move closer and closer to fulfilling its Constitutional declaration of equality for all — celebrating our nation's most divisive time period does not count as progress. We should know and remember our history so we do not repeat our mistakes, not so we can celebrate them.
You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.
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