Mike ScruggsNews StoriesOpinion

Confederate Statues, Flags, and Heritage: ‘Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere’ (We Dare Defend Our Rights)

The latest example of this is that the City of New Orleans is removing monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.T. G Beauregard, and a monument commemorating the end of Reconstruction in Louisiana. If the Mayor and City Council knew anything about the character of these men and the enormous evil of Reconstruction, they should be thoroughly ashamed. But they do not know and are probably unwilling to know the truth. Their political careers are too wrapped in a false narrative about the Civil War and Reconstruction. Their folly will not build good will and fellowship and thus is unlikely to prosper their city, but the blame is shared by all politicians who are more interested in the appearance of respectability than truth. Political leaders who openly embrace and fight for truth because it is truth are increasingly rare. Political truth and courage seem more than ever to be defined by big donor money and favorable liberal media coverage.

In February, the Charlottesville Virginia City Council voted to rename Lee Park and Jackson Park, remove the statue of Lee, and include a memorial to those who suffered under slavery.

Can anyone outside of a politically correct madhouse believe that peace and prosperity can be achieved by discarding the heritage of a numerous people to gain the political favor of another? It is more likely to shatter all hope of peace. Can a society set itself against tolerance and mutual respect and have peace? No fair-minded person can accept such corrupt reasoning.

Yet this hateful madness is widespread. The Atlanta NAACP wants to destroy the carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson on Stone Mountain in Georgia. Some of the many instances of attempted Southern history eradication have been stayed by Court Orders. The real problem is that too many supposedly conservative politicians are scared spineless of resisting any action protected by a media enforced racial “trump card.”

On June 15, 1882, the Reverend Robert L. Dabney delivered a discourse at the Annual Commencement of Hampden Sidney College in Virginia, entitled, “The New South.” Dabney was a Presbyterian theologian, seminary teacher, pastor, and author of numerous and diverse works on theology, philosophy, ethics, history, and political economy. His breadth of knowledge and skills was legendary. In addition to his considerable intellectual and rhetorical skills, he built his own house. He was also a Confederate Veteran, having served as both a Confederate Army chaplain and briefly as Confederate Lieutenant. General “Stonewall” Jackson’s Chief-of-Staff.

Although still quoted by many scholars, historians and theologians, Dabney is unfortunately little known today by the general public. Yet he was a scholar and social commentator of enormous breadth and penetrating insight. Much of Dabney’s writing is as relevant today as it was in the late 19th century. In our own time as in his, Southern Heritage is being constantly battered by politically correct propaganda Today as never before, there are powerful organizations and ambitious power seekers who butter their political and economic bread by purveying historical ignorance and misinformation as a form of “virtue signaling” that is actually devoid of truth, honor and virtue. Dabney’s words are particularly relevant to the present discussion of the heritage and future of the South:

“It behooves the New South, in dismissing the animosities of the past, to see to it that they retain all that was true in its principles or ennobling in its example. There are those pretending to belong to this company who exclaim: ‘Let us bury the dead past. Its issues are all antiquated, and of no more practical significance. Let us forget the passions of the past. We are in a new world. Its new questions alone concern us.’ I rejoin: Be sure that the former issues are dead before you really bury them! There are issues that cannot die without the death of the people, of their honor, their civilization, and their greatness. Take care that you do not bury too much, while burying the dead past: that you do not bury the inspiring memories of great patriots, whose actions, whether successful or not, are the eternal glory of your race and section; the influence of their virtues, the guiding precedents of their histories. Will you bury the names and memories of a Jackson and Lee, and their noble army of martyrs? Will you bury true history whose years are those of the God of Truth?”

Today, politicians, educators, businessmen, churchmen, and whole states are bullied and blackmailed into accepting outrageous distortions of history. We suffer a time of too little knowledge of history and too little political and social courage. Dabney went on to say in his 1882 address to Hampden Sidney’s young graduates:

“There is one point on which you insist too little, which is vital to the young citizens of the South. This is, that he shall not allow the dominant party to teach him a perverted history of the past contests…Now, against this deluge of perversions I solemnly warn young men of the South, not for our sakes, but for their own. Even if the memory of the defeated had no rights; if historical truth had no prerogatives; if it were the same to you that the sires whose blood fills your veins, and whose names you bear, be written down as traitors by the pen of slanderous history, still it is essential to your own future that you shall learn the history of the past truly.”

The perversion of history that Dabney warned of in 1882 prevails as never before in our media, our educational institutions, the halls of government, our giant business corporations with their vast economic power, and even in many of our churches. It is time we resurrected Dabney’s words and with them the courage to insist that our children and future generations learn history free of malignant intimidation and outrageous distortion and propaganda. Southerners are a people forged from many peoples—not a changeable proposition nation forged on the latest political fashion. Once again, we must dare defend our heritage, our culture, our people, and our rights.

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