Even in the “Heart of Dixie” the Sons of Confederate Veterans can muster little more than a few hundred people from its ranks to commemorate the inauguration of Jefferson Davis. Based on the YouTube clip below yesterday’s event sounded more like a political rally than a reenactment. The speaker’s comparison of the SCV’s challenges with Harry Potter and Rosa Parks reflects an intellectual bankruptcy that is bound to continue to marginalize the organization throughout the sesquicentennial.
The news coverage of the event thus far has been minimal and anything but flattering. [Consider the Associated Press's coverage.] Just about every article that I’ve read takes note of the Civil Rights history of Montgomery, the decision on the part of local and state officials not to participate, and the lack of interest among local business and civic leaders. This stands in sharp contrast with the centennial commemoration of Davis’s inauguration.
There is something truly perverse about the SCV appropriating Rosa Parks and the memory of African Americans being forced to sit in the back of the bus. African Americans were forced into the position of second class citizens by law and not of their own choosing. At no time has the SCV operated under these conditions. They have been free to make their case in the court of public opinion and in recent years they have failed miserably. A partial list of recent SCV debacles include:
- Rejection of Jim Limber statue at Tredegar in Richmond
- Rejection of Confederate History Month in Virginia,
- Rejection of History Channel commercials
- Rejection of secession memorial in Charleston
- Rejection of black Confederates in history textbooks
The most recent circus is centered on a proposal to offer a series of vanity license plates in Mississippi, one of which will feature Nathan Bedford Forrest. Even the editorial board of the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi thinks this is a bad idea. “What is appropriate is a proposal in the Legislature to designate a Civil Rights Memorial Day as a counterbalance to the state’s Confederate Memorial Day. This would be in keeping with earlier legislation that combined observances of Robert E. Lee’s birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s.” Did they really have to propose Forrest? Consider Robert Moore’s recent suggestion, which would have had my support and I suspect many others as well.
It goes without saying that bad history and a memory of the war that few people embrace is not a recipe for success. Our next stop on the sesquicentennial tour will be Fort Sumter in April. The SCV will be lucky if they arrive on the back of the bus. At this point I am imagining something more along the lines of a Go-Kart.