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Symbols or the South?

Some time ago, I was co-author of an article questioning whether or not the cause of the South was being served best by all the pro-South organizations getting so tangled up in preserving displays of the battle flag. My concern was that all our energy was being devoted to defensive battles in areas where the system, money and business interests were already stacked against us, causing Southerners to expend scarce resources in efforts where the odds for victory were very small to begin with. I am quite aware that there are many people out there who do not agree with my views on this.

What Jim Langcuster, my co-author, and I were attempting to ask was, "Is fighting for the battle flag worth it, if in the process we lose all that the flag stands for?" Recently, this dilemma was presented to me in a slightly different form. Dr. Donald Livingston, Director of the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, was in Houston, TX to conduct the March 31 Hedge School seminar. During his stay in Houston, Dr. Livingston and I had time to discuss many topics, as I was his host for the weekend. At one point we were discussing the preservation of Southern culture and how we could advance this effort. It was during this conversation that Dr. Livingston made an interesting observation. He said, "If the liberal establishment wanted to neutralize Southern nationalist's efforts, all they would really have to do is let Southerners post a Confederate flag on every public building in the South. So many people have bought into the centralized welfare state that they would go along with it happily as long as they got to publicly fly their flag."

While Dr. Livingston's comment was said during a conversation in which various theories were presented, it made me think. What is really important? If I HAD to make a choice between flying a flag that has represented my homeland for 140 years, or holding on to those things that actually made my homeland the unique place that it is, which would I choose? Which is most important, the symbol or the culture and people that that symbol represents?

There are those who say they will never give up the battle flag no matter what. Would these people sacrifice their Southern accents, food, music, history and Southern ways in exchange for keeping that flag flying? Is it worth it to allow ourselves to be absorbed into a one-world culture and government if in return we get to keep flying a particular banner? If being allowed to fly that flag was appeasement, and took the wind out of the sails of those who've been fighting for the South, I would have to ask, "What were they really fighting for?" I devote my time to the Southern Cause because I believe in the rightness of the ideas of our colonial and Confederate forefathers as laid out in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the writings of great men such as Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, Davis, and Lee. None of those men took their stands because of a certain flag by the way. Their stands were based on ideas and values they held dear.

Let me make something perfectly clear. Neither Dr. Livingston, nor myself were advocating we should erase the battle flag from history. My concern is that people are getting so wrapped up in "heritage" battles, specifically fights over displays of flags and names of roads and bridges, that we aren't defending those things that made the South and her people special. We are not in control of the education of our children, the government is. This is a government hostile to our ideas and us. While protesting the removal of a flag or sign, we miss the fact that this hostile government is slowly concentrating its powers, limiting our freedoms, and eradicating our boarders allowing us to be overrun by people who do not speak our language, know or care about our history, and want to change our culture (and in some cases our religion). And all the while, we are slowly being taxed into oblivion.

It comes down to this: what is important? We only have so much time and money to expend. Do we protect our way of life or a piece of cloth? I believe if we focus on our way of life, a side benefit will be the preservation of our symbols. It won't work the other way around. Which will it be, a symbol or the South?

Jeff Adams
9 April 2001