GARLINGTON: Politicians, Popularity, And Contempt For Confederate Veterans

The Louisiana Legislature has gotten what it wished for:  the passage of a law (HB 248) to remove holidays honoring Robert E. Lee and Confederate veterans from Louisiana’s public calendar.

There is no little irony in this, however.  Many of those who voted for this bill tout themselves as small-government conservatives who support Christian values.  Do they not realize that the men whose memory they are desecrating were fighting for those very things?

If they had taken the time to learn what ideas motivated the North and the South in the War, they would have seen that Southerners were quite fearful of the expansion of federal power that was proposed in Lincoln’s program and of the moral disorders that were accumulating up North.  New England was a hotbed of all kinds of depraved experiments – communism, feminism, Unitarianism, free love/open marriage, and more.  The victory of Lincoln and the North in the War was a victory for big government and moral degeneracy, the effects of which are still very much making themselves felt here in Louisiana and beyond.

Look at what we have, then:  The defenders of decentralized, limited government and of a society based on Christian virtues (Confederate veterans) Louisiana’s legislators kick and beat like a mangey dog, while the allies of centralized, unlimited government and of a society of continual ideological frenzies and upheavals (the friends of Lincoln and his Yankee cohort) they tenderly embrace.

Again, highly ironic.  But perhaps we can make some sense of this.

Most elected political office holders today are driven by a desire for praise and adoration from the public.  They want to be known as important people.  But how can they monopolize the public’s admiration when there are virtuous people, men and women of substance, from past generations with whom they must compete for it?  Is it not within the realm of possibility that some, or many, of our legislators harbor in some secret chamber of their hearts a jealousy of the Confederate veterans, that they want to appropriate for themselves the love Louisianans have for Lee, Richard Taylor, and the rest?

Which of them can measure up to Southerners of the old sort?  Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, when he was serving as a colonel in the Mexican-American War, took a ball to the ankle during the all-important battle at Buena Vista.  Despite having fragments of his brass spur stuck in his ankle and bleeding profusely into his boot all day, he remained on his horse, in command, and helped the U.S. Army win a decisive victory (Jefferson Davis: Private Letters 1823-1889, H. Strode, edr., Da Capo Press, New York, 1995, pgs. 46-7).  Col. Francis T. Nicholls, of our own State, lost an arm and a leg in the War of Northern Aggression, but still managed to wage in the years afterward, as governor, a fiercer and more determined battle against corruption in the State government than many a modern legislator.

Compared to such men, or even to the simple private in the Confederate Army who fought honorably for the defense of his kin and his native soil, most of our legislators pale in comparison.  These are the same lawmakers, if you will recall, who couldn’t even muster the votes to ban grooming of schoolkids by LGBT activists/teachers in their recent session.  The virtues of the Confederates tower over them.  And this, it seems likely, provokes their ire to the point that they must destroy the memory of their Confederate competitors.

It is a sad state of affairs, but Dr. Clyde Wilson was probably right when said, after Gov. Haley and the State Legislature removed the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol in 2015, that it is best that Confederate symbols be taken away from the current inhabitants of the State governments as they would only besmirch those symbols with their dishonor.

It is the same here in Louisiana.  Association with a contradictory, corrupt State government is not befitting for the valiant men of the Confederate Army.  Let us as private men and organizations honor them as best we can instead until life in the public sphere improves.

And while we are not prophets, we trust that the Confederates will be vindicated – whether in this life or only in the next, or maybe both, we do not know.  But the rightness of their conduct will be vindicated one day, and their calumniators will be shamed.

Nonetheless, we don’t want to be too critical of Louisiana’s legislators.  They have done some good things lately, e.g., strengthening pro-life laws and protecting women’s sports from transgender men.  But the erasing of Confederate veterans from Louisiana’s public memory shows how petty and shallow they can be at times, which should serve as a warning to everyone who is interested in working toward the well-being of our State.

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