Of Scalawags & Terrorists

The following is a rebuttal to a Letter written to President Obama authored by Edward Sebesta and James Loewen which was dated May 18, 2009 and published on the History News Network website:

I have been carrying around a newspaper in my car now for several months. It is dated February 25, 2009.  I have cleaned out my car several times since it was given to me, but for some reason held onto it.  The reason, I will share later in this article, but I will give you a hint that it has a lot to do with a letter written to President Barack Obama dated May 23, 2009. 

The letter that was authored by Edward Sebesta and James Loewen, asks President Obama not to send a wreath to the Arlington Confederate Monument, which has been customary for Presidents to do since the tradition was started by President Woodrow Wilson. 

In the letter Sebesta and Loewen state that: 

“There are several reasons as to why this monument, a product of the Nadir in American race relations, should not be honored, and we list and explain them in this letter. 

The monument was intended to legitimize secession and the principles of the Confederacy and glorify the Confederacy. It isn’t just a remembrance of the dead. The speeches at its ground-breaking and dedication defended and held up as glorious the Confederacy and the ideas behind it and stated that the monument was to these ideals as well as the dead. It was also intended as a symbol of white nationalism, portrayed in opposition to the multiracial democracy of Reconstruction, and a celebration of the re-establishment of white supremacy in the former slave states by former Confederate soldiers. In its design it also tells wrong history, boasting fourteen shields with the coat of arms of fourteen states. Thus it claims that Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland were part of the Confederacy. They weren’t.” 

For the record, Missouri and Kentucky did secede from the Union.  There is no doubt that Maryland, would have seceded, had President Lincoln not arrested state legislators and usurped the Constitution in addition , the war was not about racism, but economics, states’ rights and self-determination. 

The wild accusations of “white nationalism”, “opposition to multiracial democracy” and tails of “wrong history” by Sebesta and Loewen are comical since America was formed as a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy, incidentally Edward  Sebesta and James Loewen are listed as a co-authors of a book entitled, “Neo-Confederacy” ( 2008 University of Texas Press) along with Heidi Beirich, one time director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Intelligence Project”. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center, according to the “Morris Dees Fact Sheet” found at the following web address: http://www.slrc-csa.org/site/dees.php  has some very interesting things to say about the SPLC and its founder Morris Dees among them are: 

  • “The SPLC’s fundraising practices have provoked the disapproval of watchdog groups that monitor charities: The American Institute of Philanthropy assigned the SPLC an “F” grade on a scale of A to F. (American Institute of Philanthropy , AIP Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report, Spring 1998 and subsequent issues).”
  • “The Montgomery Advertiser also interviewed former SPLC associate Courtney Mullin. Mullin declared of Dees, that he is “…not immoral, he’s amoral…I hesitate to say the words that I want to say because they sound so far out, but I really think the Center–in so far as Morris embodies the Center–is evil. They pretend to be on a side that has moral underpinnings (but) they do damage by their dishonesty….I mean the little old lady from North Carolina sends her $5 thinking that she’s going to help…then it’s just going to line the coffers of the Southern Poverty Law Center so they can have the most beautiful building in the world and have all this money in
    the bank. That’s wrong.”Mullin continues on Dees: “He fools so many people; he seems so committed. But he’s so dishonest… I never saw any examples of him doing something because he had a moral belief. He was simply doing things to see what he could get of them.”
  • The Birmingham News has also investigated Dees and the SPLC in 1994 and found the following:-Christine Lee, a Harvard Law School alumnus who interned at the Center in 1989, “I would definitely say that there was not a single black employee with whom I spoke who was happy to be working there.” “As I was told (at the SPLC), they don’t need Black people telling them how to handle Black issues”
  • “Dees & the SPLC defames the entire Southern Heritage Community by labeling them “Neo-Confederates.” (SPLC Intelligence Update. Summer 2000)

The letter is gaining substantial publicity from media outlets (such as ABC News), was signed by a plethora of scholars such as Roger G. Kennedy, former Director of the National Park Service and Director Emeritus National Museum of American History and  James McPherson author of “Battle Cry of Freedom” and Professor of History at Princeton University, which would seem to lend it some credibility in the political world but if men like Kennedy and McPherson are looking to pad their resumes by signing this letter, maybe they should have thought about who the other signatories to this document might be. 

While news coverage of this letter gains momentum, little coverage has been given to those who signed it. For instance nestled within the numerous signatures and biographies, is the name of Bill Ayres, Professor of Education at the University of Chicago, Illinois. 

Yes politics make strange bedfellows, maybe Kennedy and McPherson, in signing this letter are revealing their own bias towards the South. After all, you would have to hate the South and its history pretty bad to join into an alliance with a one time domestic terrorist like Bill Ayres. 

To quote the April 18th, 2008 Chicago Sun Times (“Who is Bill Ayres”) :

“he{Ayres}was part of the “Weather Underground,” an anti-Vietnam War group that protested U.S. policies by bombing the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol and a string of other government buildings. Nobody was hurt in the attacks by the defunct organization, which the FBI labeled a “domestic terrorist group.” 

Am I the only one who sees the irony of a domestic terrorist, who refused to fight in a war, maligning a group of veterans who were trying to protect their homes against terrorists? 

I can think of three good reasons why President Obama should continue the tradition of sending a wreath to the Confederate monument at Arlington National Cemetery. 

First, before it was a Union Cemetery, it was Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s home. It was Lee who once said, “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil” 

Second, in his January 20, 2009 inaugural speech President Obama stated: 

“Those values upon which our success depends—hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths.” 

Third, remember the paper I mentioned at the beginning of this article?  The February 25, 2009 issue of the Ironton, Missouri  “Mountain Echo”  carried on its front page a story about President Obama’s  great, great, great, great grandfather Larkin C. Bunch, who was a Captain in the Confederate Army and died in General Sterling Price’s September 24, 1864 attack on Fort Davidson in nearby Pilot Knob, Missouri. The Mountain Echo mentions a letter which truly reveals the reasons for which Larkin was fighting.

The letter written to his wife and dated November 13, 1862  states:

“Tell the children I am mighty glad to hear that they are so smart. Be good and obedient children and when I get home I will fetch them something” 

Clint E. Lacy – is Press Officer for the John T Cofee Camp #1934 Inc., Sons of Confederate Veterans.  He currently serves as an Alderman in the City of Marble Hill, Missouri.


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