I’m not on Twitter, but someone forwarded me this (the name of the author, whom I’ve never met, is redacted):
Our circles within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) are small enough that it’s pretty easy to see that this guilt-by-association refers to one of my pastoral colleagues who serves on our church body’s presidium, who also happens to write for the journal Gottesdienst (I serve as sermons editor for the print journal, and as the online editor for the blog). I have not been shy in supporting my confederate heritage and my sympathy for the Southern historiography of the “late unpleasantness” of 1861-1865, so that part is also pretty clear even without a name being mentioned.
Imagine the hatred one must harbor to try to smear one of our church body’s vice presidents for merely writing for the same publication as I do. Well, goodness gracious, y’all, why, I must be a leper or something!
And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Isn’t that what “cancel culture” is all about? To isolate people into a caste of untouchables for not thinking along the lines of the new secular-orthodox religion of woke conformity? And to try to bully people – “Mean Girls” style – into exclusion of the target? Yes, and these are the same people who yammer on about “inclusivity.” Orwell could not have penned a more piquant irony.
And that’s what the term “neo-confederate” is meant to portray: something sinister sounding, to paint someone as a horrible person to run away from as if he has a dread disease.
Whatever. I don’t care. But what’s “neo” about it?
After the end of the War for Southern Independence, the Union and Confederate Veterans naturally formed veterans’ organizations. They got together for mutual support, to take care of the wounded (such as running veterans’ homes and providing medical care), to provide for graves and burials, and for post-war camaraderie. They held reunions and marched in parades. Some managed to squeeze into their old tattered uniforms and were interviewed about their wartime experiences. Many were amputees. Many suffered with what we call today PTSD.
The men who wore the blue started the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The men who wore the gray established the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). The former became a formidable lobbying organization that secured benefits and pensions from Congress for its members. The latter had no such power. Southern veterans would eventually get small state pensions, but many died before being eligible, as the South was financially ruined after the war and reconstruction.
Over the course of time, the two organizations held joint reunions, as the country went through a healing and reconciliation process. You can see remarkable footage here.
As the veterans aged, aware of their mortality, they created auxiliary organizations for their sons, to serve as legal successors of the two veterans groups. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) was founded in 1881. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) was established in 1896. Both continue to exist today as genealogical, historical, social, and benevolent societies for the descendants of their respective ancestors. There are men who hold membership in both organizations. Both groups work together for historical preservation. Both provide scholarships to young people of every racial and ethnic background. Both have amassed artifacts related to the war: primary source material for historians.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans has continuously held annual reunions since 1896. There is nothing “neo” about it. The SCV has just established the National Confederate Museum in Columbia, Tennessee to house items of historical interest.
I’ve been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for thirty years. And more than fifty years ago, a sat at the knee of my great-grandmother, who remembered her own family members who were actual Union and Confederate veterans (she was from the state of West Virginia, which owes its existence to legal chicanery, where brothers literally did fight brothers). It was by speaking with her and my other grandparents that I learned to love my heritage and American history. My great-grandmother was a living link to the men who wore both the blue and the gray.
Isn’t it odd that nobody refers to members of the SUVCW as “neo-unionists”?
So once again, I just don’t know where the “neo” comes from. We have been here all along, in a continuum from the veterans, to their sons, to their grandsons, and down to the present day – caretakers of their effects (papers, uniforms, flags, photographs, etc.) handed over generation to generation. We are those who keep their memories alive, who tend to their graves, and who enjoy history and doing works of philanthropy. But then again, an ethnic slur – which this is in my case – doesn’t have to make sense. Its purpose is the same as another slur that begins with the letter “N.” But by the same token, I think that all such slurs – whether ethnic denigration, attempted intimidation for “wrongthink,” or both, are simply losing their grip on the imagination of a populace weary of the grift of intersectional hatreds, ginned-up contention, thought-policing, and speech codes. The veterans themselves were able to coexist – even as men who had fought bitterly on the battlefield against one another. One would think that more than a century and a half later, their descendants – who are even in the same churches – could learn from their grandfathers’ example.
Hopefully, political correctness has reached its high water mark.
As a postscript, I was amused to see the tweet below retweeted by Ryan Turnipseed, a fellow Missouri Synod Lutheran whom I met at the Mises Institute’s Austrian Economics Scholars’ Conference this past March.
As we Paleo-Confederates are wont to say: “Deo Vindice.”3:37 pm on July 11, 2022