MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Wearing gray wool uniforms, hoop skirts, leather jackets and business suits, several hundred men and women marched to the Alabama Statehouse on Saturday afternoon, where they delivered defiant speeches, fired heavy artillery, and swore in an amateur actor playing Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy, 150 years and one day after the event took place.
OK, I get historical re-enactments. Playing dress-up. What’s the difference between those charming docents in colonial american history parks and sons and daughters of the Confederacy?
Though the swearing-in was a historical re-enactment down to the antique buttons, there were contemporary political overtones. More than one speaker, insisting that “the South was indeed right,” extolled the Confederacy as an example of limited government that should now be followed, and said vaguely that the rightness of the Southern cause was evident by a glance at the headlines every day.
Asked about the prominent speeches and documents that describe the protection of slavery as the primary cause of secession, Joe Dupree of Mobile, Ala., said the question itself was wrong.
“African slavery is a 4,000-year-old African institution that affected us a couple of hundred years,” he said. “It is, historically, an error.”
You mean like forgetting to carry the 2 in a math problem? That’s an error. Enslaving an entire race, kidnapping them and bringing them to a new country (and the conditions of shipping the merchandise are well documented) to sell was just a boo-boo? What kind of person can dismiss one of the greatest moral quagmires in all of human history as an historical error?
“I really wish we didn’t have to defend what we do,” Chuck Rand, an engineer from Monroe, La., who is the adjutant in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said in an interview on Friday night. “This doesn’t have to be a fight.”
Mr. Dupree, who was sitting with Mr. Rand, concurred.
“What is it in a man,” he asked, repeating the question for emphasis, “that would cause him to deny his fellow man the pride and dignity of his heritage?”
The gods of irony have really given the Rands of the world the gift of blindness and no introspection.