ALEXANDRIA – The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Louisiana Division sued Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey and the state on Aug. 4 for barring the organization from waiving the Confederate battle flags in a parade last year.
“SCV have been there every year for 20 years with no issues,” Charles Rand, past commander of SCV’s Louisiana Division, told the Louisiana Record. “I’m not speaking from a distance. I’ve been there year after year.”
The rectangular battle flag of the Army of Tennessee, Confederate States of America. Date: 1863 Wiki Commons
Following a massacre in 2015 during which a man gunned down nine black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina church, many United States communities have stopped waiving the Confederate battle flags. The man responsible for the shooting had posed with the flag in his online photos.
“(The Charleston Shooter) was wearing a gold gym T-shirt (at the time of the shooting) …, Rand said. "There was also pictures of him waiving the American flag. The car got him there, maybe General Motors is to blame.”
Politicians, including former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, called the Confederate battle flag, “a symbol of hate and racism."
“It’s about state rights, and it’s about the struggle of people to control their own lives and not listen to some central power somewhere else,” Greg Stewart, member of the SCV Mississippi Division, told Louisiana Record. “It’s a timeless struggle, and it will never end.”
Stewart said the real issue with modern society is that oppressed people demand respect, and they should get it from the people who are disrespecting them.
“People are entitled to respect, not 200 years ago; right now,” Stewart said. “The very people who will point their finger at Jefferson Davis, etc. they want the sin to be that far back so they don’t have to talk about their own.”
Stewart, who is also the executive director of Beauvoir, the historic home and presidential library of Jefferson Davis, said the very same politicians who say the Confederate battle flags are the problem, are the same people who lead segregated lives and are “the real supremacists.”
“They drive back to an all-white neighborhood and send their kids to all-white private schools,” he said. “The redneck you see with the battle flag on his car is not against you. It’s just a symbol of his own ethnicity.”
There have been recent social media memes comparing the Confederate battle flags in the U.S. to the swastika in Germany. They say that if Germany can ban the swastika, then America can do the same for the Confederate flag.
“(The swastika is) restricted; however, the German constitution does not have the freedom of speech in their fundamental rights,” Rand said.
In order to ban the Confederate battle flags in America as it was done to the swastika in Germany, “you would have to appeal the First Amendment.”
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans need to show that they are related to a soldier who fought in the confederate Army, Navy or Marines for eligibility. Every member is directly linked to at least one of those veterans.
One of Rand’s ancestors lost an eye and a foot fighting in Virginia. Another one of Stewart’s ancestors was completely mauled on the battle fields. Others never returned home.
“They died on the battled field, and we don’t know where they are,” Rand said. “So in a sense, this flag remembers those men who never came home.”
Rand and Stewart say the flag is also a symbol of freedom and rebellion against authority.
“I think the Louisiana division is doing the right thing by challenging (the state) for banning their symbol,” Stewart said. “The battle flag has been around for a long time…even during the Berlin wall.”
On the organization’s website, it says, “They fought for our rights, we must fight for their memory.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans Louisiana Division wants the U.S. District Court of the Western Division of Louisiana to rule the mayor’s actions as unconstitutional.