Monday, May 9, 2011

I made the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ list

And it wasn’t like the Dean’s List.

An older man who sometimes wrote columns for the newspaper stopped by my desk one afternoon and placed a newsletter amid the clutter.

“I’m a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” he said. “You’re mentioned here, but you didn’t get the information from me.” And he walked away.

I didn’t? Well. And why should anybody care where I got the information?

I opened the newsletter and read a piece that did, indeed, mention my name, as well as misquote me. The mention had to do with a column I had written a week or two before. The column led with demonstrations in Southern California by Vietnamese boat people against another refugee, who had placed a picture of Ho Chi Minh in the window of his store. The demonstrators said the picture was a slap in the face to all who fought Communists in Vietnam, and especially to those whose family members died in the wars or were murdered by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. On one day, 10,000 people were in the shopping center parking lot, demanding that the man remove the picture.

In my column I said you would think the Vietnamese would get over the war, since Saigon had fallen 24 years before. I then said that we had not yet gotten over the Civil War, and that one ended 134 years before. And, I wrote, “The South lost the Civil War because it was out-generaled and out-fought.” The idea of a “Lost Cause” was, I wrote, “dribble.”

I knew when I wrote the piece that some people would consider me worse than a scoundrel, of lesser social standing than one who fouls a swimming pool or punch bowl. But I have never had much truck with organizations whose membership is based on what an ancestor did more than a century ago. It’s quite simple: You ain’t him. Or her.

I have the same opinion of war re-enactors, especially Civil War re-enactors, who seem mostly to be middle-aged and overweight.

I was surprised but not angered at mention in the local chapter newsletter. I didn’t know the local chapter had a newsletter. What upset me more than a little, though, was the misquote. Whoever wrote the piece had my writing as “The South lost the Civil War because they …”

That is one of those things that gets my goat to a fare thee well, assignment of person to a non-living object. A country (imagined or real) is an “it.” A country is not a “they.”

So, as mad as the SCV was at me, I was twice as mad.

Oh, the SCV writer said it was opinions like mine that gave the organization a bad name.

Glad to be of help.

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