Monday, July 23, 2007

Democrats and The Citadel

In his book Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture (available from Amazon, $24.95), Clyde Wilson tells the hilarious story of the panic that ensued in 2004 just before the debate among Democratic presidential candidates at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. It seems that their chosen venue, Longstreet Theatre, had been named after former college president, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet. “And horrors!” writes Dr. Wilson, “Mr. Longstreet in the period before the War for Southern Independence defended slavery and advocated secession! Of course, the august aspirants for World Emperor could not be expected to meet on such unhallowed ground.” So they moved the debate to nearby Drayton Hall. But it turns out the hall is named for one of the largest slave owning families in South Carolina, and the building is surrounded by streets honoring yet more planters and slave holders.

Which brings to mind yesterday's Democratic debate at The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina in Charleston. Why were the alarms not sounded this time? After all, Citadel cadets fired the “first shot of the war,” and the Star of the West monument on the parade ground commemorates the event. Cadets fought as a unit during the War for Southern Independence, earning with their blood the Confederate battle streamers that fly today from the Citadel flag. Magnificent murals of battle scenes–paintings that feature Confederate flags–dominate the walls of the college library. The Citadel gave to the Southern army 4 brigadier generals, 17 colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels, 22 majors, 58 captains, and 62 lieutenants. The football stadium memorializes Johnson Hagood, Confederate brigadier. We could go on and on.

Could it be that Democrats–embarrassed four years ago by their zeal for PC–have decided to leave well enough alone? Or would that be giving them too much credit?

South Carolina League of the South

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