What Would You Do as the SCV’s Chief of Heritage Operations?

It’s been a rough time for Confederate heritage, and I’m not limiting that observation to recent events. Ben Jones took over the job of chief of heritage operations just as the replica flags were departing from Lee Chapel, and just over a year later he leaves in the aftermath of the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state house. ¬†Confederate icons, flags, and statues are under attack, and the response has been something between a holding action and a fighting withdrawal.

What would you do if you were the incoming chief of heritage operations for the SCV? And no, I don’t want some snappy answer that you would help eradicate all signs of Confederate heritage. Is there a viable strategy for the new chief to adopt that will serve the interests of his organization?

9 thoughts on “What Would You Do as the SCV’s Chief of Heritage Operations?

  1. bob carey August 1, 2015 / 5:26 am

    Brooks,
    If I were to be named the Heritage Director of the SCV , my first order of business would be to contact my counterpart in the Sons of Union Veterans in order to sponsor a joint conference on the heritage of Civil War. I would stress the study of history and not the reliving of it. For entertainment purposes a debate between yourself and DiLorenzo would be interesting and fun to watch. If you choose not to participate that would be understandable, as I know it might be like trying to debate a broken record.

    • David Annable August 2, 2015 / 5:52 pm

      Some interesting ideas. But one small point, the SUVCW have no real counterpoint to the SCV Heritage Director. We do have a National Patriotic Instructor, I guess that would be close, but he doesn’t concern himself with hunting down slights against the Union. But, a lot of energy from the organization in general is spent keeping people from selling parts of Union memorials, e.g. historic cannons, to the highest bidder. I find it funny how much people are worried about Confederate memorials when small Union memorials are frequently partially taken apart for a quick buck.

  2. Lyle Smith August 1, 2015 / 6:53 am

    A viable strategy would be to come to terms with what the Confederate battle flag actually represents, and then recommit themselves to being a historical conservation organization that speaks publicly about the history of Confederate flags and monuments, thereby helping to preserve the flags and monuments for posterity.

  3. Sandi Saunders August 1, 2015 / 9:13 am

    I love that you asked that question because I doubt seriously they will. Being a Confederate descendant, I do have some views…

    My first action would be to contact members and ask them point blank, do we want to go down fighting for this one flag or do we want our heritage, history, honor and valor restored? Because the reality is that we did not, have not and in all honesty cannot, do both.

    My next action would be to offer a press release stating the goals of the SCV in modern America. To honor our ancestors with accurate history, honest history and factual history and we disavow any organization that claims to support our goals while acting against them.

    I would say that we were going to reevaluate our relationship with other organizations and establish the protocol, procedures and participants who claim to support the SCV but do more damage to the goals of the SCV than those who misunderstand what we are about.

    I would ask for publicity of cultural events aimed at informing the public (whose support we need) for the chance to tell our story and share what our purpose it. I would ask that leaders with good speaking skill in each camp offer the same in their region. There we would share our purpose and what our purpose is not, which is not to support anti-government sentiments, not to suborn secession, not to support the reasons of the Civil War, but to celebrate the bravery, honor, dedication, and sacrifice of the Confederate soldiers we are descended from. Why that matters to us even as we love and serve our nation.

    Too many people see the SCV through the lens of the white supremacists that appropriated the battle Flag we have used. Too many people see the SCV through the hate-filled posts to social media from those who claim Confederate Heritage while acting more like white-supremacists, anti-government, ignorant and dishonest representatives and only harm our reputation.

    Too many people believe we can only honor the Confederacy by lying about it because that is what has been done for over a century. We will stop doing that. We will stop calling someone who sees slavery as the overriding issue “ignorant”. We know what the speeches, writings, thoughts and declarations for war included and that is a zealous defense of and vow to keep slavery. Stop denying it. Stop denying that the times they lived in had no bearing on why they fought a war. We have to stop denying the truth and declaring a revised version of facts conveniently rearranged to make the North, Lincoln and any American who does not support rebellion against our nation our enemy 150 years later.

    I would ask for and push for all of that and when the SCV refuse (and they will), I will fall on my face just like all before me fighting a “lost cause”.

    • Leo August 1, 2015 / 10:10 pm

      Very good!

  4. Jimmy Dick August 1, 2015 / 9:43 am

    The only viable strategy that will result in a positive outlook for the SCV is to abandon the Lost Cause mythology and to put the focus on a factually based interpretation of the Civil War. Ditch the CBF because of its racist symbology. Until they stop whining about the outcome of the war they will never be anything but a group that wants to roll back the clock.

  5. Leo August 1, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    Just off the top of my head:

    1. Do away with the Heritage Operations position.

    2. Turn the focus of the SCV from mythology to actual history: (A). Focus on the preservation and restoration of Civil War sites and artifacts. (B). Encourage camps to organize Civil War book clubs and sponsor Civil War lectures to be conducted by local historians and educators. (C). Work closely with the National Park Service in living history presentations. (D). Highlight genealogical services and assistance to members and potential members. (E). End the revisionist history arctics of the recent past and own the good & bad of the historical record.

    3. Become more civic minded and encourage camps to be active participates in bettering their communities through charitable giving and social engagement.

    5. Adopt a zero tolerance policy with regard to racism and hate speech. (A). Expel any member of the SCV for membership in any hate group or secessionist organization. (B). Expel any member for hateful or bigoted comments or actions. (C). New members are to attend a brief orientation on the importance of public conduct and statements with regard to race, religion, and the image of the southern United States.

    6. Form a better relationship with the NAACP and other Civil Rights organizations. This will include joint social projects, honest dialogue, and the admission that the Confederate battle flag was used as a symbol of racial hatred.

    7. Redesign the SCV website to include access to original Civil War documents and historical information (see 2 & 6).

  6. Cedar Posts August 2, 2015 / 8:44 am

    SCV might consider borrowing a page from the Patroit Guard playbook. Maybe the entire playbook. In the last 15 years this group of perceived despots and yeggmen have become a symbol of patriotism and devotion via their honor guard activities.

  7. Rosieo August 6, 2015 / 2:21 am

    I would only accept the job if its description was part of a rewritten overall mission statement. Heritage operations should be totally about philantrophy directed toward descendants of slaves as well as overall accurate education in the form of re-enacting as well as production of literature, videos, etc
    … I would embrace calls for removal of Confederate flags in government places and strongly support their repositioning along with education at new, appropriate sites.
    I would support removal of Forrest and his Mrs. back “home” but keep his and all the other monuments. I would help draft script for educational script at monuments.
    I would begin every event with the Pledge of Allegiance.
    And end with singing of Dixie. (Hey, Ohio white guy wrote it! and Lincoln claimed it for OUR country)

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