OPINION: Does advocating Confederate Memorial Day mean that there are still rebels alive?

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Although it should be hard to forget, it was surprising to be reminded on the weekend that Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has again signed a proclamation declaring Monday, April 29th as Confederate Memorial Day. Just as regular as clockwork, he imitated past Mississippi governors in making the declaration.

What that means is in the state of Mississippi, state workers not only will be off from work, but that they will be paid their regular salaries. In this practice, they will be joined by state workers in Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas. Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee will allow their state workers to be off, but not necessarily have them paid. Meanwhile, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, and Virginia no longer recognize Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday.

For the seven states that continue to celebrate it as a state holiday, one thought that comes to mind is that the tax payers are being taken advantage of since they have to pay the workers who are off, even when the celebration itself violates their conscience. Why should citizens have to pay for the rebellion of others against the government which they support? After all, there is a Memorial Day wherein these soldiers could be remembered just as are other soldiers. Tax payers should file suit to put an end to the matter. 

A second thought that comes to mind is that for state officials to promote the idea of celebrating Confederate Memorial Day, there needs to be counter messages coming from political, media, business, moral, and other leaders, showing how out of place such celebrations are; that it is a celebration of the activities of rebels. 

When one looks at the states that began, and in some cases continue, the celebration of Confederate Memorial Day, it is clear that they want that day celebrated because they want to honor the rebels of the Confederacy. It is CONFEDERATE Memorial Day. 

If and when one goes back and studies the period of Reconstruction and the Jim Crow aftermath, it is easy to see that many people from Texas to Florida, from Missouri to Virgina, Georgia to Kentucky, and the many points in-between never accepted the idea that their cause – slavery and racial oppression – was lost. They never accepted the idea that federal law had to be obeyed, when it came to racial matters. They clearly remind one of the Trump followers who continue to deny that Donald Trump lost the election in 2020, and like them, were ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to claim and wield power over their opponents.

Considering the intimidation, terrorism and various forms of violence in which many in the Trump mob engage, it is not an idle question to ask, “does advocating Confederate Memorial Day mean that the rebels are still alive?” Again, there are many people alive who remember the once common expression heard across the old Confederate states, “Save yo’ Confederate money boys, the South’s gonna rise again.”

While the writer abhors the idea, he cannot help but realize that there are many proponents throughout the old Confederacy and beyond, who would accept the label “rebel” if that meant assuring power for themselves and their tribe. (Today that tribe is led by Donald Trump, but many of the followers may be referred to as the Alt-Right, Christian Nationalists, white Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, Fascists, etc.) The tribe is made-up quite simply of people who are fearful of a democracy where they are not the majority or cannot wield power as the majority.

Actions such as rallying around Confederate Memorial Day, around symbols and statues such as Jefferson Davis, Theodore Bilbo, and even Adolf Hitler, provide their tribe with the illusion of power; their dream being a delusion of grandeur.

What then does one do with or in the face of these postures by Tate Reeves, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and others? Their continued declarations and other antics, uplifting white supremacy and white nationalism, cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. If they do, just as in the days of Hitler and in the days of the rise of Jefferson Davis and his compatriots, there will be no need to ask the question, the rebels will already be upon us.

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OPINION: Does advocating Confederate Memorial Day mean that there are still rebels alive?

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
April 29, 2024