Saturday, December 16, 2017
Opinion

Daniel Ruth: Southern Heritage? Harassing foes is more like Southern cowardice

This is quickly becoming the statue controversy that came to dinner, drank all your liquor, offended everyone at the table, passed out on the couch and refuses to leave.

That would be, of course, Memoria In Aeterna, which is Latin for "Slaves? What slaves?" the Confederate monument honoring treason, racism and revisionist history that has been polluting public land in front of the old Hills-borough County Courthouse on Pierce Street.

The community has been through a lengthy and often contentious debate over the fate of the thankfully departed statue for several months now. And finally, thanks to an outpouring of public donations, funding was raised to move Memoria In Aeterna, which is Latin for, "I Say, I Say, I Say There Boy!"

In time the structure will be relocated to a cemetery, owned by the Brandon family, which graciously stepped up to help resolve the controversy.

But that hasn't stopped groups like Save Southern Heritage, or the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans from launching their own Pickett's Charge to prevent the inevitable, perhaps proving once again these folks still can't figure out when they've lost.

Even as workers began the process to remove the monument, legal challenges were still pursued and rejected by a judge. But perhaps the most ridiculous of them all has been a lawsuit filed by Save Southern Heritage against many of the critics of Memoria In Aeterna, which is Latin for "The South Will Lies Again," who spoke out against the monument at a recent public hearing last month.

It seems the Save Southern Heritage people got their juleps in a wad since some of the critics of the memorial had labeled them "white supremacists" and other less than glowing terms.

"Our group does not condone racism and as such our group does not support any group or person that does," notes the Save Southern Heritage mission statement. Well that's very nice.

But when you have an organization that seeks to recast the Civil War as merely a dispute over states' rights, without taking into account that the conflict was entirely predicated on preserving the insidious institution of slavery, it does make it rather difficult not to view those associated with Save Southern Heritage as being less than honest when it comes to racial tolerance.

This would be a bit like someone belonging to Save Aryan Heritage arguing that even though they aren't anti-Semitic, but still believe the Holocaust was a hoax, they aren't really Nazis.

For all the fake feel-good jibber-jabber about being anti-racist and pro-respect for everyone, Save Southern Heritage hardly bathed itself in the warm Kumbaya glow of tolerance and open-mindedness when it went out of its way to use its website to publicize the names, phone numbers and street addresses of the monument opponents who spoke out at the public hearing.

The list also identified some of the speakers as "angry black woman," or "resentful black man," or "Muslim," or "LGBT" to describe citizens who simply exercised their First Amendment rights to speak their mind. Whew! No bigotry there!

Clearly outing the identities of the speakers, along with Save Southern Heritage's efforts to define those they didn't like in a negative way, was an effort to intimidate its critics and create a chilling effect to suppress future speech.

How ... Dixie of them. Indeed many on the Save Southern Heritage McCarthyesque blacklist reported receiving harassing and threatening phone calls.

Save Southern Heritage wanted to have it both ways. By listing the names, phone numbers and addresses of those who raised their voices in opposition to the monument, the group gave a tacit, wink-wink, nod-nod greenlight for some of its more slack-jawed yahoo supporters to go ahead and harass away till their withered heart's content.

And at the same time, Save Southern Heritage claimed it had no responsibility "for any consequences resulting from the use of the information herein."

Is this how Save Southern Heritage defines southern heritage? How cowardly. How gutless. How sleazy. How monumentally lilly-livered.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17