Basic Heritage Defense
by P. Charles Lunsford
Proper heritage defense is a simple process. This brief overview should serve as an elementary education on the process so that each individual can operate effectively and not make mistakes, which could result in losses.
Is it a Heritage Violation?
Many times we see something as a heritage violation which is not. If a local chapter of the NAACP wants to have a Confederate statue removed from a city parkway, for instance, that would be a heritage violation. If the local UDC/SCV wants to remove a Confederate monument to get it out of a roadway and avoid continued damage, that is not a heritage violation. Clear enough.
But sometimes the lines are blurred.
Occasionally, a school official will suspend a student because another complains about the wearing of a Battle Flag emblem. When asked about it, the student will comment that the official made disparaging comments about the flag and ordered its removal. Then, when the official is interviewed, he will say that he made no such comments. He will claim that the student was belligerent and hateful to other students and just happened to be wearing the flag. To avoid a big fight, he suspended the student and asked that the flag not be worn. He will claim that the flag was inflaming what was really a discipline problem. Is this a heritage violation? Maybe it is. More information is needed.
Facts and Evidence
The first thing you should do when you first encounter a potential violation is to interview all parties to it. You must determine from those who know, just what the points of agreement and disagreement are. Take notes or tape record the interview, preferably on video. Do not rely on second hand information, only get it from the source. In most heritage violations, the perpetrator will deny it.
Example: In 1992, an Atlanta hotel removed the Georgia State flag, which embodies a Confederate emblem, and left a blank pole. When it was announced that they had removed the flag, a large outcry was heard from the public. The manager began responding to each complainant with a form letter which related that the flag was removed because that particular hotel branch had won an excellence competition and would be allowed to fly the company flag for a year on the pole. They only had two poles, so they removed the Georgia flag. The manager went on, claiming that we were off base and falsely accusing them. That made many think we were mistaking the situation.
This reaction is common. In the mentioned case, a letter was produced from an SCV member who had gone into the hotel, spoken to the manager, and been told in no uncertain terms that the flag was removed because someone had complained and they did not want any controversy. We had a witness who had put it in writing. When confronted with the date, time and name of the manager who made the comments, no comment was received from the company.
In another case, the leader of a Jaycee group had taken a Confederate flag from the front of their Oklahoma headquarters after an appearance on a radio show, during which a caller complained about it. He stated on the air that he would remove it so as not to offend anyone. When the outcry came, he denied that he did it at all. He said that it was his personal flag and he removed it because his term ended. Only after two letters were produced from listeners of the show, did our own membership feel confident we were right.
The bottom line is this: do interviews; get evidence; be wary of cover stories. Ask yourself: Was a symbol removed? Was a child humiliated? Was a song banned? If the answer is yes, then until evidence proves otherwise, it should be considered a heritage violation.
How Should it be Reported?
First, all necessary data must be obtained. If the interviews and evidence lead to the conclusion that a violation has happened, intelligence gathering is necessary. The violation should be written as a complete, yet concise, narrative, in chain-of-events form and it should include all related data. If, for instance, a school principal is guilty of violating the free speech rights of a child, a complete, detailed description of the instance should be written up after interviewing both sides. Quotes should be used for all key facts. Then the name, address, telephone number and e-mail address should be obtained for the principal and each member of the school board. Only then should the violation be reported.
In the case of a media outlet, be sure to obtain and report contact information on the advertisers. This is easily obtained on the internet.
In the case of a corporation, we will need to identify the board of directors. They may be unaware of what was done at a lower corporate level.
If the business is a proprietorship, we will need to identify the proprietor.
What Action Should be Taken?
Action varies with each violation. The reporter usually makes a preliminary decision as to which action to take. Sometimes, if local folks are doing something specific, they will not want you to do anything. But beware. Sometimes a local reporter will ask that nothing be done because the violator is his old fishing buddy. If the local men are manning a specific strategy, there is no reason they cannot tell the rest of us just what it is. Secrecy is very rarely needed in such matters, particularly to a compatriot.
There are a number of actions which can be taken. Some are:
Public rallies are a good way to get expensive media contact for free.
However, it is imperative that a large crowd be assured and it is equally vital to keep embarrassing people from attending. Holding a rally on public property with a permit allows the host to have undesirables removed by the police. Advertising rallies publicly makes the risk of undesirables greater.
However, only inviting those within organizations makes smaller crowds. It is difficult to host a good rally.
Rallies should be used when the polls show the public is on your side and all they need is to know that someone is actually doing something. That will help dispel apathy, a real problem with heritage violations where the public begins to feel that all is lost.
Letter writing is very effective with elected or appointed political officials. It is also effective with corporations.
There are certain principles to remember in letter writing:
1. Use small, store bought stationary and blue ink. This makes it look
like the only time you write letters is to say hello to aunt Betsy, not that you are a letter writing kook.
2. Be very brief. A few sentences is adequate. Do not go into too many
logical points. No one will likely read it any further than to see if you are for or against. Don't tell how proud you are of your granddaddy, they could care less.
3. Never use any type of form letter or borrow someone's wording. Never
say you are with an organization. Only the head of the organization should do that. Each letter must look unique. Research has shown that when a politician gets a letter like that described above, he considers it to represent 500 people. If it comes affiliated with an organization, he determines how many members there are in his district and acts accordingly.
If a local SCV camp has 30 members and each writes a letter revealing the affiliation, the politician can easily find out it represents 30 votes. If they are apparently spontaneous letters, the politician will assume 15,000 people feel the same.
4. If there is more than one individual involved, send a different
letter to each (i.e. each member of the school board).
5. If a broadcaster or other media outlet is involved, send a letter to
the advertisers. This is very effective.
I recommend that all heritage violations be reviewed by an attorney.
Most violations are not destined for court but it is always possible. The SCV Judge Advocate might review the matter, or the Southern Legal Resource Center will review the facts. In any case, it is always advisable to have the matter reviewed by a lawyer.
Political action is sometimes needed, however, such action should be left for organizations which are not ruled tax exempt under section 501 (c)
3 of the Internal Revenue Code. The SCV is such a tax exempt organization.
Others, such as the Heritage Preservation Association have tax status which allows candidates to be worked for or against. It should be remembered, though, that taking leaflets to legislators considering legislation directly related to our interests is not forbidden. Many tax exempt organizations do that.
Occasionally, something dramatic should be done. The SCV Commander-In-Chief holding a news conference on the steps of the US Capitol might be such a tactic. Issuing press releases and press packets are also valid tactics. Even hiring public relations experts is a valid tactic. In 1998, the Commander of the Georgia Division, Allen Trapp, hired a public relations firm to get as much publicity as possible regarding the visit to America by the Confederados from Brazil. A $2,000.00 investment netted hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of publicity which was refreshingly non-defensive. Such public relations activities are proper for large organizations like the SCV.
The final consideration is communications. Today, using the internet, we can communicate instantaneously with online compatriots worldwide. We should use this resource and each member should consider a computer as more important than a new musket. With such things as the SCV lists nationally and in each state, with web pages and such things as the new ConfHeritageAlert@onelist.com, we can begin to respond immediately with factual and effective reports. As soon as all compatriots are online, we will be a powerful force.
For more information on handling such heritage violations, contact Charles Lunsford at: firstname.lastname@example.org or, to sign up for the new heritage defense list server, contact owner-ConfHeritageAlert@onelist.com. Your ancestors will be proud as they look down.