I recently corresponded with Dr. Walter E. Williams via e-mail, about the current flap over the Confederate flag. In case you don't know, Dr. Williams is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and has been a frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh. In my opinion, he is one of the greatest minds America has produced. I have learned much over the years from his economic writings, but even more, his cultural and political commentary. He has been a staunch defender of liberty and has boldly called out the political left for their hypocrisy and deeply flawed policies. He has also defended “State's rights” and even the Confederacy. Did I mention Dr. Williams is black?
In a recent article, Dr. Williams wrote of the lunacy taking place in Memphis where Mayor A.C. Wharton and the city council have voted to dig up the bodies of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife and move them out of the city. I wrote a biography of Forrest in 2010 and know from historical fact that by the end of his life he was a Christian and an outspoken advocate of black civil rights. But these truths are disallowed in the vitriolic debate over how bad we should hate Forrest. Dr. Williams shared with me another inconvenient truth for those who hate the Confederacy.
Back in 2000, he wrote an article entitled “Black Confederates” in which he recounts some of the heroic deeds of black men (both free and slave) who fought for the South. Theses soldiers were incensed at the idea of a Northern invasion of their home and fought bravely to defend it. Here are some excerpts from Dr. Williams article:
“Erwin L. Jordan cites one case where a captured group of white slave owners and blacks were offered freedom if they would take an oath of allegiance to the United States. One free black indignantly replied, "I can't take no such oaf as dat.”
“One of the slave owners took the oath but his slave, who didn't take the oath, returning to Virginia under a flag of truce, expressed disgust at his master's disloyalty saying, "Massa had no principles."
“General Nathan Bedford Forrest had both slaves and freemen serving in units under his command. After the war, General Forrest said of the black men who served under him "These boys stayed with me . . . and better Confederates did not live." Southern generals owned slaves but northern generals owned them as well. General Ulysses Grant's slaves had to await for the Thirteenth Amendment for freedom. When asked why he didn't free his slaves earlier, General Grant said,"Good help is so hard to come by these days."
Dr. Williams concludes with these words: “The flap over the Confederate Flag is not quite as simple as the nation's race experts make it. They want us to believe the flag is a symbol of racism. Yes, racists have used the Confederate Flag, but racists have also used the Bible and the U.S. Flag. Should we get rid of the Bible and lower the U.S. Flag? Black civil rights activists and their white liberal supporters who're attacking the Confederate Flag have committed a deep, despicable dishonor to our patriotic black ancestors who marched, fought and died to protect their homeland from what they saw as Northern aggression. They don't deserve the dishonor.”
Indeed history is not quite as polished as many Confederate detractors would like to see it. Republicans and Democrats alike have rallied to rail against all things Southern. They do this either out of ignorance or intimidation, since being branded a “racist” is often career ending in our hyper-sensitive, politically correct world of today.
I thank God that there are still a few sane voices out there like Dr. Walter Williams. But I fear he is a dying breed. Common sense is held in disdain today and hysterical over reactions are the best way to advance one's career. After all, it is much easier to scapegoat the Confederacy than it is to hold demented individuals responsible for their evil deeds.