Some Thoughts on the Order and Defending our Heritage
Stephen Clay McGehee
Like most organizations, MOS&B has a constitution, bylaws, policies, and procedures that define how things should function. As we work to keep the Order running smoothly, it is all too easy to get so bogged down in the details that we can lose sight of why we are here in the first place. It is my hope that this will help remind us of why we are here. It is my firm belief that we are on the right course – we just need to make sure that we stay on course and not get distracted.
Some Personal Background
Since much of this is based on my own experience, perhaps a bit of background would be appropriate. I have been involved in political matters for quite a few years. For the past 16 years, I have made my living with political candidates and PACs as my customers. Before that, I have been a candidate, a campaign treasurer, speech-writer, Republican convention delegate, Republican newsletter editor, and an officer in the local Republican organization. My first experience in politics was as a volunteer in the Nixon re-election campaign as a member of the college Republicans.
Two Key Concepts
The mechanics of politics is all about learning how groups of people think and act and respond. As I studied the whole idea of leadership and how people are motivated and influenced, and how nations and cultures are changed, I made some major changes in the way I look at this. The key concept that I learned is that Nothing changes until the culture changes. For that reason, I have sharply cut back on my direct political activities (other than as a business), and focused heavily on finding ways to change the culture (primarily through that most powerful of culture-changers – Biblical Christianity). The second key concept that I learned is that the “big tent” strategy that the two major parties pursue only works when your sole objective is to gather the greatest number of supporters (voters). That strategy is a complete failure when the upholding of principles is important.
As an Order made up of men dedicated to preserving the memory and defending the honor and nobility of our Confederate ancestors, that is our only goal. We have no interest in “big tent” strategies designed to get people to “like” us. To use a common phrase, “Some will, some won’t, so what.” We have a job to do, and it does not include winning a popularity contest among what now passes for “American culture”. Our strategy must be based entirely on upholding the honor of righteous principles.
- Those who oppose us can never be “converted” – not as long as we are doing what we need to do – defend the honor and dignity of the Confederate cause.
- Those who support us are looking for an organization of men who boldly stand for an honorable cause – and they view appeasement and “political correctness” with disgust and disdain – as well they should.
We must take a bold stand for the principles that our Confederate ancestors fought for. That does not mean that we deny or gloss over their mistakes. Our ancestors were fallible men just as we are, and we can truthfully admit that without shame – and without dwelling on it or making groveling apologies, as seems to be the trend in America today. We simply tell the truth. Taking a bold stand also does not mean an “in your face” attitude. Robert E. Lee was the epitome of the Southern gentleman, and that is the example we must follow.
When we are talking about defending the leaders of the Confederate cause, we run headlong into political correctness, a term for the Marxist system of marginalizing conservative principles – the principles for which our Confederate ancestors fought. Those who let themselves be influenced by political correctness are demonstrating that they care more about being liked by Leftists than about boldly proclaiming the truth. Our ancestors stood fast in the face of bullets and cannon shot; for us to shrink from the risk of being criticized and mocked by those who despise us anyway should be unthinkable.
Many will think in terms of political action of some sort to counter the attacks on our heritage. Political action for cultural issues occasionally has some benefit, but victories are rare and the results are usually counter-productive in the long run. We need to remember and work on the first key concept – Nothing changes until the culture changes. Until the culture changes, any political victories will be very short-lived.
We are an Order. Our model should be the Orders of our Western European ancestors – those fraternities of men who understood that they had a higher calling. They understood that inheriting the benefits of descending from men of noble character brought with it certain obligations – noblesse oblige. The dictionary defines noblesse oblige as “The obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth.” As the sons of those who were the leaders of the Confederate cause, we certainly fit that definition.
What steps can we as individuals take?
- To begin with, we must always act like gentlemen – Southern gentlemen. In a world defined by the crass and the crude, where good manners and polite and considerate behavior are considered an anomaly, the Southern gentleman stands apart from the crowd. Robert E. Lee set a fine example for all of us, and his impeccable behavior is as legendary as his military prowess.
- We must never apologize for any actions of our ancestors. We have no right or authority to do so, and all actions must be considered in the context of the times.
- Learn how to effectively counter the most common arguments of those who attack our heritage. Every successful political candidate has memorized a list of key issues along with a few key points (“sound bites”) that get his position across in a clear and concise way that people will remember. We can do the same with issues concerning our heritage.
- Whenever appropriate, display the symbols of the Confederacy in a tasteful and respectful manner. If others only see symbols of the Confederacy displayed in a crude manner by ill-mannered “rednecks”, then that is what they will associate with Confederate principles. If, on the other hand, they see a Southern gentleman with a tasteful Confederate necktie or a MOS&B lapel pin, then there is a very positive association with the Confederacy.
- If, for some reason, you cannot present a positive image, be sure to leave the Confederate symbols at home. There will always be those times when we are simply not very presentable. That is not the time to identify yourself with Confederate symbols.
- When the honor of our Confederate ancestors is slandered, we must defend that honor by clearly speaking the truth, and doing so politely but firmly. Always keep in mind that when doing so, we speak as individual Southern gentlemen – not as official representatives of the MOS&B.
We are all ambassadors of The Old South. What we do and what we say, how we dress and how we act, all reflect on people’s perceptions of The South and the Confederate cause. How we present ourselves in public will affect people’s perceptions. Make sure that perception is a good one.