J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the month “July, 2015”

Post-Civil War Files Will Enhance Family Searches

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Recently, FamilySearch, a large genealogy organization, announced that it is in collaboration with several other organizations to digitally release records they collected through the Freedmen’s Bureau. They plan to have the records searchable by 2016. This is a fascinating and important step, allowing millions of Americans to discover their true ancestry. It will also give people the opportunity to connect with relatives they never knew existed.

The Freedmen’s Bureau obtained information about an estimated 4 million newly freed slaves, including their previous owners, marriage and family history, military service, banking practices, and hospital and property records. These records serve as a treasure trove for African Americans who have been unable to learn more about their ancestry for years. They will also allow all Americans to learn how the United States transformed once Reconstruction began.

“The records serve as a bridge to slavery and freedom,” said Hollis Gentry, of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will showcase the records when it opens next year. “You can look at some of the original documents that were created at the time when these people were living… We get a sense of their voice. We get a sense of their desires, their goals, their dreams, their hopes.”

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Controversy Can Make Great Publicity

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After talk of banning the movie “Gone With the Wind,” something fascinating happened. On Friday, the movie was the overall best-selling Blu-ray feature film on Amazon’s US website. It outsold new releases, including “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “American Sniper.” Not bad for a 75-year-old movie.

It appears that many people are afraid the movie will be pulled from Amazon, just like “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show. “Gone With the Wind,” which has been available in numerous editions on video since 1985, has been criticized for its romantic portrayal of slavery and the Confederacy. Warner Bros., which has owned “Gone With the Wind” since 1996, has no intention of withdrawing such a lucrative film. “Gone With the Wind” has sold more theater tickets than any other film.

Controversy about the Confederate battle flag has also dramatically affected sales. A flag company in Huntsville, Alabama refused to stop making the battle flag, otherwise known as St. Andrews Cross, after the flag was blamed for a mass shooting in South Carolina. Since then, Alabama Flag & Banner has received so many orders that they are backlogged.

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“I’m not aware of another company in the United States making these flags,” said owner Belinda Kennedy. “We are getting absolutely swamped. It’s let up a little but what we’re finding is that people are still wanting the really pretty sewn, the ones that are more like a piece of art with the sewn stripes and the applique stars. Those are really labor intensive and it takes a long time. We’re still being flooded with orders for those. We’re getting tons of overseas orders. We’re going as fast as we can… Just by the outpouring of support I’ve gotten from all over the world, I know for a fact I’m doing the right thing,” she said.

Just goes to show you what a little controversy can do.

How Extremism Lead to Tragedy

Last Saturday, a rally in support of the Linn Park Confederate monument was held in Birmingham, Alabama. One of the speakers, Anthony Hervey, an avid supporter and writer who also happened to be black, was killed on Sunday while returning home to Oxford, Mississippi. According to Arlene Barnum, who was riding in the same vehicle with him, another vehicle pulled up beside them on the highway containing four or five young black men. They yelled and appeared to be angry. Hervey yelled back, but then lost control and crashed.

“It spun like crazy and we flipped, flipped, flipped. It was awful,” she said.

The Black Panthers are suspected as causing the fatal crash, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) are calling for a federal investigation into the matter. Not surprisingly, the story hasn’t been reported by any major news programs.

This tragedy isn’t enough to slow efforts by the NAACP to remove all things Confederate. Last night in San Antonio, Texas, workers removed what they thought were Confederate symbols from the Bexar County Courthouse just before midnight, following a unanimous vote taken yesterday by the commissioners’ court.

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However, in their haste, the workers failed to notice that one of the four plaques removed is actually an American Legion plaque. Therefore, Bexar County seems to be openly and willfully dishonoring all American veterans by their rash and dishonorable actions.

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San Antonio doesn’t have a problem with exploiting the Alamo for financial profit. I’m sure, if they tried hard enough, they could come up with something politically incorrect about this historic artifact as well. But instead, they chose to attack what they incorrectly perceived as Confederate symbols. The only plaque with a Confederate emblem on it is that of the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s (UDC) logo.

The Banning Continues

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The latest company to jump of the censorship bandwagon is Harley-Davidson. In a statement released yesterday, the company has officially banned its dealers from selling t-shirts with the Confederate battle flag on them.

“It’s been our longstanding approach that the Confederate flag may not be used by the company, its licensees or its dealers in connection with the Harley-Davidson trademark or logo, on any products, signs or other materials,” the statement reads. “We have, over time, made a very few, short-term exceptions in which the Confederate flag appeared in a design with the Harley-Davidson brand. These exceptions were primarily in the historical context, understanding that for some of our customers and dealers, the Confederate flag represents a very rich and proud heritage. These designs were reviewed on a case- by-case basis (for example, there was a small group of designs approved to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and were primarily available at dealerships near battleground sites).

“In light of recent events and the evolving cultural discussion surrounding what the Confederate flag represents, we, like many other companies, have taken a very close look at how our brand has been used in conjunction with the Confederate flag…and will no longer consider limited exceptions to this approach. We believe this is consistent with Harley-Davidson’s role in welcoming people from all walks of life into our family of riders and fostering the common bond our brand represents in uniting riders of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

Some dealers are upset about this recent action. In Union City, Tennessee, Russell Abernathy, who owns Abernathy’s Harley-Davidson dealership, posted on Facebook, and his comments quickly went viral.

“As of today, we have been informed Harley-Davidson will no longer let any Harley Davidson Dealership sell any T-shirts with the Confederate Battle Flag on the back. This is truly a sad day in the History of the United States. Pray for the future of this country, as it needs help now. God Bless America!!!!!!!!!!”

In 1977, Harley-Davidson released a Confederate Special Edition model with the battle flag painted on the gas tank. Those were the good ole days!

The Case for the Confederate Battle Flag

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Controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag continues to escalate. Some feel that stashing away the flag is a solution, but I believe the flag should be reinvented as an historic symbol, rather than automatically being associated with racism. The flag has been used by certain hate groups in the past, but these groups have also used the American flag. The Stars and Stripes flew over slave ships, not the Confederate battle flag. If one element of our society is deemed offensive to particular groups, then it will inevitably lead to other banned elements. Removing the Confederate battle flag from government property and national parks is only the beginning. Certain groups are already calling for the removal of all things Confederate, including flags, school names, monuments, movies, books, and television shows. They even want to relocate Civil War soldiers’ bodies. To me, this is offensive, and it is also censorship. Although I understand how the flag might upset some people, to others, it is a sign of Southern pride and heritage. Either way, censoring items doesn’t do away with deeper issues.

Passing laws to remove the Confederate battle flag might seem like a perfect remedy, but in reality, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Racists will still find a symbol to use. People will still lay blame on inanimate objects, instead of blaming the true source of hate. Guns, flags, and photographs don’t commit atrocities. People do. That is why we need to change our attitudes toward these objects, or it will lead to far worse consequences down the road. I’m sure there are people who are offended by the Nazi flag, the Japanese flag, the rainbow flag, or whatever. If one flag is done away with, then all the others should be, too, including the American flag. It flew while thousands of Native American Indians were being slaughtered, after all. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of Stone Mountain, Mount Rushmore, every statue in Washington D.C., and any reminder of Confederate soldiers or slave owners, including our founding fathers. Let’s rename all the streets, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s namesakes, because it’s only fair.

By taking away our symbols, this country is denying our freedom of speech and expression. In a recent Newsmax poll, 88% wanted to keep Confederate flags on government property. And in the small town of Gettysburg, South Dakota, the police chief has fallen under scrutiny for deciding not to change the officers’ uniform patches, which depict the American and Confederate flags crossing over a cannon.

Of course, someone will be offended by something sometime. I’m offended by numerous things, like those mud flaps with nude females on them and sexist lyrics in songs. But to deny their use is going against our Constitutional rights. As U.S. citizens, we need to take a stand against allowing this issue to elevate further, or we will end up having complete government rule, and that is exactly what Southerners fought against during the Civil War.

My upcoming novel, A Rebel Among Us, a novel of the Civil War, discusses this topic in-depth. It delves into the lives of two people – one from the North, and one from the South. Their opinions and differences repeatedly collide, making their relationship all the more compelling and complicated.

As it was in the past, we are facing these same conflicts today. We are one country with many different attitudes and backgrounds, which makes us diverse and unique. To take away just one element of expression opens us up to complete censorship and governmental control in the future.

International Authors Day

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I have been asked to participate in a group blog in honor of International Authors Day. One of the topics we were asked to write about is our favorite book. Mine is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. It has long been a favorite, and I try to watch the movie at least once a year. After becoming a Civil War author myself, I found her compelling drama to be even more sweeping and inspiring, and the love/hate romance between Rhett and Scarlet is forever timeless and compelling.

Now because of current events, the book and everything in relation to the Confederacy has been put in the spotlight. I think it will be interesting to see if politicians decide the book needs to be banned again. Hopefully, the issue of the Confederate battle flag won’t escalate to that proportion.

In honor of International Authors Day, I am giving away the first two books in my Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire. Both are part of a continuing saga about a family from North Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. To enter, send your email address to jdrhawkins@gmail.com.

This blog hop is sponsored by Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay at http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/. Thanks to all the authors for participating, and good luck!

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Scary But True

Amazon Staff: Federal Government ordered us not to sell Confederate Flag

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Amazon.com staff are telling irate customers that the company was ordered by the federal government not to sell items featuring the Confederate Flag. Amazon made the announcement, along with eBay, Sears and Walmart, that it would no longer sell products bearing the Confederate Flag, but according to a conversation posted on YouTube between a customer and an Amazon sales rep, the decision could have been made as a result of pressure from the Federal Government.

At first, the Amazon staffer claims that the items were banned because they were deemed to be offensive, but when pressed by the customer, the sales rep tells a different story.

“Is this a political statement by Amazon.com or is this a directive that you’re following, that the government said you know we want you guys not to sell these anymore?” asks the caller.

“The government is not allowing us to sell this Confederate flag,” responds the staffer.

“So the government is not allowing you….to sell it?” asks the caller.

The sales rep responds, “yes.”

“So Amazon is not making a political statement, this is something the government told you to do?” questions the caller.

“Exactly,” responds the staffer.

In addition, when customers queried Amazon’s decision to stop selling Confederate items via the company’s official website, they were told by another Amazon representative that the items were no longer available as a result of “federal law” and that Amazon was “instructed to remove all Confederate flags from sale.”

This of course makes the entire story far more sinister. As a private company, it is Amazon’s right to sell what it likes, no matter what people feel about the decision, but if the federal government has ordered the retailer not to sell Confederate Flags (while Nazi memorabilia is still freely available), this clearly represents an egregious act of censorship that has no basis in law. Karl Marx would be happy.

(Article courtesy of General William Barksdale Camp 1220 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Columbus, Mississippi, July 2015)

The Insanity Keeps Spreading

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Controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag keeps flaring, and now, of course, the topic has spread to other areas. Last weekend during a 4th of July parade in Minnesota, a firefighter was suspended for driving his own vehicle in the parade. Why, you may ask? It’s because he had a Confederate flag bumper sticker on his truck. Now the fire department is calling for this guy’s resignation. Insane. There is also a small town in Minnesota that is debating about changing its name, because it is named after a Confederate. Also insane.

At Yale University, a conversation has begun concerning the renaming of Calhoun College, which was named after John C. Calhoun in the 1930’s. Calhoun served as U.S. Senator of South Carolina and as Vice President. But aside from his political career, he was also a staunch believer in the slave plantation system. Calhoun graduated from Yale in 1804. Again insane.

Yesterday, the South Carolina Senate voted 37-3 to have the Confederate battle flag removed from the Capitol grounds. I won’t be surprised if the flag will be removed. I’m sure Governor Nikki Haley put enough pressure on the naysayers to convince them to vote for the flag’s removal. The problem is that the flag was flying over a Confederate memorial. So what’s to become of that monument? If the governor has her way, I’m sure it will be the next thing to go.

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I’m certain this country was a lot different in the 1800’s, and slavery was part of our culture. However, slavery has been illegal since 1865. Doing away with any and all reminders of our slave-including past won’t fix what’s wrong with this country today. It only dilutes historical fact. Most people associate the Confederate battle flag with slavery, but they are sorely mistaken. The Confederate battle flag, on the contrary, represents the rights of the people, rather than having a unified government. The Stars and Stripes flew over slave ships, not the Confederate battle flag. In fact, the Confederate battle flag wasn’t even used until after the First Battle of Manassas. Before people go flying off the handle about this, which they obviously already have, they need to have a history lesson.

Instead of concentrating so much effort on removing historic symbols, this country should focus on today’s issue of slavery. Thousands are crossing our borders and being swooped up by predators to become sex slaves. Why isn’t this the media’s focus? Our country has a far more serious situation to deal with than wiping the Confederate battle flag from our collective conscience. Slavery and racism won’t end with abolishing the Confederate battle flag.

“The clamor being raised against all things that were the Confederate States of America is but a glaring fulfillment of the establishment of the American MSM’s version of Orwell’s “1984” Ministry of Truth.  Just as Orwell said, ‘By controlling the present, the Party is able to manipulate the past. And in controlling the past, the Party can justify all of its actions in the present.’”

(Courtesy of Southern Heritage News and Views, 7-6-15)

Fireworks and the Fourth

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I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July. This holiday brings many fun-filled memories of family, friends, and special summers. Although everyone has fond memories of July 4, let’s not forget what the holiday truly represents: FREEDOM. We have been a free country for so long that it’s easy to take that for granted, but remember our ancestors, who gave their lives so that we could be free. The Fourth of July  is historically significant, not only for our War of Independence, but also for the War Between the States.

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In 1863, two important events played out: Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The battle of Gettysburg, after three days of heavy fighting, ended on July 4, with both sides thinking they were victorious. It was realized later that the Confederate army had actually suffered a defeat; the first major loss of the war. At Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union General Grant succeeded in taking the town after a month-long siege, thus securing the Mississippi River for Federal use.

Our founding fathers sacrificed home and health to secure our freedom. This 4th of July, let us honor those who so loved, cherished, and believed in our country that they laid down their lives unselfishly. God bless America!

The War against the Flag Rages On (But You Can Win!)

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Since I posted on my blog last week, numerous developments have occurred in regard to the desecration of the Confederate battle flag. Not only have several big box stores vowed to discontinue sales, but Apple has taken down some of their games as well. Since then, sales of the Confederate battle flag have doubled. TV Land has stopped showing The Dukes of Hazzard, and rumor has it that Facebook will not allow postings of the Confederate battle flag (we’ll see if this gets posted).

NASCAR C.E.O. Brian France said that the flag is an “offensive and divisive symbol.” However, he somewhat changed his stance. Instead of banning the flag from races, he has offered a flag exchange, and is asking that spectators fly the Stars and Stripes instead of the Confederate battle flag this weekend in honor of Independence Day.

Ft. Sumpter has furled its Confederate battle flags, and all Confederate flags are being removed from the entrance to Stone Mountain. Some nut is even circulating a petition to have Stone Mountain blown up.

Baltimore’s mayor and city council have taken up a proposal to remove three Confederate monuments in the city. And Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton wants something even worse. He has announced a proposal to have the bodies of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife exhumed from Forrest Park (recently renamed Health Sciences Park by Wharton and the city council), and moved to Elmwood Cemetery. He would also like for the statue of General Forrest to be removed from the park. There is no word as to where the city would move it, or if they plan on moving the body of General Forrest’s grandson, who is also buried at the park. Absurdity reigns.

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The Ku Klux Klan has stated that they will march in South Carolina later this month to protest the removal of the Confederate battle flag. In my opinion, this is derogatory to the cause. Because of them and their racist views, the Confederate battle flag has been associated with them. However, most of us know this is not the case.

It’s bad representation like this that gives fuel to the fire of anti-Confederate nonsense. In a recent poll taken by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, the country is split on whether or not to do away with the flag. According to the poll, 42% believe it represents Southern history and heritage, while 42% believe the flag is racist and should be removed. More than half of whites who were polled believe the assault in South Carolina was an isolated incident committed by one lone gunman, and one-third say “it reflects a larger problem of racism in America.” However, among African Americans, three out of four say the battle flag reflects racism.

I would say that hypersensitivity is part of the problem. Why is it that three-fourths of blacks view the flag as racist? I’m sure part of the reason is because of the way the flag, and white Southerners in general, are portrayed by the media. Here in Sioux Falls, a local television station broadcast this story:

“A Sioux Falls couple feuding with their neighbors is flying the Confederate flag, hoping to offend people they don’t like who live close by. What would you think if this was your neighbor?”

Really? I find the wording to be offensive and misleading. We don’t know what their feud is about, or if there even is a feud. Is that really why they are flying the flag, or are they just proud to be from the South? Who knows, but in this case, it’s bad reporting. The cartoon below, which recently appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, is also very offensive. Associating the Confederate battle flag with ISIS is horrendous, to say the least.

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So what happens now? Will the flag continue to vanish, whether we like it or not? Why don’t we get a say in the matter? Why haven’t these issues been put to a vote? And what will this lead to? Will all books with the flag on the cover, historical or otherwise, be banned? Will all movies be banned as well? Gone with the Wind is already under scrutiny, and you can forget about ever seeing The Birth of a Nation on TNT again.

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In honor of the Confederate battle flag and those who fought under it, I am running a contest throughout the month of July. Please send an email to jdrhawkins@gmail.com stating what the flag means to you, and you will be entered to win both of the first two books in the Renegade Series – A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire. It’s my intention to show the Confederate flag in a positive light and educate people about the Southern cause, so please help spread the word.

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