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A heritage hijacked by hate

By Ray Mosby

The Deer Creek Pilot

 

“When I talked in such a manner (against secession), Virginia had not seceded. She is out of the Union now. Virginia is my mother, God bless her. I can’t fight against my mother, can I?”—John Singleton Mosby.

ROLLING FORK—In a lovely and historic cemetery in the city of Warrenton, Va., there is a Gray Ghost turning over in his grave. I have some reason to infer that: I have been there; I bear his name.

Amid the current flag flap, there has been quite a lot said, some true, some not, about Confederate heritage and because of one Col. John S. Mosby, the “Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,” no one is more entitled to speak to that than am I.

And I am furious. As would he be.

I am furious because the memory of him and those like him, the heritage those memories combine to form, has been hijacked by murderous thugs, hate mongering skinheads, whose vile words and actions have first marred, then purloined the nobility it once could rightly claim.

In thinking as I have for so many days now upon this subject, I recall many years ago opening a letter, addressed to the newspaper, in the newsroom of the Clarksdale Press Register.

In was an invitation from “The Mississippi Knights,” all of whom apparently resided in a Post Office box in Harpersville, and it was ostensibly seeking our attendance at an upcoming Ku Klux Klan rally, there. I say “ostensibly,” because despite being addressed to a newspaper named the Press Register, that invitation was adamant that its senders desired “no press.”

That genius aside, I don’t think they wanted all of us, either. “White people invited,” was actually the way it read.

Along with their fellow humanitarians in the larger Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, it seems that they were going to march in Jackson, then meet later for an “old time rally” on some dirt road nine miles north of Forest that evening.

And that glorious day, we were informed, would be culminated by “a beautiful cross-lighting ceremony.”

That last part actually inspired me to actually write them an R.S.V.P., of sorts.

“Does one properly wear cotton or percale to a ‘beautiful cross-lighting ceremony’,” I asked them.

 And I wrote them I wouldn’t be able to make it because “proximity to that many racists would be like walking barefoot over slugs in the dark.”

I said, “I hate their would-be pious preachings of poison,” and that theirs was, “the work of fools and could I limit it to them, I would gladly wish they might drown within the hell-hole of hate in which they would have all the rest of us bathe.”

I told them to “strut around in their bedclothes, and wallow within their muck and light their racist fires, even so as to engulf a symbol that is universally that of the Prince of Peace.”

And though 25 years ago, that is completely on point today.

John S. Mosby, my great-great uncle John, never owned a slave. He hated the institution.

He argued staunchly against secession, knowing it was fool’s errand. He proved a fierce warrior, but was also a reluctant one. The most cursory reading of his memoirs makes that clear.

Could Uncle John somehow have been in that church in South Carolina, armed with his pair of trusty .44’s, there would be one dead racist, defiling a flag he fought under, not nine innocents in a prayer meeting.

But it is not my ancestor, nor other of his ilk that so many now identify with that flag. It is rather the murderers and the lynchers and the burners and the enforcers of Jim Crowe and the idiots who gather on country dirt roads for “beautiful cross-lighting ceremonies.”

They are thieves. They are usurpers. They are hijackers of a heritage of which they are unworthy to even claim as their own.

And hence, we are duty bound to shame them as such.

 

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.

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