Confederate groups have a right to gather in peace

We, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, recently held a legislative reception in Raleigh, and invited all members of the General Assembly to attend a small party in their honor to kick off the 2019 session. Like many non-profits, we do this on occasion so that we can get to know our elected officials and raise awareness about our particular mission. That mission right now is preventing the further destruction of our veterans’ memorials across North Carolina.

However, a group of protesters showed up to picket our otherwise pleasant event and harass our guests for doing nothing more than interacting with their constituents. This small group of extremists, who now appear at all of our events, public and private, are nothing but professional trolls. It is the same individuals, time and time again who show up and shriek threats, defamatory remarks and proudly display their lack of decency and education. They were in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Winston-Salem, and now are lurking in the streets of Raleigh. They are interfering with our basic freedom of association, a practice that they would decry if aimed at them, and a practice that is a favorite tactic of historical despots they pretend to despise. The very people who founded this nation did so because their own freedom of association was denied by their distant King.

Abusive protesters

Further, these so-called activists assume that they are the only constituents of our elected officials and only their concerns and biases are worthy of attention. We are constituents too and our concerns more closely reflect those of a majority of North Carolinians who understand that these violent and extreme members of the mob will not stop their efforts with the eradication of Confederate heritage. Their aim is to destroy every contribution and legacy throughout our history that stands as proof that their desired outcome for our country is a bad idea. Their end game is to literally destroy us, the people. Ask them and they will smugly say so while claiming, erroneously, that we are racists and thus, violence and discrimination against us does not count.

It is likely that they spew hate and lies for no other reason than they are frustrated with their own lives.. Fulfilled people do not make others miserable as a hobby. We remind them that we, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, are only fighting to continue enjoying the rights and freedoms that we are guaranteed under the constitutions of this state and nation.

Everything we do is to honor our ancestors. We are doing nothing wrong and have nothing to apologize for. It is an anomaly in human history that anyone should be denied this basic right, especially when those being honored are responsible for so much of what we enjoy today. Our detractors believe, however, that they are the only citizens entitled to these things and that the rest of us should simply cower beneath their proclivity for projecting their own conspicuous hatred onto others.

Frank Powell of Wake Forest is a spokesman for the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the North Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy.