Fraternity's parade and ball deemed too divisive

Todays news brought a troubling story of yet another attack on a Southern-oriented group, the men of Kappa Alpha Order, in Alabama.


For the uninformed, Kappa Alpha Order is a very old fraternity, formed in 1865 on the campus of what is now Washington and Lee University in Virginia.  It took as its leader and hero, the personage or representation of General Robert E. Lee, and its mission to encourage young men to be chivalrous and gentlemanly. Its chapters have sprung up far and wide over the last 150 years, primarily in Southern states.


A normal fraternity with its rush, initiation, get-togethers and yes, drinking events, once a year almost all chapters hosted an Old South Ball, complete with the girls in whatever version of ante bellum dresses they could find and the guys dressed in some version of Confederate uniforms.  Some carried swords. All made obvious bows to their ladies, danced many dances, and in general celebrated their connection to the Old South. They also participate in parades wearing their uniforms.   Yes, they sang DIxie.  Yes, they waved Confederate flags, usually the Battle Flag.  How better to carry out the theme?  And while the ball was a private event for their members and guests, hosted by them,  the parade a participatory event including many other groups and obviously open to the public.


But that is to end with an announcement that the fraternity members will no longer wear Confederate uniforms. It seems that a black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which dates to 1908, has decided that it is offended and wants no one to be able to participate.  And in what passes today for our culture, we know who will win.


In the interests of full disclosure, as we are wont to say today, I went to a small college in Kentucky which my father had attended, and he was a KA at that school.  As his daughter, I was a “KA Rosebud” and very well watched over by the current brothers, who would defend me (should I need defending) at all cost, or offer any assistance I might need.


Flash forward to today —  my husband is a Shriner — Ancient Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine — the guys who ride funny little cars or motorcycles in parades, raise millions of dollars each year for the Shriner Burn and Orthopedic Hospitals which treat children with those problems without charge,  and yes, they wear fezzes in their meetings and sometimes outside in parades, etc


And there’s the rub.   Suppose some Muslim group which may also wear a type of fez head covering decides that they are “offended” by the Shriners.   Will the thousands of good men of AONMS across several continents be told they can no longer wear their distinctive headgear for fear of “offending”  some other group?


We’d better watch out before we start banning everything we normally do, say or wear, for fear of “offending” a vocal group out to destroy everything.  Is there not room enough for all of us??? In the interests of inclusiveness, one would hope so!

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Martha M. Boltz

Martha Boltz is a frequent contributor  to the long running Civil War features in The Washington Times America At War feature in the print and online editions. She has been a regular contributor to the original Civil War Page and its successor page since 1994, and is a civil war buff, historian, and writer. "Someone said that if we don't learn about the past, we are condemned to repeat it," she said, "and there are lessons of all sorts inherent in this bloody four-year period of our country's history."  She is a member of several heritage and lineage groups, as well as the Montgomery County Civil War Round Table. Her standing invitation is, "come on down - check the blog - send me your comments and let's have fun with its history and maybe learn something at the same time."


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