You Cannot Be a Patriotic American and a Confederate

Allen Armentrout of North Carolina recently learned that his Pensacola Christian College, where he was about to begin his senior year, has expelled him following his a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to stand in front of a statue of Lee in full confederate garb. Armentrout made this trip days after a Nazi rally left the town reeling.

 

Armentrout says he is not a Nazi, and told a student newspaper that he traveled to Charlottesville “because the KKK, Neo-Nazis and other groups are destroying the history of his ancestors and he wants to share ‘the true history’ of the American South.” Someone needs to alert Armentrout that the KKK is very much part of “the true history” of the American South.

While reading news stories about Armentrout, I was struck by the following:

“I have been released from my school and will be unable to return to college to finish my senior year,” said Armentrout. “I’m processing this and making adjustments to my life to compensate for this scrutiny.”

Armentrout says getting the news about his removal from the school has been gut-wrenching.

“I’m a born-again Christian and I believe this wrench has hindered my attempt to serve the Lord. I believe a Christian institution should support patriotic individuals who want to stand for American tradition and beliefs. It really hurts me a lot when you try to do what’s right and you get attacked,” said Armentrout.

You cannot be both a patriotic American and a Confederate. It does not work like that. It has long struck me as odd that the American South, which claims to be more patriotic and genuinely American than the “liberal elites” on the coasts, is dotted with statues of Confederate generals. These generals were traitors.

What of Armentrout’s claim that he was standing for “American tradition and beliefs”?

“I’m out here to honor my ancestors and honor the men who died under the command of Robert E. Lee, and I think me being out here shows that I hope to accomplish the fact that the world can see that there’s non-racist pro-Confederate people out there that love freedom and independence.”

The Confederacy was founded to defend slavery. Period and full stop. You can learn this by simply reading each state’s secession documents, in which they directly explain this. You can even learn it by the order in which states seceded—and by noting which slaveholding states did not secede. The first states to secede were those with the highest percentage of slaves. The four slave states that never seceded were those with the lowest percentage of slaves.

This is something that has been settled by historians and doesn’t need to be hashed out here. Of more interest is Pensacola’s decision to expel Armentrout. For anyone who is surprised that a Christian college in Florida would expel a student over this, I would mention that I knew someone growing up who was not accepted into a Christian college in Virginia because a paper he submitted was a defense of the Confederacy, and that college, he learned, took a hard line against glorification of the Confederacy or the “Lost Cause.”

Interestingly, this individual went on to attend Doug Wilson‘s New Saint Andrews College in Idaho. Anyone who knows anything about Wilson will be completely unsurprised. Wilson co-wrote a book defending slavery and condemning antebellum abolitionist “propaganda” about the institution, and terms himself a “paleo-confederate.”

Wilson also links the Antebellum South with Christianity:

When the Confederate States of America surrendered at Appomattox, the last nation of the older order fell. So, because historians like to have set dates on which to hang their hats, we may say the first Christendom died there, in 1865. The American South was the last nation of the first Christendom.

What’s baffling about this is that the South’s defeat during the Civil War did not somehow shutter church doors. Southern Christians were perfectly able to go on being Christians. More pertinently, perhaps, Wilson’s belief that a region in which one in three white families owned slaves and one in three individuals was enslaved was a fundamentally Christian society is a serious indictment of Wilson’s view of Christianity.

Suffice it to say that Christian colleges are all over the map on the Confederacy, the Antebellum South, and the “Lost Cause” mythology that grew up in the South after the Civil War. Some, like the Virginia college my childhood acquaintance applied to, take a hard line against support for the Confederacy and the “Lost Cause.” Pensacola may be one of those. Others, like Doug Wilson’s New Saint Andrews College, do not.

Several articles about Armentrout suggest that he is looking for a new Christian college—one that will accept his views and actions.

Perhaps he should apply to New Saint Andrews.

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