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Walk of truth
Belated thanks for your excellent article titled, "Walking the Walk?" [Nov. 21, 2001].

In it, you displayed an honesty, integrity and courage that is both rare and refreshing. I have come to believe that justice is best served by the pursuit of truth, no matter where it takes you. Ultimately, truth is irresistible; ultimately, truth will not only appeal, but can uniquely unify, across partisan lines.

From this perspective, you have "walked the walk" and have nudged forward the cause of justice. Thanks for a great job and for setting a high standard.

Commander who?
The Sons of Confederate Veterans are not "best known for staging historical re-enactments" of the War Between the States ["Uncivil War," Jan. 16]. While some SCV chapters sponsor these events, and many SCV compatriots are re-enactors, the SCV is a civic organization, not a re-enacting unit. Otherwise, your article on the Kirk Lyons vs. Charles Hawks campaign for commander of the Army of Northern Virginia was right on.

It is far too early, however, for anyone in or out of the organization to assert that thousands of members will leave the SCV if Lyons is elected. After all, the mission is much bigger than the man, and the post that Lyons is seeking is a mostly symbolic one that collects no dues or reports from the membership and whose "marching orders" can be followed or ignored at the discretion of the autonomous local camps throughout the SCV. As for the fears of Lyons becoming the "face of the organization," how many people outside of the SCV can name the current commander of the ANV? Or even the commander-in-chief of the SCV?

For most of the compatriots that I have spoken to, Lyons' election, however unpopular, is not in the least bit relevant to the many important tasks performed by the local camps, brigades and state divisions of the SCV. When the issue of bad press following Lyons' link to the SCV is raised, the inevitable response is, "Since when did the SCV ever get any good press?" Finally, if SCV members, who are mostly conservative, family-values Christians, would not leave their country when their popularly elected two-term president was a liar, adulterer or and draft-dodger, then they can surely tolerate an unheard-of bigot occupying an office that most Americans have never even heard of.

Power of pride
On the subject of the Confederate flag, Mr. Jon Elliston wrote ["Uncivil War," Jan. 16] that "no matter who is flying it, that flag remains an offensive symbol to many." May I remind Mr. Elliston that the flag was not a subject of controversy until the NAACP declared it to be offensive and that for many years it had been displayed at all public functions without a single word of protest? I don't think the Confederate battle flag is offensive at all, but what I find offensive are small-minded bigots such as the NAACP who make demands that all of their views must be tolerated and catered to while they refuse to listen to the opinion and views of others.

The mass media of this country, much like Mr. Elliston has done, have surrendered their objectivity and have waded into this culture war on the side of the NAACP bigots, telling proud Southerners that we should be ashamed. We sir, we are not ashamed. We are the descendants of the greatest soldiers this earth has ever produced; soldiers who nearly defeated a foreign nation that outnumbered them five to one. We are the descendants of a citizen-soldiery who strove to rescue and preserve Constitutional government from the hands of those who strove to twist and pervert it. We are, proud to be their descendants and proud to be of a Southern culture, a Southern heritage and Southern way of life.

We are proud to know that we are the bulwark of this country from the colonial days to the present, always giving more to our country than any other section. If the NAACP or Mr. Elliston wants us to feel ashamed of who we are, he has a long task ahead of him. We are proud of who we are. I'm not so sure Mr. Elliston can say the same.

Editors note: Kirk Lyons, candidate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans commander of the Army of North Virginia, responds to the Jan. 16 article, "Uncivil War," online at

Everyone's a critic
I'm glad that David Simonton's photography has been reviewed by Kate Dobbs Ariail in the past ["Heart of Art," Back Talk, Jan. 16]. Unfortunately, many local artists have been overlooked by her. Not to mention entire galleries. This is particularly egregious considering her call for the support of local art in one infamous Independent column. Two of the most exciting galleries in the Triangle--partobject, a photography gallery in Carrboro, and LUMP in Raleigh--were all but ignored by her.

I'm also glad that Simonton enjoyed Ariail's columns. There are many Triangle residents, however, who can't match the sentiments expressed in his love letter to her. It's refreshing and entirely welcome that we finally have some alternative voices writing about the art world in The Independent. For too long we've been subjected to Ariail's criticism, which always seemed out of place with a progressive weekly.

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